Monday 6 July, 2020

Reuters: US immigration agency to close international offices

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be closing its international immigration offices, a Reuters report revealed. 

In an article published March 12, 2019, Reuters said the news was announced via an internal memo at the USCIS, and would affect international offices that process applications for US greencards, citizenship, international adoptions and refugee/asylum seeker applications, among others. 

The report said USCIS Director Francis Cissna sent an email announcing plans for closure of the international field offices. The plans called for shifting those duties to U.S.-based agency offices and American consulates and embassies abroad.

The agency, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, currently operates 23 offices overseas, scattered across Latin America, Europe and Asia, according to the agency’s website.

The USCIS lists offices in Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic (which handles Trinidad and Tobago immigration applications), El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, and Peru.

Services carried out by the USCIS include helping American citizens who want to bring relatives to the United States; processing refugee applications; enabling overseas citizenship applications; and assisting Americans who want to adopt foreign children, according to its website.

The international offices can also process naturalizations of U.S. military service members who are not already U.S. citizens.

USCIS officers abroad also look for fraud in visa applications and provide technical immigration advice to other U.S. government officials.

The report said the closures will happen over the next year, and that some of these tasks may be shifted to the State Department. 

The move will tighten restrictions on the immigration application process, advocates said. 

Mark Hetfield, president of the U.S. refugee assistance organization HIAS, said the decision will negative affect the capacity to process refugees and immigrants legally. 

“It is not consistent with what President Trump said in the State of the Union (address), which is that he wants immigrants to come here, that he wants them to come here legally," he said. 

Agency spokeswoman Jessica Collins told Reuters that the USCIS is in 'preliminary discussions' to shift its workloads to domestic offices in the US, and, where practical, US embassies and consulates abroad. 

She said the goal was to cut down on backlogged applications.

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