The International Operations Division (IO) is the component of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), within the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate (RAIO), that is charged with advancing the USCIS mission in the international arena. Reuniting families, enabling adoptive children to come to join permanent families in the U.S., considering parole requests from individuals outside the U.S. for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit, and providing information services and travel documents to people around the world – all with unique needs and circumstances – are just a few of the responsibilities our officers assume on a daily basis. Operating in a dynamic global environment with constantly changing political, cultural, environmental, and socio-economic context, IO has approximately 240 employees located in the US and in three international districts composed of 25 field offices in 22 countries globally. Our employees are highly diverse and include foreign nationals in addition to US citizens; more than half of the IO staff working abroad, and approximately one-third of all IO employees, are foreign nationals.
With offices in, Florida, California, and Washington, DC, IO Headquarters is responsible for providing leadership, guidance, and support for all IO programs. The IO Headquarters organizational chart is available here.
IO Headquarters currently is composed of six branches:
Located in Washington, DC, CAPP has the mandate to focus on intercountry adoption and parole policy. CAPP serves as the Department of State liaison on adoption issues, provides guidance on adoption-related cases to the liaisons to the IO field offices and Humanitarian Affairs Branch (HAB), and partners with HAB to develop parole-related policy. Additionally, CAPP is responsible for policy and guidance on DNA and surrogacy matters within IO.
Located in Washington, DC, HAB adjudicates requests for humanitarian or significant public benefit parole for individuals outside of the US who have no other means of entering the US. In addition, HAB administers the Cuban and Haitian Entrant Program (CHEP) located in Miami, awarding multi-million dollar grants to non-governmental organizations that provide orientations and resettlement services to Cuban and Haitian migrants paroled into the US.
Located in Anaheim, California, IASB provides adjudicative and program management assistance to overseas offices by transferring international caseloads to a domestic environment and deploying additional staff to overseas offices as needed. By directly addressing workload imbalances, IASB creates a more efficient and customer-centric adjudication process and ensures continuity of operations throughout IO. IASB also manages the Cuban Medical Parole Program (CMPP), and provides operational and policy guidance on Applications for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility (Form I-601s) and related applications.
Located in Washington, DC, PRM provides RAIO’s infrastructure support through budgeting, workload and resource analysis, production and performance management, record maintenance, and IT initiatives. In 2011, PRM was recognized with the prestigious USCIS Director's Vanguard Award for developing and implementing the Case and Activity Management for International Operations system, or “CAMINO,” an innovative, person-centric, web-based case management and report generating system that is transforming the adjudication of overseas cases.
Located in Washington, DC, PIB develops policy and guidance for qualified non-citizen relatives of US citizens and residents seeking to enter the United States, for refugee/asylee family members following-to-join, and for naturalization of non-citizen members of the US military overseas and their qualified family members. PIB is also developing IO’s first ever in-house effort to integrate its security-related efforts, such as overseas verifications, security checks, and fraud and national security oversight. PIB serves as liaison to the Department of State in coordinating immigration-related efficiencies and cost-savings.
Located in Washington, DC, QATC develops and implements quality management and training programs for all IO staff, ensures that internal and external communication is current and accurate, and participates in meetings with governmental and non-government partners to promote the mission of the agency. In particular, QATC is responsible for ensuring that all overseas officers have the tools and knowledge they need to address the full range of complicated adjudication issues they will encounter, their host country’s culture and traditions, and any safety issues inherent in their new environment.
IO international field offices are located at 25 US embassies, and consulates in 22 countries within three districts, the Asia Pacific (APAC) District; the Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean (LACC) District; and the Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA) District. District offices are located in Bangkok, Mexico City and Rome, respectively. The international district organizational charts are available here:
Nearly 78 percent of IO staff work overseas. Tours of duty for the overseas officer corps are typically between two to five years. Our overseas workload is diverse and can be separated into three general areas: Immigration Services, Fraud Detection and Deterrence, and Inter and Intra-Government Liaison.
Overseas officers are responsible for adjudicating a wide variety of petitions and applications filed overseas, providing information services, and issuing travel documents to people in a wide variety of circumstances.
In addition to the general public applying for travel documents to enter the US, overseas officers also assist: US citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylees, and refugees who wish to bring relatives back to the US; people who have been persecuted or fear persecution who wish to resettle in the US; US citizens who wish to adopt overseas; people who cannot immigrate to the US for specific reasons and who wish to have those reasons waived; members of the US military and their families who wish to become US citizens; people who may qualify to enter the US because they are recognized by law as being members of specific categories with a special need, such as Amerasians and widows or widowers of US citizens; and lawful permanent residents who have traveled overseas and have lost their green cards.
Overseas staff provide valuable information services. In addition to responding to written requests for information and phone calls, all offices maintain a public information window where members of the public can ask questions in person. The windows are mostly serviced by foreign nationals who can provide information in local residents’ native languages.
Overseas staff also provide logistical support to teams of Refugee Officers from the USCIS Refugee Affairs Division who travel overseas to assist refugees for resettlement in the US.
Overseas verifications have long been the foundation of IO’s fraud detection and deterrence efforts. During an overseas verification, an officer may use a wide variety of techniques to determine that an orphan is indeed an orphan, that civil registration documents are authentic, or that statements made are true.
On the regional level, USCIS has deployed Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Officers overseas. FDNS Officers are located in Mexico, Germany, and India, and are tasked with identifying fraud trends within their respective regions.
On the global level, IO is now developing its first ever in-house effort to integrate all of its security-related efforts, including verification of overseas documents, security checks, and fraud and national security oversight. IO is also working closely with other federal entities, such as the Department of State Fraud Prevention Units.
Through comprehensive coordination and communication of efforts on the local, regional, and global levels, IO will not only halt fraud as it occurs, but identify and address patterns of immigration fraud, prioritize prevention and deterrence, and strengthen the overall integrity of the US immigration system.
An important function of the overseas offices is to provide technical expertise on immigration-related matters for US government components overseas, including the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Overseas offices also provide US immigration information to and partner with foreign governments where appropriate, to further the USCIS mission.
Common Petitions and Applications Filed Overseas
Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/07/2014