Green Card Applicants Facing New Hurdles
October 1, 2017 Deadline Looms
Employers Should Plan Ahead!
The labor market is showing strength. The latest unemployment rate is hovering near 4.3%, the lowest it has been since 2001. Yet despite this good news, employers in certain industries are finding it difficult to staff positions and are turning to sponsoring foreigners to fill certain jobs. Traditionally, this is accomplished through the “Green Card” process. A “Green Card”, (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card) allows a foreign-born person to live and work permanently in the United States. On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced a change in policy that will make it much more difficult for those applying for a Green Card to get through the process. Personal interviews will now be required, beginning on October 1, 2017. The result will be felt throughout the labor market and employers should begin planning from now!
Traditionally, those applying for Green Card status (and being sponsored by their employer) were not required to go through any type of interview process unless certain “red flags”, such as problems on a criminal background check or hit on a national security data base were present. The process for obtaining a Green Card is long and involved. According to a tracking tool maintained by USCIS, as of September 30, 2016, it took an average of 333 days, just under one year, to process employment-based applications.
As you are aware, President Trump has signed Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This Executive Order was originally designed to comply with the administration’s tough stand on immigration from certain countries deemed to be threats to the United States. The goal is “extreme vetting” as announced by the administration. While President Trump’s travel ban is subject to review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the provision dealing with increased scrutiny for those applying for Green Card status will likely remain unchanged.
With the expansion of extreme vetting, Green Card applicants who have a pending I-485 adjustment status should expect to be called into a local USCIS office for a person interview before the application/petition can be approved. Couple this with basic budgetary cuts being proposed and the lack of increased USCIS staffing, and the perfect storm that can impact an employer’s business operations can be seen. The effect of this requirement is that employers and applicants can expect substantial delays in employment related document and approval processing.
At the present time, it is unclear if the interview process will expand to dependents (spouses and children under age 21) and require interviews of them as well. Traditionally, attorney representation at personal interviews of this type has been allowed. It is also unclear if USCIS will allow this practice to continue. During the interviews, USCIS officials will be given the opportunity to “verify the information provided in an individual’s application, to discover information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States.”
What does all this mean for the employment landscape? The new policy is likely to affect more than 180,000 individuals seeking permanent residence on the basis of employment. Employers can expect much longer processing times to rest assured their open positions, and the employees they have sponsored to fill those roles, will be available. Employers should expect the process to take up to two years and should plan staffing needs accordingly. Employees will now live in fear that any slip up or information that does not meet muster of an overzealous USCIS agent will result in the denial of the application, and eventual deportation.
With over 33 years’ experience in advising employers and employees on workplace issues, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the changes to the employment laws. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website.