No assessed impact yet on closure of US immigration office in PH

MANILA -- The Philippine Embassy in Washington has deferred providing assessment on how the United States' planned closure of citizenship and immigration offices in several countries, including the Philippines, will affect Filipinos.

"This proposal is still in the preliminary stages and we wish to defer our comments until more details come out of subsequent discussions," Darell Artates, public diplomacy officer at the embassy told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Thursday.

"That said, the Philippine Embassy regularly engages the US government on issues of mutual concern," she added.

In an email sent to the PNA on Thursday, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) clarified that no disruption in operations would occur should the closure of their offices pushes through.

"Agency operations would not be disrupted -- they would either take place domestically or through officer circuit rides. State Department would provide certain limited immigration services, as they are already doing in many locations where USCIS does not have a presence," its backgrounder reads.

The agency clarified that applications for visas are issued by the Department of State not the USCIS.

Among others, it stressed that the proposed move would not impact refugee processing since the vast majority of refugee interviews are conducted by US-based refugee officer corps.

"If an interagency agreement is reached, the international field office workload would simply shift to the US for processing or occur through officer circuit rides," it said.

"USCIS operations will continue undisrupted, including the processing of international adoptions and applications from US service members seeking to become US citizens," it added.

USCIS international field offices, which provide assistance for refugee applications, foreign adoptions, and naturalization documents for American service members, are currently located at 23 US embassies and consulates in 22 countries, including Manila.

In locations where USCIS does not have presence, the State Department provides certain limited immigration services.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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