Recently, the USCIS announced it will be closing its Manila field office. This has created a lot of confusion and panic among Filipinos. Some people are asking that with the closure, how can they now apply for a visitor’s visa? Are K-1 (fiancé) visas still available? What’s going to happen with their immigrant visa interview that was already scheduled?
To be clear, the closure of the USCIS field office in Manila will have no effect on the US embassy or its functions and operation. It will continue to provide its regular services, including processing applications for visitor visas, other non-immigrant visas, immigrant visas, passport services for US citizens, etc.
The USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The US embassy is part of the Department of State (DOS). They are two separate governmental agencies. Historically, the USCIS field office in Manila had handled various USCIS functions, such as accepting family-based petitions on behalf of US citizens residing in the Philippines. Previously, if a person needed a fraud waiver, they might also file it with the Manila field office. However, most of the Manila field office’s functions were transferred stateside, and were being handled and processed within the US, such as filing at the Chicago lockbox, etc. Therefore, with the reduction of workload, USCIS decided, perhaps for budgetary reasons, to close their Manila field office.
To summarize, the US embassy remains open and will continue to handle the processing and issuance of visas, US passport services, etc. This means people can still apply for a visitor’s visa, other non-immigrant visas, immigrant visas, and US passports at the US embassy, provided they are eligible for the benefit they are applying for.
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