On October 1, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) began phasing-in interviews for all employment-based green card applicants. Interviews have always been mandatory, but historically USCIS has waived the interview requirement for employment-based petitions when the beneficiary applies for a green card while already lawfully admitted in the United States.
The interview mandate is directly related to President Trump’s “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” Executive Order and applies to all employment-based I-485 Adjustment of Status petitions filed on or after March 6, 2017. Family members of principal employment-based green card applicants who are applying concurrently to receive a green card as a derivative will also be required to attend an interview. USCIS is considering waiving the interview requirement for applicants under the age of fourteen.
USCIS has indicated interviewers may evaluate whether the evidence used to demonstrate an employment position is eligible for a green card is accurate, bona fide, and credible. Employees should be well versed in any documentation submitted by their employer related to their position. Questions may also cover the employee’s work experience and educational background. USCIS is also likely to confirm if the employer intends to employ the individual and that the employee intends to accept the employment.
According to USCIS, the expansion of interviews will not slow down processing times for employment-based green cards. That seems unlikely, however, given only five to ten percent of employment-based cases have been referred for interviews in the past. The potential for delays will necessitate vigilance on the part of employers to ensure foreign national workers continue to remain authorized to work in the United States while their green card petitions are pending. Visa extension eligibility and awareness about the employee’s maximum period of stay in the U.S. will be of the utmost importance to ensure minimal impact on the employer’s business during the green card process.
McNair’s immigration team counsels employers and foreign nationals on a variety of issues including permanent residency interviews. If you need assistance with interviews or have other immigration-related issues, contact Melissa Azallion (MAzallion@mcnair.net) or Jonathan Eggert (JEggert@mcnair.net) from McNair’s immigration team at (843) 785-2171.