USCIS Closes Offices

USCIS to close all International offices.

The Trump administration has announced that it intends to reduce USCIS’s international presence by closing ALL of its international offices. This means that those services that were provided to assist the processing of family visa applications, foreign adoption and similar cases now would be curtailed. This is consistent with the Trump administration’s objective to reduce legal immigration. Less support, means longer lines, slower processing, more frustration, and possibly less applicants willing to endure the process.


This action, is probably the final death knell to Direct Consular Filing.

In the past an American living overseas who wished to bring his spouse to the USA, could apply directly to the nearest US consulate, to obtain the spouse visa. This is called Direct Consular Filing or DCF. The American expat thus benefited as he could submit his application directly to local staff that would receive and process the application. And in practice this sped the process greatly, reducing a normally lengthy 1 to 2 year process into only a few months.

When Joyce and I decided to move to the USA, I applied directly to the US Embassy in Hong Kong, and she was granted her IR1 spouse visa in only 5 months. And then we moved with our two children to California.

In general, the State Department, has already been discontinuing DCF services from their consulates over the past 10 years, currently only those countries where USCIS has an international office is DCF still provided.

I guess it should now be called “Direct USCIS International Office Filing” instead of Direct Consular Filing, as the consulate is no longer initially involved.

Anyway, with the announced closing of all international USCIS offices I expect that DCF, regardless of acronym, will be a thing of the past.

Soon, All family visa cases regardless of whether the US sponsor lives in or outside of the USA, will be submitted and initially processed in the United States. This means those ex-pat families who previously enjoyed DCF, will now experience a much slower, and more complicated process in order to obtain visas and green cards to the USA.

The countries where USCIS currently has international offices are shown here.

Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo
El Salvador – San Salvador
Germany – Frankfurt
Ghana – Accra
Greece – Athens
Guatemala – Guatemala City
Haiti – Port-au-Prince
India – New Delhi
Italy – Rome
Jordan – Amman
Kenya – Nairobi
Mexico – Ciudad Juarez
Mexico – Mexico City
Mexico – Monterrey
Peru – Lima
Philippines – Manila
South Africa – Johannesburg
South Korea – Seoul
Thailand – Bangkok
United Kingdom – London

The US state department says it will take over the duties, at least some of the duties, previously conducted by these offices. USCIS says it will save money. Applicants for visas can certainly expect to suffer additional delays in the processing of their cases.

If you are currently on the verge of submitting a DCF case, better submit it within the next few weeks cause very soon no more DCF cases will be accepted and you will be faced with processing times that drastically jump from 3 to 5 months to 1 to 2 years.

By Fred Wahl
the VisaCoach