USCIS to Close all International Office Locations11 Apr 2019
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will be closing all international operations (IO) division offices by the end of 2019. The USCIS IO division is comprised of 24 field offices in 21 foreign countries. These offices have served as hubs for people outside of the U.S. – typically U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are living overseas – filing certain types of petitions and applications, such as petition for alien relative (form I-130) and application for waiver of grounds of inadmissibility (form I-601). The functions of the IO will be moved to domestic offices and the State Department’s embassies and consulates.
Justification for IO Closures
The Trump Administration has indicated that the move is intended to make resources available to process the enormous backlog of asylum applications, which has been piling up as a result of migrants crossing the southern border. In recent months, many USCIS officers who were adjudicating green card applications have also been reassigned to that task.
Many agency officials and immigration attorneys, however, have expressed concern that the closing of the IO offices will create undue difficulty for stakeholders living abroad who need to apply for certain immigration benefits from outside of the United States. The move could slow the processing of family visa applications, foreign adoptions, citizenship petitions from members of the military, and immigration fraud detection.
Despite the suddenness of the announcement and the quick opposition, the change appears to be set in stone. As one senior agency official told the New York Times, “It is definitely not a preliminary discussion. It’s happening.”
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