USCIS closes most of its international field offices but leaves 7 international field offices in operation
Pasricha & Patel Takeaways:
On August 9, 2019, USCIS announced that it will reduce its international offices from twenty (20) down to seven (7) as part of its efforts to better allocate its personnel and resources and help reduce backlog in their overall caseload in their domestic operations in the U.S.
After the closure of thirteen (13) international field offices and three district offices between now and August 2020, the USCIS will have the following offices still operating outside the U.S.:
New Delhi, India;
Guatemala City, Guatemala;
Mexico City, Mexico;
Sal Salvador, El Salvador
USCIS wants to focus its resources on these seven (7) international field offices in order to allow them to effectively adjudicate complex immigration petitions that require in-person interviews, to enhance fraud detection and national security activities, and to liaise with U.S. and foreign government entities to improve immigration management capacity in those particular countries.
USCIS will close the other 13 international offices and district offices on a staggered schedule, in order to ease the transition of workloads to USCIS domestic offices and U.S. State Department consular sections, and still allow reasonable transition time for those international USCIS staff members to shift back to U.S. domestic operations.
According to the USCIS, this operational change is not meant to impact immigrants greatly because a lot of the present functions at these international offices will be handled by either USCIS's domestic service centers, or by the USCIS's domestic staff who are on temporary assignments internationally. The U.S. Department of State will also help to take on the responsibilities of some in-person services that the USCIS used to handle at those international offices.
It is thought that the reason why the USCIS is keeping these 7 particular international offices is because those areas have the greatest need and demand for immigrant visa processing services.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how these international field offices will be able to handle the caseload, especially as nationals from countries whose USCIS international offices have closed, may decide to reach out to the remaining international field offices to see if they can apply there, even as those international field offices usually just serve the nationals of the countries that the international field offices are based.
Should there be any further changes to USCIS's policies on maintaining their international field offices, we suggest readers check with our website regularly for any updates. And should readers have any questions about immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application process in general, please do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule an appointment as well.