THE Y-AXIS BLOG

Get the latest and most useful updates on overseas careers, immigration, travel and visas here.

New immigration office opens in Queens

Posted on January 16, 2012
Comment (0)
Share :
blank
blank
blank
blank
blank
blank

blank

Andrea Quarantillo, the New York District Director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, walks through a room in the agency’s new field office in Long Island City that is filled with hundreds of color-coded boxes of Queens immigrants’ files.

Instead of making immigrants come to them, the feds are setting up shop in the borough of immigrants — opening a Long Island City office this month.

It’s a first for Queens and only the second U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office to open in the five boroughs. The agency handles green cards, citizenship and other applications.

“It’s a decentralization, to put us where our customers are,” said USCIS New York District Director Andrea Quarantillo.

“We think that’s the future for us.”

The feds have made similar field office changes in Los Angeles and Miami — and Quarantillo is trying to get a Brooklyn office next on the list to be funded. A Bronx office would follow.

The shiny two-floor office at 27-35 Jackson Ave. — complete with a ceremony room for swearing in new citizens and a support center for fingerprinting and ID photos — shares space in a remodeled, four-story warehouse with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Quarantillo will host its grand opening on Jan. 20 along with the agency’s national director and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan).

But it has been quietly open for business since Dec. 13, and so far 20% of the visitors simply walked into the office spontaneously to set up an appointment, staffers said.

In the lobby, decorated with a big sign showing the Statue of Liberty superimposed on an American flag, visitors can arrange their own informational appointments using a special kiosk that runs the agency’s Infopass system in 12 languages.

Manhattan’s field office, housed in the 41-story 26 Federal Plaza building along with immigration enforcement, can feel much less user-friendly, Quarantillo admitted.

“It’s daunting,” she said.

The Queens center was designed to put immigrants at ease, with chairs in waiting rooms, in front of customer service windows and in the private offices of nearly 40 immigration services officers.

“No standing,” Quarantillo said. “We want to take the tension down, to be able to sit and talk as if you were at a bank.”

Officers will be able to interview up to 120 citizenship applicants and do 50 green card interviews in the 48,000-square-foot space every day.

There’s no telling yet how the new office will impact the number of New Yorkers who decide to become new U.S. Citizens.

But the entire New York district saw booming numbers of citizenship applications in 2011, Quarantillo said.

While the typical number of new applicants had been 6,500 a month, there were about 8,000 in December, she said — and numbers have been consistently up since last March.

On Wednesday morning, about 50 Queens residents — immigrants from Ecuador, Pakistan and a host of other countries — sat in the new office’s sunny main waiting room. One elderly woman counted off prayer beads as she waited.

“It’s a slice of the world,” said Quarantillo. “It is the most diverse county in the country.”

The center will also serve some Brooklyn immigrants, depending on ZIP code.

Pakistani immigrant Khan Mohammed, 59, who lives in Jackson Heights, leaned forward in his waiting room chair and said he was impressed so far.

“It’s close to my house,” said Mohammed.

“Right now, I feel comfortable.”

Erica Pearson

13 Jan 2012

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/immigration-office-opens-queens-york-city-article-1.1005158?localLinksEnabled=false

Share :
blank
blank
blank
blank
blank
blank
Y-Axis
Y-Axis

More Posts

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

one × 5 =

FEEDSPOT ACCREDITATION

blank

Archives

LET'S STAY IN TOUCH
Follow Us

We want to hear from you!