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Coronavirus In Seattle
caption: Outside the closed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Seattle, WA on March 03, 2020.
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Outside the closed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Seattle, WA on March 03, 2020.
Credit: Esmy Jimenez

USCIS Seattle office closes amid fears of coronavirus

U.S Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf ordered the closure of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in south Seattle amidst fears of coronavirus.

In a statement, Secretary Wolf shared, “We made the decision to close offices because an employee had visited a family member at the Life Care Facility in Kirkland, Washington, before it was known that the facility was impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.”

The office offers a variety of immigration services. Outside the building, several people were surprised to find it closed.

Jose Castillo was especially worried. He’s been ordered to leave the country, and is supposed to be on a flight to Mexico this week. But he has a problem -- his passport is inside the facility.

“My passport is here," he said. "I have to take an airplane but I can't because these guys have my passport.”

Jan Pholkosol, a student from the University of Washington came to the immigration office to get a visa to visit Canada. She turned around frustrated and took a $50 Lyft ride to get back home. Thomas Mwanji, a nurse assistant from Everett was there for his biometrics appointment and also didn't know the office was closed.

On a sign outside, USCIS said the office would automatically send new interview appointments out by mail. They also asked immigrants to reschedule other appointments online and offered a 1-800 number to call for questions.

caption: On the door outside the Seattle USCIS office, officials ask immigrants to reschedule their appointments. March 03, 2020.
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On the door outside the Seattle USCIS office, officials ask immigrants to reschedule their appointments. March 03, 2020.
Credit: Esmy Jimenez

Castillo says he’ll come back in two weeks and try again for his flight. The others said they weren't sure what they would do.

The next closest USCIS office is in Yakima and another is in Portland.