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New Hurdles in Access to U.S. Immigration Benefits - UPDATE

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a Press Release, which confirms the implementation of a new policy to require interviews for all employment-based adjustment of status applicants, as well as expanding the interview requirement to other categories. According to USCIS, the new policy is in accordance with Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, and is “part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.”


Effective October 1, 2017, USCIS will begin to “phase-in” interviews for employment-based adjustment of status applicants, as well as family-based petitions for relatives currently in the U.S. as refugees or asylees and seeking permanent residency. Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers for their respective cases to be adjudicated. The Press Release further confirms that USCIS is “planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types” beyond the employment-based and refugee/asylee categories.


“This change reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament said in the release. “USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”


At this point, it is unclear whether USCIS will require interviews for cases filed prior to October 1, 2017, which remain pending, or if the interview requirement is applicable to cases filed on and after October 1. The Immigration Attorneys of Mintz Levin continue to monitor this rapidly changing landscape and will post updates as we receive them.


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Elizabeth Wheeler