Rome USCIS closure could delay US civilians needing visas for families
VICENZA, Italy — Civilians who marry foreign nationals in Europe should expect delays obtaining U.S. documentation for their new families following the closure of the U.S. immigration office in Rome, one of the last on the Continent to remain open.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office there stopped taking visa applications as of Friday and is scheduled to close June 30.
The last remaining USCIS office in Europe is in London. That office quit accepting new visa applications in March and will stop taking appointments June 19 before its scheduled closure July 31.
The change will mean applications for immigrant visas have to be filed to a USCIS office in Dallas, then sent to the National Visa Center in Washington, D.C., and back to a U.S. embassy in Europe, where an interview would take place.
When handled at the Rome field office, the process took two or three months, said Karyn Begin, an immigration attorney currently living in Italy who has offices in Germany and Florida. It’s now expected to take at least 10 months, she said, partly because of an application backlog, due to reduced operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you have not planned, your family will not be able to PCS with you,” Begin said. “Quite frankly, if you are not active duty military, the moment you have a relative is the moment you should file.”
Active duty service members seeking such visas are exempt from the new filing procedure. They and their spouses will be able to file at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and have their applications processed there.
The USCIS Rome office closure, one of 15 announced last year, will also affect the timeline for active duty service members seeking U.S. citizenship. They must now file applications with offices in Washington, D.C., or, if based in the Pacific, Guam.
It was announced last year that four overseas military naturalization “hubs” would be set up, at Camp Humphreys, South Korea; Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan; U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany, and Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. But those offices are open only for one week, four times a year, and are only for final interviews and swearing-in ceremonies.
The Rome immigration office had jurisdiction for Italy, Algeria, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Gibraltar, the Vatican, Kosovo, Libya, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia and Western Sahara.