External Affairs Directorate


Kathryn S. Rexrode is the associate director of the External Affairs Directorate.

What We Do

The External Affairs Directorate (EXA) develops and promotes official USCIS communications to external audiences, including Congress, the press, and the general public. It also encourages U.S. citizenship and promotes English learning and civic education.

The Directorate’s purpose is to ensure the Administration’s priorities are set forth with consistency and clarity in congressional, public, and internal communications; coordinate routine and special communications; ensure accurate, useful, timely, synchronized, targeted communication; and provide continuous messaging to meet the needs of the agency.


The External Affairs Directorate consists of three separate offices:

  • Office of Citizenship
  • Office of Public Affairs
  • Office of Legislative Affairs

Office of Citizenship

The Office of Citizenship seeks to engage and support partners to welcome immigrants, promote English language learning and education on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and encourage U.S. citizenship. The office has three divisions:

  • Citizenship Education and Training which leads initiatives designed to support teachers, volunteers, and other adult educators who work to prepare immigrants for the naturalization process and test.
  • Publications and Outreach which develops educational products and public education and awareness initiatives designed to promote the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
  • Grants  which administers grants designed to help permanent residents prepare for naturalization.

Laura Patching is the chief of the Office of Citizenship.

Office of Public Affairs

The Office of Public Affairs (OPA) informs the public about the immigration services and benefits that USCIS provides. OPA accomplishes this by managing communications and messaging to our external audiences, empowering USCIS employees with the information needed to perform their jobs, and ensuring consistent messaging and branding for USCIS.

  • Plain Language:  Our team of writer editors ensuring Plain Writing Act compliance. They edit everything going on out the web to ensure we are communicating information that is clear, concise, accurate, and useable. They also translate web content into Spanish and provide agency-wide plain language training. 
  • Media Affairs: This team cultivates strong relationships between reporters, local communities, and USCIS. This includes proactive and reactive outreach to promote our mission and enhance the public’s understanding of USCIS.
  • MMD:  The members of the multimedia team create videos and graphics for internal and external communications, run all audiovisual work in the Tomich Conference Center, and oversee all branding for USCIS materials.
  • Employee Communications and Engagement: This team works with program offices and USCIS components to coordinate all internal communications with USCIS employees. They also produce the “USCIS Today” and “In the Loop.”
  • Strategic Communications: This team handles communications requests from program offices and directorates across USCIS. They help develop communications strategies that meet their clients’ needs while staying consistent with the agency’s global messaging.
  • Public Engagement: This division facilitates open and transparent communication between USCIS, external stakeholders, and the communities they represent. They support a variety of outreach programs and initiatives to ensure the public has an understanding of our agency’s priorities and policies.

Michael Bars is the acting chief of OPA.

Office of Legislative Affairs

The Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) supports USCIS by maintaining effective relationships with Congress. It does so by promptly responding to constituent concerns, proactively reaching out on issues of interest, and providing ongoing education for members of Congress and their staff. These initiatives enhance the integrity of the immigration process and promote the development of sound immigration legislation, policy and practices.

OLA has three branches:

  • The Legislative Branch, which informs Congress of USCIS’ policies and priorities, advises Congress on the implications of any proposed legislation on agency operations, and tracks legislation in order to coordinate USCIS’ response.
  • The National Coordination Branch, which manages USCIS congressional liaisons across the nation to ensure that USCIS best represents its efforts to Congress at the local level.
  • The Operations Branch, which assists members of Congress and their staff in resolving constituent inquiries about individual cases, institutional problems, and policy issues.

You can reach OLA by phone (202-272-1940) or fax (202-272-1955).

Alan Atkinson is the acting chief of the USCIS Office of Legislative Affairs.



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