The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) opened a new field office in Queens, holding an official opening ceremony on January 20. This is the first field office in Queens and only the second in all of New York City, although the USCIS district director has stated that she hopes to get funding for additional offices in Brooklyn and Queens. The new office will hopefully take pressure off of the existing offices in Manhattan and elsewhere on Long Island and streamline the review and processing of various immigration applications and petitions.
Although the new office held its official opening earlier this week, it has been operating since December 13, 2011. The office handles green card and citizenship applications, and its design, according to the New York Daily News, is intended to put visitors at ease. All of the waiting areas, service windows, and offices have chairs, so applicants and other visitors do not have to stand in line. Forty immigration officers will be able to do up to 120 citizenship interviews and fifty green card interviews daily. This should help with the number of applications received by USCIS, which has apparently been steadily increasing over the past year. Officials say that about twenty percent of visitors to the new office since December have been walk-ins, as opposed to applicants with pre-existing appointments for interviews.
USCIS has seven field offices through the state of New York, including the new Queens office. Before the Queens office opened, the only office serving New York City was the one located in lower Manhattan. It serves individuals from all five boroughs, Long Island, and the counties north of the city up to Ulster and Sullivan Counties. Another office on Long Island, located in Holtsville, services part of Queens and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The Queens office will service areas of Queens and Brooklyn previously served by the Manhattan office.
Field offices handle many types of immigration applications, and they provide a location for officials to conduct applicant interviews. While many actual applications and petitions are sent to regional locations or “lock boxes,” most of the steps of the application process that require in-person contact occur at the field offices. Applicants for legal permanent residence, also known as green cards, must be interviewed by a USCIS officer as part of the application process. Naturalization applicants must also submit to an interview through a different process. Applicants for many different immigration benefits must provide fingerprints and other identifying information.
The new field office will hopefully benefit the applicants themselves as well. In addition to its purportedly welcoming design, the location takes a great deal of burden off of the applicants. People from Queens, with its enormous immigrant population, no longer have to travel all the way to Manhattan for interviews. Applicants still serviced by the Manhattan office will benefit as well, as the new office will ease some of its burden and help it process applications more quickly.
The New York immigration lawyers at Samuel C. Berger, P.C. help immigrants seeking visas to come to, or remain in, the United States. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys today, contact us online or at (212) 380-8117.
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Bill Seeks to Expand Immigration of Highly-Skilled Workers, but Causes Controversy, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 24, 2012
Federal Officials Launch Immigration Scam Education Campaign, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, December 22, 2011
New Bill Proposes Helping Indonesians Remain Legally in New Jersey, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, December 13, 2011
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