USCIS: Employment-based Applicants to be called for In-Person Interviews
USCIS has announced that, as of October 1, 2017, it will begin scheduling in-person interviews for all employment-based applicants for U.S. permanent residence. Until this announcement, most employment-based applicants were not subject to in-person interviews. Instead, unless there was an issue associated with the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (“I-140”) or Application for Adjustment of Status (“I-485”), applicants were thoroughly screened but not interviewed. In the event that pre-approval screening raised issues relating to immigration status, fraud, public safety, national security or other issue affecting eligibility or admissibility, USCIS could and did conduct in-person interviews. However, years of experience, confidence in the screening process, budget constraints and other factors led USCIS to decide that – in most cases – in-person interviews were not a good use of resources.
Under the Trump Administration in Washington, this policy has changed. “This change reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” said Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament. “USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”
The new policy, arising from the Administration’s “Buy American Hire American” directive and its linking of immigration to national security threats, will directly impact tens of thousands of employment-based beneficiaries, their spouses and family members. Without large increases of immigration officers at local offices, the mandatory interview requirement will inevitably cause tremendous backlogs in the orderly processing of employment-based immigrants. The impact of this will be felt, not just by the applicants themselves, but by employers in ever sector of the economy, from hospitals and universities, to tech and life science companies, to Wall Street, industry and manufacturing, to sports and the arts, etc.
Applicants and employers should be aware of this new requirement and should expect longer processing timelines for employment-based applications. Applicants and employers should also be conscious of the need to maintain work authorization and to file timely applications to renew EAD’s, H-1B’s, TN’s, etc. If you or someone that you know receives a notice for an interview on an employment-based application for permanent residence, please contact us. We will work with employers and applicants to review documents and otherwise prepare. For additional details about the new policy, click here. For questions on this policy, contact us.