August 31, 2017
While it has long been the case that USCIS conducts interviews for family-based green card applicants (such as those applying through marriage), it has been decades since interviews were required for the typical employment-based green card adjustment application . However, the Trump administration has just announced that, beginning October 1st, it will begin “phasing in” interviews for employment-based applicants. So far the only information we have is from USCIS’s press release, but we will update this space as the administration provides additional details.
Why is USCIS going to start interviewing employment-based green card applicants?
The press release states that “conducting in-person interviews will provide USCIS officers with the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual’s application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States.” They further state that this change “complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.”
At the very least, the new interview requirement means that a USCIS officer will ask the applicant questions about the information presented in the various applications and petitions that were submitted during the applicant’s employment-based immigration process – namely, the I-140 petition and the I-485 application. Beyond that, there will be some effort made to “determine the credibility” of the applicant, presumably as part of an effort to weed out fraud.
When will these interviews start?
According to the brief announcement, USCIS “will begin to phase-in interviews” as of October 1, 2017. So, it is anticipated that such interviews will not begin before October 1, 2017. However, they did not specify whether or not applications submitted before then (that are still pending after phase-in begins) will be subject to the interview requirement, or whether interviews will only be scheduled for applications submitted after 10/1/2017.
Will the interview process extend processing time for the overall application?
We won’t know for sure until the new process has been fully implemented, but it would make sense for the interview to extend overall processing time. At the very least, it would require another notice to be generated and mailed out, and for an appointment to be scheduled for a few weeks after the notice is sent. Beyond that, there is the question of how USCIS will ensure there are adequate officers available to conduct these interviews; without additional staffing, it’s possible that all interviews will simply take longer to be scheduled.
Interviews will also begin for some refugee/asylee relative petitions; other categories may follow.
USCIS has also announced a new interview requirement for I-730 beneficiaries who are in the United States and petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant. In addition, the press release states that “beyond these categories, USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.” We will be sure to provide updates when/if an interview requirement is added for any additional categories.