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

• Employment-based adjustment of status applicants are now required to attend a personal interview before their green card case can be processed to completion. • USCIS will interview applicants whose I-140 immigrant worker petition was filed on or after March 6, 2017, as well as any family members applying with the principal.

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Oct 12, 2017
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services now requires 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 foreign nationals, recognizing that these applicants posed few security risks. The following are Fragomen's answers to frequently asked questions about what to expect in an employment-based adjustment interview.

1. Who will be interviewed?
If your I-140 immigrant worker petition was filed on or after March 6, 2017
, USCIS will interview you and any family members applying for adjustment with you. If your I-140 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 your I-140 was filed on or after March 6, 2017, your derivative family members will be interviewed. If you and your family members filed your adjustment applications at the same time, USCIS will try to interview you as a group. But if one of your family members' applications is delayed, that family member's interview may be scheduled separately. 

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, but a waiver is not guaranteed.

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. Under the new process, 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. What should I bring to my interview?
Your interview notice will include a list of documents to bring, which may include:

  • Your passport and 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
  • A letter from the sponsoring employer confirming your job offer and job duties and/or USCIS Form I-485, Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability
  • Letters confirming your previous employment
  • Diplomas and other 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 
  • 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.

7. 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
  • Your job experience
  • The biographical information you provided in your adjustment application
  • Whether the 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

8. 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. The interview notice may request the following documents:

  • Original birth certificates for your spouse and children
  • A valid passport and I-94 for each family member, as well as an additional form of identification
  • 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 documents
  • 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
  • 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.

9. 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.

10. 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. 

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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