Recently, there have been talks about marriage-based green card applications being approved even without an interview. And while it sounds like a false rumor considering that the interview has been the most important part of the immigration process for quite some time now, there is actually some truth to it.
New Immigration Service Pilot Program
Immigration is beginning to approve marriage-based green card applications without an interview — the first time it’s ever done something of the sort. This is part of the pilot program that the agency is running, testing interview waivers in certain field offices to see if they become more efficient.
Why Immigration is Waiving Interviews
With so many people applying for marriage-based green cards, immigration is overwhelmed with cases. But it does not have enough immigration officers to adjudicate the thousands of pending cases it has on its plate.
Immigration is taking action with the pilot program and being reasonable when it comes to the cases that require interviews. This is in an effort to adjudicate cases faster and reduce their overwhelming backlog.
Immigration Interview Waiver Requirements
The pilot program that immigration is running does not cover all pending marriage-based green card applications. It still has internal interview waiver requirements that need to be met before it is able to approve a case without an interview.
While immigration has not released an official list of the interview waiver requirements, some educated guesses can be made based on the cases it’s approved without interviews so far.
Married Couple’s Standing
One of the marriage-based green card cases handled by our firm was approved without an interview. This is most likely because of the standing of the married couple:
- They were young professionals.
- They didn’t have any children.
- They lived together for a long time prior to getting married.
- They had a lot of good joint documents.
Nothing about their standing is alarming or unusual, which most likely checked all of the interview waiver criteria set by immigration.
Additional Supporting Documents
Normally, lawyers file marriage-based cases lightly, meaning they don’t usually send over hundreds of pages of documents unless immigration asks for them. Prior to the pilot program, there was no use to send over so many documents because these would be requested in the interview.
However, after the pilot program started running its course, lawyers, including our firm, decided to beef up their filings in hopes of waiving the interview. More supporting documents are being submitted with the green card application, including retirement accounts, joint bank accounts, joint properties, joint bills, and photographs of the couple, among others.
Immigration’s Internal Interview Waiver Checklist
Most likely, immigration has an internal checklist that its officers need to go through before deciding to waive the interview. Among other things, they might look for factors like:
- Low potential fraud case
- Entering the U.S. with a valid visa
- Working in the U.S. with permission
- No violations of immigration status
- Long-term relationships between spouses
An applicant that checks all these boxes is likely going to get approved for a marriage-based green card even without an interview.