Immigrants seeking a “green card” in Buffalo will soon have a new address at which to obtain help.
The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service office in Western New York is seeking to move up the street to new digs at 306-310 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo in a vacant three-story building.
The federal agency will use the first two floors of the building, taking up 25,000 square feet of space as the anchor tenant. A lease has been signed by the U.S. General Services Administration on the agency’s behalf. The third floor will be marketed for a future office tenant. The building was formerly occupied by People Inc.
The offices are currently located a few blocks away in the Federal Center at 130 Delaware, along with a host of other federal agencies. It occupies the first three floors, with 55 federal employees and contractors, handling multiple functions for three distinct entities within the agency.
First, the district office oversees field office operations in upstate and Western New York, as well as in Connecticut and Vermont.
Second, the field office provides immigration benefit interviews, mostly for citizenship or green cards, as well as answers to general inquiries about the immigration process. It serves a 24-county region, including all eight Western New York counties, as well as the Finger Lakes, Central New York and part of the North Country, covering the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse metropolitan areas.
The Buffalo office also operates the Child Citizenship Act Program, which issues certificates of citizenship within 45 days of arrival in the country to children who are adopted abroad by U.S. citizens and who enter the country in immigrant status. Under the nationwide program, all such applications from across the country are handled by the Buffalo office, making it unique.
Finally, the Buffalo application support center handles fingerprinting, photos and signatures for applicants for immigration benefits who need to complete the “biometrics” portion of their petition.
No changes are planned to the operation’s staffing or functions, but its current lease is expiring, prompting the move, said agency spokeswoman Katherine Tichacek.
Built in 1935, the 34,812-square-foot building at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Tracy Street has been owned since May 2002 by 310 Delaware LLC. The current owner is registered to the offices of Allied Publishers Service, at 625 Delaware.
Plans call for facade renovations and modifications to the interior shell, as well as construction of an 8,000-square-foot, two-story addition in the back of the building, according to a letter to the Buffalo Planning Department from Optima Design & Engineering PLLC, which is working with Silvestri Architects on the project.
If approved, construction would start in May and be finished by September. The plan will be the subject of public hearing and review by the Planning Board on Tuesday.