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New USCIS Policy Requires All Employment-Based Green Card Applicants to Attend In-Person Interview

On October 1, 2017, USCIS began expanding the requirement that permanent residence/green card applicants be interviewed in person for all cases based on employment. Prior to this change, only about 5-10% of green card applicants who were seeking permanent residence through employment were called for an in-person interview. In the rest of the cases, both the employer's I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker and the employee's I-485 Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence were usually processed at a USCIS Service Center based on the record documents.

Which cases will be affected by the new policy?
The new change in processing is based on the Executive Order entitled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry in the United States" that President Trump issued on March 6, 2017. Therefore, the new interview requirements apply only to I-485 Applications to Adjust Status filed with USCIS on or after March 6, 2017, the date of the Executive Order. A small number of applicants who filed their I-485 Applications before March 6, 2017 (approximately 5-10% of those cases), may still be called for in-person interviews, per prior policies.

Will derivative family members be interviewed, or just the immigrant worker?
All family members listed as derivatives on an employment-based permanent residence application will be called for an interview. USCIS may waive the interview requirement for dependent/derivative children under the age of 14, but all family members should receive individualized notices regarding the interview, regardless of their age.

How will these cases be processed and referred for an interview?
The employer's I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker will continue to be processed at a USCIS Service Center based on the record documents. Once the employer's I-140 Petition is approved the employee's related I-485 Application for permanent residence will be sent to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC). The NBC office will then prepare the file for interview and forward it to a USCIS local field office. In the process of preparing the file for the interview, the NBC office may issue Requests for Evidence seeking additional documents or information from the employee.

Will employers be required to attend the interview?
In general, employers should not be required to attend. The interview portion of the process applies to the I-485 Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Resident that is processed by USCIS after the emplioyer's I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker is already approved. If, at the time of the interview, the USCIS officer finds that the evidence does not support the prior approval of the I-140 Petition, the officer must send the file back to the Service Center that approved the I-140 Petition, with a recommendation to revoke the employer's approval.

We will continue to monitor the implementation of this new policy and we will provide updates as needed. In the meantime, if you have any questions about employment-based immigration matters or other immigration-related issues, do not hesitate to contact Raluca (Luca) Vais-Ottosen at (608) 252-9291 or rvo@dewittross.com.

About the Author

Raluca has assisted numerous clients with immigration matters ranging from family-based and individual immigration applications, to employment related visas and I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification issues. In addition to her immigration practice, she also has an extensive background in Employment Law. She assists companies in a number of areas, including but not limited to claims of workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation, termination and constructive discharge, workplace investigations by state and federal agencies, as well as employment litigation.

Contact Luca by email or by phone at (608) 252-9291.

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