I-485 In-Person Interview Requirement – Summary of Teleconference with USCIS Ombudsman

On Thursday, September 28, the USCIS Ombudsman’s office held a teleconference where they discussed the new employment-based adjustment of status interview requirement.

USCIS will implement the interview requirement and incorporate this new workload incrementally, distributing it between Service Center Operations and Field Offices. As previously announced, interviews for employment-based adjustment of status applicants filed after March 6, 2017 will begin nationwide on Monday, October 2, 2017.

What Can Employees Expect During this Interview Process

Who will be called in for in-person interview?
Generally, all I-485 applicants who filed an adjustment of status application based on a pending or approved I-140, on or after March 6, 2017, will be required to attend an in-person interview with USCIS. This includes principal applicants and derivatives (spouses and children), with interviews waived only for derivative children under age 14.

What about applications filed prior to March 6, 2017?
USCIS has confirmed that in-person interviews will only be automatically required for applications filed on or after March 6, 2017. Applications filed prior to that cut-off date should be adjudicated based on the previous process, with interviews waived for the large majority of cases. However, USCIS has the discretion to call any I-485 applicant for an in-person interview, on a case-by-case basis.

When will the applicant receive the notice of the interview? 
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.

What questions will be asked of the applicants?
Applicants can expect questions relating to the I-485 application, specific questions to determine eligibility and admissibility. Additionally, the principal applicant, the individual named on the I-140, can also anticipate questions relating to the evidence used to support the I-140 petition, such as:

  • their employment in the U.S.;
  • their intent to be permanently employed in the U.S.;
  • their educational background;
  • their current salary; and
  • their previous work history.

Derivative applicants should be prepared to provide evidence of their relationship to the principal applicant (e.g.: marriage certificate; birth certificate), as well as other bona fide evidence of the marriage or familial relationship.

Will the officer be re-adjudicating the underlying I-140 petition?
No, officers are being instructed to not re-adjudicate an approved I-140 during these in-person interviews. However, during these interviews they will be assessing the validity of the documents provided as evidence in the underlying I-140 petition. For example, they can assess the validity of an applicant’s educational documents and other qualifications.

Will USCIS require the applicant to provide evidence of their employers’ ability to pay or other corporate documents related to the I-140? 
No. USCIS assumes that at the time of the I-140 adjudication the Service took the necessary steps to vet the ability of an employer to pay the proffered wage to the principal applicant and whether the petitioner met other requirements. The I-485 adjudicator will not re-adjudicate the I-140 during these in-person interviews.

What should applicants bring with them at the time of the interview?
Upon receipt of the notice from USCIS, EIG will connect with applicants and schedule an interview prep call to go over the documents that the applicants should carry with them the day of the interview. We have already received several notices and they seem to be very generic and do not differentiate a family-based application from an employment-based application. It is important to note that not all documents listed on the notice are required in every situation. The applicants should work with EIG to determine which documents to bring with them.

Will the employer / petitioner play a role in these in-person interviews?
No. The employer has no role in the I-485 interview. The goal of these interviews is to evaluate the background and intentions of the I-485 applicants and determine their eligibility and admissibility.

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. We will be scheduling interview prep calls with applicants ahead of their scheduled interview dates and provide guidance on questions they should expect and documents they should bring with them to the interview.