In a departure from a previous plan, USCIS has announced that they will close all but seven international field offices by August 2020. Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced a plan to shut down all offices, but they have since backtracked and confirmed plans to keep seven offices in operation. Offices in Moscow, Ciudad Juarez, and Manila have already shut down, and several more are scheduled to close over the next several months.
The following seven offices are to remain open:
- Beijing, China
- Guangzhou, China
- Guatemala City, Guatemala
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Nairobi, Kenya
- New Delhi, India
- San Salvador, El Salvador
International USCIS offices are located within US embassy and consulate buildings in major cities worldwide. These offices function to support processing of immigrant visas for US citizen petitioners living abroad, travel documents for permanent residents abroad, refugee applications and humanitarian parole requests, international adoptions, and naturalization applications for US military members stationed abroad, among other things. The plan is for these responsibilities to be transitioned to the Department of State, as well as to domestic USCIS offices, where case backlogs and delays have already reached “crisis levels”.
These closures will most directly affect US citizens and permanent residents living abroad, as well as military members and those seeking guidance with international adoptions. Since caseloads and duties will be transferred to consular sections abroad and to local USCIS offices, processing times are expected to rise.
Most critically, refugees and asylum-seekers will likely encounter new challenges in being reunited with their families or submitting their applications. However, by keeping offices open in Guatemala City, Mexico City, and San Salvador, USCIS intends to try to address and support the current crisis at the US southern border.