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UNITED STATES – USCIS Tightens Rules for Green Card Applicants

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, effective 1 October 2017, it will eliminate the practice of waiving employment-based adjustment of status interviews, which has been standard practice for approximately two decades.

In another departure from previous standard practice, USCIS has now started to deny Advance Parole applications when the applicant departs the United States while the application is pending, even if the applicant holds H-1B, H-4 or L status or a valid Advance Parole document.

Adjustment of Status Interviews

The adjustment of status application is the final stage of the green card permanent residence process, and reviews the applicant's personal and visa history. This new measure will impact foreign nationals who apply for permanent residence, while physically present in the United States, through USCIS.  All foreign nationals who have submitted adjustment of status applications will be required to undergo a personal interview at the USCIS office with jurisdiction over their place of residence.

In fiscal year 2015 alone, USCIS adjudicated 122,000 employment-based permanent residence applications, most of which did not require the applicants to attend an interview.  Therefore, the elimination of waiving the interview requirement will almost certainly result in additional significant delays in processing applications for permanent residence.

Advance Parole

Applicants for permanent residence (green card) in the US often rely on a grant of Advance Parole (AP) to travel internationally while their green card applications are pending.

For years, AP applicants have been allowed to travel internationally without consequence while their AP application is pending, as long as they hold a valid H-1B, H-4 or L visa or valid AP document. This is no longer the case.

Action Items

  • Companies sponsoring employees for green cards should anticipate longer processing times due to the forthcoming new interview requirement.
  • Advance Parole applicants should avoid travel abroad while their AP application is pending.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Maggio and Kattar.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.