Starting Monday, U.S. citizens will no longer be able to file immigrant visa petitions for their relatives at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Immigrant visa petitions filed on Form I-130 will be filed at a centralized address in the U.S. U.S. citizens will still be able to file immigrant visa petitions at USCIS offices abroad. However, not every country has a USCIS office. Filing the petitions in the U.S. extends the processing time by at least five months. The USCIS made the change after determining that it is more cost-effective for them to process the petitions rather than pay the State Department to do so. Last year, the State Department billed USCIS for it’s I-130 work for the first time and charged $3 million. USCIS will still authorize the State Department to process the petitions in rare situations, such as medical emergencies, threats to personal safety, and for some adoptions. However, it was stated that “very, very few” exceptions would be granted. Although, overall, not many Americans file visa petitions overseas, it will effect people in the U.S. military stationed abroad, and U.S. companies doing business overseas who wish to send employees and their immediate relatives to the U.S.
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