USCIS plans to close all of its international field offices by March 10, 2020. USCIS already closed the Ciudad Juarez Field Office in Mexico and the Manila Field Office in the Philippines, and plans to take a staggered approach with the remainder of the offices. A timeline with the dates each international office will close remains unavailable, and there was little advance public notice regarding the closure of the offices that have already closed. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA, issued a practice alert last week to examine how these closures will affect applications, petitions, and forms typically processed by these overseas offices.
As international offices begin to close, they will stop taking applications, petitions, and forms that they previously accepted. I-130 petitions are one example. The Ciudad Juarez Field Office stopped accepting I-130 petitions one month before the office closed. However, the Manila Field Office stopped accepting I-130 petitions only one week before the office closed, so until there is more information it is difficult to predict closure dates. It is also unclear how USCIS will handle petitions like the I-130 following the closure of these offices. I-130 petitions may be filed with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate under "exceptional circumstances" and I-130 petitions previously filed at the Cuidad Juarez Field Office now must be filed with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox, but there is no further information at this time.
The Department of State is working alongside USCIS to ensure that the transition away from international field offices is smooth. USCIS is tracking issues and AILA will release updates when they are available.
This blog post does not serve as legal advice and does not establish any client-attorney privilege. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.
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This information comes from a news release from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA Doc. No. 19070237).