The Trump administration has announced a new hurdle for immigrants applying for U.S. permanent residency "green cards."
A larger number of applicants will now be required to have interviews during the application process, the administration said on Aug. 28, according to CNN. While interviews were already required for green card applicants, the requirement was sometimes waived to direct resources toward higher-risk cases.
The new policy, which will start on Oct. 1, comes from Trump's "travel ban," which restricts travel and immigration from a number of countries.
Under the new policy, applicants who are applying for green cards for employment or relatives of refugees and asylum-seekers will have to undergo an interview. Under the current guidelines, employment-based green gard applicants often have their interviews waived, particularly if they have extraordinary abilities.
Others will still be generally exempt from interviews, including parents or fiances of U.S. citizens. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it plans to expand interviews in other categories as well.
The USCIS said they would have "enhancements in training and technology" for the increase in interviews.
"This change reflects the administration's commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation's immigration system," said James W. McCament, the agency's acting director. "USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States."
In a press release, the USCIS said the interviews would "provide USCIS officers with the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual's application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States," according to Breitbart.
The new policy could add time to the process of applying for a green card, in a process that already takes nearly a year, without interviews, for employment-based applications. A tracking pool from the USCIS found in 2016 that those applications took an average of 333 days to process. Around 1 million people each year apply for green cards.
Former USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez criticized the Trump administration's new directive, saying he was "mystified" by the decision. Roridguez added it's hard to know how much the added interviews could slow down the process, but said they "will absolutely have an impact."
"You are applying a limited resource to do this," Rodriguez argued. "The question is, why? Really, in terms of the ways you could be screening people in for interviews, why is employment-based a risk, compared to other categories and other ways that you might screen for risk? And I'm not sure that I'm able to tell you why I would put all employment-based green card applicants at the front of the line for interviews as opposed to anybody else."
"The right way to do this is risk-based," said the former director, who led the agency under former President Barack Obama. "To have evidence as to where your risks are and to use resources based on where your evidence shows you the risks are found ... So of all the areas to use that resource, I'm a little mystified as to why this is one they're focusing on."