Julie Kirchner serves as the fifth Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman) at the Department of Homeland Security. In this role, she leads an independent component dedicated to helping individuals and sponsors navigate the legal immigration system and resolve problems that arise while their applications for immigration benefits are processed at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Every year, the Ombudsman’s office receives thousands of requests for help and assigns each case to a dedicated immigration law analyst who works with USCIS to help the requestors resolve problems with their cases, as appropriate. As the cases are investigated, the Ombudsman’s office also looks for trends and underlying problems in the administration of our immigration laws and offers recommendations and solutions in its annual report to Congress.
Before her appointment as the Ombudsman, Ms. Kirchner spent several months as an adviser at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. At CBP, she worked on a variety of issues, including the implementation of tactical infrastructure at the southern border, the development of border security metrics, and the coordination of outreach efforts to various stakeholders.
Between 2005 and 2015, Ms. Kirchner worked at the Federation for American Immigration Reform and for eight years served as the organization’s Executive Director. In this role, she guided the nonprofit’s government relations, policy research, media engagement and grassroots activity. She also managed the operation of the organization, including the multi-million dollar budget, financial reporting, board relations, and human resources.
Having grown up in Iowa, Ms. Kirchner elected to spend a year in her father’s native country of Hungary, taking intensive classes in Hungarian at the Eötvös Loránd University and studying violin at the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy. After returning to the United States, she earned her B.A. in political science at Yale University and her law degree, with high distinction, at the University of Iowa College of Law. As a young lawyer, Ms. Kirchner worked as a private litigator, a criminal prosecutor and as counsel at the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she staffed the Judiciary and Civil Law Committees.