According to current and formal officials and an internal memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is planning to close oversees offices that currently handle family visa requests, international adoptions and other tasks. According to people with knowledge of the meeting, the director of USCIS, L. Francis Cissna, told senior staff members this week that the international division, which has 24 field offices in 21 countries, would close down by the end of the year.
USCIS Spokeswoman Jessica Collins confirmed that the agency “is in preliminary discussions to consider shifting its international USCIS office workloads to USCIS domestic offices in the United States and, where practicable, to U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.”
Officials at USCIS claim that closing the international field offices would save millions of dollars each year, but as Enrique Gutierrez and John Santos, media directors at the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement “the administration’s explanation that the move is an effort to cut government spending does not hold up since USCIS’s funding comes primarily from fees paid by people who use its services.” Agency officials also claim that the move is intended to provide more staff resources to handle the backlog of asylum applications.
The international field offices currently provide, among other things, logistical assistance to U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, and refugees seeking to bring family members to the United States, asylum seekers who wish to come to the U.S., Americans who adopt children internationally, and members of the military and their families applying for citizenship.