The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a policy memo that provides revised interview guidelines to immigration officers adjudicating Petitions to Remove Conditions on Residence.
As background, certain family or investment based immigrants who have a condition attached to their permanent resident status must file a petition with USCIS within a 90 days window prior to the expiration of their conditional resident status. Conditional resident status lasts for two years. The policy memo outlines the circumstances in which the interview requirement may be waived.
The revised policy is applicable to all joint and waiver petitions filed on or after December 10, 2018. It replaces the guidance issued on June 24, 2005.
The USCIS typically requires conditional permanent residents to appear at an in-person interview before approving a petition to remove the conditions of their permanent residency. Immigration officers now have the discretion to waive interviews in some cases as long as the petitioner has provided sufficient documentary evidence and met other requirements. The new USCIS memo states that immigration officers may consider waiving an interview provided that:
- A decision can be made based on the record because there is enough evidence regarding the authenticity of the marriage and that it was not used as a means for evading U.S. immigration laws;
- The principal petitioner was previously interviewed by USCIS for forms filed on or after December 10, 2018;
- There are no indications of fraud or misrepresentation in the petition, or in the supporting documentary evidence; and
- There are no complex facts or matters that need to be resolved.
The change marks a departure from the Trump administration’s initial extreme vetting policy in which USCIS required all conditional permanent residents to be interviewed before receiving their permanent residence card, regardless of the documentary evidence on file. The revised USCIS guidance may help decrease the backlog of cases regarding petitions to remove conditions on residence that have grown in recent years.