U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will begin scheduling in-person interviews for additional categories of individuals applying for permanent resident (aka Green Card) status.
USCIS, in its announcement, claims that this change in policy is an effort to comply with the March 6, 2017, 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 agency has not, however, publically provided any examples of how its current practices have failed to sufficiently combat the threat of terrorists entering the U.S. or detect and prevent fraud in the permanent residency process.
Formerly Exempt Applicants Now Requiring In-person Interviews
Pursuant to its announcement, USCIS will begin Oct. 1, 2017, to schedule in-person interviews for:
- individuals applying for permanent resident status based on offers of permanent employment (e.g., those who have filed an I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status based on a filed or approved I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker); and
- individuals applying for permanent resident status based on the refugee or asylee status of a relative in the U.S. (e.g., those who have filed an I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status based on an I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition).
Individuals applying for permanent resident status under either one of these categories were previously generally exempted from having to undergo an in-person interview with an immigration officer prior to having their application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident status approved.
An Additional 100,000 Interviews
The expansion of in-person interviews for these two categories of immigrants is expected to result in possibly an additional 100,000 interviews or more annually at local USCIS offices across the United States. These additional interviews will be on top of the interviews already conducted for many other categories of permanent residency applications that are already conducted at local USCIS offices.
USCIS claims it will enhance its internal training and technology to meet the increased interview requirements. However, the expansion will likely result in a significant increase in the time that it takes these categories of immigrants to receive final decisions on their applications for permanent resident status – local USCIS offices are already busy with conducting interviews for other immigration benefit categories, including naturalizations and family-based categories.
More to Come
USCIS also announced on Aug. 28, 2017, that it will continue to incrementally expand its interview requirement for additional categories of applicants who previously enjoyed exemption from the need to attend an in-person interview with a USCIS officer before the approval of their applicant for permanent resident status in the United States.