The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a governmental agency responsible for the processing and adjudication of various immigration and naturalization benefits to individuals in the United States. The USCIS operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has a mission to ensure that the United States secures its borders and provides various opportunities to immigrants in a secure and streamlined manner. In this article, we will provide an overview of the USCIS and the various services it provides. We will also look into the recent updates on the USCIS and provide some helpful resources for individuals interested in any of the services offered by the agency.
Overview of USCIS
The USCIS was established in 2003 as part of the DHS by the Homeland Security Act to replace the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The USCIS is responsible for carrying out the majority of the immigration-related services offered by the federal government. Some of the services that the USCIS provides include:
1. Processing of immigration and naturalization applications: The USCIS processes various types of immigration and naturalization applications such as green card applications, citizenship applications, and work permits.
2. Refugee and asylum status determination: The USCIS also determines refugee and asylum status applications submitted by individuals fleeing persecution in other countries.
3. Adjudicating Employment Authorization Documents (EADs): EADs are issued to allow individuals with certain visa categories to work in the United States. The USCIS reviews and adjudicates EAD applications.
4. Providing immigration-related information: The USCIS provides immigration-related information to the public through various channels such as its website, social media accounts, and customer service centers.
Recent Updates on USCIS
Since its establishment, the USCIS has undergone several changes. Here are some recent updates on the USCIS:
1. Changes to the H-1B visa program: The H-1B visa program is a non-immigrant visa category that allows employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. Recently, the USCIS introduced changes to the H-1B visa program, which aimed at improving the integrity of the program. These changes include the introduction of a new electronic registration system, the establishment of a priority system for visa allocation, and the implementation of higher screening measures.
2. Temporary closures of offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic: The USCIS was forced to shut down some of its offices temporarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency has since resumed some services such as naturalization ceremonies and in-person appointments while adhering to strict safety protocols.
3. Increase in application fees: The USCIS has also proposed an increase in application fees for some of its services. This proposal, however, has faced criticism from various stakeholders who argue that the increased fees could negatively impact those seeking immigration benefits.
Helpful Resources for USCIS
There are various resources available for individuals seeking immigration services from the USCIS. Here are some helpful resources:
1. USCIS website: The USCIS website is a great resource for individuals seeking immigration information or applying for immigration benefits. The website provides information on various topics such as forms, fees, and immigration policies.
2. USCIS Contact Center: The USCIS has a contact center that individuals can call to obtain information on immigration services. The center operates from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
3. USCIS field offices: The USCIS has several field offices located throughout the country. Individuals can visit these offices to obtain assistance with their applications or to conduct interviews.
4. Immigration attorneys: For more complex immigration issues, individuals may need to consult with an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can provide legal advice and representation on immigration-related matters.
The USCIS is a crucial government agency responsible for ensuring that the United States’ immigration and naturalization processes operate efficiently and that individuals seeking immigration benefits receive prompt resolutions. The agency has undergone several changes since its establishment, and as of 2021, faces new challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and criticism for proposed fee increases. Nonetheless, a wealth of resources is available for individuals seeking USCIS services, including the agency’s website, a contact center, field offices, and the assistance of immigration attorneys. As such, anyone in need of immigration or naturalization-related assistance should not hesitate to make use of these available resources to receive the help they require.
The USCIS is a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has taken control of all the duties and services provided by the INS, a defunct division of the United States Department of Labor and Commerce.
The main duties of the USCIS is to ensure national security, process citizenship and immigration services faster and more efficiently, and improve relations with customers in the immigration department. Prior to becoming known as the USCIS, it was originally named the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS).
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has duties of processing immigrant visa petitions, naturalization processes (transitioning an immigrant to U.S. citizenship) and processing asylum applications. It also has a responsibility of designing programs that deal with the benefit of immigrants, rather than enforcement of US immigration rules and regulations.
Other duties of the USCIS immigration department includes adjudicating asylum claims, issuing employment authorization documents, adjudicating petitions for temporary workers who are not immigrants, granting a permanent resident status for immigrants living in the United States, and granting United States citizenship for people who have been living as residents for years in the U.S.
The Difference Between the Old INS and the New USCIS:
Although both terms are used interchangeably, the INS is the old organization that existed and carried out the duties of the US immigration department until the new USCIS took over. The USCIS is a product of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Also created under the Act was the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded almost completely by fees paid by its users: about 1 percent of the USCIS budget will be provided for by the government. The total budget of the USCIS is approximately $2.6 billion.
The immigration department at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services handles all forms related to US immigration and naturalization. This is similar to the main duty of the INS before it evolved into the USCIS. The two forms are for immigration, or persons entering the United States from a foreign country, and naturalization, the process by which U.S. residents become accustomed to become U.S. citizens. All of the forms related to the US immigration department are referred to starting with an ‘I’ and all forms relating to naturalization start with an ‘N’.
The USCIS allows for users to schedule meetings in a service known as INFOPASS. People who have questions about US immigration can speak directly with a government employee and he or she will answer all of their questions. This is one example about how the USCIS was designed to serve the general public.