External Affairs Directorate
Kathryn S. Rexrode is the associate director of the External Affairs Directorate.
What We Do
The External Affairs Directorate (EXA) ensures that USCIS conveys accurate, consistent and transparent information and unified messaging to both our external and internal audiences.
We develop and circulate official USCIS materials aimed at external audiences, including Congress, the press, immigration stakeholders, and the general public.
We maintain relationships with Congress by providing responses to policy questions and constituent casework inquiries, and by providing ongoing education for members of Congress and their staff. We communicate with federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal partners.
We engage with the media by promoting stories that enhance the public’s understanding of USCIS and by answering media inquiries. We manage media interaction by fostering constructive relationships with local, regional, national, and international reporters, and other media representatives. We manage external engagement based on the principles of transparency and equal access to information for all stakeholders.
We promote U.S. citizenship and provide English learning and civic education through self-service tools and other resources that help applicants navigate the immigration process, prepare for naturalization, and file applications online.
The External Affairs Directorate consists of three separate offices:
- Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
- Office of Public Affairs
- Office of Citizenship and Applicant Information Services
Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
The Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA) supports the USCIS mission by maintaining effective relationships with Congress, federal, state, territorial, and local governments, and tribal officials. OLIA promptly responds to concerns from congressional and intergovernmental stakeholders and shares updates on USCIS policy changes with those stakeholders. These actions enhance understanding of the immigration process and promote the development of sound immigration legislation, policy, and practices. OLIA ensures that the USCIS director, deputy director, and other USCIS leaders are well-informed of congressional activity and legislation affecting the agency.
OLIA has four divisions.
- The Legislative Affairs Division informs and advises USCIS leadership on congressional activity, informs Congress of USCIS policies and priorities, provides Congress with technical assistance on proposed legislation, briefs members and their staff on agency operations and policies, and supports agency leadership for congressional hearings.
- The Operations and Field Coordination Division supports the Congressional Liaison Corps throughout the agency to ensure consistency in outreach and operations. The division manages the OLIA system of records—the Legislative Electronic Tracking System.
- The Congressional Constituent Services Division responds to congressional inquiries concerning constituent casework and policy questions.
- The Intergovernmental Affairs Division serves as the primary USCIS point of contact for U.S. embassy, state, local, tribal and territorial officials and national intergovernmental associations. The division coordinates responses to inquiries and facilitates meeting requests from stakeholders, including support for our community relations officers with local stakeholder engagements. The Intergovernmental Affairs Division also handles communication with federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal partners, including government officials, associations, and other intergovernmental affairs offices such as law enforcement agencies and state and local higher education institutions.
Aaron Calkins is the chief of OLIA.
You can reach OLIA by phone (202-272-1940) or fax (202-272-1955).
Office of Public Affairs
The Office of Public Affairs (OPA) functions as a conveyor of information, context, and insights to external and internal audiences with the aim of enhancing the public’s understanding of our agency and the laws and policies affecting benefit seekers, stakeholders, and the American people.
OPA has six divisions.
- The Plain Language Division ensures compliance with the Plain Writing Act. Our team of writer-editors draft original content, review and edit communications materials and web content, and ensure that we are communicating clear, concise, accurate, and useable information. These writer-editors actively contribute to many working groups, where they edit reports, internal memos, forms, and instructions. The division also translates web content into Spanish and provides plain language training to USCIS employees and other components of DHS.
- The Media Affairs Division supports the USCIS mission by providing up-to-date information on the agency’s latest initiatives, reforms and announcements to members of the news media.
- The Multimedia Division creates videos and graphics for internal and external communications, manages all audiovisual activities in the USCIS conference center, and oversees the branding of all USCIS materials.
- The Internal Communications Division coordinates all internal communications with the USCIS workforce. It also produces a digital employee newsletter and maintains the agency’s intranet.
- The Strategic Communications Division plans, develops, and communicates USCIS messaging to announce short- or long-term programmatic and policy updates, changes, or new initiatives. This division coordinates and develops timely communications strategies to ensure accurate information reaches relevant external audiences.
- The Public Engagement Division facilitates open and transparent communication between USCIS offices nationwide, external stakeholders, and the communities they represent. The division supports a variety of outreach programs and initiatives to ensure that the public has a clear understanding of our agency’s priorities and policies.
Laura Patching is the acting chief of OPA.
Office of Citizenship and Applicant Information Services
The Office of Citizenship and Applicant Information Services (CAIS) helps the public learn about U.S. citizenship and assists applicants with a variety of resources and tools.
- The Public Services Division responds to questions by phone, email, live chat, and written correspondence through the USCIS Contact Center. This division helps people locate information on the USCIS website using our virtual assistant, Emma, and provides language services to USCIS, ICE, and CBP.
- The Digital Services Division manages the USCIS website and online self-help tools, builds digital forms and online account services in support of the USCIS e2020 initiative, and ensures that people with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities can use our online resources.
- The Office of Citizenship provides instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities, and it administers the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program. It offers federal leadership and provides tools and resources to foster immigrant assimilation while promoting our nation’s values.
Mariela Melero is the chief of CAIS.