On August 28, USCIS announced that it will begin phasing in in-person interviews for employment-based applicants for LPR status as early as October 1, 2017. Employment-based applicants may elect to complete the last step of the LPR process in the United States through the adjustment of status process, which has not required applicants to appear for an interview for a number of years. Applicants may also apply through consular processing abroad, which has consistently had an interview component. The re-introduction of the interview during the adjustment of status process may impact up to 125,000 employment-based adjustment of status applications each year and could further delay an already slow process.

Employment-based applicants are those who are sponsored for LPR status through an employer’s immigrant visa petition, including persons sponsored via the PERM process, Multinational Managers/Executives, and Persons with Extraordinary Ability. For the last several years, USCIS has customarily waived the interview requirement for employment-based applicants absent special circumstances. Other applicants for adjustment of status, including family-based applicants, were already subject to the interview requirement.

Employers and their immigrating employees will likely experience increased processing time for adjustment of status applications. Employers may now be required to pursue multiple extensions of underlying nonimmigrant status (e.g., H-1B), as well as several extensions of temporary employment and travel authorization (EAD/AP), to accommodate their immigrating employee’s need to maintain work authorization during a lengthened wait for LPR status. Employers’ budgets for this step of this process may also need to be adjusted to accommodate the additional steps needed to keep the immigrating employee and family in status during the wait. Despite a strong preference for adjustment of status in past years, consular processing at a U.S. Consulate abroad may become a quicker and more preferred route to reach permanent resident status for employment-based cases.