On October 1, USCIS began phasing in in-person interviews for all employment-based I-485 adjustment of status cases when the underlying petition is a Form I-140 (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3) and when the case was filed after March 6, 2017. During several public informational meetings, USCIS provided further guidance on who is subject to the new requirement, what the process will be, and what applicants can expect. Here are the highlights:
- I-360-based adjustment of status cases (Special Immigrant Visas) are currently not subject to the in-person interview requirement.
- USICS will incrementally expand the requirement to I-730 petitions for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
- Children under the age of 14 are eligible for a waiver of the interview requirement.
- USCIS will endeavor to schedule family members together.
- The National Benefits Center (NBC) will conduct pre-processing case review to ensure that the case is “interview ready.” Interviews will be held at local USCIS field offices.
- NBC will issue requests for evidence for a medical exam or Supplement J, if not submitted with the initial adjustment of status filing.
- USCIS will entertain the possibility of permitting remote or Skype participation by attorneys so that applicants represented by out-of-district counsel can continue to be represented at the interview by that attorney rather than having to retain local counsel.
- USCIS will not readjudicate the underlying petition but will seek to validate the evidence included with the I-140; thus, the interview itself will focus on the applicant’s work as well as issues of admissibility.
- Derivative family members should be prepared to bring to the interview evidence of their relationship to the principal applicant.
- USCIS anticipates a 17 percent increase in workload at USCIS field offices, which will affect family-based and naturalization application interview processing times.
- The 10 most affected offices are San Jose, San Francisco, Newark, New York, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
The overall impact of the expanded interview requirement will not be seen for several months, both in terms of its value and delays.