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USCIS Seattle District Takes Steps to Improve Backlogs

The Seattle Field Office of USCIS and USCIS District 41, which includes Washington, Oregon, and other states, announced new measures to attempt to address the backlog of pending cases.

Biometrics Appointments:

Beginning in May of 2021, a new slate of biometrics appointments will be added at 7:00 am and also a second slate at 5:00 pm.  There are seven stations at which biometrics can be gathered.  They will also add two more staff in order to process two more people each hour.  Appointments are scheduled on the hour for arrivals to show up for their appointment within that hour.  Especially if your appointment is for the 5:00 pm hour, be certain to arrive on time, as they cannot keep the building open past 6:00 pm.

Allowable capacity at federal facilities:

Federal facilities can still only be at 25% capacity, so no one other than those required for the appointment will be admitted into the building.

Video Interviews:

The Seattle Field Office will partner with the Spokane Field Office in order to do more interviews.  Applicants may be instructed to appear at the Seattle Field Office in Tukwila, but their interview may be conducted via videoconference by an Immigration Officer in Spokane.  Functionally, this will allow more USCIS staff to process Seattle Field Office cases.  This is a pilot program that is just being tested out and is not being rolled out on a large scale.  Even so, it will increase the capacity to conduct interviews.

At these video interviews, there will be an assistant physically present at the Seattle location who can accept, scan, and upload any additional evidence for the officer in Spokane.

If an interview will be one of those conducted via videoconference with an officer in Spokane, the upper section of the appointment notice will instruct the applicant to go to the office in Tukwila, but the very bottom of the notice will show the case is being processed by the Spokane office.

Relocating Interviews to Portland, OR and Yakima, WA:

Naturalization applications for applicants residing south of Seattle from Renton to Vancouver, WA will have their case assigned to the USCIS field office in Portland, OR.  Oath ceremonies will be conducted the same day as the interview.  In cases in which additional evidence or further review is needed, USCIS will attempt to schedule the oath ceremony in Seattle.  Re-interviews will still be done in Portland.

Adjustment of status applications for applicants residing south of Seattle from Lacey to Vancouver, WA will have their cases assigned to the USCIS field office in Portland, OR.

Adjustment of status applications for applicants residing east of Seattle including Bellevue and east will be assigned to the USCIS field office in Yakima, WA.

No naturalization applications will be sent to Yakima, only adjustment of status cases.

These location assignments are based on where the applicant resides and not on the date the application was filed.  As a result, some eastside applicants are likely to be scheduled for interviews before some others who filed earlier.  Relocated cases should get an earlier interview date than they would have if left in Seattle.  However, these changes should ease the load on the Seattle office allowing interviews to be scheduled sooner all around.

Neither the applicant nor the attorney can request a transfer or decline a transfer.  The point is to get interviews scheduled as efficiently as possible.  Given the ongoing 25% building occupancy restriction and the long line of applicants who have been waiting a very long time for their interviews, any special requests would only take resources away from moving the cases forward, which would defeat the whole purpose.

For assistance with your immigration matter contact Barbara A. Marcouiller, Attorney at Law at (425.822.2228).

This information was provided by USCIS in a meeting.  The notes are not “official.”

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