An in-person interview is generally required for a conditional permanent resident seeking to remove their conditions on permanent residence, regardless of whether the I-751 petition was filed jointly with the petitioning spouse or as a waiver of the joint filing requirement (commonly referred to as an ‘I-751 waiver request').
An in-person interview gives the immigration officer the opportunity to verify information contained in the I-751 application, as well as the opportunity to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication of the I-751 petition, or to determine the credibility of the individual seeking removal of conditions.
There are some instances in which an immigration officer may “waive” the in-person interview and adjudicate Form I-751 without the applicant appearing before the immigration officer.
If the immigration officer is convinced that the initial evidence establishes the bona fides of the marriage, and that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States, then the immigration officer may “waive” the in-person interview and proceed with adjudication of the petition.
USCIS recently clarified their policy with regard to waiving the interview requirement in a revised policy memorandum released on November 30, 2018. This policy memorandum went into effect on December 10, 2018 and applies to all I-751 petitions received on or after December 10, 2018.
Per that policy memorandum, an immigration officer may “waive” the interview requirement if:
They can make a decision based on the record because it contains sufficient evidence about the bona fides of the marriage and that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States;
For Form I-751 cases received on/after December 10, 2018, USCIS has previously interviewed the I-751 principal petitioner (for example, for a Form I-485 or Form I-130)
There is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation in the Form I-751 or the supporting documentation; and
There are no complex facts or issues that require an interview to resolve questions or concerns
If the petitioner and/or spouse live outside the United States, the case is held for a reasonable amount of time until the return of the petitioner and/or spouse to the United States, and they are able to provide a U.S. address. USCIS will resume processing of the Form I-751 if the conditional permanent resident notifies USCIS that he/she has returned to the United States.