On August 28, 2017, the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced a new policy requiring all employment based green card applicants to appear for an in-person interview with a USCIS officer before their green card can be approved. These employment-based green card interviews are scheduled to begin on October 2, 2017.
The mandatory interviews will be implemented for all employment based applicants who’s I-485 Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident (i.e. green card) applications were filed on or after March 6, 2017 in the following categories:
- EB-1, employment based first preference
- EB-2, employment based second preference
- EB-3, employment based third preference
Previously, except in certain situations such as an applicant’s criminal history or unlawful presence, most applicants in these categories were not called for an in-person interview with USCIS officers prior to adjudication of their green card applications. The USCIS estimates that only 5-10% of employment-based green card applications required an in-person interview under the previous policy. Under the new policy, however, all EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 I-485 applicants (filed on or after March 6, 2017), as well as their dependents, will have to attend an in-person interview with USCIS so that an officer can verify the applicants’ background.
Once the I-485, Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident application has been filed and is ready to adjudicate, it will be sent to the National Benefits Center (NBC). The applicant can soon thereafter expect to receive an Interview Notice from the USCIS that lists a date, time, and location the applicant must appear for the interview.
What to Expect at the Interview
An applicant will check in at the local USCIS field office location listed on the interview notice. An attorney can be present with the applicant for their interview, as well as an interpreter, if needed. During the interview, the applicant can expect the interviewing USCIS officer to ask about any of the following:
- Anything asked and/or listed on the submitted form I-485;
- Questions related to the applicant’s eligibility;
- Questions related to the applicant’s admissibility, such as any arrests or misrepresentations made to an immigration officer;
- Questions related to the applicant’s educational background;
- Questions related to the applicant’s job and job duties.
Interview of Spouse and Children
Dependents, such as a spouse or a child of the primary applicant, are also expected to be called for an in-person interview with the USCIS before their green cards can be approved. The USCIS has stated that it will try to schedule families together at the same time and location; however this is not guaranteed. Every applicant scheduled for an interview can expect to receive their own separate interview notice from the USCIS. USCIS may waive interviews for children aged 14 or younger. During the interview, dependents can expect the interviewing USCIS officer to ask:
- Questions related to the legality of the relationship to the primary applicant.
- Spouses should present original marriage certificate;
- Children should present birth certificates, custody/adoption or similar documentation.
- Questions related to the bona-fide nature of the relationship with the primary applicant. Specifically, spouses should expect to bring documentation that establishes the marriage, such as evidence of sharing the same residence, evidence of joint taxes/accounts/assets, evidence of children born to the marriage, etc.
The I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
At the time of the interview, an I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker will likely have already been approved by the USCIS service center, and the interviewing officer does not have jurisdiction to re-adjudicate the underlying I-140 petition. The interviewing officer, however, may question the applicant regarding his or her education, experience and employment, and may determine the validity of the information and supporting documents submitted with the I-140 petition. The interviewing officer may also refer the I-140 back to the USCIS service center where it was adjudicated for revocation based on information discovered during the interview if it appears that the I-140 was approved in error.
The USCIS has not provided information regarding how long it will take to adjudicate employment- based green card applications, or even how long an applicant can expect to wait for the interview. But it has stated that the new interview requirement will amount to approximately 17% of the agency’s total workload. This will naturally cause further delays in all adjudications. USCIS has acknowledged that there will be an increased delay in processing times for all interview-based USCIS applications, including family-based green card applications and naturalization applications. It is likely that green card applications may take 1 year or longer to adjudicate.
Tips for Employment-Based Green Card Applicants
- In light of these changes, we remind our clients and all employment-based green card applicants follow the following recommendations:
- Always inform your immigration attorney of any material changes to your employment in the US, such as:
- Transfer to a new employer or payroll entity
- Change in job location
- Change in job title, duties, or responsibilities
- Promotion or demotion
- Change from full-time to part-time (or vice versa)
- Corporate mergers, acquisitions, name change, FEIN change, or other similar restructuring
- Reduction in salary
- Termination of employment
- Always inform your immigration attorney of any arrest in the U.S. or abroad;
- Continue to extend your underlying nonimmigrant status (e.g. H-1B, L-1, etc.) until the green card has been approved;
- Prepare for the interview by reviewing in detail the information and documentation submitted with the underlying I-140 and I-485 and request that your immigration attorney attend the interview with you, if desired.
If you are an employer or employment-based green card applicant, please contact our office for assistance regarding the newly implemented mandatory interview process.