Following a report by online magazine Politico on Friday, August 25, USCIS announced today, August 28, 2017, that it will eliminate the practice of waiving employment-based adjustment of status interviews, which has been standard practice for approximately two decades. This change will be implemented on October 1, 2017. The adjustment of status application is the final stage of the green card sponsorship process, and reviews the applicant’s personal and visa history. This new measure will impact foreign nationals who apply for permanent residence, while physically present in the United States, through the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). What this means is that all foreign nationals who have submitted adjustment of status applications will be required to undergo a personal interview at the USCIS office with jurisdiction over their place of residence.
In fiscal year 2015 alone, USCIS adjudicated 122,000 employment-based permanent residence applications, most of which did not require the applicants to attend an interview. Therefore, the elimination of waiving the interview requirement will almost certainly result in additional significant delays in processing applications for permanent residence. No Congressional action is required to implement this change even though this reversal will require additional staffing to schedule and conduct interviews at all the various USCIS local offices throughout the United States.
President Trump campaigned on a pledge to increase scrutiny on all applicants for immigration benefits. This new initiative seems to follow through on that campaign pledge. It remains to be seen whether this policy reversal will result in the administration’s stated goal of greater scrutiny, given that these applicants for permanent residents will have by this stage in the immigration process, undergone a litany of background checks, face-to-face interviews, and additional scrutiny when applying for visas, work permits and other immigration benefits.