U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that it will begin requiring in-person interviews for all applicants for permanent residency, including those applying based upon an employment-based petition or as an asylee, beginning on October 1, 2017. According to USCIS, the expansion of the in-person interviews is being implemented in compliance with Executive Order 13780 “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s strategy to detect and prevent fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system. USCIS did not identify any actual evidence of fraud in employment-based or asylee residency applications to justify the expansion. Nor did the agency identify how an in-person interview for these residency applicants would help detect or prevent fraud. While not addressed in the press release it is likely that the new policy will cause additional delays in adjudication.
Previously, although most family-based residency applicants were required to appear for an in-person interview, employment-based applicants were generally exempt unless there was a criminal issue or other complication.
Based on the initial press release, it appears that as of October 1st, all employment-based applicants (EB-1, EB-2 NIW, PERM) will be required to attend an in-person interview. The original press release is available here: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-to-expand-in-person-interview-requirements-for-certain-permanent-residency-applicants.