CIS Chicago: Adjustment of Status Interviews Scheduled Within 120 Days
October 10, 2006

Applicants for permanent residence who are already in the U.S. in some sort of temporary, nonimmigrant visa status can expect their adjustment of status interview to be scheduled by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Chicago office within 120 days of filing their application. And following the interview, the applicant, if approved, will usually receive their alien registration card (“green card”) within 2 weeks of their appearance at CIS. While such efficiency is something truly to be appreciated, there are some downsides.

The negative impact of such quick interview scheduling is most often seen in the context of the marriage based adjustment of status interview. For example, Kurt, who entered on his tourist visa several years back but overstayed, marries Courtney, a U.S. citizen and the couple file adjustment of status paperwork to facilitate Kurt’s resident status. Kurt receives his employment authorization document (as he has a right to receive as a pending adjustment of status applicant) approximately 90 days following the submission of the paperwork, and immediately proceeds to apply for a Social Security number. Approximately 1 month later, the couple is called for Kurt’s adjustment of status interview, and on the interview notice is a long list of documents the couple is to bring to the interview reflecting their shared residence, including evidence of a joint bank and credit account, joint health and auto insurance coverage, etc.

Kurt and Courtney, of course, have little or none of the requested documents since Kurt has not even obtained his social security number. What are they to do? The answer: be honest, and advise the interviewing officer, when asked for documentation, that because the interview was scheduled so quickly, extensive joint account documentation could not be obtained. The officers will not be surprised, as they are well aware of that this type of problem exists and that many applicants will have only recently established a shared residence with their U.S. citizen spouse.

In place of such documentation, Kurt and Courtney will want to bring other documents such as a joint lease, or at least a letter from their landlord confirming their shared residence. Also, written statements from family and friends attesting to the couple’s relationship could be helpful, as are photographs taken during the course of their relationship.

In general though, how the couple behaves at the interview, most notably their body language and responses to the officer’s question, will be the most determinative factor in the officer’s decision-making process. And because if approved, the applicant will only be granted permanent residence on a 2 year conditional basis and will be required to file I-751 paperwork to remove their conditional status in 1 ¾ years, the system’s marriage fraud screen will now have to rely more heavily on the I-751 removal of condition process. Or as a veteran immigration officer once put it, “if we don’t catch the fraud in the wash, we eventually find it later in the rinse.”

Copyright © 2006-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois