The International Operations Division (IO) is the component of USCIS’ 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 contexts, IO has approximately 240 employees located in the U.S. and in three international districts composed of 24 field offices in 21 countries. Our employees are highly diverse and include foreign nationals in addition to U.S. citizens; foreign nationals make up more than half of the IO staff working abroad and approximately one-third of all IO employees. An overview of IO is available by clicking on IO Overview (PDF, 371 KB).
With offices in 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 by clicking on IO HQ Org Charts (PDF, 23 KB).
IO headquarters currently is composed of six branches:
Children’s Affairs and Adoption Policy Branch (CAAP)
Located in Washington, DC, CAAP is responsible for providing policy, operational, and case-specific guidance on intercountry adoption issues and serves as the primary USCIS liaison to the Department of State on adoption issues. CAAP also consults closely with the Humanitarian Affairs Branch (HAB) on adoption-related parole requests. Additionally, CAAP is responsible for policy and guidance on DNA, Form I-130, Form I-360 and surrogacy matters within IO.
Humanitarian Affairs Branch (HAB)
Located in Washington, DC, HAB adjudicates requests for humanitarian or significant public benefit parole for individuals outside of the U.S. who have no other means of entering the US. In addition, HAB administers the Cuban and Haitian Entrant Program (CHEP), awarding multi-million dollar grants to non-governmental organizations that provide orientations and resettlement services to Cuban and Haitian migrants paroled into the U.S.
International Operations Adjudications Support Branch (IASB)
Located in Anaheim, California, IASB is responsible for domestic processing of Form I-730 petitions filed by refugees and provides adjudicative and program management assistance to international offices and other IO HQ branches. IASB assists international field offices and HAB with adjudicating overflow caseloads. IASB also provides office coverage and help with adjudications at international offices when needed to ensure continuity of operations throughout IO. IASB staff is also responsible for traditional headquarters program management responsibilities, such as providing operational and policy guidance on several IO services such as CRFP.
Performance and Resource Management (PRM)
Located in Washington, DC, PRM provides RAIO’s infrastructure support by developing and managing the budget, analyzing RAIO’s workload and resources, and coordinating any necessary realignment or adjustment of resources to address workload needs. PRM also provides production and performance management, records maintenance, and statistical analysis, and coordinates the deployment and return of staff to and from international locations. PRM serves as the point of contact for all IO personnel matters and IT initiatives, including the Case and Activity Management for International Operations (CAMINO) system, an innovative, person-centric, web-based case management and report-generating system.
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 travel documents issued to qualified non-citizens abroad, refugee/asylee family members following-to-join, and for naturalization of non-citizen members of the U.S. military abroad and their qualified family members. PIB is also charged with providing policy and operational support and oversight related to fraud detection and national security issues, including overseas verification of evidence, security vetting, and fraud trend analysis.
Quality Assurance, Training, and Coordination Branch (QATC)
Located in Washington, DC, QATC develops and implements quality management and training programs for all IO staff, manages quality assurance reviews of IO services, and participates in meetings with government and non-government partners to promote the mission of the agency. Working closely with the branches that develop policy and operational guidance, QATC is responsible for ensuring that all international officers and locally employed staff have the tools and knowledge needed to manage the complicated adjudication issues they encounter.
IO international field offices are located at 24 U.S. embassies, and consulates in 21 countries within three districts, the Asia Pacific (APAC) District; the Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean (LACC) District; and the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) District. District offices are located in Bangkok, Mexico City and Rome, respectively. The international district organizational charts are available here:
Approximately 75 percent of IO staff work internationally. Tours of duty for the international officer corps are typically between two to four 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 filed internationally, 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, officers posted abroad also assist:
- U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylees, and refugees who wish to bring relatives to the U.S.;
- People who have been persecuted or fear persecution who wish to resettle in the U.S.;
- U.S. citizens who wish to adopt internationally;
- People who cannot immigrate to the U.S. for specific reasons and who wish to have those reasons waived;
- Members of the U.S. military stationed abroad and their families who wish to become U.S. citizens;
- People who may qualify to enter the U.S. because they are recognized by law as being members of specific categories with a special need, such as 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 local residents’ native languages.
International staff also provide logistical support to teams of refugee officers from the USCIS Refugee Affairs Division who travel abroad to assist refugees for resettlement in the U.S.
Fraud Detection and Deterrence
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 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 abroad. FDNS officers are located in Mexico, Germany, India, and China and are tasked with identifying fraud trends within their respective regions and providing support to their respective districts on fraud detection and national security-related initiatives.
IO also works closely with other federal entities, such as the Department of State’s Fraud Prevention Units. Through comprehensive coordination and communication of efforts on the local, regional, and global levels, IO is positioned to 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 to U.S. government agencies abroad, including other Department of Homeland Security components, the Department of State and the Department of Defense. International offices also provide U.S. immigration information to and partner with foreign governments to further the USCIS mission.
Common Petitions and Applications Filed Internationally
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States to establish the relationship to certain foreign relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States.
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document 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.
- Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation) to allow lawful permanent residents who do not have a Green Card or Reentry permit to apply for a travel document (carrier documentation) that permits a transportation carrier to allow them to board a flight or vessel to the United States without penalty.
- Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant to apply for certain benefits granted to various special categories of individuals eligible for immigration.
- Form I-590, Registration for Classification as Refugee for individuals who have been persecuted or fear persecution and are seeking resettlement protection in the United States.
- Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition for prospective adoptive parents to establish qualifications for inter-country adoption.
- Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative 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.
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility for individuals who are 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.
- Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Family Petition for individuals admitted to the U.S. as refugees or granted status as asylees within the past two years, to request follow-to-join benefits for a spouse and/or children.
- Form N-400, Application for Naturalization for members of the U.S. military and their qualified family members deployed abroad seeking to naturalize to become U.S. citizens.
- Requests for Reconsideration (RFR) filed by individuals denied requests to be resettled in the U.S. as refugees.