A marriage-based green card issued to foreign spouses of US citizens and legal permanent residents is often referred to as the easiest passage into America for foreign nationals despite the challenges of status adjustment from conditional permanent residence (CPR) to legal permanent residence (LPR). Usually, it takes between 12 and 38 months to get a conditional green card (marriage-based green card is also known as).
In a move towards improving the dynamics of the US immigration system, the Biden administration has decided to waive mandatory interviews for foreign spouses holding a conditional green card, through a policy update. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been directed to take a risk-based approach when determining the eligibility of conditional permanent residents (CPR) for the interview waiver. With immediate effect, the policy update replaces the previous regulation that required foreign spouses of US citizens and LPRs to undergo an interview just after their conditional green cards obtained through consular processing expire.
Obtaining a conditional green card is as challenging as gaining LPR status on completion of the validity of conditional permanent residence. To be precise, conditional permanent residence is granted through the interview-based approval of a conditional green card to an Indian national if he/she has been married to a US citizen or permanent resident for less than 2 years. Notably, the conditional permanent resident status is valid for 2 years. On completion of this tenure, conditional green card holders must file a petition (Form I-751) and undergo an interview seeking removal of the conditions on their status, in compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The discretionary authority that the USCIS can now exercise to waive I-751 interviews in the Biden administration had been in place until before the Trump regime. Donald Trump’s hard stance on immigration had significantly reduced the authority for USCIS officers to grant an interview waiver to certain conditional permanent residents during his presidential tenure. However, Trump’s policy requiring conditional green card holders to undergo mandatory interviews deterred the judicious use of USCIS staffing resources.
President Biden rolled back the Trump-era policy to make the process easier and simpler for foreign spouses who obtained the conditional permanent resident status through consular processing outside of the United States. The interview waiver demands tangible evidence about the bona fides of the marriage, and supporting documents without any misrepresentation of facts. Any indication of fraud or any record of criminal history will deter the USCIS officer from granting interview waiver to foreign spouses having permanent resident status on a conditional basis.
Trump’s enforcement of mandatory I-751 interviews for conditional permanent residents resulted in the mounting of the backlog of pending application, which reached an all-time high at 323,803 between October 2018 and September 2021. Currently, the backlog of pending I-751 petitions stands at 252,775.