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USCIS Expands In-Person Interview Requirements

Bridge Team Member

In a news release issued on Aug. 28,USCIS announced that it will begin imposing the requirement of an in-personinterview across the board for employment-based permanent residence applicants.

At firstglance, requiring that applicants for permanent residence who are filing fromwithin the U.S. must attend an in-person interview does not appear to beparticularly noteworthy or controversial. But what is this new requirement likelymean on a practical level for these foreign workers and their petitioningemployers? 

Racking up the Mileage

Adjustmentapplicants are already required to attend a biometrics appointment at a USCISApplication Support Center. However, while these support centers are distributedliberally throughout the country, in-person interviews may only takeplace at USCIS’s more sparsely located Field Offices.

This meansthat instead of having to show up to one appointment which could often besqueezed into an early lunch break, applicants now face an additionaltime-consuming commitment that may involve significantly more travel.

By way ofillustration, Nashville, Tenn. and Austin, Texas are both home to growingtechnology sectors as well as major universities and hospitals. While each cityhas a support center for biometrics appointments, their residents now facetraveling to Field Offices in Memphis (212 miles) and San Antonio (80 miles),respectively, for their final interview. 

So,How Did You Two Meet?

Whilewe await further details from USCIS on what will be expected ofemployment-based applicants under this new policy, one scenario that mayreceive far more scrutiny than it has in the past is when a husband or wife isseeking derivate benefits on the basis of a petition filed by their spouse’semployer.

Whilethis has always been a relative formality satisfied by the submission of avalid marriage certificate, attendance at an in-person interview may lead tothese applicants having the validity of their marriage closely examined,similar to what marriage-based adjustment applicants have long been subjectedto.

Shouldemployees pack copies of their joint leases and some wedding photos beforeheading to the interview?  Let’s wait andsee what specific instructions (if any) are provided by USCIS when sending outthese interview notices.

Don’tWait Up!

Itstands to reason that adding an additional step to any process is unlikely toincrease its timeliness or efficiency. This is particularly true in the word ofimmigration, where agencies such as USCIS are financed entirely by the filingfees they charge. As this means its annual budget does not come fromcongressional budget appropriations, the increased workload inevitably broughtabout by such policy changes cannot simply be cured by an offsetting request formore manpower and resources.

Ata time when applicants are already experiencing significant delays inprocessing times, it remains to be seen what effect if any this latestdevelopment will have on USCIS’s ability to work through thesignificant backlogs of cases it is currently experiencing.

What about Premium Processing -I hear you ask?  Unfortunately, whilethis option is available on most types of I-140 petitions, the guaranteed15-day adjudication timeframe does not apply to any ensuing or concurrently filedAdjustment applications, which the new interview requirements are connectedwith.

Should you have any questions about how this impacts your business or employees, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at support@bridge.us.

Disclaimer: This content is not a form of legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for legal counsel. Bridge US encourages readers to discuss any and all immigration-related concerns with an attorney.


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