Green Card Filings Affected by USCIS Policy Changes

Two policy changes from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may impact Adjustment of Status (AOS) applicant travel outside of the U.S., as well as green card processing times. The changes impact Advance Parole Travel Authorization (AP) applications and in-person interview requirements for the final adjudication of the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status. In addition, the USCIS announced an expanded interview process for “certain permanent residency applications” beginning October 1, 2017.

Policy Change #1 – Issuance of Advance Parole Travel Authorization:

Most AOS applicants are eligible to apply for Advance Parole (AP), a document that   allows applicants to travel outside the U.S. while the AOS application is pending. AP applications typically take 90-120 days to be processed. Previously some AOS applicants (like L-1 and H-1B visa holders) were permitted to travel outside the U.S. while waiting on the AP to be issued, however USCIS has recently begun denying AP applications in situations where H/L visa holders have travelled outside the U.S. while the AP application is pending.

Policy Change #2 – In-Person Interview Requirements:

USCIS has announced it will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain permanent residency applicants. As of October 1, 2017, USCIS will phase in interviews for employment-based (EB) AOS applicants and their family members. Previously most EB AOS applications were adjudicated at an USCIS Service Center without an interview and applicants were notified via mail of the final decision. This recent change to requiring interviews is being implemented in response to Executive Order 13780, which pushed for more “uniform screening and vetting standards” in visa issuance.

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