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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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

USCIS Begins to Waive Interviews for Employment Green Card Cases

USCIS has started to approve employment-based green card applications without an in-person interview, according to our firm's case approvals and also anecdotalreports. This is a shift from the Trump Administration's interview policy that began on October 1, 2017. 

Before 2017, interviews were not normally required for employment-based adjustment of status applications. DHS started to require inteviews for employment-based and asylum-based applications pursuant to Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States," issued by former President Trump.

To be clear, USCIS has not made any formal announcement regarding any changes in interviewing policy.  Hence, applicants should not assume that they will not be required to attend interviews for their I-485 adjustment of status applications.  The quiet waiver of the interview requirement can be attributed to the ongoing efforts by USCIS to clear the backlogged cases. 

According to the Policy Manual of USCIS, immigration officers "may determine, on a case-by case-basis, that it is unnecessary to interview certain adjustment of status applicants." An officer must consider all relevant evidence in the applicant’s case file before making such a determination. 

For family-based petitions, the petitioner and principal beneficiary are normally required to attend an interview before an immigration officer.  However, if an applicant is clearly eligible for adjustment, USCIS may waive interviews for minor children of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens, and unmarried minor children under 14 years old of green card holders.  

For employment cases, there are no fixed guidelines for waiving interviews.  However, an interview will be scheduled in the following situations: 

  • USCIS needs to confirm the identity of the applicant;
  • USCIS needs to validate the applicant’s immigration status;
  • The applicant entered the United States without inspection, or there are other unresolved issues regarding the applicant’s manner of entry;
  • Any known criminal or national security issues;
  • Any issues related to fraud;
  • The applicant’s fingerprints have been rejected twice;
  • The applicant has a Class A medical condition that the service center cannot resolve through a Request for Evidence (RFE);
  • Issues relating to an applicant's eligibility for adjustment, which cannot be resolved through an RFE; or
  • USCIS has not been able to obtain an applicant’s Alien-File, T-File, or receipt file (when the applicant has multiple files).
The recent development if interview waivers is sensible, given the large number of pending employment-based petitions.  USCIS may still schedule an interview in certain situations or for audting purposes. Applicants are reminded to continue maintaining their lawful status while waiting for an adjsutment interivew or a decision (if interview is waived).  

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