US plans to close 20 international immigration offices, including PH

The Homeland Security Department announced that they are now preparing to close immigration offices outside the United States, including the Philippines.

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In an unprecedented move, the Trump administration is expecting to save up millions of dollars a year by closing several international immigration offices.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) spokeswoman Jessica Collins confirmed their plans and said that the visa-granting agency is already in their preliminary talks to close offices in 20 countries outside the United States.

Among the countries identified to lose their US immigration offices are Great Britain, Mexico, South Africa, Italy, India, the Philippines, China and others.

The decision is being criticized by international organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights First; saying that it would mean fewer services for refugees. The closure of immigration offices would also result to delay in the processing of family visa applications, foreign adoptions and citizenship petitions from members of the military stationed abroad.

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The Trump administration officials are defending that the decision will “allow them to shift resources to slash backlogs in the United States, and they estimate the government will save millions of dollars each year by phasing out USCIS international offices.”

USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna shared a message via The Washington Post saying, “Change can be difficult and can cause consternation. I want to assure you we will work to make this as smooth a transition as possible for each of our USCIS staff while also ensuring that those utilizing our services may continue to do so and our agency operations continue undisrupted.”

Earlier this year, Filipino workers have earned the ire of the United States Department of Homeland Security due to high overstay rate. They issued a one-year ban on the temporary working visas for Filipinos.