United States: Update - Employment-Based Adjustment Interviews: What Foreign Nationals Need to Know

• Personal interviews for employment-based adjustment applicants began on October 1, 2017 for those whose cases were filed on or after March 6, 2017. • Adjustment applicants who are called for an interview should be prepared to answer questions about their background, employment and qualifications and to provide application documentation if requested.

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Dec 16, 2017

Since October 1, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has required applicants for employment-based adjustment of status to attend a personal interview before their green card case can be processed to completion. The interview requirement is part of the agency's compliance with President Trump's March 6 executive order on protection of the United States from terrorist activities.

That order directs federal agencies to implement uniform screening and vetting standards for all immigration programs. Interviews for employment-based adjustment applicants are not new, but USCIS had a longstanding policy of waiving them for most, recognizing that employment-based applicants posed few security risks.

The following are Fragomen's updated answers to frequently asked questions about what to expect in an employment-based adjustment interview, based on the firm's participation in USCIS stakeholder meetings and observations during the initial months of the employment-based adjustment interview rollout. 

1. Who will be interviewed?

If your employment-based adjustment application was filed on or after March 6, 2017, USCIS will interview you and any family members applying for adjustment with you. If your application was filed before March 6, 2017, you could be called for an interview if there is an issue that may affect your eligibility to adjust status, such as an arrest or conviction. This is consistent with USCIS's previous interview policy for employment-based adjustment applicants.

2. Will my family members be interviewed?

Yes, if you are required to be interviewed, your derivative family members will also be interviewed. If you and your family members filed your adjustment applications at the same time, USCIS will likely interview you as a group, though spouses may be interviewed separately in an adjacent timeslot. If one of your family members' applications is delayed, that family member's interview may be scheduled for a different day. 

3. Must minor children appear for a personal interview?

Your children under the age of 21 are subject to the interview requirement. USCIS has the option to waive an interview for applicants who are under 14 years of age. Waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis.

4. Does the interview requirement change the adjustment application process?

Yes. Though the I-140 and adjustment application will still be filed in the same manner, your case will be adjudicated in two parts. The I-140 petition is adjudicated by a USCIS Service Center. Your adjustment application is adjudicated by the local USCIS field office with jurisdiction over your place of residence. After the I-140 petition is approved, the Service Center sends your adjustment package to USCIS's National Benefits Center (NBC). The NBC reviews your application to make sure there is no missing information or documentation. If your application is not complete, the NBC will send you a request to provide the missing information or documents. The NBC will not provide updates regarding your application process during this phase. You should not send unsolicited documents to the NBC or the Service Center during this period; additional documents should only be sent in response to an agency request. Once your application package is complete and your priority date is current, the NBC will send you an interview notice and forward your application to the appropriate USCIS field office. Family members who applied with you will each receive their own interview notice.

5. When will my interview take place?

USCIS plans to set a date for the adjustment interview once the I-140 is approved and the applicant's priority date is current, though some applicants may be scheduled for an interview before that time. However, because the interview requirement will significantly increase the workload at USCIS field offices, there may be a delay of several months or more between the filing of your adjustment application and the date of your interview. A federal hiring freeze and union work rules mean that USCIS cannot hire additional officers or increase the case load of existing officers to handle the new workload. Though wait times cannot be predicted with certainty, senior officials at local USCIS offices predict that interviews could be scheduled as long as 12 to 18 months after the adjustment application is filed. 

6. Can I submit my I-693 Report of Medical Examination at the interview? 

Yes. Though you may schedule your green card medical examination and submit Form I-693 at any time before your adjustment application is adjudicated, you should wait until USCIS asks for it in a request for evidence or an interview notice. Form I-693 medical reports must be submitted to USCIS within a year of completion and will remain valid for one year from the date of submission; if you have your medical exam and file your I-693 early in the adjustment process, you may need to undergo another exam later on. 

7. What should I bring to my interview?

Your interview notice will include a list of documents to bring, which may include:

  • All current and previous passports in your possession that contain any U.S. visa stamps and/or entry and exit stamps
  • Your current I-94 record
  • Another form of photo identification, such as a driver's license
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and advance parole (AP) or your combination EAD/AP card
  • Proof that you have continuously maintained nonimmigrant status (e.g. visa stamps, I-797 approval notices, I-20s, etc.) 
  • Your original I-140 approval notice, if available
  • A letter from the sponsoring employer confirming your job offer and job duties and a completed, signed USCIS Form I-485, Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability 
  • Letters confirming your previous employment
  • Photocopies of diplomas, transcripts and other relevant educational documents
  • Last two months of pay stubs
  • Last three years of tax transcripts (transcripts can be ordered from the Internal Revenue Service)
  • An up-to-date medical examination report completed by a USCIS-authorized physician, if you did not provide one with your application or more than a year has elapsed since your original medical exam was submitted 
  • If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, an original final disposition document or a court-certified copy

Documents in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. The list of suggested documents may include items that are not applicable to your case type. You are not required to bring those. If you have any questions about the documents requested in your interview notice, contact your designated Fragomen professional. 

8. What questions will I be asked? 

During the interview, a USCIS officer will review your adjustment application to determine your eligibility to adjust status. The officer will also review the evidence and documents supporting your employer's I-140 petition to ensure that they are genuine. You may be asked about: 

  • Where you will work
  • The duties and salary of the position outlined in the I-140 petition (which may be different from your current position)
  • Your educational background
  • Details about previous employment that qualified you for the position outlined in the I-140 petition
  • The biographical information you provided in your adjustment application
  • Whether the sponsoring employer still intends to employ you in the job outlined in the I-140
  • Whether you still intend to take up the job described in the I-140 or whether you have changed jobs pursuant to adjustment portability rules

If you have accepted new employment that is different from the position outlined in the I-140 petition, you will likely be asked about the details of your new position to determine if the role meets the requirements for portability.

9. What questions will my spouse and other family members be asked? What documents should they bring? 

When your family members are interviewed, they will be asked about their relationship to you and their eligibility to adjust status. Your spouse may be asked specific questions about the job for which you are being sponsored, where you work, your educational background and the work experience that qualified you for the sponsored role. Your spouse will also be asked about your relationship and your history together in order to determine the bona fides of your marriage.    

The interview notice will contain a list of documents your dependents must bring, which may include:

  • Original birth certificates for your spouse and children
  • All current and previous passports in each family member's possession that contain any U.S. visa stamps and/or entry and exit stamps
  • Each family member's current I-94 record
  • A valid passport and I-94 for each family member, as well as an additional form of identification
  • Proof that each family member has continuously maintained nonimmigrant status (e.g. visa stamps, I-797 approval notices, I-20s, etc.)
  • Original marriage certificate
  • Original divorce decrees or death certificates, to demonstrate the dissolution of your or your spouse's prior marriage(s), if any
  • Other evidence to demonstrate your spousal relationship, such as joint bank account statements, bills or letters addressed to you both, photographs, property deeds or leases, and similar document
  • USCIS approval notices and any other nonimmigrant documents for each family member, to demonstrate maintenance of status
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and advance parole (AP) or combination EAD/AP card for each family member, if applicable
  • An up-to-date medical examination report completed by a USCIS-authorized physician, if not provided with the adjustment application or if more than a year has elapsed since the exam report was submitted
  • If your spouse or child has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, an original final disposition document or a court-certified copy

Documents in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. 

10. After my interview, when will USCIS make a decision on my application?

After an interview, USCIS has 120 days to issue a decision. However, if there are no outstanding questions or missing evidence, and the priority date is current, most cases are decided in 30 to 60 days after the interview.  If further information or evidence is needed, the officer will issue a request for evidence and ask you to respond within a set period of time.

11. Am I permitted to have an attorney with me at the interview?

Yes, attorneys are permitted at adjustment interviews. Because the mandatory employment-based interview process is new, attending the interview with an attorney is recommended. If you wish to have legal counsel at your interview, please contact your Fragomen professional. 

12. Will the employment-based interview requirement affect p rocessing times for other cases requiring an interview?  Yes, the increased workload at USCIS field offices coupled with a federal hiring freeze and union work rules that prohibit USCIS from increasing the case load of existing officers is expected lead to longer wait times for family-based adjustment applications and naturalization applications, which also require interviews. 

This alert is for informational  purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen. 

© 2017 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

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Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates, (collectively known as “Fragomen Worldwide”) is the world’s largest firm dedicated to corporate immigration, and is recognized as the leading global immigration services provider.

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