How to Prepare for Employment Based Green Card In-Person Interviews

 

Effective October 1st, USCIS phased-in new policy requiring all employment-based green card applicants to appear for an in-person interview with a USCIS officer before their green card can be approved. All employment based green card applications filed on or after March 06, 2017, are subject to an in-person interview in the following categories:

  • Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
  • Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant

Interview notices should be issued by USCIS at least 30 days prior to the scheduled interview date. USCIS will make an effort to schedule family members for interviews at the same time, as a way to streamline the process. Once the I-485, Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident application has been filed and it is ready to be adjudicated, the application will be sent to the National Benefits Center (NBC).  Upon the transfer to the NBC, the applicant will receive an Interview Notice from the USCIS. The notice will list a date, time and location the applicant must appear for the interview.

What to Expect During the Interview

During the interview, the USCIS officer will go over the I-485 application, specifically ask questions to determine eligibility and admissibility. As a general matter, the officer should not re-adjudicate the I-140, however, the applicants must be prepared to answer questions as related to their job duties, current employer, and employment history.  During the interview, the applicant can expect the USCIS officer to ask about any of the following:

  • Any information listed on the form I-485;
  • Questions related to the applicant’s admissibility, such as arrest, misrepresentations or fraud;
  • Questions related to the applicant’s duties and qualifications (education, experience, certifications and etc.)
  • Questions related to the applicant’s current employer.

Interview of Dependents (Spouse and Children)

Applicant’s dependents such as a spouse or a child are also expected to be “invited” for an interview. USCIS has stated that they will try to schedule families together at the same time and location; however, this is not guaranteed. Each family member must go to their own interview. USCIS may waive interviews for children aged 14 or younger.

During the interview, the USCIS officer will go over the information provided on the I-485, to determine eligibility and admissibility of the dependent. In addition, the officer will examine whether the relationship between the primary applicant and the dependent is bona-fide. For example, the officer will request to see the original marriage certificate, birth certificates for children, signed lease or mortgage, joint taxes/accounts/assets, family photos showing bona-fide marriage.

Tips for Employment-Based Green Cards Interviews  

It is important to note that the employment-based green card interview policy is new to the USCIS and to most of the officers. Before this policy took effect, the USCIS officers mainly conducted interviews for family-based green cards and citizenship applications. Even though extensive training is being provided to the USCIS officers on employment-based immigration law, it will take a while before the USCIS officers become fully versed in this area of immigration law. For these reasons, we recommend that applicants are fully prepared for the interview and if feasible, engage an immigration attorney who can adequately represent them during the interview. Here are some tips that will help you prepare:

  • Inform your immigration attorney of any material change to your employment such as change of employer, location, duties, transfer to a new employer;
  • Inform your attorney of any arrest in the U.S. or abroad;
  • Before the interview, review in detail the information and evidence provided to the USCIS at the time the I-140 and I-485 was filed;
  • Review all the time spent in the U.S. on any non-immigrant status;
  • Ask your employer to give you a letter of employment, listing your job title, the date you were hired and your current salary;
  • Take 3-6 months paystubs to the interview to show that you are currently employed.

Special Tips for Non-Traditional Employment-Based Cases: EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW)

Some employment-based cases such as EB-1A and EB-2 NIW do not require a job offer as the applicant can file a self-sponsored petition.  If you are a beneficiary of such petition,  it is important to know that the USCIS officer might not be familiar with the specifics of these cases. In return, the officer might ask you for a job offer, employment verification letter, and paystubs. Since these are not required for your application, you will have to explain to the USCIS officer the basis for your petition and the fact that you are self-sponsoring yourself as a result of your extraordinary ability in your field. However, you are required to prove to the officer that you are still working in your field and will continue to work upon the green card approval. To satisfy this requirement, you may bring the following documents to the interview:

  • Portfolio evidencing your current projects/engagements;
  • Relevant contracts;
  • Letters from current clients;
  • Publications about you or your work;
  • Invitation for future public speaking engagements or conferences.

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As we continue to prepare applicants for their in-person interview and receive updates from USCIS on the interview process, we will be sure to share updates with our clients. If you are an employer or employment-based green card applicant, please contact our office for assistance regarding the newly implemented interview process. You can contact our office at ddobreva@dobrevalaw.com or 214-609-0793.