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USCIS Begins In-Person Interviews in Employment Cases

Ohio employment immigration cases are now subject to an additional requirement for those adjusting their status in the United States. According to one news source, beginning on October 1, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expanded in-person interviews for those seeking permanent residence in the United States. Previously, although interviews were often conducted in family-based permanent residence cases, interviews were generally waived in employment-based cases.

PassportThe current USCIS Director, James M. McCament, stated that the change “reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.” He explained that USCIS is working “to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”

Former USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez explained that previously, interviews were only conducted for individuals in this group on an “as-needed basis,” due to a concern about the applicant. Rodriguez stated that he was “a little bit mystified” as to why employment-based cases are “the first place they went for interviews.” He said that this group has “never been a particularly high-risk segment of the immigration world.”

Some have speculated that the new interview requirement will cause significant delays in employment cases. Agency spokeswoman Arwen Fitzgerald said that the agency will add staff as necessary but that it is anticipating longer processing times in some locations. She also stated that all dependents of applicants must attend an interview, unless they are eligible for a waiver. She explained that the agency will attempt to interview family members together “to the extent possible.”

The Employment Visa Process

In most employment-based visa cases, the employer petitions to bring a foreign worker to the U.S. after receiving certification from the Department of Labor. In some cases, the foreign worker can petition for themselves. After the petition is approved, if the foreign worker is abroad, the worker will complete the visa process, including attending an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If the foreign worker is already in the United States on another temporary visa status, the worker can adjust to permanent residence, if there is a visa number available. In any case, the foreign worker was already vetted by USCIS, the State Department, and Customs and Border Patrol, by virtue of undergoing the visa process at some time. Most employment-based green card applicants have already been living and working in the United States for some time.

What This Means for Employment-Based Green Card Applicants

The new requirement means that generally, employment-based green card applicants will be required to attend an in-person interview at a USCIS office that they previously did not need to attend. It also likely means that processing times will increase as this new procedure is put into effect. In addition, it could mean that the applicant and any dependents will be subject to greater scrutiny, which could in turn lead to more denials than under the current set of procedures.

The Rant

The added interview workload and field office training will certainly lengthen wait times for permanent resident applicants. Employers and employees should plan accordingly for these delays.

Additional Blog Posts:

Republicans Introduce Bill to Slash Legal Immigration, ImmigRantings, August 8, 2017

White House Institutes New “Visa Vetting Form” – Form DS-5535, ImmigRantings, June 9, 2017

Alternatives to the H-1B Visa for Workers and Companies, ImmigRantings, May 10, 2017