Legal Representation During Green Card and Naturalization Interviews31 May 2018
Lawful permanent residents (LPRs, or “green card” holders) applying to naturalize, and various different categories of I-485 adjustment-of-status applicants, are required to attend U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in-person interviews before their respective applications may be approved. Given the heightened scrutiny in the current immigration environment, applicants should seriously consider bringing an experienced attorney to protect their interests when interviewing before the USCIS.
Background on Mandatory I-485 Interviews
For decades, every green card applicant had to attend an in-person interview. Several years ago to improve efficiency and conserve resources, the USCIS policy was changed to randomly select candidates for interviews and target only those with potential concerns. In 2017, the USCIS returned to the earlier policy to expand the classes of I-485 applicants required to attend in-person interviews. Now, with few exceptions, interviews are required for nearly all I-485 applications that are filed based on employment-based I-140 petitions. Interviews also are mandatory if the I-485 application is based on a family-based I-130 petition filed by one’s U.S. citizen spouse, among other categories.
Questions during the employer-based interviews can range from inquiries into whether the applicant maintained valid nonimmigrant status prior to filing the I-485 application, to requests on details about the job and the sponsoring employer. Other areas that can be explored include an applicant’s criminal history, past immigration violations, and perceived inconsistencies in any of the information and/or documentation ever provided to the USCIS or other U.S. immigration officials.
Background on N-400 Interviews
In order for an N-400 application to be approved, the applicant must demonstrate that all of the eligibility criteria, as summarized in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Basic Eligibility Requirements for Naturalization (05.Apr.2017), have been satisfied. As such, during an N-400 interview, the USCIS officer may ask about any or all of the criteria necessary to qualify.
For instance, anyone who has ever been convicted of a crime, or even arrested, should be prepared to answer questions about the matter and explain why it does not prevent the person from evidencing good moral character. Similarly, if the applicant has spent considerable amounts of time abroad since being granted LPR status, the officer may raise concerns as to whether the applicant has truly met the continuous residence requirement. A job change that took place while applying for a green card, or that occurred shortly after the issuance of the green card, may also trigger related questions during the interview.
Even if no complications are expected during an in-person interview, consulting an attorney and often having an attorney present can help put an applicant’s mind at ease, and protect the individual in case the interview takes an unexpected turn. If the case involves more challenging issues, having an experienced attorney present is often all but essential.
The Murthy Law Firm employs a team of attorneys who have extensive experience providing representation during I-485 and N-400 interviews. We are available to provide representation during in-person interviews at any USCIS office, anywhere in the United States, whether or not a Murthy Law Firm attorney filed the case. Those seeking representation during an in-person interview, and those who have questions about the interview process, are encouraged to schedule a consultation with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.
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