President Trump recently announced a new additional requirement for certain permanent resident (“green card”) and asylum applicants. Reportedly, this is to fulfill a campaign promise to subject immigrants to more rigorous, “extreme” vetting, though we believe current immigration processes are already stringent and already protect the US. We’ll try to track these extreme vetting updates.
Up to this point, certain applicants for asylum and permanent residency were able to complete their applications without the need for in-person interviews. Specifically, people who had already been vetted in obtaining non-immigrant employment-based visas were often able to obtain permanent residency through their employer without the need for a second interview. In most of these cases, the applicant would have already been required to attend a consular interview before their original visa was granted. Similarly, family members of people granted asylum had generally been able to obtain derivative asylee status by submitting paperwork and undergoing a fingerprint-based background check. Beginning October 1, 2017, that will change. Now, these same applicants will be required to appear in person for another interview with USCIS before their permanent resident applications can be approved.
The purpose of these interviews appears to be to grant USCIS the opportunity to probe for any hints of criminal or terrorist ties, and otherwise to determine the credibility of the applicant. The vetting that potential immigrants go through is already extensive and may include fingerprint-based background checks, medical examinations, in-person interviews, questionnaires and submitting sufficient proof of identity. USCIS has stated that they intend to expand these requirements to other types of applications as time goes on. This “extreme” vetting will lengthen the already long application process for green cards, including for family members of those seeking asylum.