MANILA – In line with President Donald Trump’s plan to limit both legal and illegal immigration, the US embassy in Manila will close its Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office.
The closure, to take place on July 5, will be on a permanent basis.
Services previously provided by the USCIS will be assumed by the US embassy, according to a statement from the Manila field office.
As of presstime, neither the Department of Foreign Affairs nor the Philippine embassy in Washington had yet to issue an official reaction to the announced closure.
While transactions in the Manila office of the USCIS were done within the US embassy grounds, it actually operates under the Department of Homeland Security. Also, green card applications are coursed through the USCIS.
Filipinos in the US as permanent, legal residents who are seeking to help relatives immigrate to the US and seek citizenship will have to take a longer route of applying via lockbox.
The office also processes refugee applications, overseas citizenship applications, and helping US citizens who want to adopt foreign children.
USCIS offices throughout the world also look out for fraudulent visa applications as part of the US anti-terrorist measures.
With the closure of the USCIS, it is believed that that long lines outside the US embassy along Roxas Boulevard in the capital city of Manila will be reduced further. The kilometric lines of old were reduced dramatically after applications for US visas shifted from personal visits to lockbox.
Still, some applicants would still wait outside the embassy grounds, even camping out the night before their scheduled interviews.
According to the USCIS Manila office, starting May 14, 2019, Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, were already being forwarded to their lockbox.
Manila is not the only place where the US is closing down its CIS offices. Among others, the Russia office was also recently closed, ostensibly due to a “significant decrease in workload.”
While there is no official policy by the Trump administration, the US president has made known that he does not welcome citizenship applications from certain countries, most of which are predominantly Muslim. He once said that his preference was to welcome new citizens from Icelandic countries (translation: predominantly white).
Border crossings from South American countries have also been tightened. President Trump made the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border was one of his primary campaign promises.