USCIS Implementing Interviews for Asylees and Refugees Petitioning Family Members

By: Geoffrey J. Lamoureux

On November 18, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it will implement interviews for asylees and refugees filing a petition to bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age to the United States. These interviews are separate from the principal asylum or refugee interview.

For a long time, USCIS has interviewed such spouses and children residing abroad. Recently, USCIS began interviewing such spouses and children residing in the United States. However, until now, USCIS has rarely interviewed a principal asylee or refugee herself when filing a petition to bring her spouse or children to the United States.

Spouses and children of asylees and refugees need not qualify as asylees or refugees themselves – rather, they derive this status from their relationship to the principal asylee or refugee.

USCIS considers the new requirement important in detecting and preventing fraud by ensuring the validity of claimed family ties. However, the measure concerns asylees, refugees, and immigration advocates, who believe the interviews could be used as a “second” asylum or refugee interview, possibly resulting in an overturned decision to grant asylee or refugee status.

Due to the above, asylees and refugees filing a petition to bring their spouse and children to the United States must ensure their petitions are well-documented, and further, that they are well-prepared to provide additional testimony at the interview.