Mandatory Adjustment Interviews May Cause Processing Delays
By Reuben Seguritan
In compliance with Executive Order 13780 or “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented in-person interviews for those applying to adjust their status based on employment and beneficiaries of refugee/ asylee relative petitions who are in the US.
Prior to this new policy, in-person interviews for applicants in these categories were generally waived since there was an extensive background check and historically low fraud in employment-based adjustment of status applications. But we are seeing these new changes being rolled out nationwide due to the new administration’s thrust of “developing a more robust screening and vetting procedure for individuals seeking immigration benefits” as explained by Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament.
The new policy will likely cause delays in the processing of applications and petitions including family-based and naturalization cases. Adjudications in the current fiscal year will be conducted by the Field Operations and Service Center Operations. Beginning in the next fiscal year, they will be handled only by the Field Operations. Employment-based adjustments will constitute about 17 percent of the workload of the USCIS field operations.
Employment-based adjustment of status applications filed before March 6, 2017 would be adjudicated using the previous procedures. All employment-based adjustment of status applications filed on or after March 6 will be subject to an interview. This includes all applications based on an I-140 petition (EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3). Those required to be interviewed will be the principal applicant and all derivative beneficiaries although USCIS may consider waiving this requirement for derivative applicants who are under 14 years of age. While USCIS will try to interview the families together, there may be cases when the interview will not be conducted at the same time.
Applicants are expected to be asked about the entries they made in their I-485 applications. USCIS will ask questions about how the principal applicants came to the US and will check if they indeed are eligible and admissible. They will also be asked about the place where they will work, about their job duties, educational and work experiences. The interviewer will not ask questions about the financials of the petitioning company. He will focus on the background and intentions of the applicant.
Derivative beneficiaries are expected to be asked about their relationship to the principal applicant so it is important to bring evidence of that relationship like birth certificates or marriage certificates and any documents to prove the bona fides of the relationship.
USCIS officers will not readjudicate or review the approved I-140 petition although they will assess the validity of the supporting documents that were submitted with the petition. If the applicants are unable to prove eligibility and if the field officer will find any reason to hold the applicant ineligible for adjustment of status, the I-485 will be denied or he will make a recommendation to the Service Center Operations (SCOPS) that the I-140 approval be revoked. If the SCOPS agrees, it will issue a Notice of Intent to Revoke.
The top ten most impacted field offices are San Jose, San Francisco, Newark, New York, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles.