About U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, is the federal agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. It is a component of the Department of Homeland Security.
USCIS strives to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.
On March 1, 2003, USCIS officially assumed responsibility for the immigration service functions of the federal government. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107–296, 116 Stat. 2135) dismantled the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and separated the former agency into three components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Services provided by USCIS include:
Citizenship (Includes the Related Naturalization Process)
- Individuals who wish to become U.S. citizens through naturalization submit their applications to USCIS. USCIS will determine eligibility, process the applications and, if approved, schedule the applicant for a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance. USCIS also determines eligibility and provide documentation of U.S. citizenship for people who acquired or derived U.S. citizenship through their parents.
Immigration of Family Members
- USCIS manages the process that allows current permanent residents and U.S. citizens to bring close relatives to live and work in the United States.
Working in the U.S.
- USCIS manages the process that allows individuals from other countries to work in the United States. Some of the opportunities are temporary, and some provide a path to a green card (permanent residence).
Verifying an Individual’s Legal Right to Work in the United States (E-Verify)
- USCIS manages the system that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.
- USCIS administers humanitarian programs that provide protection to individuals inside and outside the United States who are displaced by war, famine and civil and political unrest, and those who are forced to flee their countries to escape the risk of death and torture at the hands of persecutors.
- USCIS manages the first step in the process for U.S. citizens to adopt children from other countries. Approximately 20,000 adoptions take place each year.
- USCIS promotes instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities and provides immigrants with the information and tools necessary to successfully integrate into American civic culture.
USCIS is divided into directorates and program offices
- Directorates are director led departments in charge of multiple divisions. For example the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate; and Field Operations Directorate, among others.
- Programs Offices have a specific function and are led by a chief. For example Office of Citizenship; Office of Legislative Affairs, and Office of Privacy, among others.
Field Offices (within the United States) handle scheduled interviews on non-asylum related applications. They also provide limited information and customer services that supplement those we provide through our website and by phone.
International Offices provide services to U.S. Citizens, permanent residents of the U.S. and certain other persons who are visiting or residing outside the United States who need assistance in immigration matters.
Other USCIS Offices include:
- Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decides appeals of certain denied benefits
- Application Support Centers (ASC) provide fingerprinting and related services
- Asylum Offices handle scheduled interviews for asylum-related issues only
- National Records Center receives and processes FOIA requests
- Service Centers and the National Benefit Center receive and process a large variety of applications and petitions