Foreign nationals applying for a visa or green card in the UK may be in for a treat. The US Department of State has initiated the planning stage for a new US Embassy in London and recently sponsored a contest for the design of the building.
US taxpayer watchdogs are up in arms over the recently revealed winner of the US Embassy London design contest, given the devastating recession and massive unemployment back home. With a price tag of $1 billion, the high-tech crystal cube features a rather medieval 100-foot security moat. Yes, a moat.
The Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s is the official title for the US government presence in the UK. The current US Embassy in London is located in the Mayfair district at Grosvenor Square and handles both US citizen services and visa services for foreign nationals, including UK green card applications, non-immigrant visitor and work visas, and immigration from the UK. There is also a USCIS field office located in the building, which handles adjudications of (among other things) I-601 & I-212 waivers for applicants from the UK, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Repubic of Ireland, Norway and Sweden.
The proposed location of the new American Embassy in London is in the Battersea neighborhood, along the Thames. Although the cost of building the new US Embassy may seem excessive, officials site security concerns, decaying conditions, and overcrowding at the 50-year old present location. Even though work has yet to begin on the new building, the present Embassy was sold for more than $1 billion last year; the Qatari company that bought it plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.
The new US Embassy London will be 500,000 square feet and much more modern than the stark architecture of the current building. It is likely to be the most expensive embassy the US has ever constructed — even more than the $700 million US Embassy in Iraq or the proposed $850 million US Embassy in Pakistan.