September 29, 2017

USCIS Ombudsman Teleconference on new AOS interview requirements

On September 28, 2017, the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office held a teleconference to advise stakeholders on the new requirement for I-140 based Adjustment of Status applicants to appear for interviews. The following is a summary of the information that was provided during that call.

  • All I-140 based Adjustment of Status (AOS) cases that were filed on or after March 6, 2017, will be scheduled for in-person interviews at a local USCIS office. Cases filed before March 6, 2017, will not be subject to interviews.
  • The nationwide rollout of the interview requirement is October 1, 2017.
  • Training for USCIS field officers was completed on September 28, 2017. Checklists and standard operating procedures are in place to assist officers in their directive, which is combating fraud.
  • After the service center has approved an I-140 and completed review of any corresponding I-485 applications, it will forward the I-485 application(s) to the National Benefits Center. The applicant will receive a transfer notice after this is completed. The National Benefits Center (NBC) will schedule interviews and generate the interview notices, which will be sent to the applicants.
  • USCIS will notify applicants at least 30 days in advance of their scheduled interview appointment. Every applicant will receive his or her own interview notice, and USCIS will make an effort to interview families together who filed their applications at the same time. The field office may waive interviews for dependents under 14 years of age. The NBC will forward the cases to the appropriate field office with jurisdiction over the case.
  • Interview notices include a generic document checklist, but USCIS encourages applicants to submit ALL evidence with their initial applications.
  • Applicants should respond to any Requests for Evidence (RFEs) prior to the interview in order to avoid delays in adjudication.
  • USCIS officers have been instructed not to re-adjudicate the I-140 petition. Officers will assess the validity of the supporting documents used in the initial I-140 filing, and confirm that the job offer still exists.
    • This also applies to EB-1A self-petition cases.
  • If applicant has “ported” to a new job and the adjudicating officer has questions about 204(j) and whether the new position qualifies as a “same or similar occupation” the officer may consult with the service center.
  • Applicants should expect to articulate the details and requirements of the offered position in the underlying I-140 petition, and be able to confirm how their education and experience meets those requirements.
  • Applicants should be prepared to answer all questions found on Form I-485 and to confirm the information contained in that application.
  • Dependent family members should expect to show evidence of a bona fide relationship to the Principal Applicant.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, the interviewing officer may request additional evidence, approve the application, recommend revocation, or deny an application.
  • In the case of a denial or revocation:
    • If the issues revolve around inadmissibility of an applicant, on the I-485 application will be denied.
    • If issues of credibility relate instead to the underlying I-140, both the I-140 and I-485(s) will be returned to the service center for further review, possible notice of intent to revoke, and ultimately denial of the I-140 and attached I-485(s).
  • USCIS anticipates that the employment-based adjustment interviews will comprise 17% of overall workload at Field Offices.
    • The agency expects a slight delay in processing times for family-based applications and Naturalization cases due to being understaffed.
  • Field Office processing times should be updated soon to include processing times for I-140 based cases. The Field Offices will strive to adjudicate cases as quickly as possible, based on visa availability in each preference category.

Our office is committed to preparing complete applications, and will work with applicants and their dependent family members to prepare them in advance of their scheduled interview. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions about this or any other immigration matter.

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