On November 30, 2018, USCIS issued a revised policy memorandum pertaining to when interviews are required on a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. The memorandum took effect on December 10, 2018.
Previously, USCIS would not require an interview on joint petitions or petitions requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement unless the adjudicating officer was not satisfied that the marriage was entered into in good faith or believed there were indicators of marriage fraud. Further, if USCIS desired more information, it was encouraged to send Requests for Evidence to the petitioner(s) before deciding to transfer to the case to a field office for an interview.
The new policy memorandum formalizes a policy that, as a practical matter, seems to have been in place before December 10, 2018. Under the new policy, the presumption is reversed such that most cases require an interview unless four requirements are met:
- The adjudicating officer is satisfied as to the bona fides of the marriage;
- For cases received by USCIS after December 10, 2018, USCIS has previously interviewed the principal petitioner (e.g., in conjunction with a Form I-485 or Form I-130);
- There is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation; and
- There are no complex facts or issues that require an interview to resolve.
Naturally, the new policy will result in many more cases being selected for interviews and transferred to USCIS field offices. As a consequence, it is expected that processing times will remain lengthy and may even increase for this type of case.