Clarification on USCIS Manila field office closure
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - June 9, 2019 - 12:00am

You must have read or heard the news that USCIS has announced that it will be permanently closing its field office in Manila on July 5. This closure does not only involve the Manila Field Office but also nearly two dozen other filed offices around the world. These closures have been long planned by the Trump administration as by doing so would enable the US government to save millions of dollars a year. USCIS field offices handle duties such as assisting with refugee applications, family reunifications, foreign adoptions, parole requests, and naturalization processing for military members. Along with these planned closures, USCIS has also issued guidance on where to submit petitions and applications normally received and processed by the field offices.

Because of this news and the accompanying photo posted by some media outlets showing the “Embassy of the United States of America,” serious confusion arose. Many were afraid that they could no longer apply for a visa or even have their interviews cancelled.

First of all, the US Embassy in Manila is not closed. It still accepts and conducts interviews for non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications. It still serves the needs of US citizens living in the Philippines. As of last check, the US and the Philippines still enjoy a robust and strong diplomatic relationship and there is no reason that warrants the closure of the Consulate or the Embassy.

Secondly, the USCIS Manila Filed Office is under the auspices of the US Department of Homeland Security. The Consulate/Embassy has no direct supervision and control of the USCIS field office. On the other hand, the US Department of State has legal jurisdiction over all consulates and embassies around the world. So you apply for visas at the consulate, not at the USCIS field office.

I hope this clarifies the questions and confusion that arose with the news of the closure. I also hope that the media could have been more circumspect on what photos to use as it relates to the news they present.

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