USCIS mandates in-person interview requirement for certain permanent resident applicants

IN an advisory dated August 28, 2017, the USCIS informed the public starting October 1, 2017, in person interviews will now be required for certain applicants seeking permanent residency status in the U.S. This new directive applies to:

• “Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)”; and

•  “Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.”

Under the current system, the USCIS does not require in-person interview for these applications. With the new USCIS advisory, the current system, at least with regards to these two (2) applications, will be phased out on October 1, 2017.  The USCIS has advised that it is planning to require in-person interviews for other benefit types in the future. Whether or not non-immigrant visa applicants will also be required to undergo in person interviews in a future directive is still unknown. For instance, an F-1 or H1-B applicant in the US generally is not required to appear in person at USCIS local offices.

The advisory stated that the policy change is in compliance with the directive of Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”. E.O. 13780 provides that the US will “improve the screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the USRAP (United States Refugee Admissions Program). The USCIS likewise said that changes are part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to enhance its detection and prevention of fraud and improve the immigration process in general.

Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament further stated that the USCIS will work with other federal agencies with regards to vetting procedures for individuals seeking to adjust status and live permanently in the US. No federal agencies that will collaborate with the USCIS have been identified at this point.

Additional information with regards to the new in-person requirement is not available at this point. We will have to wait for future USCIS advisories as to the time frame for these interviews, where they will be held, or if the sponsoring employer, together with the applicant, will be required to be present during the interview.

If you are contemplating of filing any immigration petition for that matter, it is advisable to seek the counsel of an immigration lawyer to guide you on the intricacies of filing for such a petition.

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Atty. Gwendolyn Malaya-Santos is a member of the State Bar of California and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. To schedule for a free initial in-person consultation, please call Tel. Nos. (213) 284-5984 or (626) 329-8215. Atty. Santos’ office is located at 3450 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200-105, Los Angeles, CA 90010. 

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Information contained in this article does not, nor is it intended to, constitutes legal advice for any specific situation and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It likewise does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

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