USCIS Will Now Require In-Person I-130 Interviews for Minor Spouses (Under 18)

USCIS can schedule an interview before deciding on the I-130 and plans to do so in all cases where either spouse is a minor (under 18 years old).

By , J.D.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

In most cases, when a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitions for a non-citizen spouse to receive U.S. residency (a green card), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not require an in-person interview until late in the process. More specifically, USCIS will usually make a decision on the initial petition (Form I-130, which the U.S. petitioner mails in) and then wait until the immigrant has submitted the remaining paperwork to meet with him or her at a USCIS office or an overseas U.S. embassy or consulate.

However, it is possible for USCIS to schedule an interview before making a decision on the I-130, most likely requiring the U.S. petitioner to attend and speak with a USCIS officer. That's what USCIS has announced it plans to do, per a new policy, in all cases where either:

  • one of the two spouses is less than 16 years old, or
  • either the U.S. petitioner or the non-citizen beneficiary is 16 or 17 years old, and there's a ten-year (or greater) age difference between the two spouses.

The purpose of this policy change is to protect the interests of someone who is a minor (under 18), and who is therefore considered vulnerable. Also, USCIS wants to make extra sure that the marriage is bona fide (the real thing).

Keep in mind that there is no absolute right for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to confer status on a non-citizen spouse. The U.S. petitioner has the burden to convince USCIS that the spouse meets the eligibility criteria.

As before, the basic validity of the marriage is also a question where one party is a minor. Marriage laws vary across the U.S., and in some, marriage involving a minor might be prohibited, or might be permitted only in certain circumstances, such as with parental consent.

Effective Date: April 12, 2019