September 1, 2017 — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has announced a new Trump administration policy to require in-person immigration interviews for employment-based green card cases, in the name of what the Trump administration calls “extreme vetting.” The policy will require in-person interviews for employment-based green card applicants (who currently do not require interviews except in rare circumstances) and for family members of asylum and refugee grantees (primary asylum applicants are already routinely interviewed).
Previously USCIS generally “waived” the interview requirement for employment-based adjustment of status (“green card”) applicants since these applicants are typically long-time residents of the United States and background checks including name and fingerprint checks are already run on them prior to green card approval. Duplicating those efforts through in-person interviews has long been considered a waste of resources.
The new interview requirements will be implemented incrementally, to allow for hiring and training of new USCIS adjudicators to handle the increased workload. The first interviews are scheduled to start October 1, 2017. We hope to see further formal announcements prior to that date that will provide more detail on the policy.
Initial estimates indicate the first wave of new classifications requiring that interviews will increase interviews nationally by well over 100,000 per year. This requirement is sure to cause delays for already backlogged USCIS local offices which are currently required to conduct in-person interviews for naturalization, asylum and family-based green card applications. Interviews for these application types typically take 30-150 days to schedule interviews already—depending on the number of cases in queue at the particular field office already busy local office workload.