USCIS Reinstates Interviews for Green-Card Applicants

USCIS Reinstates Interviews for Green-Card Applicants

​​​The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a change in immigration requirements, which will likely result in delays in green card processing. In October, USCIS will require all Form I-485 applicants to be interviewed prior to approval of their application and green cards being issued.

This follows reports last week of stricter application by USCIS of policy with regard to travel while I-131 applications are pending.

Our immigration partner, Pearl Law Group, provided additional specifics related to the new requirements, as follows:

What change occurred for the interview requirements? 

Further to President Trump's calls earlier this year for more "extreme vetting," USCIS confirmed that beginning 1 October 2017, all green card applicants who are on work visas must be interviewed before their green cards will be approved.

What does this mean for relocation and work visas? 

While details are still forthcoming, it appears that all foreign nationals on work visas (e.g., H-1B, L-1, O-1, TN, etc.) who have applied on Form I-485 to adjust their status to lawful permanent residence will now be interviewed before their applications are approved and green cards issued. The new policy goes into effect on October 1 and will likely include all pending I-485 green card applications filed by employment-based visa holders.

While USCIS has always reserved the right to interview all green card applicants, for many years they have waived the interview requirement for most applicants other than marriage-based green card applicants and some special cases. This change in policy will add more than 100,000 interviews annually and almost certainly result in more delays in I-485 processing and adjudication wait times.

Those employees on work visas and in the green card process who have not yet reached the I-485 stage will not be required to interview until they file the I-485 application.

What are the next steps? 

Our immigration attorneys have experience guiding clients through green card interviews. We are currently identifying all clients on work visas with pending I-485 applications and will be issuing guidance documents to help you prepare for your interviews. As always, we offer preparation calls for our clients scheduled for green card interviews and can attend these interviews, if requested. We will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as they arise.