U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective October 1, 2017, it will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain green card applicants. USCIS said this change complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” and “is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.”

Effective October 1, USCIS will begin to phase in interviews for:

  • Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status); and
  • Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.

Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers for their applications for permanent residence to be adjudicated. This policy change appears to be part of the Trump administration’s “extreme vetting” plan, referenced in the President’s executive order instituting the travel ban (Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, issued in January and revised in March). The revised order requires the “development of a uniform baseline for screening and vetting standards and procedures, such as in-person interviews.” According to attorneys, the result will likely be more than 100,000 more USCIS in-person interviews per year, which is expected to lengthen wait times for permanent residence applications.

Beyond the immediately affected categories, USCIS said it is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.

USCIS said that conducting in-person interviews will provide USCIS officers with “the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual’s application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States.” USCIS said it will meet the additional interview requirement through enhancements in training and technology as well as transitions in some aspects of case management.

See the USCIS notice for further information.