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What Does The USCIS (Formerly the INS) Do?

18th May 2011
By Paul Anderson in Immigration Law
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that manages lawful immigration to the US. The USCIS is a component of the Department of Homeland Security.

On March 1, 2003, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially took over the responsibility for all immigration functions of the federal government. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 disassembled the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and separated the former agency into three groups within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The USCIS (formerly the INS) was formed to enhance the security measures and improve the efficiency of national immigration services. The other two components of the DHS, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) take care of immigration enforcement and border security functions.

Some of the Services that the USCIS (formerly the INS) Provides

Citizenship (Includes the Related Naturalization Process):

Eligible individuals who want to become US citizens through naturalization have to submit their N-400 applications to USCIS. The USCIS will determine eligibility of the applicant, process the application and, if approved, will schedule the applicant for a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance. The USCIS also determines the eligibility and provides documentation of US citizenship for individuals who acquired or derived US citizenship through their parents' status as US citizens.

Immigration of Family Members:

The USCIS also manages the process that will allow permanent residents and US citizens to bring their close relatives to live and work in the US.

Working in the U.S:

Individuals from other countries can come and work in the US. Some of the job opportunities are temporary, and some also get a green card (permanent residence). The USCIS manages this process too.
Verifying an Individualís Legal Right to Work in the US:

USCIS takes care of the system that will allow employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

Humanitarian Programs:

USCIS also administers humanitarian programs that offers protection to individuals inside and outside the US who are displaced by war, famine and civil and political unrest, and also to those who are forced to flee their countries to escape the risk of death and torture at the hands of persecutors.


The first step in the process for US citizens adopting children from other countries are handled by the USCIS. Every year, approximately 20,000 adoptions take place.

Civic Integration:

The USCIS promotes instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities. They provide immigrants with the information and tools that are necessary to successfully integrate into American civic culture.

The mission of USCIS(formerly the INS) is to administer the nationís immigration system fairly, honestly and correctly. At this time of increased global threats and national security challenges, the main obligation is to provide immigration service in a manner that strengthens and fortifies the nation. While performing the mission, they adopt a holistic approach to Vigilance. They take utmost care in carefully administering every aspect of their immigration mission so that new immigrants and citizens can hold in high regard the privileges and advantages of lawful presence in the US.

The goal of USCIS is to secure Americaís promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to all their customers, granting immigration and other benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of American citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of the US immigration system. They employ 18,000 persons and their contractors work at 250 offices across the world.
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