USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli announced today, via Twitter, that USCIS will close all but seven of its international field offices, leaving only the offices in Beijing, Guanghzou, Guatemala City, Mexico City, Nairobi, New Delhi and San Salvador to service the many US citizens and permanent residents who reside abroad. USCIS has also made the official announcement on their website. The decision leaves the entire continents of South America and Europe without a USCIS office.  Although not ideal, this announcement still marks a welcome change from USCIS’s prior announcement, in March 2019, by then-Director Francis Cissna that all twenty international offices would be closed and their workload shifted to domestic offices.

International field offices are currently located in the following cities around the world:

Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean District (3 of 7 offices to remain open):

  • Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo Field Office
  • El Salvador – San Salvador Field Office
  • Guatemala – Guatemala City Field Office
  • Haiti – Port-au-Prince Field Office
  • Mexico – Mexico City Field Office
  • Mexico – Monterrey Field Office
  • Peru – Lima Field Office

Asia/Pacific District (3 of 5 offices to remain open):

  • China – Beijing Field Office
  • China – Guangzhou Field Office
  • India – New Delhi Field Office
  • South Korea – Seoul Field Office
  • Thailand – Bangkok Field Office

Europe, Middle East and Africa District (1 of 8 offices to remain open):

  • Germany – Frankfurt Field Office
  • Ghana – Accra Field Office
  • Greece – Athens Field Office
  • Italy – Rome Field Office
  • Jordan – Amman Field Office
  • Kenya – Nairobi Field Office
  • South Africa – Johannesburg Field Office
  • United Kingdom – London Field Office

International field offices play an important role in carrying out USCIS’s mission of efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits.  These field offices process various petitions and applications, including immigrant petitions for alien relatives and special immigrants, petitions to classify orphans as immediate relatives, naturalization applications by service members stationed abroad, and applications for refugee travel documents.  People served by international offices include US employees sent abroad by their US employers, US service members, and refugees.

International field offices have been generally highly regarded by the immigration bar and customers for providing exceptional levels of customer service and for processing applications and petitions in a fraction of the time USCIS’s domestic offices take.

Although these closings may result in cost savings, it is unlikely they will improve USCIS’s efficiency and effectiveness, one of the reasons USCIS stated for the decision to close thirteen of the twenty international offices.  US citizens and permanent residents living abroad are now likely to experience the same ever‑increasing backlogs and delays as those who reside within the United States.