USCIS shifts from Boston to Lawrence in 2009

As a citizenship and deportation attorney based in Boston, I’m sad to report that 2009 could mark the beginning of the end of the JFK Federal Building as the “immigration building.” According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the INS) Boston District Director Denis Riordan, USCIS tentatively plans to move the Boston Office from the JFK Building due to space constraints. Director Riordan told the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that new potential sites for the USCIS Boston Office include Quincy, Brockton, and South Boston. However, Director Riordan suggested that the move may not happen if USCIS can arrange more space at the JFK Federal Building.

In 2009, a new USCIS Field Office in Lawrence, Massachusetts will open its doors. USCIS broke ground on the facility in April 2008.

The address for the new USCIS Lawrence Field Office will be:

USCIS Lawrence Field Office
2 Mills Street
Lawrence, MA

USCIS Lawrence Office will employ 40 people, including a USCIS Director, 2 immigration supervisors and 16 immigration adjudicators. The goal is for USCIS Boston to move about 30% of the immigration caseload to Lawrence, Massachusetts.  An immigration interview will be assigned to USCIS Lawrence Office based on the applicant’s zip code. Director Riordan seemed particularly enthusiastic that USCIS was locating its new office in Lawrence, given this city’s large immigrant community.

I understand that the increasing Boston immigration caseload would require USCIS to seek additional office space. But the USCIS Lawrence Office runs counter to the clear logic of having all immigration facilities in a one centrally-located facility. Apparently and astonishingly, the new USCIS immigration office in Lawrence will not even have parking!As a Boston immigration lawyer, it seems odd to me that USCIS would even consider not locating its primary Field Office in Boston. I’m holding out hope that USCIS will remain at JFK Federal Building, given that it is prominently situated in City Hall plaza in Government Center, the heart of Boston’s legal community. The current immigration is served by excellent MBTA public transportation. Another excellent reason to remain at the JFK Federal Building is that my immigration law firm is located in Boston only two blocks away.