By:  Richard Hanus, Esq.

June 10, 2024

Foreign nationals present in the U.S. and undergoing “I-485 adjustment of status”, aka Green Card processing are increasingly seeing their applications approved without an interview and sometimes in less than 90 days.  This trend even covers applicants with cases based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen.  Further, in recent months, while awaiting a decision on their I-485 adjustment of status applications, foreign nationals are seeing speedier processing of employment authorization and advance parole travel (allowing for international travel) documents.  In other words, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration adjudication branch – Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) – continues to be consistently unpredictable, but as of late, in a good way!

The kinds of Green Card applications my firm is seeing approved without interview range from job based applicants to all categories of family based immigrants, approved asylees/refugees and U visa based applicants.  This approach is a far cry from the way the system operated in decades past, where practically all applicants were interviewed, regardless of applicant background or the legal basis of their application.  Based on recent experience, there are clear patterns emerging of when US immigration authorities see it worthwhile to call in an applicant for an adjustment of status interview at a local DHS/CIS Field Office.  Examples include:

  1. If an applicant has ever been arrested by federal, state or local law enforcement agency – including U.S. immigration authorities, no matter the outcome of the case or the nature of the charges,
  2. If an applicant previously filed for permanent resident status but was denied, especially if the earlier application was based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or resident and,
  3. When background information an applicant provided the U.S. Department of State during a visa interview at a U.S. consular post abroad conflicts with information now provided as part of their I-485 permanent resident application.

For marriage based applications, I have noticed the presence of 2 or more of the following factors with regard to decisions to approve a case without interview:

  1. Applicant and U.S. spouse are around the same age,
  2. Applicant entered the U.S. legally and maintained their lawful nonimmigrant visa status, especially if they are working in a professional position,
  3. Applicant is from a nation not commonly associated with U.S. immigration fraud, e.g. Western European or other nations with higher standards of living,
  4. Applicant and their spouse have a child together and/or present substantial documentation reflecting a shared residence or life together,

Importantly, the chances of a speedy decision and without interview are drastically increased when the application package is filed according to all requirements and includes specified supporting documentation.  Additionally, the fact that an adjustment of status applicant is called in for an interview does not necessarily spell trouble.   It merely means that an immigration officer wants to ask questions about possible issues of concern.  Thus, it’s imperative that all applicants appearing for interview are thoroughly prepared and ready to present relevant information and/or documentation to address officer concerns.

Lightning speed for recently filed cases:   While I am seeing some applications for employment authorization, advance parole and Green Cards still taking 6 or more months to process, I am also seeing many of my firm’s more recently filed cases receive quicker attention, with processing for all of these categories being completed in 90-120 days or less.   The same can be said of most Applications for Naturalization.  Of course, work volume will cause certain DHS/CIS offices to have longer or quicker turn arounds. But, across the board, quicker and more efficient decision-making on recently filed cases has become the rule, and not the exception.  For the sake of tens of thousands of immigration applicants, their families and their employers, let’s hope the trend continues.

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PUBLISHED June 10, 2024 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2024, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois