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USCIS to conduct interviews for certain green card applicants

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Individuals who are seeking green cards based on employment will have to appear for interviews due to a new enforcement stance by the Trump administration. Immigrants in Maryland and around the country have typically been vetted already as part of the initial visa process, but United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is preparing to add 200,000 interviews to its workload to further vet individuals who apply for adjustment of status green cards.

Technically, the interview process has always been required, but USCIS has historically waived it for green cards based on employment. According to a spokesperson for the agency, USCIS plans to bring on additional staff and make use of overtime hours to handle the increased workload. The spokesperson said that dependents of applicants will also be interviewed except where they are eligible for waivers, such as young children, but that USCIS will attempt to interview all family members together.

An immigration lawyer said application processing times are expected to increase significantly, perhaps even doubling to two years or more in some cases. The agency may struggle to meet the increased cost burden, as it is predominantly funded by user fees. Securing additional funds from Congress could take a long time.

In the meantime, immigrants have a limited job flexibility. The law allows them to change jobs in certain situations only. The president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said the interviews may result in more denials of these green card applications. An attorney may be able to help a person secure an adjustment of status green card by providing guidance throughout the process so government requirements are met. An attorney with experience in immigration law may be able to draft and file necessary legal paperwork or argue on behalf of the client during USCIS proceedings.

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