U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that beginning October 1st in-person interviews will be required for individuals seeking to adjust from an employment-based nonimmigrant status (i.e. H-1B, L-1, O-1, etc.) to lawful permanent residence (or “green card”) status in the United States. Interviews will also be required for family members of refugees or asylees who are seeking to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant. While current policy generally waives interviews for employment-based adjustment of status applications, the new change is part of President Trump’s “extreme vetting” immigration policies.
According to the USCIS announcement, immigration officers will interview employment-based green card candidates to verify the information provided in their I-140 applications and/or to discover new information and assess the credibility of the applicant in the interview. In cases where an applicant may have ported his employment to a new employer, an immigration officer may seek to confirm whether the new employment is in the same or similar occupational category.
Employers and applicants should prepare for substantial delays in the adjudication of I-485 Applications to Adjust Status as local USCIS offices brace for the surge of now mandatory interviews. Moreover, employers and applicants may soon see an increase in the costs associated with the permanent residency process, either in the form of increased application fees to cover the costs of hiring more USCIS officers to handle interviews, or through increased legal fees or employees needing to take leaves of absences to handle immigration processing issues.
Applicants with pending I-485 or I-730 applications should anticipate being called into a local USCIS office for an in-person interview. Applicants should be prepared in the interview to discuss the immigration benefit they are applying for and should have a complete understanding of the application that was filed on their behalf.. Employment-based green card applicants should be able to discuss the position they are working in, including where they work, what their pay is, and what their specific job duties are. Family members of refugees/asylees should be prepared to prove their family relationship.
This new change to the permanent residency process is expected to be onerous. Employers and applicants should work closely with counsel to prepare for this interview process. Our office will continue to monitor the rollout of this new policy. For questions or help in preparing for these interviews, please contact us.