What Do I Need to Know About Employment-based Visa Interviews?
On September 28, 2017, the Office of the CIS Ombudsman hosted a stakeholder call, featuring Associate Director of the USCIS Field Operations Directorate, Dan Renaud, to discuss the implementation of the new interview requirement for employment-based adjustment of status applicants. The following is a summary of the information presented and the questions addressed during the call.
Which employment-based adjustment of status cases are subject to the interview requirement?
All employment-based adjustment of status cases where the underlying petition is a Form I-140 (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3) that are filed on or after March 6, 2017, will be subject to an interview. The new interview requirement is being rolled out nationwide, with interviews starting on October 2, 2017. Interview notices for these initial cases were mailed out approximately September 2, 2017. USCIS will focus first on employment-based I-485s, then I-730s. The goal is to make sure the maximum number of employment-based visas are allocated each fiscal year.
Is anyone exempt from the employment-based interview requirement?
Every employment-based principal and derivative will be required to appear for an interview. USCIS will consider waiving the interview in cases where the applicant is under the age of 14.
Will USCIS Officers Re-adjudicate or Review the I-140?
The field officer will not “re-adjudicate” the petition but will evaluate whether the evidence used to support the I-140 was accurate, bona fide, and credible.
Will a Request for Evidence (RFE) for a medical exam or Supplement J be issued before scheduling the interview?
An RFE will be issued if additional evidence or documents are required on a pending application.
What types of questions can employment-based adjustment applicants expect?
USCIS wants to be sure that it has accurate answers to questions regarding admissibility and eligibility. Therefore, applicants can expect to be asked any question relating to the I-485. This means that the applicant will be asked to explain where they will work, what they’re going to do, as well as their educational background and experience. USCIS will also confirm that the employer still intends to employ the applicant and that the applicant still intends to take up employment.
Family members of the principal should expect questions regarding their relationship to the principal and the bona fides of that relationship. Applicants will need to bring documents confirming the relationship (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) and documents showing the bona fides of the relationship to the interview.
Families may not be interviewed together
Every applicant will receive an interview notice. USCIS will endeavor to schedule family groups together, as long as they file their applications at the same time.
Does USCIS expect the new interview requirement to impact processing times?
USCIS expects that processing times will be impacted somewhat, particularly in the family-based and N-400 product lines. Employment-based adjustments should not slow down, given the goal of exhausting employment-based numbers each year.
What are the top 10 district offices impacted by the new workload?
San Jose, San Francisco, Newark, New York, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta. and Los Angeles.
If an application cannot be approved by the field office what will happen to the case?
If the field officer believes that an applicant is ineligible for adjustment, the I-485 will be denied and the I-140 will be sent to SCOPS. If the field officer believes that the evidence to support the I- 140 is not credible, the I-140 and I-485 will be returned to SCOPS with a recommendation to revoke the I-140. If SCOPS agrees, it will issue a Notice of Intent to Revoke. If revocation grounds are overcome, SCOPS will affirm the I-140 and complete the I-485 adjudication. If SCOPS revokes the I-140, it will also deny the I-485.
If the field officer has a question about whether a new job is “same or similar,” will the case go back to SCOPS?
If the field office has questions about particular aspects of the “same or similar” determination or questions about the I-140 adjudication, it can speak with SCOPS and/or USCIS HQ to try and resolve the issue.
For EB-1 extraordinary ability cases, how will field officers evaluate whether the individual will “substantially benefit prospectively the United States?”
Field officers will not re-adjudicate the I-140 so the applicant will not need to reestablish this.
The officer will only seek to validate the evidence included with the I-140.
Should the applicant bring financial documentation from the employer?
That information will be included in the I-140 file. The field officer is not in a position to validate the company financials and will defer to SCOPS. The field officer will focus primarily on the background and intentions of the applicant.
Where will advance parole and employment authorization applications be adjudicated?
I-485s that go directly to the NBC will be adjudicate by NBC. I-485s filed with SCOPS are handled by SCOPS.
USCIS has announced that it will also require interviews for beneficiaries of I-730 refugee and asylee relative petitions who are in the U.S., the call focused on interviews for employment-based adjustment applicants.