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Feds unveil plans to open immigration office in LIC

The federal government will open its first immigration office outside Manhattan next spring in Long Island City to serve Queens, “one of the most diverse communities on earth,” according to one borough elected official.

“This new office is the result of a national effort by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to transform into a more accessible, efficient and customer-friendly agency,” said Andrea Quarantillo, New York District director of the USCIS.

“We are pleased to demonstrate that transformation by improving our accessibility to the immigrant communities of New York City,” Quarantillo said.

“Queens has one of the largest immigration populations in New York so we’re excited to have a home base in the borough and we are committed to offering world-class service to the Queens community.”

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said, “It’s fitting that Queens, one of the most diverse communities on Earth, will next spring have an immigration office to call its own. The Long Island City field office will give Queens immigrants access to the services they need, without having to drive to Garden City or take a long subway ride to lower Manhattan.”

The new office will have high-tech, innovative customer service, including Infopass, an Internet-based system allowing customers to schedule appointments. The 48,000-square-foot facility will feature a spacious waiting area, private offices for interviews and a room for hosting naturalization ceremonies and other public events.

The official will have the capability of processing 300 people daily.

The two-story office at 27-35 Jackson Ave., the site of a former warehouse, is near a subway and part of a rapidly changing neighborhood once the home of factories of many descriptions.

The federal government has a 15-year lease on the space at an annual rent of $1.2 million, USCIS officials said.

Although the new immigration office will require 104 employees and management, none will be hired locally as many will be those transferred from the immigration office in Garden City, L.I., which will be closed.

Quarantillo said another new such office was in the works for Brooklyn, but she said she could not be specific about when.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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