A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Interview Requirement to be Added for Asylee Petitioners of I-730

Obtaining status as an asylee or refugee means that one may legally stay in America with protection. What about the person's family members abroad, who may still be at harm's way?  

After attaining asylee status or admission as a refugee, individuals may file Form I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition within 2 years to have their spouse or unmarried children under 21 join them in America.

The process involves the usual -- submitting evidence, beneficiary biometrics and interview, etc. Petitioners themselves only need to interview when the beneficiary is in the United States and more information is needed to determine eligibility. 

However, according to a recent memo published by USCIS, the petitioner interview for such cases will be a requirement by the first quarter of FY2021. Furthermore, this change will be Phase 1 of a plan to implement the petitioner interview under USCIS and DOS jurisdiction globally (jurisdiction being where an office that handles those cases exist).

In Phase 2, estimated to begin by the time new Form I-730 instructions are published, will add the requirement to cases where the beneficiary and/or petitioner is in a USCIS jurisdiction abroad. This is only if the petitioner and beneficiary are located within USCIS jurisdiction.

Phase 3, implementation date to be announced, will include cases where the beneficiary and/or petitioner is in a DOS (Department of State) jurisdiction abroad.

Petitioners will be expected to attend a scheduled in-person interview at a USCIS office as part of the adjudication process. They can expect multiple interviews if they filed multiple I-730s. As with all USCIS appointments, petitioners should make time to attend their interview. It is an important part of the process and missing it could result in case denial.

The above rules will apply to Form I-730 applications filed on or after a to-be-announced implementation date for each phase. There are no concrete dates for now. Asylee and admitted refugees with pending I-730 petitions should expect and be prepared for an interview as each phase of the plan moves forward in 2021.

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