On October 1, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began expanding in-person interviews to include green card applicants applying through an employment-based petition (I-485) and relatives of asylees and refugees (I-730). USCIS held a Public Engagement session on October 11, 2017 to provide additional guidance and answer questions and inquiries from the public. Rasoulpour Torregoza attended the teleconference and we share our takeaways in this blog post.
This is nothing new
USCIS has conducted in-person interviews, particularly in the family-immigration context for quite some time now. Pursuant to President Trump's Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, USCIS has expanded the in-person interview requirement, to prevent & detect fraud and preserve the integrity of the immigration system. According to USCIS, they started rolling out the process in April 2017 with K Nonimmigrant green card applications (I-485).
The interview requirement will be expanded to other categories
The agency plans to roll out the in-person interview requirement to other categories in the future. The expansion to employment-based green card applications and refugee/asylee relative petitions is an incremental approach and will be used to test and improve current mechanisms when they roll out the requirement to other categories in the future. For example, they have mentioned the possibility of conducting in-person interviews for I-751 applicants in the near future.
Priority Dates are important
USCIS says that they will prioritize cases based on visa allocation availability indicated on the monthly Visa Bulletin, to make sure that applicants whose visas are current are given priority over those with longer wait times. In addition, USCIS will schedule family interviews at the same time to ensure that those with the same priority dates get the same preference.
What will USCIS look for during these interviews?
- Underlying I-140 Petition: According to USCIS, although they will not re-adjudicate the underlying I-140 petition, they will look at the evidence submitted for the I-140 petition to ensure that it is consistent with the procedures in place. If you will be interviewed for your employment-based green card application, it is important to familiarize yourself with your eligibility. If a USCIS is not convinced about the applicant's eligibility, they could revoke the underlying I-140 petition.
- Questions about the application and supporting documentation: USCIS will conduct a typical I-485 interview, asking questions about the applicant responses on the form, documents submitted and general eligibility questions. The applicant must also be able to speak about the particulars of the case (e.g. job portability).
- Relationship to principal applicant: Derivative applicants and family members of asylees/refugees should be able to explain and show evidence of family relationship to principal applicant. I-730 applicants are not expected to explain the underlying asylum claim, but they must be able to prove relationship to principal applicant.
Stay tuned as we monitor this topic. If you are affected by this development and have additional questions, please contact us. We are here to help. You can also follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.
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