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Green Card Hurdles Introduced By Trump Administration

Since his candidacy, Donald Trump has taken a hardline approach to immigration. His plan to apply "extreme vetting" to visitors and immigrants to the United States is already taking shape with a new interview mandate that will be required to obtain a green card.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed that immigration authorities will now require an in-person interview for some green card applicants. This interview will be necessary for anyone who is moving from an employment-based visa to a lawful permanent residency as well as visa holders who are family members of refugees and people who receive asylum in America.

This interview will be conducted during the provisional stage that precedes getting a green card and it's expected to slow the process of getting a green card. The purpose of the in-person interview is allowing an USCIS officer to verify the information provided on the application, discover new and relevant information, and assess the applicant's credibility.

In 2015 alone, about 168,000 immigrants in these categories received lawful permanent residency, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The vast majority previously held an employment-based visa.

The travel ban that Trump signed in January and revised in March called for the federal government to develop "uniform screening and standards" to identify terrorists and individuals who pose a risk. The order stated that an in-person interview could be considered part of the standards.

Technically, the in-person interview requirement is not new, but it has been waived for these categories of visa holders most of the time over the last decade. Waivers will no longer be granted under the new policy. Many of these candidates have been living and working in the US for more than a decade.

The interview requirement is almost guaranteed to increase the wait time for green card applicants. According to the USCIS tracking tool, staffers usually have a 6-month delay before applications are even processed.

Stephen Legomsky, USCIS chief counsel between 2011 and 2013, said that the interviews likely add "some marginal value" but it may not be enough to offset the additional workload. He also said the USCIS plans to speed up interviews by streamlining operations and boosting staff training.

According to USCIS, the interviews will be phased in for:

  • Refugees and asylee relative petitions (Form I-730) for beneficiaries who are in the U.S. and petitioning to join a principal asylum or refugee application
  • Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485)

The interviews will begin for these categories on October 1, 2017. Contact the Law Offices of Sweta Khandelwal to see how we can help you prepare for a USCIS interview.

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