USCIS Opens Two New International Field Offices

Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) primarily operates inside the United States, the agency has field offices abroad that provide limited services. At one time, the USCIS had as many as 24 overseas offices, until the Trump Administration began shutting them down, as reported in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, USCIS to Close all International Office Locations (11.Apr.2019). The Biden Administration, however, has been reopening them. On April 23, 2024, the USCIS announced two new international field offices will be opened, including one in Doha, Qatar on May 7, 2024 and the other in Ankara, Turkey on May 9, 2024. With these two new locations, the USCIS will be responsible for operating a total of eleven (11) international field offices around the world.

International Field Offices Primarily for Refugee Processing and Resettlement

The addition of two new international field offices is motivated by the need to process refugees outside the United States. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is operated by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security processing refugee applications abroad. U.S. immigration law lists different categories through which a person may qualify as a refugee. The USRAP takes referrals of people for consideration as refugees from international organizations like the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Qatar and Turkey are regional refugee processing hubs where various U.S. government officials from different agencies are located to handle the processing of refugees.

International Field Offices Also Provide Non-Refugee Related Services

USCIS international field offices also handle multiple services that have nothing to do with refugee processing. The USCIS now operates two offices in China, one office in Cuba, four in the Western Hemisphere: Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, one in Kenya, and one in India. The International Field Office in New Delhi, India does process refugee applications, but it also serves as the location to pick up re-entry permits. Although an applicant must be in the U.S. to apply for a re-entry permit, the individual can request the USCIS to send it to this USCIS office in New Delhi so it can be safely picked up without having to return to the U.S.

Exceptional Exception to USCIS Domestic Filing Requirements

Normally, an application for waiver of grounds of inadmissibility (form I-601) must be submitted to the USCIS in the U.S. If the applicant wishes to expedite the I-601, the applicant must submit a request to the USCIS explaining what the compelling reason is for the request.

In exceptional circumstances, where the individual lives in India, the applicant may submit a request to the USCIS explaining why there are exceptional and compelling circumstances that demand immediate filing and processing, and why even expedited processing would be too slow. If the request is granted, the applicant may be allowed to file the I-601 with the international field office.


Although the USCIS processes the overwhelming majority of requests for immigration benefits in the United States, there are important duties that the USCIS still conducts from its offices around the world. The main focus of USCIS international field offices is refugee processing, but those living abroad may be able to access certain services in appropriate situations. The attorneys at the Murthy Law Firm are available to consult on whether any of these options apply to you.


Copyright © 2024, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.