Spousal interviews are not mandatory.
In all of the applications I have filed, virtually all are approved without an interview.
The essential question for the immigration officer is whether the common law relationship or marriage is bona fide.
As I indicate to all my clients, they must look at their supporting documents and applications from the vantage point of a third party. If a third party looked at the totality of all of the information and applications filed, would that person conclude that the relationship was valid and not one solely done for immigration purposes? To ensure the bona fides of a relationship, adequate, accurate and consistent documentation must be provided to prove the cohabitation of a long-standing relationship.
Occasionally, a couple may have met, marry spontaneously within weeks and then wish to initiate a permanent resident application for the foreign national. I have advised the couple to wait at least six months before applying because such a short relationship is sure to generate suspicion and an interview. An interview can add several months to processing times and, if there is a refusal, another two years for the appeal process.
An interview can result from the inconsistencies or inaccuracies seen on applications where the facts on the application and the facts revealed by the documents differ. If for example dates of visits mentioned in the narrative of the application do not match the dates on pictures provided, suspicion arises and an interview is generated. All applications should be vetted for total accuracy between the narrative and the documents provided.
Cultural differences will often generate interviews where there may be a difference in pre-marriage communication, courting or dating, especially when marriages have been arranged and the couple has not met before the marriage. For many cultures, it is common to have such arrangements conducted by family members, but this arrangement concept is alien to Canadian customs. In that case, the immigration officers put even greater emphasis on age, language and education differences and schedule interviews of one or both individuals to assess compatibility and the bona fides of the relationship.
Each application must be vetted carefully for factual accuracy and consistency and if cultural differences do exist, they should be addressed ahead of time with adequate client preparation and explanations to Immigration.