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The International Operations Division (IO) is the component of U.S. 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. Assisting with adoptions, considering humanitarian parole requests, and providing travel documents to people – all with unique needs and circumstances – are just a few of the responsibilities our officers take on a daily basis. Operating in a dynamic global environment with constantly changing political, cultural, environmental, and socio-economic factors, IO has approximately 255 employees located in the United States and in 23 additional countries, in 26 field offices, and three international districts. Our employees are highly diverse and include foreign nationals in addition to U.S. citizens; approximately 40 percent of the entire IO staff is made up of foreign nationals.
With U.S. offices in Virginia, Florida, California, and Washington, DC, IO Headquarters is responsible for providing leadership, guidance, and support for all IO programs. IO Headquarters currently is composed of six branches:
Children’s Affairs and Parole Policy Branch (CAPP)
Located in Washington, DC, CAPP has the mandate to focus on intercountry adoption and parole policy. CAPP serves as the liaison to the Department of State 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.
Humanitarian Affairs Branch (HAB)
Located in Arlington, Virginia, HAB adjudicates requests for humanitarian or significant public benefit parole for individuals outside of the United States who have no other means of entering the United States. 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 United States.
International Operations Adjudications Support Branch (IASB)
Located in Anaheim, California, IASB provides adjudicative and program management assistance to international offices by transferring international caseloads to a domestic environment and deploying additional staff to international 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-601 and related applications.
Performance and Resource Management (PRM)
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 adjudication of overseas cases.
Programs and Integrity Branch (PIB)
Located in Washington, DC, PIB develops policy and guidance for qualified non-citizen relatives of U.S. 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 U.S. military overseas and their qualified family members. PIB is also developing IO’s first ever in-house effort to integrate its security-related functions, such as international 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.
Quality Assurance, Training, and Communications Branch (QATC)
Located in Washington, DC, QATC develops and implements a quality management and training program 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 international 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 28 U.S. Embassies and Consulates in 25 countries within three Districts. District offices are located in Bangkok, Mexico City, and Rome. Nearly 78 percent of IO staff work outside of the United States. Tours of duty for the international officer corps are typically between two to five years. Our international workload is diverse and can be separated into three general areas: Immigration Services, Fraud Detection and Deterrence, and Inter and Intra-Government Liaison.
International officers are responsible for adjudicating a wide variety of petitions and applications, 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 United States, international offices also assist: U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylees, and refugees who wish to bring relatives back to the United States; people who have been persecuted or fear persecution who wish to resettle in the United States; U.S. citizens who wish to adopt internationally; people who cannot immigrate to the United States for specific reasons and who wish to have those reasons waived; members of the U.S. military and their families who wish to become U.S. citizens; and people who may qualify to enter the United States because they are recognized by law as being members of specific categories with a special need, such as Amerasians and widows or widowers of U.S. citizens; and lawful permanent residents who have traveled internationally and have lost their green cards.
International 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 the local residents’ native languages.
International staff also provide logistical support to teams of refugee officers from the USCIS Refugee Affairs Division who travel internationally to assist refugees for resettlement in the United States.
Fraud Detection and Deterrence
International verifications have long been the foundation of IO’s fraud detection and deterrence efforts. During an international 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 recently deployed Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) officers internationally for the first time. FDNS officers are now 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 functions, including verification of international 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 local, regional, and global levels, IO combats fraud by identifying and addressing patterns of immigration fraud, prioritizing prevention and deterrence efforts, which strengthen the overall integrity of the U.S. immigration system.
Inter- and Intra-Government Liaison
An important function of the international offices is to provide technical expertise on immigration-related matters for U.S. government components internationally, including the Department of State and the Department of Defense. International offices also provide U.S. immigration information to and partner with foreign governments, where appropriate, to further the USCIS mission.
You can find links to our partner agencies on the right.
Common Petitions & Applications Filed Overseas
Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), for citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States to establish the relationship to certain alien relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States.
Registration for Classification as Refugee (Form I-590), for individuals who have been persecuted or fear persecution and are seeking resettlement protection in the United States.
Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Form I-600A), for prospective adoptive parents to establish qualifications for inter-country adoption.
Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600), for U.S. citizens to request orphan classification for a child who either is, or will be, adopted by a U.S. citizen to allow the child to enter the United States.
Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility (Form I-601), for persons otherwise approved to immigrate to the United States, but are ineligible to enter the United States due to applicability of one or more grounds of inadmissibility.
Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (Form I-212), for persons who need to reapply for admission to the United States after being deported, being removed or having voluntarily departed the United States without an order of deportation.
Application for Naturalization (Form N-400), for members of the U.S. military and their qualified family members deployed internationally seeking to naturalize to become U.S. citizens.
Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360), to apply for certain benefits granted to various special categories of individuals eligible for immigration.
Application for Travel Document (Form I-131), for certain eligible individuals who lack the documentation required to apply for admission at a U.S. Port-of-Entry or demonstrate their status as a lawful permanent resident.
Requests for Reconsideration, filed by individuals denied requests to be resettled in the U.S. as refugees.