Sponsors and Applicants (the person being sponsored) under the FC1 or spouse or common law partner in Canada Class are sometimes called in for an interview. The call-in letter usually has a list of documents that the couple are to bring to the interview.
I attended one such interview this morning; we had prepared a package of documents as to the couple's cohabitation, letters of support from individuals familiar with their relationship, and other corroborative documents.
Officer "JPS" conducted the interview and as always, was professional and courteous. He started by explaining the process. These interviews can sometimes take several hours. Husband and wife (in this case) will be interviewed separately.
Remember: there are two types of officers. The first type are facilitative in their approach; they will give applicants the benefit of the doubt and either understand or be cognizant of cultural considerations. The other type are enforcement minded officers. They are suspicious and cynical. They look for any opportunity (real or imagined) to impugn the applicant(s) and see their role (at best) to separate the good liars from the bad. My clients were lucky today.
Interview questions will vary depending on the nature of the relationship. In this case, first contact was made by the sponsor responding to a matrimonial ad; the families then met (back in the home country) and did the appropriate background checks. While this couple is compatible the decision to convoke an interview was probably sparked by the fact that the sponsor had been sponsored here and had attempted to sponsor a previous partner to Canada.
The Applicant (the person being sponsored) was questioned first. There were a number of tombstone questions (POB, DOB, address history). There were questions regarding immediate family members (parents, siblings). Questions were asked regarding the origin and development of the relationship. "When did you commit to each other?" "Who brought up the idea of marriage?" "Did you exchange rings?"
These same questions will then be posed to the Sponsor to see whether the couple can provide consistent answers.
Tip: Know the important dates! This could mean the date of first contact, the first meeting, the engagement, the marriage, the reception but it could also mean address history (how long at present address? Where did you live before?)
The Officer may wish to dig and see whether there are other reasons behind the marriage ("Do you have any family in Canada?") Remember -the Officer needs to determine whether (on a balance of probabilities) the couple entered this marriage to be together or whether the purpose was simply to facilitate status in Canada. This means the Officer may well look for "push" or "pull" factors.
The Officer may explore contact with, the relationship with, and knowledge of, extended family members ("How is your relationship with your in-laws? and "Is anyone opposed to your relationship?")
The Officer will likely ask about pre-marital and post-marital conduct, such as communication, trips together or attending functions as a couple and/or address history after moving in.
The Officer will want to know or get some insight as to the decision or intention to marry ("What qualities attracted you to your spouse?")
Tip: You are expected to have knowledge of your spouse/partner's life before marriage (Where did your husband/wife live before marriage/your meeting? Did he/she live with anyone? Where does your spouse work/what does your spouse do and what was he/she doing before you met? Questions may be asked as to each other's marital history/reason for breakdown of past relationships)
The Officer may want details as to the wedding day (activities, rituals, attendees, functions).
The Officer may ask questions such as "What did your spouse do yesterday after coming home from work?", "Who buys the groceries?" and may well ask regarding respective "hobbies" and how the household chores are split.
There is, obviously, no master list of questions. Officers are trained to ask questions that call for spontaneous answers and that are not amenable to rote memorization (there are still counsel in Calgary that "prepare" their clients by ensuring that they know each other's favourite colour). This could mean unexpected questions like "Who wakes up first in the mornings" or "How big is the TV in the living room".
The key is preparation. A couple's marriage may well be genuine, but certain individuals fare poorly in formal environments. Nervousness and anxiety can sometimes be conflated with mendacity and evasiveness. Avoid being overconfident. What is, in your eyes, clearly a genuine marriage may not be so apparent to an outsider/stranger.