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In-person interviews added to green card application

This month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services begin a new application process for anyone seeking to change their work visa to an employment-based green card. Under the Obama administration, USCIS performed interviews on an “as needed basis.” Now, everyone will do one.

The change in policy is likely to delay the green card process, with 200,000 interviews to be scheduled. A green card already takes eight to twelve months to process, prior to scheduling the additional interviews.

What does that mean for applicants?

Waiting a year for a decision is already hard on applicants. It’s risky to change jobs while your status is in limbo, meaning you’re stuck in your current position as you work your way through the system. It’s a financial burden that’s being stretched even longer. It’s also expected that fees will rise to help fund the extra processing.

Life doesn’t go on hold as you wait, which means that you’ll have to talk about whatever has changed in your life between application and interview, which makes the situation more stressful and puts more scrutiny on you as you wait for one of the biggest decisions in your life to be made for you.

Questions about the interview process

The green card interview will often be repetitive. Most immigrants applying for a green card passed background checks and screenings when they entered the country, including interviews with other government agencies.

By adding the interview, it adds uncertainty based on who conducts the interview. Most would clear automatically under previous rules but critics worry about interviewer subjectivity affecting the final decision.

Looking for answers

Everyone’s situation is different and you may be eligible for an interview waiver, need help with an interpreter or another exception. An experienced immigration attorney can help you get a better idea of your rights under the new law.

There is a lot at stake when you’re updating your legal status. It’s a stressful, intimidating process that may affect your family’s well-being for a long time.