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Spouses and Fiances Could Soon Be Facing Another Immigration Hurdle

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on April 17, 2019

Illinoisans who plan to marry foreign nationals may have a harder time getting fiance visas because the USCIS is planning to close its overseas operations. The overseas USCIS offices process fiance and marriage visa applications for people who are in foreign countries to allow them to join their loved ones in the U.S. The move is just one more recent action by the administration to place limits on illegal and legal immigration to the country.

Overseas Operations of USCIS to Close

Francis Cissna, the director of the USCIS, emailed USCIS staff in March to inform them that the agency was planning to close its overseas offices. The agency plans to reallocate the resources that it has located in other countries to its domestic offices. Cissna also reportedly told senior staffers that the international division would be entirely closed by the end of 2019.

USCIS officials have stated that the move is meant to provide more staff to help to process the backlog of applications for asylum. However, it will also make it harder for people in foreign countries to secure the visas they need to join their loved ones in the U.S.

The push to close the international division threatens to limit legal immigration. In addition to processing spousal and family visas, the USCIS’s overseas offices also assist with international adoptions and military service members and their families who are applying for citizenship.

Where Will People Apply?

After the USCIS overseas locations close, some of the work is expected to be shifted to the U.S. State Department and to consulates and embassies that are located around the world. Some work will also be shifted to domestic USCIS offices.

The field offices of the USCIS’s international division are located in 21 different countries and employ 240 people. The USCIS does not receive taxpayer funding. Instead, it pays for itself through the application fees that it charges people who are applying for visas, green cards, and naturalization.

The closure of the international division will make it more difficult for people to secure their visas. It threatens to increase the time for the petitions to be processed. In countries that were targeted by Trump’s travel ban, the time it will take might be even greater. This is because of the additional security requirements that people who come from those countries must meet to secure visas.