Effective October 1, 2017 nationwide, USCIS will begin contacting those who filed their employment-based petitions after March 6th for interviews when they have also applied for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence. The USCIS Ombudsman provided an informative Q and A session last Thursday. Here is what applicants need to know:
- Under 14 years old may be waived from the interview requirement – there is a waiver that applicants must complete.
- Will receive a separate notice, but family groups should be scheduled for the interview at the same time. However, they make no promises that it will be at the same time.
- Family members could be expected to prove relationship to the primary beneficiary – bring copies and originals of certificates. Officer may also require showing that the marriage was bona fide.
- The I-140’s will not be “re-adjudicated” at these interviews. However, in addition to considering the Adjustment of Status application, the interviewing officer will “re-assess” the validity and accuracy of the documents that were submitted in support of the I-140 petition. Needless to say, this point is troubling – “re-assessing” the validity and accuracy seems to be crossing the thin line into “re-adjudicating”.
- USCIS does not want applicants to send in unsolicited documents after the initial application is submitted. Because of the multiple steps involved, if USCIS needs new evidence, they will request them and applicants should follow the address and the instructions on the RFE so that the documents do not get lost.
- Questions that will be asked include those that are on the I-485 and the applicant’s eligibility for Adjustment, and admissibility issues. Also, officers may ask into what the beneficiary/self-petitioner will do, their experience, and their educational background. The main purpose of pursuing these interviews is fraud detection and national security, so referrals to ICE is possible if interviewing officer detects credible threats.
- Processing times: USCIS does not believe that these interviews will affect the processing times for the Employment-Based Adjustment applications, however, we may see some slow-down on family-based adjustments and naturalization interviews because of this.
- If the defects in the I-140 were a basis for the denial, then the field office will return the I-485 and the I-140 together to the service center and recommend that it be revoked. If the service center determines that the I-140 should not be revoked, then the service center will approve the application.
- On the other hand, if the I-140 is okay, but there are defects in the I-485, then the field office will refer the case to the consulate to be re-adjudicated in accordance with consular processing.
- Medical Exams: Without further advice from USCIS at this moment, we would also recommend waiting until you are contacted through the Request for Evidence or at the interview to submit the medical examination. Because the medical exams are only valid for one year and it could take a year or more for the Adjustment application, it could be a waste of money and resources to submit the medical exams with the I-485 packet.
Our office is ready to help Employment-Based adjustment applicants prepare for these interviews, collect the required documents, and go with them, if necessary. Please contact us if you wish to have some assistance in these uncertain times.