US Embassy still open, despite USCIS Manila field office closure

RECENTLY, the USCIS announced it will be closing its Manila field office. This has created a lot of confusion and panic among Filipinos. Some people are asking that with the closure, how can they now apply for a visitor’s visa? Are K-1 (fiancé) visas still available? What’s going to happen with their immigrant visa interview that was already scheduled?

To be clear, the closure of the USCIS field office in Manila will have no effect on the U.S. Embassy or its functions and operation. It will continue to provide its regular services, including processing applications for visitor visas, other non-immigrant visas, immigrant visas, passport services for U.S. citizens, etc.

The USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The U.S. Embassy is part of the Department of State (DOS). They are two separate governmental agencies. Historically, the USCIS field office in Manila had handled various USCIS functions, such as accepting family-based petitions on behalf of U.S. citizens residing in the Philippines. Previously, if a person needed a fraud waiver, they might also file it with the Manila field office. However, most of the Manila field office’s functions were transferred stateside, and were being handled and processed within the U.S., such as filing at the Chicago lockbox, etc. Therefore, with the reduction of workload, USCIS decided, perhaps for budgetary reasons, to close their Manila field office.   

To summarize, the U.S. Embassy remains open and will continue to handle the processing and issuance of visas, U.S. passport services, etc. This means people can still apply for a visitor’s visa, other non-immigrant visas, immigrant visas, and U.S. passports at the U.S. Embassy, provided they are eligible for the benefit they are applying for.

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Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 35 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bars of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of the particular case. The information and opinions contained herein (including testimonials, “Success Stories”, endorsements and re-enactments) are of a general nature, and are not intended to apply to any particular case, and do not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.


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