On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will start implementing in-person interviews on October 1, 2017 for the following:
- Adjustment of status applications based on employment; and
- Refugee/asylee relative petitions for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
Rasoulpour Torregoza attended a teleconference hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, on September 28, 2017, regarding these new interview requirements. We would like to share with our readers five tips that we've gained from this teleconference.
Here are five tips for those applicants with adjustment of status applications (I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) based on employment filed after March 6, 2017 for approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker:
- Update your address. According to the Ombudsman, every applicant, including derivatives will be sent interview notices and they will endeavor to schedule interviews for family members altogether. Make sure that your address is updated with the USCIS to ensure that you timely receive all notices.
- Bring documents that prove family relationship. The Ombudsman said that in interviewing family members, USCIS will focus on establishing whether the relationship is bonafide (real). For example, in interviewing a spouse, USCIS will ask questions to determine that the marriage was not entered into for the sake of obtaining permanent residence.
- Bring all documents requested on the interview notice. The Interview Notice contains a list of documentation USCIS requires that the applicant bring to the interview. The Ombudsman emphasized the importance of bringing all the requested documents, but to also be aware that the checklist is not the equivalent to a Request for Further Evidence. If in doubt, consult with an immigration attorney to determine whether the requested evidence is applicable to your case.
- Review all the documentation submitted to USCIS. At Torregoza Legal, we provide our clients with a digital copy of the complete application (with the supporting documentation) that was submitted to USCIS, and we ask our clients to review this prior to our interview prep session and prior to the interview day itself. For our readers, we recommend that you do the same. According to the Ombudsman, although USCIS will not re-adjudicate the approved I-140, the goal of these interviews is to determine the veracity of the documents submitted at both the I-140 and I-485 stages. Thus, it is even more important at this time that the applicant be prepared to clearly articulate at the interview why he or she qualifies for an employment-based green card.
- Seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. As we noted above, the Ombudsman stressed the importance of the applicant being able to articulate the reasons why he or she qualifies for a green card. Although some cases may be straightforward, it may not be the case for a significant number of cases. For example, under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), an applicant may change or port the offer of employment from one job to another job as long as both jobs are in the same or similar occupational classification. The Ombudsman said that they will thoroughly inquire into such cases and ensure that the applicant is able to explain why the two jobs are same or similar. Thus, it is even more important for applicants to be thoroughly informed why they qualify for the employment-based green card and be able to clearly articulate the reasons. We recommend that you seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney who can explain in everyday terms how you qualify and will be able to thoroughly prepare you for the interview.
If you are affected by this development and would like more information, please contact us. We are here to help. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.
Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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