Established in March 2003, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a government agency responsible for administering naturalization and immigration systems as well as processing related applications and formulating policies around the US immigration services.
It’s a subsidiary of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), established in March 2003 to replace the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which was closed down under the Homeland Security Act, 2002. Along with the USCIS, the Act also established two other components within the DHS namely Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
USCIS Services and Functions
Everybody, who wants to enter the US using any legal channel, has to go through the USCIS. The agency processes all kinds of immigration and naturalization applications, including the applications for green cards, asylum claims, and refuge petitions.
It’s also mandated to make adjudicative decisions that are usually performed and executed at immigration service centers, and to manage all the other functions and benefits of immigration.
Besides performing its leading function of processing immigration applications, the USCIS is also responsible for:
Processing petitions filed by nonimmigrants to get their status changed
Administering immigration benefits and services
Issuing EAD (employment authorization documents)
Deciding the fate of nonimmigrant temporary workers’ petitions (O-1, H-1B, etc.)
The USCIS processes more than 6 million applications each year, including about 5 million filed for seeking nonimmigrant status, and above 1 million for permanent status. The Agency also determines the eligibility of spouses, and other family members of the US citizens and legal permanent residents. The USCIS also holds the authority to determine the eligibility of a nonimmigrant for changing its status to another nonimmigrant status.
The USCIS also adjudicates and authorizes immigrants who meet specified criteria to legally work within the US premises. The Agency is also responsible for the E-Verify program (Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification). This program is used by employers to guarantee that their workers are allowed to work in the US.
In a nutshell, USCIS processes, administers, adjudicates, and facilitates an immigrant’s journey towards citizenship and civic integration. From a migrant’s entry application to their naturalization process, USCIS deals with everything.
Forms are applications and petitions which you file for certain purposes related to immigration and naturalization. All such forms are handled and processed by the USCIS. Every form has been given a specific name, such as I-140, which is about Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. Here are some of the important forms the USCIS handles:
AR-11 | Alien’s Change of Address Card
G-639 | Freedom of Information/Privacy Act and Online FOIA Request
I-90 | Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
I-130 | Petition for Alien Relative
I-131A | Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation)
I-765 | Application for Employment Authorization
N-400 | Application for Naturalization
N-600 | Application for Certificate of Citizenship
G-884 | Request for the Return of Original Documents
G-325A | Biographic Information (for Deferred Action)
How to contact USCIS?
You can visit the agency’s website by following this link https://www.uscis.gov/. You can also contact the USCIS by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-375-5283. You can also physically visit any of the agency’s field offices, application support centers, asylum offices, service centers, national benefits centers, or national records centers, established nationwide.