Barbara Velarde, Chief, Administrative Appeals Office

Barbara Q. Velarde became chief of the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office in May 2018.

Background Experience/Significant Achievements

Previously, she served as director of the agency’s Potomac Service Center beginning in July 2015.

Velarde began her federal career in November 1994 as an asylum officer at the Los Angeles Asylum Office. From 1998 to 2003, she served as a supervisory asylum officer and later as an assistant center director at the California Service Center. 

In 2003, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she served in several positions, including branch chief for Service Center Operations, chief for the Performance Management Division and chief of Fraud Operations in FDNS. In 2007, Velarde was promoted to chief of Service Center Operations and in 2010 to deputy associate director for the newly formed Service Center Operations Directorate.


Velarde has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine, and received her Juris Doctor from the Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California. She is licensed to practice law in the state of California. 

She has attended the intensive “Senior Executives in National and International Security” program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In 2014, she received her International Coaching Federation license as an executive coach after completing the one-year Executive Leadership Coaching program at the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies.

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