Interview process changes for some AOS applicants, but not religious workers
Effective Oct. 1, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, will begin implementing "in-person" interviews of I-485 Adjustment of Status (AOS) applicants from employment-based immigration cases. While religious worker AOS cases are employment-based, this new policy will not apply.
Prior to this change, employment-based AOS applicants were typically not subjected to in-person interviews and cases were adjudicated at regional service centers. AOS interviews for these case types will now be scheduled at local immigration offices. The National Benefits Center, or NBC, will conduct pre-processing of AOS cases and generate interview notices.
RIS learned of this policy change during a recent USCIS Stakeholders call. We were informed that at present the expansion of in-person interviews includes employment cases based on I-140 petitions. Employment cases based on I-360 petitions are being considered, but will not be subject to in-person interviews at this time. Thus, until further notice, religious worker AOS applications will not require in-person interviews. USCIS stated that this new policy will be phased in over time and could expand to other AOS cases.
Despite not directly including religious worker AOS applicants, this new policy will still impact AOS processing. Religious worker AOS applicants should expect processing delays to continue. USCIS stated that AOS processing will take longer, and priority will be given to employment-based AOS cases for in-person interviews. In addition, family-based AOS cases and naturalization cases will see increased processing delays. It is not clear if USCIS will have the resources necessary to address the increased burden this will have on local immigration offices. Also, local immigration officers will need additional training since they normally do not process these types of cases. There is a concern there may be erroneous denials or additional processing delays with this new policy. RIS will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates accordingly.
RIS advises all religious worker AOS applicants to speak with their immigration attorney about this issue as soon as possible.