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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsUSCIS (American Immigration) to Close All Offices Overseas

USCIS (American Immigration) to Close All Offices Overseas

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing USCIS's recent announcement that they will be closing all International Offices; all operations overseas, and we are going to go ahead and do a little analysis but first let's go ahead and quote source material.

This is an article from The New York Times, nytimes.com. The title of the article is Trump Administration Plans to Close Key Immigration Operations Abroad. This is dated March 12th, 2019. Quoting directly, "The Trump Administration is preparing to shutter many of its immigration operations abroad cutting back on a key support system for those applying overseas to relocate to the United States.  The Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) L. Francis Cissna told senior staff members this week that the international division which has operations in more than 20 countries would close down by the end of the year according to two people with knowledge of the meeting."  Quoting further, "The overseas division provides logistical assistance to American citizens, lawful permanent residents and refugees seeking to bring family members to the United States, people who have been persecuted and wish to resettle in the United States, Americans who adopt children internationally and members of the military and their families applying for citizenship.  It also plays a crucial role in immigration fraud detection.  The international operations division has about 240 employees working at 24 field offices in 21 countries."  

So this is pretty big news, arguably the biggest news this year from the standpoint of US Immigration. The ramifications of this are difficult to underestimate especially for those here in Thailand.  I did another video specifically on the topic of the USCIS Field Office here in Bangkok and the ramifications of this recent policy change with respect to that. So for specifics on that I would go ahead and check out that video which should be released shortly after this one.  

That being said, the USCIS offices abroad serve a wide array of functions most notably assistance with refugees.  At one time they used to process I-601 waivers as well under certain circumstances and at the same time they also, for example the USCIS field office here in Bangkok, will accept locally filed I-130s in lieu of direct Consular filings for those Americans with spouses here in the Kingdom. This is going to radically change things. It remains to be seen whether or not the Consulates and Embassies abroad are going to undertake things like local filings or for example things like 407 Surrenders of Lawful Permanent Residence status; green cards if you will.  I do know one thing.  The lock box in the United States in Chicago, has now taken global jurisdiction where once its jurisdiction was generally limited to those inside the United States. Now they have global jurisdiction over cases anywhere. And at one time they also did not have jurisdiction over those jurisdictions that had a USCIS field office abroad, so for example Thailand, whereas the lockbox now has global jurisdiction including jurisdiction for Thailand.  

So how exactly this is going to play out remains to be seen.  There are definitely ramifications for those expats here in the Kingdom who are looking to bring spouses into the United States as well as those lawful permanent residents who are abroad who are looking to go ahead and surrender their lawful permanent resident status, not to mention the myriad of refugees who are going to be presumably adversely impacted by this recent policy change because they don't have a place to process abroad and it remains to be seen exactly how they are going to process these refugees into the United States. 

So as this story progresses we will go ahead and keep you updated.  From now I think it is safe to assume that this is coming through. I don't think they would have announced this unless there was an initiative and momentum behind it. So I think it is fairly safe to assume that fairly soon on the horizon we are probably not going to see a USCIS presence outside the United States.