USCIS Updates Interview Waiver Guidance for I-751 Petitions16 Jan 2019
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a policy memorandum that provides USCIS officers with guidance on when the in-person interview requirement may be waived for the beneficiary of a petition to remove the conditions on residency (form I-751).
Background on I-751 Petition to Remove Conditional Status
If a foreign national applies for permanent residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, and the couple has been married for less than two years at the time the permanent resident status is approved, the foreign national is issued conditional permanent resident status valid for two years. Prior to the end of the two-year period, the beneficiary must file form I-751 with the USCIS to request removal of the conditional status (i.e., the individual must apply for a permanent green card).
In-Person Interview Typically Required
When a conditional permanent resident files form I-751, the beneficiary submits evidence that establishes the marriage was bona fide at its inception and was not entered into solely to obtain an immigration benefit. The conditional permanent resident generally is scheduled for an in-person interview with a USCIS officer before the I-751 may be approved. This interview is designed to provide the USCIS with the opportunity to verify information submitted with the petition and, potentially, to discover new information that may have bearing on the legitimacy of the marriage.
Updated Guidance on Waiving Interview Requirement
Under certain conditions, however, the interview requirement may be waived. This has long been the case, but the recent memo provides updated guidance to USCIS officers as to when such a waiver is be granted. The policy memo clarifies that the interview requirement may be waived if the USCIS officer is satisfied of ALL of the following.
- If the officer is able to make a decision based on the record because it contains sufficient evidence about the bona fides of the marriage and that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States
- If, for any I-751 case received on/after December 10, 2018, the USCIS previously interviewed the I-751 principal petitioner (for example, for an I-485 or I-130)
- If there is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation on the I-751 form or the supporting documentation
- If there are no complex facts or issues that require an interview to resolve questions or concerns
While in-person interviews can help to determine the bona fides of a relationship, there are times when such interviews are excessive and expend the limited resources of the USCIS. Providing USCIS officers with some flexibility helps to reduce cost and provide stakeholders with a more efficient and streamlined program.
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