In-Person Adjustment of Status Interviews Now Required for Employment- and Refugee/Asylum Family Member-Based Applicants

In-person interviews were once waived for many categories of people applying for green cards within the U.S.—but no longer, says USCIS.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

Until now, the normal process for people applying to adjust status (that is, get lawful permanent residence, also known as a green card, while living in the U.S.) through an employer or as the spouse or child of a refugee or asylee (with an I-730 petition) always involved a lot of paperwork. But it did not involve an actual in-person interview.

This practice differed from the normal one for many other categories of green card applicants (such as family- or marriage-based adjustment of status or actual refugees and asylees). They were, and are, required to attend an interview at an office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and answer questions about their application before they can be approved for a green card.

Starting October 1, 2017, however, USCIS will expand its in-person interview requirement to include the above-named two categories of applicants for permanent residence—employment-based (if the underlying petition is a Form I-140) and family of refugee/asylee-based—as well. Dependent family members will also, in most cases, need to attend the interview, though USCIS may choose to waive this for children under 14.

It's entirely possible that this will create major delays for everyone awaiting an adjustment of status interview. USCIS will now have to accommodate hundreds of thousands more people than before, and the wait for an interview is already several months long in many USCIS field offices.

To check on the current backup at your local USCIS office, go to the USCIS Processing Time Information page and choose your local Field Office from the dropdown menu, then look at the line for Form I-485.

According to USCIS, the reason for this change is to root out fraud and protect national security and public safety. Immigrant advocates point out, however, that USCIS has not identified any particular problem or trend justifying this radical change in procedure. Meanwhile, USCIS states that it has plans to broaden the interview requirement to other types of applications in the future.

Be sure to keep USCIS updated on your latest address as you await your interview, and make sure to avoid one of the Top Mistakes Applicants Make at Adjustment of Status Interview.

Effective Date: October 1, 2017