New Interview Locations for Many Suburban Seattle Naturalization Applicants
Beginning at the end of June 2019 USCIS District 20 began moving naturalization interviews from the Seattle field office to other offices in the district including specifically Yakima, WA and Portland, OR. The move is an attempt to reduce the backlog of naturalization applications pending at the Seattle office. The program is being implemented nationwide among the offices that have large backlogs.
USCIS announced that naturalization applications for applicants residing east of Seattle proper, including Bellevue, may be interviewed in Yakima, WA; and those south of Seattle proper, including Auburn, will be sent to Portland, OR. The government will not provide a list of zip codes of which cases will be interviewed where, because they constantly re-evaluate workloads on a monthly basis. As a result, perhaps Yakima will be filled up, and some Bellevue applicants will be scheduled for Seattle; it will vary every month. As a result every applicant must be careful to read the interview notice for the location for where their interview will take place! If an applicant is scheduled for Yakima or Portland, they must attend the interview at that location. There is no ability to opt out for any reason.
USCIS has stated it is highly unlikely applicants will have the oath ceremony the same day as the interview in Yakima or Portland. Consequently, the applicant will need to return to the same office where the interview was conducted for the oath ceremony. Applicants will be notified by mail of the date and time of their oath ceremony.
At the time this policy was introduced at the end of June 2019, the processing time for the Seattle office was 15-18 months, whereas in Yakima it was 4-6 months. Obviously, as Seattle cases are moved to Yakima, it will not remain at 6 months there. Still, the objective of requiring applicants to travel approximately three hours each way is to get the cases processed faster, which most clients appreciate.
In the past USCIS has detailed officers from other locations to the Seattle office to help clear out backlogs. This time they say they simply don’t have the resources including office space to do that. Instead, the applicants now must travel to other locations.
For more information about this article or other immigration matters, please contact Barbara Marcouiller.