Sign up to The American magazine's newsletters (below) to receive more regular news, articles and updates on America in the UK.
US Immigration Experts Express Concern over USCIS Closures
Concerns arise that US Citizens overseas could be affected by proposed closure of US Citizenship and Immigration Service Field Offices
US Immigration Experts have been highlighting potential concerns about the closure of US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) offices located overseas, including the USCIS office in London.
Early in March, 2019, it was reported that the Trump Administration was "preparing to shutter all international offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a move that could slow the processing of family visa applications, foreign adoptions and citizenship petitions from members of the military stationed abroad."
On April 2 US Immigration expert in the UK, Janice Flynn, wrote that the closure of USCIS international field offices could be set for early 2020, explaining that "The USCIS international field offices provide a great benefit to US citizens who reside outside the US and members of the US military and military family members".
Fellow US Immigration expert Steven Heller has since written an op-ed for The Hill in which he explains just how the closures could affect US Citizens residing overseas, particularly those with family members also residing abroad. Mr Heller wrote that "USCIS’s international offices provide a range of immigration services to Americans abroad. These include facilitating U.S. citizen parents’ adoption of international children; naturalizing the family members of American military personnel; and helping Americans relocate, along with their foreign national spouses and children, back to the United States to rejoin the domestic workforce." He went on to note that "Time and again, my clients have depended on the expedited services provided by the London USCIS office. One instructive example: a U.S. citizen residing in the UK, his non-U.S. spouse, and their child, desperately needed to return to the United States to care for his dying mother. Domestic USCIS processing would have taken over a year, but thanks to the existence of the USCIS office in London, we were able to obtain USCIS approval within a matter of days so that the family could be together in the United States."
Concluding his op-ed, Mr Heller explained that it is "imperative that all of us — including members of the Trump administration, Congress, and the public — recognize the harm these closures will bring to Americans and their families, not least our nation’s troops. For all these reasons, USCIS should reverse its planned closures and commit to keeping its international offices open."
Irrespective of the motivation for closing the USCIS offices in London and other overseas destinations, it's becoming clear that among those who will be hurt most by the closures could in fact be US Citizens living and working overseas.