Late last year, USCIS began implementing its expansion of in-person interviews for adjustment of status applicants. Prior to October, interviews for employment-based I-485 petitions were largely waived unless there were issues that needed to be addressed, ie., criminal arrests, violation of status, etc. Now, the protocol is that nearly all employment-based green card applicants will need to appear for an interview before their cases can be approved. This includes employment based preference categories 1 through 3.
Make no mistake about it, though: the mandatory nature of an interview is more than a formality or inconvenience. During the interview, the USCIS officer will be evaluating the applicant’s entire immigration history, and is not limited to the employment based petition underlying the I-485. During the course of the interview, the officer will examine and review all of the answers on the I-485. If the application was filed on or after August 25, 2017, the officer will be analyzing the revised I-485, which is substantially longer and chock full of what some attorneys have argued are “trick questions.” In addition, the officer may review the I-140 and its supporting documents to determine and verify the truthfulness of the information therein, for example, whether the applicant really does have the educational credentials or job skills and experience claimed.
Certainly, if an applicant has ever had or has some of the following issues, it would prudent to discuss them with immigration counsel to ascertain the potential impact, if any, on the adjustment of status application. Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and only illustrative of the some of the issues that have triggered scrutiny or caused complications for aspiring green card candidates. Some common problems that may have consequences on adjustment of status include:
· Any criminal arrests, charges, or allegations (foreign or domestic)
· Criminal convictions (foreign or domestic)
· Any violations of status
· Unauthorized employment
· Falling out of status
· Prior attendance at schools that have been flagged by ICE
· Changes in salary, duties, location, or nature of employment that are not accompanied by supporting documentation
· Any fact or circumstance that is different than what is represented on any previously filed paperwork
Going forward, applicants for adjustment of status should expect further delays in processing due to the increased workload of more interviews. Additionally, one should not be surprised, in this climate of extreme vetting, that adjudicators are carefully evaluating cases with increased meticulousness and scrutiny. Given the stakes involved in applying for permanent residence, one should discuss and evaluate any prospective application for a green card.
The above is general information only and not to be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship nor should it be relied upon as advice in lieu of consultation with an attorney.