U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that beginning October 2, 2017, all I-140-based adjustment of status applicants will be required to appear for an in-person interview at a local USCIS office.
All individuals who filed I-140-based adjustment of status (I-485) applications on or after March 6, 2017, will now be interviewed before a final decision is made to grant permanent residence. This includes family members of the principal applicant, although the interview may be waived for children under the age of 14. Each family member will receive an individualized interview notice regardless of age. USCIS also confirmed that, consistent with prior practice, approximately 5-10 percent of individuals who filed I-485 adjustment applications before March 6, 2017, will continue to be interviewed.
USCIS will remain the adjudicator of the underlying I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. Once the I-140 is approved, adjustment of status applications will be sent to the National Benefits Center (NBC). NBC will prepare the file for the interview at the local USCIS office. Should any outstanding information or documents be identified (including medical examination results), NBC will issue a Request for Evidence.
USCIS asserts that all field officers have been trained to interview and adjudicate employment-based adjustment of status applications. At the in-person interview, applicants will be expected to explain where they will work, what they will be doing, their educational background, and work experience. USCIS will also confirm that the employer still intends to employ the applicant and that the applicant still intends to take up employment. Family members should expect questions relating to their relationship to the principal applicant and should be prepared to establish the bona fide nature of the relationship. If the field officer is satisfied with the evidence, the I-485s will be approved. If the field officer finds the evidence does not support the approval, he or she must send the I-140 and all associated I-485s back to the service center with a recommendation that the I-140 be revoked.
Employers and individuals are advised to speak with an immigration lawyer so that the individual applicant and any family members are prepared in advanced for the adjustment interview. The lawyer will review with the applicants the underlying applications and petitions, including the PERM and I-140 and will prepare the applicant to answer questions relating to his or her job duties, where they will work, the employer for whom they will work, their education and prior work experience, and how they qualify for the particular position. The lawyer will also prepare the applicants for what documentation they should take with them to the interview.
This new requirement is expected to cause additional delays with respect to final adjudication of the I-485 permanent residence application. Employment-based adjustment applicants over the last 25 years have routinely had the adjustment interview waived. With this new directive that all employment-based adjustment applicants be interviewed, the local offices expect a 17 percent increase in workload. It is unlikely that the local offices will be given enough additional personnel resources to conduct these interviews, so processing times for I-485 applications are expected to increase.