U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a significant expansion of in-person interviews for individuals applying for permanent residence based on an offer of employment. The policy also applies to a much smaller population of beneficiaries of I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions who are inside the United States. The new policy will begin on October 1, 2017, and is expected to result in more than 130,000 additional interviews conducted each year at USCIS District Offices throughout the country. Affected applicants should expect significant processing delays, as these interviews will be conducted by an agency that is already struggling to keep up with current processing demands. These interviews will be conducted at the final stage of the permanent residency application process, called adjustment of status.

Current USCIS policy, which has been in place for two decades, calls for waiving the interview requirement absent any signs of criminal history, prior immigration violation, communicable disease or similar issue. Individuals subject to this new policy currently undergo extensive scrutiny and background checks by USCIS regional processing centers, and numerous in-person interviews by U.S. embassies during the visa issuance process and by Homeland Security officers who screen persons entering the United States.

The USCIS announcement also suggests that in-person interviews will be expanded on an incremental basis to include additional categories. For example, USCIS might eventually require in-person interviews for persons changing from one nonimmigrant category to another (i.e., F-1 to H-1B).

We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as they become available.