USCIS had a new policy that went into effect on 12/10/2018 regarding interviews for I-751 applications (removal of conditions from a green card). Raluca talks about that and gives a tip for your
Please watch our YouTube video here for that tip and other information.
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Below is the transcript. This was shot as a live video so it may not be exactly the same.
Yesterday as we were reviewing immigration
I’m Raluca Hanea. I provide immigration and other legal services to my clients.
I’m here with my marketing and office manager, Nina Cleere.
We really appreciate you watching us as well as your likes, shares, and comments. Thank you so much.
Nina: First thing, will you tell everyone what the I-751 is?
Nina: I know we talked about this in another video but can you explain a little more about that.
Raluca: Sure. When someone applies for a green card through marriage if they are not married for a certain time period or haven’t lived in the US for a certain time they get a green card that is only good for 2 years. Before that expires they must apply for a permanent green card.
Nina: And even though it says permanent it’s really only good for ten years and they must renew it, right?
Raluca: That’s right. Although, their status doesn’t expire
Nina: When you apply for a conditional green card you usually have an interview with USCIS, right?
Raluca: Yes, when you apply for a green card – conditional or not – you will have an interview. USCIS wants to make sure that the marriage is not fraudulent but is a real marriage, therefore they will meet with you and possibly your spouse.
Nina: I know you said possibly with your spouse so is that as a couple?
Raluca: It often is. If your spouse is out of the country, it may be at a consulate and the US Citizen spouse does not need to attend but it is recommended that they do. If they don’t attend and there is a question as to the validity of the marriage, they may require, the officer may require, your spouse to go to a separate interview in the US.
Nina: Will they keep you together?
Raluca: Usually yes. They can separate you during the interview and question you individually or, if they feel there is fraud, you may have a second interview called a “stokes interview” where you will be in separate rooms and asked the same questions to see if your answers are the same. We will do a
Nina: I’ve read that all USCIS officers go into the interviews presuming that the marriage is based on fraud, would you agree with that?
Raluca: Yes, this is what the law requires them to do. They presume that you got married for a green card and it is up to you to disprove that presumption.
Nina: Can you give us one tip today and then we’ll do a live on interviews? What’s your tip you want them to know.
Raluca: Ok, one tip would be to bring with you everything your attorney tells you to bring. They will give you a list, so bring everything on that list. I have had clients delay the receipt of their green card because they didn’t bring the documents I instructed them to bring or they didn’t check that list.
Nina: So you have the interview, tell me about this new policy.
Raluca: Well, it is interesting because in August 2017 this administration expanded in-person interview requirements (for adjustment of status, for employment and refugee/asylum seekers) but now this new policy says that USCIS does not have to have an in-person interview for adjustment of status for married couples so that means those who have filed an I-751.
Nina: Is that for every case?
Raluca: No, unfortunately.
Nina: Does it say who it would apply to specifically?
Raluca: We will put a link to the memo. But basically it gives the USCIS officer – the one who reviews the file and conducts the interview – it gives them DISCRETION to waive the second interview meaning the one they schedule when you are trying to remove conditions. Link: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/after-green-card-granted/conditional-permanent-residence/remove-conditions-permanent-residence-based-marriage
Nina: We have clients for whom we have filed their I-751 several months ago, is this going to apply to them?
Raluca: No, it only applies to applications received after 12/10/2018.
Nina: What factors, if this policy tells you, does the USCIS officer consider when waiving the interview?
Raluca: In the memo it says that they can make a discretionary decision when the case is not very complex and they feel that sufficient information has been submitted to show this is a bona fide marriage.
Nina: Do you know what that entails?
Raluca: Since this policy went into effect two days ago I don’t know what they consider sufficient information or not very complex, but as time passes I will keep in touch with my AILA (American Immigration Attorney Association) colleagues and will use that to inform my clients so we submit all the necessary information.