Virtual Immigration Interviews

For those of you who are going through an immigration process called Adjustment of Status, a process that happens here in the United States. The process for naturalization and sometimes, removal of conditions, includes an interview as part of the process in your case.

We are constantly seeing USCIS, like so many organizations, having to adapt and change as COVID continues to evolve. They have social distancing and safety protocols in place. USCIS is constantly working to find creative and unique ways to be able to conduct interviews with social distancing to complete as many interviews as possible to keep things moving forward.

USCIS offices all across the US have officers that have plexiglass barriers in place, separating themselves from the individual who’s being interviewed. Then there’s a little window where you can slide documents through to the officer.

Another method we’re seeing with more frequency is a virtual immigration interview. These virtual immigration interviews still happen at the USCIS office. This happen a lot in naturalization cases and USCIS is working on having this occur in more than one case type.

Conducting a virtual interview still requires you to go to the USCIS office for your interview. That’s listed on your interview notice. It occurs in an interview room where the immigrant will sit on the other side of the desk. We as attorneys, always sit behind our client. We’re in the room with our clients and there will be a screen like an iPad or a computer that’s set on the desk right in front of you. The officer will be in a separate room.

This is a way that USCIS is experimenting with interview methods to make sure social distancing measures are in place. They have so many individuals that are coming for interviews so more social distancing can keep people as safe as possible.

If you go to your interview, you can either have an interview where the officer’s on the other side of the plexiglass screen or a virtual interview. Either way, don’t panic.

If you have a virtual interview, they will have a computer or an iPad in front of you with the officer in a separate room and he or she will show up on the screen. You’ll be able to do your interview as if they were there in the room and the officers have been really great about making sure that you can hear them and that they can hear you.

Don’t be afraid to let the officer know you didn’t hear what they said or if technical issues occur. But for the most part, we have seen the technology that they’ve been using has been working well. We’ve been able to hear the officer very well and hear the questions as if they were in the room

Something else that occurs is that are certain papers that you have to sign or approve. They’ll either bring those those papers up on the screen for you to approve if there’s any changes in your application or they’ll have a printer right next to you.

The officer will say, “I’m going to print out whichever form that you’ll have to sign now.” You’ll sign it and then you’ll hold it up and show the officer so they can see you signed in the right place. You’ll then place it in a secure tray.

What we do for our clients if we’re with them then, we can help them make sure they’re signing in the right place and help orient them if they’re nervous during that process.

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