By Ameer Shaikh
(Newark/Fremont, CA) On September 28, 2017, MPLG participated in a USCIS Ombudsman teleconference regarding the USCIS’ new interview requirement for employment based green cards.
Here are a few of the salient points gleaned from the conversation:
- The USCIS will begin conducting employment based interviews from October 2, 2017, for all Green Card Applications (Form I-485) filed upon the basis of an approved Employment Based Immigrant Petition (Form I-140). This covers Green Card Applications filed after March 6, 2017 on the basis of an immigrant petition filed in the EB-1, Eb-2, and EB-3 classifications.
- About 5 – 10% of the cases filed before March 6, 2017 could get interview requests too, but that is due to existing USCIS discretion.
- Employment based green card interviews will represent a 17% increase in the workload at the field offices.
- San Jose will likely be the busiest field office for these interviews, followed by San Francisco. Los Angeles is number ten among the top ten.
- According to the USCIS Ombudsman’s office, the Field Offices intend to only “validate” the supporting documents of the I-140. They will not be “readjudicating” the I-140 case. During the Q&A period, a question was posed about extraordinary ability cases (EB-1a), and whether field officers would question whether the extraordinary ability alien was still extraordinary in their eyes. The Ombudsman teleconference gave the indication that the field officer should not be “readjudicating” the case.
- One of the end goals of the “validation” evaluation is to vet for fraud, or where the documentary evidence submitted with the I-140 is in some other way inadequate.
- The Ombdsman’s Office stated that in the event that there is a denial at the interview stage, the I-485 and underlying I-140 would be sent back to the Service Center where the I-140 was adjudicated and the Service Center would be able to agree/disagree with the field officer’s adjudication. The Ombudsman’s Office stated that it would like to avoid a back and forth situation between the Service Center and the Field Offices.
- Derivatives (spouses and children) should be scheduled for green card interviews with the applicant, unless their petitions were not filed together. The Service encouraged filing together.
- The employer is not deemed a moving party in these matters and does not have a role to play in the employment based green card interview.
In conclusion, given the complexity of employment based immigrant petitions, it is imperative for applicants to do a thorough audit of their I-140 filings prior to filing. In the upcoming months, MPLG will be paying close attention to how broadly or narrowly the field officers adhere to the reported limitations on readjudication.