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Recent USCIS Updates Family and Employment Based Interview Waivers

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update regarding employment and family-based interview waivers during the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition, he discusses a recent trend being followed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.

Overview

While no official policy or memorandum has been issued by USCIS regarding interview waivers, since at least May of this year, we have seen the agency use their broad discretionary power to waive the interview requirement for at least certain employment and family-based petitions, approving these cases without first scheduling an interview.

What does it mean for USCIS to “waive” the interview requirement?

In general, all adjustment of status applicants must attend an in-person interview at a USCIS field office where an immigration officer will verify whether the applicant understood the questions being asked on the green card application and evaluate whether the applicant qualifies for the immigration benefit requested. The interview is a good opportunity to correct any mistakes on the application form and resolve any issues in the underlying case.

In some instances, USCIS officers may “waive” this interview requirement if they find that it is unnecessary to interview the applicant. In situations where the officer “waives” the in-person interview, he or she relies only on the written evidence provided on the application to approve the applicant for U.S. residence (the green card).

Normally, USCIS uses its discretion to waive interviews for parents of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. Citizens, unmarried children under 14 years of age of lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees who were previously interviewed by a USCIS officer, and applicants who are clearly ineligible for the benefit they seek.

More and more we are seeing this discretionary power being used for certain employment and family-based applications for adjustment of status.

What types of applicants are having their interviews waived?

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and the substantial backlogs faced by USCIS, officers are expanding their discretionary power to waive employment-based interviews for adjustment of status including those applying based on EB-2 and EB-3. While less common, interviews for adjustment of status have also been waived for spouses of U.S. Citizens in long term marriages, fiancé visa applicants, and spouses of active military.

Additionally, in the past sometimes USCIS would require interviews for I-751 removal of conditions applicants. Recently, USCIS has been “waiving” the interview requirement altogether. In cases where there are complex facts or issue however USCIS may nevertheless choose to require an interview to resolve those issues.

Recent Trend

Recently, USCIS officers have been calling employment-based applicants for adjustment of status and conducting basic interviews telephonically without providing the client advance notice. We have seen this phenomenon take place in our own office and only specifically for those applying for adjustment of status based on the EB-2 national interest waiver classification. In these cases, the officer adjudicating the case has identified himself as a USCIS officer and asked several questions including where the applicant is working, the number of employees working for the company, and the applicant’s future plans once the green card has been received. These interviews have been very brief and straightforward lasting no more than 5 minutes. Approximately one week after our client had this telephonic interview with the officer his green card arrived in the mail.

Note: While applicants should always be cautious about receiving telephone calls from USCIS, they should be aware that this is a new trend that is being followed by the agency. Officers should clearly identify that they are calling from USCIS and provide their employee identification number. Officers will never ask you to provide identifying information about yourself over the phone because that information is already available to them.

Other Updates – Naturalization

Naturalization interviews are being prioritized at this time and oath ceremonies are being conducted on a “fast track” basis.


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