Prior to this change, which went into effect on October 2, 2017, USCIS required interviews in only 5 to 10 percent of all employment-based adjustment cases.
The new policy applies to all Form I-485 adjustment of status applications filed on or after March 6, 2017, where the underlying immigrant petition is an employment-based Form I-140 (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3). The USCIS has indicated that adjustment cases filed prior to March 6, 2017, will be adjudicated in accordance with previous procedures.
Because thousands of extra interviews will be conducted annually, there will be additional delays in the processing of these employment-based adjustment applications. USCIS has estimated that these applications will ultimately account for approximately 17 percent of the USCIS’s entire field operations workload. As a result, the change will impact the processing times for all other types of USCIS filings, such as family-based adjustment applications and naturalization cases.
What Should the Applicant Expect at the Interview? (based on the stats for October-November 2017)
The applicant could be asked about almost anything.
- Any information provided on the Form I-485 (review the copy of the form I-485, and be prepared to answer questions).
- Issues relating to the applicant’s eligibility or admissibility, such as any arrests or misrepresentations made to an immigration officer (talk to your attorney if you ever had a DUI, arrests, domestic violence protection order filed against you, charges that were later dismissed, convictions, lied on the application, worked without authorization, etc).
- The applicant’s entire immigration history, particularly whether the applicant has properly maintained his non-immigrant status (if you worked without authorization while in a student status, etc)
- Family members applying as derivative to the employment-based principal applicant should anticipate questions about their relationship to the principal and the bona fides of that relationship (similar to a family-based green card interview).
Will the Field Officer Re-Adjudicate the Form I-140? USCIS has said that the interviewing field officers have been instructed not to re-adjudicate the underlying Form I-140. However, the agency has also made clear that the officers will be charged with assessing the validity of the documents used to approve the Form I-140 petition to ensure that the supporting evidence was accurate and credible. If the officer determines that that evidence is not credible, he can recommend that the Form I-140 be revoked by the service center that originally issued the approval (officer can send I-140 for revocation back to USCIS Service Center which originally approved the petition).
It is important that the applicant understands the basis for the Form I-140 petition and be prepared to articulate at the interview how his employment qualified for approval. The applicant should review the Form I-140 petition and any underlying PERM application in advance and address any tricky issues with the employer or counsel. The applicant will almost certainly be questioned about the job for which he was sponsored as well as about his own educational background and work experience. This new requirement could present a challenge because I-140 is an employer's petition, and applicants don't usually have an access to the form I-140, PERM, etc.
An attorney can prepare the applicant on what to expect during the interview, and coordinate with the employer and the applicant to make sure that the applicant takes the appropriate documentation to the interview, knows what I-140 and PERM was about, has a copy of his I-485 form, has clean criminal record and no status violations, etc. The adjustment of status interview notices that are currently being sent to applicants are generic and confusing because they include a list of the documents that do not even apply in employment-based cases.