Manila part of Trump admin’s closure of international immigration offices

THE United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Manila will shut down as part of the Trump administration’s decision to cease operations of the agency’s 23 international locations.

The Manila office will permanently close on July 5, and has stopped accepting new applications and petitions since May 31.

“The U.S. Embassy in Manila will assume responsibility for certain limited services previously provided by USCIS to individuals residing in the Philippines,” the agency posted on its website this week.

Following this announcement, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said the office will close due to “insufficient workload.” However, it assured that this change will not affect visa processing.

“USCIS is working better to leverage funds to address backlogs in the United States while also leveraging existing Department of State resources at post,”  U.S. Embassy deputy press attaché Trude Raizen told reporters.

The USCIS operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has 23 offices spread across Latin America, Europe and Asia. The agency’s location in Mexico is slated to close on June 30.

These field offices have provided services like citizenship, immigration of family members, working in the U.S., verifying an individual’s legal right to work in the U.S., humanitarian programs, adoptions, civic integration and genealogy, among others.

In March, the Trump administration announced that it would close all of the USCIS global offices by the end of the year.

USCIS Director Francis Cissna, during the announcement in March, said the immigration tasks will be transferred to domestic offices and the U.S. State Department’s embassies and consulates.

In an email to USCIS staffers, as quoted by the Washington Post, Cissna wrote that by closing the offices, “we  will better leverage our funds to address backlogs in the United States while also leveraging existing Department of State resources at post.”

Recent data has shown that 335,000 H1-B visas were approved in 2018, a 10% decrease from the previous year.    

Earlier this year, the Philippines temporarily lost eligibility for H-2A visa for agricultural workers and the H-2B visa for non-agricultural workers. The Department of Homeland Security estimated about 40% of H2-B visa holders from the country overstayed in the United States. 

New instructions

According to USCIS’ website, individuals who were previously assisted by its Manila office must follow the new filing instructions beginning June 3:

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.  File your petition by mail with the USCIS lockbox facility in Chicago. You can find additional filing information on the Form I-130 web page. USCIS may authorize the Department of State to accept a petition filed with a U.S. Embassy or consulate in some limited circumstances.

Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (for Widow(er) petitions only).  If you are a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen, please see the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant page for the most current filing instructions. You may file your Form I-360 at the U.S. Embassy or consulate that has jurisdiction over the area where you live.

Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation). If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has lost your LPR card and/or re-entry permit and you need travel documentation to return to the U.S., you can file your Form I-131A with any U.S. embassy consular section or USCIS international field office.

Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status. Submit your Form I-407 to the nearest USCIS international field office. In rare circumstances, a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate may allow you to submit a Form I-407 in person if you need immediate proof that you have abandoned your lawful permanent resident status.

Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. You must file your petition with the Nebraska or Texas Service Center, depending on where the petitioner lives in the United States. For beneficiary interviews/processing, contact the U.S. embassy consular section in the country where the beneficiary resides.

Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. If you are a member of the U.S. military stationed overseas, please see the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, page or call 800-375-5283 for the most current filing instructions. USCIS will forward the application to the appropriate international field office for processing. For qualified children of active-duty service members stationed abroad, the proper form to file is the N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.

Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Program.  You must file your petition with the USCIS lockbox facility in Chicago. If your petition is accepted, it will be forwarded to a USCIS service center for adjudication. If the service center conditionally approves your application, it will forward it to the Department of State’s (DOS) National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will transfer your case to the USCIS office or U.S. embassy or consulate abroad where your beneficiary relative will be interviewed. n

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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