Changes to Green Card Policies Changes to Green Card Policies

Changes to Green Card Policies

As part of its efforts to reduce fraud and protect the integrity of the immigration system, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently implemented changes to several long-standing policies and practices affecting green card processing. Employers and their sponsored foreign national employees should take note of these changes, as they impact the process and timeline for employment-based green card applications (Form I-485).
 
I-485 Interviews. One of the most notable changes USCIS implemented is the expansion of in-person interviews for certain Adjustment of Status applicants beginning Oct. 2, 2017. Historically, USCIS generally limited in-person interviews to only marriage-based green card applicants. Employment-based green card applicants typically did not require an in-person interview. Consistent with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” USCIS is now requiring employment-based green card applicants to undergo interviews before the green cards are issued. All employment-based Adjustment of Status applications for both the primary applicant and any dependent family members filed on or after March 6, 2017, will require interviews. USCIS is working to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking permanent residence in the United States, and these in-person interviews will provide officers the opportunity to verify the information provided in the individual’s application, to discover any new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the U.S. Importantly, such interviews should not include a re-adjudication of the principal applicant’s underlying I-140 Immigrant Petition.
 
Advance Parole denials. Another change in long-standing practice is USCIS is now denying pending Advance Parole applications for abandonment when the applicant travels internationally prior to the application’s adjudication. This departure from long standing policy is occurring even if the individual re-enters the U.S. with a still valid Advance Parole in his or her possession or pursuant to a valid H, K, L, or V visa. Advance Parole applications can take approximately three (3) months for adjudication and applicants are strongly advised to discuss international travel plans with qualified counsel prior to the filing of Advance Parole applications to avoid unnecessary denials.
 
Expiring Medical Exams. Over the past year, USCIS processing times have increased for employment-based green card applications, with some applications taking 12-14 months for approval. As a result of this increased processing time, many applicants’ medical exams, submitted as part of the green card application, expire prior to green card approval. Once the green card application is filed, the medical exam is valid for 12 months. If the exam expires prior to green card adjudication, USCIS will request a new exam. In light of the long processing times, which are expected to continue, applicants may wish to hold on securing the medical exam to avoid the time and expense of undergoing a second medical exam. Current processing times and strategy and timing related to securing the requisite medical exam should be discussed with counsel on a case-by-case basis.
 
To discuss these issues further, please contact Kristin KelleyJenifer M. BrownChristl P. Glier, or any member of Ice Miller's Immigration Group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
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