This new policy memorandum, which went into effect on December 10, 2018, applies to all I-751 petitions received by USCIS on or after December 10. According to the memorandum, a waiver of the interview requirement can only be considered if the USCIS officer is satisfied that all of the following conditions have been met:
- A decision based on the record can be made 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;
- For Form I-751 cases received on/after December 10, 2018, USCIS has previously interviewed the I-751 principal petitioner (for example, for a Form I-485 or Form I-130);
- There is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation in the Form I-751 or the supporting documentation; and
- There are no complex facts or issues that require an interview to resolve questions or concerns.
In addition to requiring interviews for those who processed an immigrant visa overseas, the new policy memorandum contains language that suggests that even individuals who process in the U.S. will experience an uptick in in-person interviews. For example, the 2018 guidance states that “indications of fraud or misrepresentation” and “complex facts or issues” may result in an I-751 interview. In addition, and consistent with prior policy, the new memo notes that “[c]ases involving fraud or national security concerns must be referred to the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate.”
Given these changes, all applicants who have received their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas or entered the United States as K visa holders and were never interviewed by USCIS should assumed that they will almost certainly be required to attend an in-person interview for both a jointly filed I-751 petition and an I-751 “waiver” petition. In addition, in-person interviews based on “indications” of fraud or misrepresentation may also become more common so these issues should be carefully vetted for all filings.
Finally, I-751 petitions are already facing substantial processing delays that have increased from an average of 12 months to 18 months. This new in-person interview requirement may further increase processing times and cause significant delays in obtaining a final decision on the petition. This is in line with reported trends across other USCIS application and petition types.
Source: AILA Doc. No. 19040830.