Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.
If you live in a foreign country and have had an issue under the US immigration laws, have you ever used the services of a local office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in your foreign country? This local USCIS office may have helped you with a family visa request, an international adoption, a refugee application, or some other matter. Unfortunately, this convenient and accessible support in your foreign country will no longer be available to you under a recent plan announced by the Trump administration.
Last week, in an email message to agency employees, USCIS Director Francis Cissna announced plans to close the overseas offices of the USCIS over the next year. The USCIS currently operates 24 overseas offices in 21 countries, throughout Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
In response to emailed questions, Jessica Collins, a USCIS spokeswoman, stated, “As we have internally shared, USCIS is in preliminary discussions to consider reallocation of its international USCIS office workloads to USCIS domestic offices in the United States and, where practicable, to U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. . . . The goal of any such shift would be to maximize USCIS resources that could then be reallocated, in part, to backlog reduction efforts”. It is believed that the plan is intended to reassign USCIS resources to handle the lengthy backlog in asylum applications from tens of thousands of migrants crossing the US southern border every month. It is also believed that the plan will save the government millions of dollars each year.
However, the concern of many is that plan will only create more backlogs and delays throughout the US immigration system. “It will be a great blow to the quality and integrity of the legal immigration system. . . . It will throw that system into chaos around the world”, said Barbara Strack, former chief of the USCIS Refugee Affairs Division. “This is another instance of the Trump administration halting legal immigration by denying people the opportunity to file for immigration benefits in the most expedient manner”, said Margaret Stock, a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and an immigration attorney. Nada Sater, an immigration attorney based in Miami, stated, “They are looking at bottom-line dollars, but bottom-line dollars will end up catching up to them. . . . In my opinion this will create more backlog, in an already backlogged system. . . . If any of the work is given to the field offices in the US, it will create more backlog for people who are waiting for some sort of approval from USCIS”.
Think about how more much difficult and less efficient it will be for foreign persons to address an immigration issue with someone who is on the other side of the globe in Washington, D.C. than with USCIS personnel in their home country! To the extent that the Trump Administration’s plan creates inefficiencies and backlogs in the US immigration system for you, please contact us at the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-233-1000. We have had significant experience in addressing US immigration issues and can work for you to reduce any time delays.