Published October 3, 2017
Foreign nationals residing in the U.S. who are applying to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident (green card via Form I-485) based on an offer of employment will now, without exception, be required to attend an interview at their local Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/CIS) office. This is a new Trump administration policy aimed at, according to government officials, heightening the scrutiny of these types of filings, combatting fraud and to ensure only legally qualified applicants are approved. Employment based green card applicants undergoing the consular processing of their immigrant visas overseas – as opposed to the adjustment of status processing in the U.S. – will continue to be interviewed at their closest U.S. embassy or consulate as has always been the rule.
The new policy is a departure from the past, where only 5-10% of employment based adjustment of status applicants were scheduled for interview. Those scheduled to appear for an interview in the past usually had applications that presented a possible legal issue, most often a criminal arrest or some other immigration complexity in their background.
The new policy is set to take effect starting with applications filed on or after October 2, 2017. Pursuant to the new policy, applicants will be questioned regarding personal and professional/work experience background, and their qualifications and intentions with regard to future employment. In theory, previously approved Department of Labor and Immigration filings that are the basis of the adjustment of status application are not to be readjudicated (typically, the adjustment of status application is the third stage of the employment based green card process for applicants residing in the U.S.). That does not mean the interviewing CIS officer will not ask questions to confirm the accuracy and integrity of the documentation that was submitted to facilitate those previous approvals.
The CIS local offices most impacted by the program’s added workload are San Jose, San Francisco, Newark, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Many questions remain regarding this new program’s implementation, including the type of timeline applicants will face in waiting for interview scheduling and the level of scrutiny interviewing officers will apply.
As has always been the case, a foreign national is eligible to be represented by legal counsel when appearing for their adjustment of status interview.
PUBLISHED October 3, 2017– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2017, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois