U.S. May Shut Down Its International Immigration Offices
Hello, This is Anna, a part-time employee at IMS.
Last week, U.S. immigration news made major headlines as it was discovered that the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) planned to shut down its international offices.
It was confirmed by agency members that USCIS Director Francis Cissna, in an email message to its employees on March 12, announced plans for closure of the international field offices by the end of the year.
USCIS is a agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that deals with various immigration affairs; in addition, both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are processed here as well. Its international offices, created with the purpose of “advancing the USCIS mission in the international arena“, offers services such as assistance in family immigration, processing refugee status applications, and providing a wide range of information services and travel documents to individuals in its 24 various locations. The tentative plan is to shift its resources domestically and work to shift more of the international responsibility to the State Department (Consular Affairs).
Officials have been citing the reason for these closures as a way to save resources and focus on the pressing matter of domestic affairs. By concentrating personnel and funding domestically, the idea is that the newly centralized USCIS will be able to carry out its operations more successfully.
However, as a New York Times article writes about the matter,
“Agency officials said the move was intended to provide more staff resources to handle the lengthy backlog in asylum applications from tens of thousands of migrants crossing the southern border every month. But it could come at the expense of legal migration, which President Trump has said he favors: Some agency staff members said closing overseas offices will make it more difficult and time-consuming to apply to immigrate from abroad, especially for refugees already in the United States who hope to bring other family members to join them.” (Article written by Miriam Jordan of the New York Times)
Although these closures are scheduled to begin as soon as March 29, 2019 (at the Moscow, Russia field office), they will continue throughout the year, and therefore it may be too soon to see the actual effect of these changes.
There is no telling how this shift will affect process times for visas across the globe, so for those seeking US immigration services, starting the process as early as possible will be the best course of action to ensure optimum conditions and a timely departure.
At IMS, we can assist with complex visa situations and have experience dealing with unique applicant cases, so please feel free to contact us for a consultation if you need further assistance.