U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently been issuing interview notices to I-485 adjustment of status (AOS) applicants, even though the relevant priority date may not be current and therefore the AOS application cannot presently be approved. Why would USCIS schedule an interview under these circumstances?
By way of background, employment-based green card cases commonly involve an employer-filed I-140 Immigrant Petition and an AOS application filed by a sponsored employee and any accompanying family members. Before the mid-1990’s, all AOS applications required a final interview before the case could be approved. A procedural change occurred requiring all employment-based AOS applications to be filed with regional Service Centers. Most AOS applications filed with Service Centers were then approved without an interview. A small percentage of cases were selected for interview at local District Offices, commonly cases with issues (e.g., criminal or status violations) that needed to be resolved before the AOS could be approved.
Against this backdrop, one might conclude that USCIS is scheduling AOS interviews (even when the underlying case cannot be approved) to determine if there is a reason why the case should be denied. For example, the AOS applicant may have a history of status violations, a criminal arrest, or may be unemployed. Alternatively, one might believe that USCIS is merely reviewing AOS cases to facilitate an approval when priority dates advance and the case becomes approvable. Whichever belief one subscribes to, the prudent AOS applicant should consult with his/her counsel upon receipt of the interview notice and review his/her application to ensure that eligibility for permanent residence status is preserved.
Note: This article was published in the August 2009 issue of the Immigration eAuthority.