The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced a change in the adjustment of status process. If you have been working in the United States and are applying to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident status, you will now go through an in-person interview. Unfortunately, this is likely to cause delays in the process.
Technically, the in-person interview has long been part of the process. In recent years, however, they have routinely been waived. President Trump's travel ban executive order has prompted a decision to not to waive them anymore. That executive order asked the USCIS and other federal agencies to set up "a uniform baseline for screening and vetting standards and procedures, such as in-person interviews."
A spokesperson for the USCIS explained that the return of the in-person interview is part of a "comprehensive strategy" meant to detect and prevent fraud and security risks.
However, there is no evidence of pervasive fraud in the adjustment of status process. Moreover, people with work visas who want to become green card holders are already in the U.S., and they've already gone through an extensive vetting process that includes fingerprinting and extensive background checks.
The in-person interview takes place once an applicant files an I-485 form. The new I-485 Supplement J also has a requirement that the USCIS confirm that the applicant still has a bona fide offer of employment.
"The result will likely be over a hundred thousand more USCIS in-person interviews per year," said one immigration lawyer, "which will certainly lengthen wait times for green card applications, especially since USCIS is already taking a very long time to process several types of petitions and applications."
The USCIS spokesperson said that the agency has plans both to streamline the interviews and to speed up the process overall, which will be done by increased officer training.
In the future, the in-person interview requirement will be expanded to green-card seekers who hold different types of visas, according to the USCIS.