Alert: USCIS reverses decades-old policy of waiving interviews for employment-based green card applicants.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") has announced a major change of policy that will impact employment-based green card applicants. According to its announcement dated August 28, 2017, USCIS will phase-in interviews for adjustment of status applications based on employment. Adjustment of status is the final step in green card sponsorship for individuals already in the U.S. in some form of non-immigrant status. Typically these individuals are on valid work visas when they are sponsored by their employers for green cards. During this final step, USCIS reviews the individual's personal and immigration history, conducts background checks and ensures the applicant is eligible for permanent residence in the U.S.

While it has been standard agency practice for marriage-based applicants and several other types of applicants to be called for interviews, for more than two decades USCIS has waived interviews for individuals applying for permanent residence in employment-based categories. Per this recent shift in policy, effective October 1, 2017, applicants for adjustment of status based on employment may receive notices from USCIS requesting them to appear for in-person interviews. Immigration officers conducting these interviews will likely seek to verify information provided by the applicants during the process to ensure they continue to be eligible for a green card.

It is unclear from the USCIS announcement whether this change will impact applicants who have already submitted their Forms I-485 based on employment for processing, or whether only future applicants in those categories may expect interview notices. Also, the wording of the announcement that USCIS "will begin to phase-in interviews" does not clearly indicate all applicants will be called for interviews. We will provide future updates when USCIS provides additional details on this significant change in policy. Without question, however, applicants in all green card categories (both employment and family-based) should prepare for delays in adjudication, as the local USCIS offices will see a significant increase to caseloads without an accompanying increase in staffing.

Revised Form I-485 - now 18 pages in length with expanded inadmissibility questions - becomes mandatory on August 25, 2017

On June 26, 2017 USCIS released an updated version of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is commonly referred to as the "green card" application, whereby an applicant requests USCIS adjust his or her non-immigrant status to that of permanent resident or "green card" holder based on meeting certain criteria. USCIS will continue to accept current version of I-485 (revision date of 1/17/2017), totaling 6 pages, until August 24, 2017. The new version of Form I-485 (revision date of 6/26/2017) is now 18 pages long, and USCIS described as "substantially updated to reduce complexity after collecting comments from the public and stakeholders."  In addition USCIS notes the revised form has "better flow and organization of questions to make it user-friendly for both applicants and USCIS" and that "readability has significantly improved due to new spacing columns, flow, white space, and formatting."

In a teleconference on August 3, 2017, USCIS representatives specifically noted that applicants using the new version of the form no longer need to complete and submit a separate Form G-325A, as that data regarding address and employment history and family biographical information is now incorporated into Form I-485. USCIS also revised Supplement A and Supplement J to Form I-485, so applicants must ensure they are using the correct supplements (if applicable) when filing their green card applications on or after August 25, 2017.

One of the most significant differences between the current and revised Form I-485 is the length of the section regarding inadmissibility questions. The updated Form I-485 contains 80 questions, many with sub-questions, covering issues of general eligibility and inadmissibility. Applicants should review these questions carefully and consider whether working with a qualified immigration attorney may help them proceed with confidence during this important process.

USCIS publishes chart on I-485 Adjustment of Status applications

On March 23, 2016, USCIS published a chart listing all I-485 applications received, approved, denied, and pending adjudication between October 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. The chart breaks down I-485 applications into four main categories: family-based applications, employment-based applications, humanitarian-based applications, and other applications. On the employment-based side, the most striking figure is the number of cases still pending: 125,161. While there appears to be a slight uptick in processing times of late, the vast majority of I-485 applications continue to take between six and eight months for adjudication. 

Where these delays can cause considerable hardship to applicants with long-pending cases, we strongly urge all applicants with Employment Authorization Documents ("EADs") and/or advance parole issued based on a pending I-485 to track the expiration of those EAD/AP combo cards. When the EAD/AP combo card is due to expire within four months, applicants should immediately file for extensions of work and travel permission since USCIS may take up to 90 days to adjudicate the extensions. These extension requests do not require payment of additional filing fees, and the timing should be carefully considered in order to avoid interruptions in work authorization and cancellation of travel plans. For more information or to contact an attorney at Iandoli Desai & Cronin with questions about this process, please e-mail us at

Naturalization application denied for unauthorized employment prior to gaining legal permanent residence

In a recent decision, the U.S. Circuit Court for the 8th Circuit denied an application for U.S. citizenship after determining the applicant had engaged in unauthorized employment while in the U.S. pursuant to a non-immigrant, R-1 visa. The applicant in this case began working for an employer more than six months prior to the date that he was authorized by USCIS to do so, making him ineligible to apply for adjustment of status. This period of unauthorized employment was not known to USCIS at the time the agency approved his green card, but came to light when he listed his employers and dates of employment on his application for U.S. citizenship. As this unauthorized employment would have caused the applicant's green card application to be denied, the USCIS adjudicator conducting the naturalization interview determined that the legal permanent resident status should never have been granted in the first place and therefore denied the naturalization application.  Both a U.S. District Court and the U.S. Circuit Court for the 8th Circuit upheld USCIS's denial. 

This outcome is a warning to any foreign nationals who believe receiving a green card ends any possibility of further scrutiny into their employment and immigration history.  This case also highlights the importance of applicants ensuring any and all work undertaken in the U.S. prior to receiving a green card is specifically authorized. If you have questions regarding employment authorization or whether it could impact a green card or naturalization application, you should contact one of our immigration attorneys at or by calling us at 617-482-1010 before applying.