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What to Do if No Decision After a Green Card Interview

If you recently attended your I-485 Green Card interview with a USCIS officer, and this resulted in no decision being made, then you may understandably be concerned and/or confused as to why. Having invested considerable time in preparing for your interview, collating the documents you needed to take, practising answers to the questions you were likely to be asked, and perhaps securing the services of an interpreter, a no-decision can be unsettling. I once heard someone say, “I can handle a yes, I can handle a no, but I can’t handle ‘don’t know’”. Ultimately, a no-decision leaves us in limbo, unsure of where we stand. In this article, we will discuss what you can do if you do not receive a decision at the end of your adjustment of the status interview in the US

No Decision Is Not Uncommon, And No Reason For Concern

Receiving no decision at the end of your adjustment of the status interview may be concerning, but it needn’t be. It is not uncommon for USCIS case officers to be in a position whereby they cannot give the final go-ahead to an application. The information given may have provided most of what they needed, but if a final check is required, they will defer a decision until after the interview.

You may be asked to come back for another interview if they run out of time to ask you enough questions to confirm your eligibility or genuineness. This is more likely if your case and/or background is more complex. Depending on the nature of the questions, you may have a feel for whether the case officer has particular concerns given your answers, however, this may not be immediately clear.

In some cases, rather than provide an immediate decision, the USCIS officer will ask for some additional information to be provided; this is referred to as a request for evidence (RFE). If this happens, you can be reasonably assured that this is the reason for no-decision. If you are confident you can supply the necessary evidence following the interview, there should be no reason for concern. You will typically have a deadline to supply the requested evidence, hence it is important to ensure you meet this to avoid the possibility of a rejection of your application.

Do remember that if USCIS doesn’t make an immediate decision, your application for permanent residence has not been refused, and you can remain living legally in the US until you receive your final decision.

Why Might USCIS Not Make A Decision Following An I-485 Interview?

There are many reasons why a USCIS officer may not offer an immediate decision at the end of your interview, including:

  • They need further evidence before a decision can be made (request for evidence)
  • Further checks to be carried out
  • There are concerns that you are not a genuine case
  • There are concerns that you may pose a security threat
  • You have provided information during your interview which requires the case officer to review your case with a senior case officer
  • There were problems relating to interpretation which made it difficult for them to get the information they needed
  • You didn’t bring the correct original translated documents with you to the meeting
  • Not disclosing key information which is relevant to your case

Thankfully, most of these reasons for deferring a decision on your application can be avoided with careful and thorough preparation before your interview. In many cases, the reason for not providing an immediate decision may be due to no fault of your own or due to factors outside of your control.

When Can I Expect A Decision After My I-485 Interview?

If you did not receive a decision at the end of your interview, you should expect to receive a decision from USCIS within 30 days. We are aware of many cases, however, where USCIS does not meet this deadline. This may be because they are particularly busy and not been able to respond within this time. It may be they are waiting for a final piece of information from another source that is outside of your control. Again, if you have not received a decision within 30 days, do not panic; this does not mean you are more likely to receive a refusal of your adjustment of status to being a lawful permanent residence. In some cases, it can take up to 60 or 90 days.

If you have not heard back within 90 days, we recommend arranging a follow-up Infopass appointment with your local USCIS service centre to see what more needs to be done to get your matter over the line.

If following another appointment with USCIS, you are still concerned your application is not progressing smoothly, consider engaging the help of an immigration lawyer who can assist you. An immigration attorney will be able to quickly review your case and all of your correspondence to get to the heart of any possible delay. Based on the root cause of the problem, they will be able to recommend a course of action. Their involvement will, where possible, provide you with the confidence you need that your application should lead to a positive outcome. And if necessary, they can intervene on your behalf to help accelerate the process.

Wrapping Up

If your application is entirely genuine and you are confident that you meet the eligibility criteria for lawful permanent residence in the US, then you have little to be concerned about. Delays are, unfortunately, normal, especially at present due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We regularly hear from applicants who have been waiting for longer than 30 days after their interview for a decision, only to receive approval shortly after. That said, if you have real concerns that USCIS may refuse your application following the interview, speak to an immigration solicitor who can assess your situation and recommend the best course of action as soon as possible.

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