The Trump administration has imposed a new in-person interview requirement that will lengthen the amount of time it takes to get a green card. The new requirement, which was confirmed by a spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, will apply to anyone moving from an employment-based non-immigrant visa (eg. TN Visa, H-1B Visa, O-1 Visa, E-2 Visa, L-1 Visa, B-1 Visa) to a green card (permanent resident card). For example, if you are in the U.S. on an H-1B visa and your company has sponsored you for a green card, you will now have to go to an in-person interview prior to getting the green card. This interview will be required even for applicants who have been working in the U.S. on non-immigrant visas for years.
The new rule will also require visa holders who are family members of refugees or people who receive political asylum to undergo an in-person interview when they apply for provisional status.
The new requirement is part of the Trump administration’s plan to apply “extreme vetting” to immigrants and visitors to the United States as generally visa applicants outside the U.S. are required to attend an interview to get a Visa to enter the U.S. While USCIS has always had the power to request an interview, they normally waived this as it was previously deemed unnecessary given the background checks that were already conducted. While interviews are conducted for marriage based family petitions the purpose was really to assess the validity of the marriage. It is unclear exactly what types of questions will be asked during the interview and what examiners will focus on.
The changes will take effect on October 1, 2017. The new rule will almost certainly add significant backlogs to the processing system and timelines and we can only hope that additional staff will be added to deal with delays.
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