USCIS announced that adjustment of status interviews are now required for all employment based immigration. On October 1 USCIS began phasing in this requirement.
In the past USCIS waived the interview requirement for most employment based applications for adjustment of status to permanent resident. Under the law it could require an interview on a case by case basis, but rarely did. These would commonly be conducted when an individual had a long priority date or if there was any question of fraud. The new policy complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.
The current policy requires that all applicants attend an interview at their local USCIS office. On a recent teleconference USCIS officials stated that the interview will strictly focus on the application to adjust status (Form I-485) and the individual’s eligibility for an immigrant visa. The officer should conduct the interview following the application: confirmation of biographical information, valid entry to the U.S., maintenance of valid immigration status, criminal history, etc. The officer should not re-adjudicate the approval of the employer’s petition for immigrant worker (Form I-140) as the decision was made at the Service Center by officers specially trained to adjudicate these applications.
Dependents are also required to attend the interview. For a spouse the officer will confirm a valid marriage and will use the guidelines provided above. For children USCIS will confirm a valid parent – child relationship. USCIS is looking into waiving the interview requirement for younger children and will make an announcement soon.
The agency anticipates a 17% increase to workload at the local offices. At this time there are no plans to hire additional personnel to address the increase. This could cause further delays in all areas of immigration because the local offices are already at capacity with the family based interviews.
Please be sure to discuss this new requirement with an immigration lawyer. Legal representation is allowed at the interview and an attorney specializing in immigration law can help you determine if one is recommended in your situation.