Effective October 1, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will require all applicants who are eligible for a green card based on sponsorship by their employer to appear for an in-person interview at a local USCIS field office. Previously, employer-sponsored applicants for green cards were exempt from the in-person interview requirement after USCIS determined decades ago that in-person interviews were usually unnecessary for this category of applicants. Adjudicating officers were still permitted to conduct in-person interviews for applicants when necessary. All applicants were and will continue to be subject to fingerprinting and background checks.

Interviews will not start all at once but will be phased in. Implementation will create new obstacles for employer-sponsored applicants for green cards, who have already undergone a rigorous screening and application process. The change in procedure likely will cause significant delays in the processing of these types of cases, particularly at the final stage of the process—the filing of an I-485 adjustment of status application. These applications are currently taking about 6-8 months to process. This new procedure also likely will delay processing times for all other petitions and applications processed by the local USCIS field offices.

This change reflects USCIS’s interpretation of the Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” The stated purpose is to “improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.”

Should you have questions about this new policy or employer-sponsored green cards, please contact Toni Blackwood or Kelli Stout.