By: Elizabeth Goings
After October 1, 2017, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for employees with a pending I-485 application based on employment. Foreign national employees working in the United States will most likely be required to schedule an in-person interview as part of their application and prior to green card approval.
This move is in response to the 2017 United States President’s Executive Order 13780 “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” and reflects the direction of many immigration agencies in recent months towards a clarification of their adjudicative powers. USCIS spokesperson Carter Langston has stated that this requirement is “part of a comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and security risks to the United States.”
By regulation, USCIS already has the power to request in-person interviews for green card applicants. However, in the past it has generally waived the interview requirement for certain employment-based cases unless there was a question of eligibility. Examples of scheduling an in-person interview included the need to confirm the identity of the application, validate legal status, fraud or national security concerns, among other reasons.
What should employees expect? First, there may be more delays in processing of the green cards as USCIS prepares and trains its adjudicators to implement this policy. Second, employees should know that in-person interviews will give the USCIS adjudicator the opportunity to go over the information on their forms and validate employee information—they will be reviewing the employee’s credibility in addition to eligibility (note: the new form I-485 contains at least 80 questions related to eligibility and conduct). The USCIS adjudicator may review the current employment offer. In these types of cases, it is best for the employee to carry proper documentation related to the basis for the application, including all filed documents, forms, and any updated letters from the employer, to the interview to avoid rescheduling and further delay. Moreover, the employee may carry additional documents to show good moral character such as filed tax documents.
Should your employee need help in preparing for this interview, or require a list of documents to bring, please consult your immigration attorney. We are monitoring news and updates regarding this issue so please do not hesitate to contact our office for information or any help with preparing your employee.