Beginning October 1, employment-based green card applicants will have to undergo in-person interviews with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before their green cards can be approved, according to a recent executive order signed by President Trump.
The order is a major change from USCIS current practice which waives in-person interviews in the vast majority of cases in which employees sponsored for permanent residence by their employers file Form I-485 applications to adjustment status to permanent residence.
According to USCIS, the interviews will result in more robust screening and vetting procedures and provide a greater opportunity to verify applicant information, to discover new information relevant to the adjudication process and to determine applicants’ credibility.
USCIS has not yet released information on how the interviews will be phased in and whether all employer-sponsored green card applicants will be interviewed. Nor is it clear whether applicants who have pending adjustment of status applications will be included in the “phase-in” process.
The in-person interviews, however, are another hurdle for employment-based green card applicants seeking permanent residency who in many cases have had to wait years for their applications to be adjudicated. Not only will the interviews lengthen the time it will take for USCIS to adjudicate green card applications, but because of the increased scrutiny of applications, could result in more I-485 denials.
In addition to employment-based green card applicants, the executive order requires in-person interviews in cases where refugees or individuals granted asylum in the U.S. sponsor family members to join them in the U.S. The government is also planning an “incremental expansion” of interviews for other, as yet undisclosed, benefit types.
Individuals wanting to discuss the potential impact of the executive order on in-person interviews should contact an attorney at Minsky, McCormick and Hallagan, P.C.