As of October 1, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) will require in-person interviews for applicants who apply to adjust their status from employment-based nonimmigrant visa status (such as H-1B, L-1, and O-1, to name a few) to that of lawful permanent resident based on an approved immigrant petition (Form I-140). Visa holders who are family members of refugees or asylees will also be required to undergo in-person interviews when they apply for lawful permanent residence. This interview mandate is part of President Trump’s plan to apply “extreme vetting” to immigrants and visitors to the U.S.
This policy, as confirmed by USCIS spokesperson Carter Langston, is “part of a comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and security risks to the United States.”(http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/25/trump-administration-green-card-hurdle-242050). Although the in-person interview is not a new procedure, the USCIS has been waiving the interview requirement for many employment-based adjustment of status applicants because the interviews tended to cause a backlog in processing and waste valuable resources (personnel, time and funding).
The mandatory interview requirement will almost certainly lengthen the already long wait times for green cards. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 168,000 immigrants in these categories obtained lawful permanent residency, according to annual statistics from the Department of Homeland Security. Most (roughly 122,000) moved from an employment-based nonimmigrant visas to lawful permanent resident status. As of the posting of this article, the two Service Centers that are responsible for adjudicating employment-based applications for adjustment of status, namely the Nebraska Service Center and the Texas Service Center, were processing applications filed in November 2016 and January 2017, respectively. (USCIS Processing Time Information at www.uscis.gov)