U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It performs many administrative functions formerly carried out by the former United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which was part of the Department of Justice. The stated priorities of USCIS are to promote national security, to eliminate immigration case backlogs, and to improve customer services. USCIS is headed by a director, currently Leon Rodriguez, who reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
USCIS is charged with processing immigrant visa petitions, naturalization petitions, and asylum and refugee applications, as well as making adjudicative decisions performed at the service centers, and managing all other immigration benefits functions (i.e., not immigration enforcement) performed by the former INS. Other responsibilities include:
- Administration of immigration services and benefits
- Adjudicating asylum claims
- Issuing employment authorization documents (EAD)
- Adjudicating petitions for non-immigrant temporary workers (H-1B, O-1, etc.)
- Granting lawful permanent resident status
- Granting United States citizenship
While core immigration benefits functions remain the same as under the INS, a new goal is to process applications efficiently and effectively. Improvement efforts have included attempts to reduce the applicant backlog, as well as providing customer service through different channels, including the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) with information in English and Spanish, Application Support Centers (ASCs), the Internet and other channels. The enforcement of immigration laws remain under CBP and ICE.
USCIS focuses on two key points on the immigrant’s journey towards civic integration: when they first become permanent residents and when they are ready to begin the formal naturalization process. A lawful permanent resident is eligible to become a citizen of the United States after holding the Permanent Resident Card for at least five continuous years, with no trips out of the United States that last for 180 days or more. If, however, the lawful permanent resident marries a U.S. citizen, eligibility for U.S. citizenship is shortened to three years so long as the resident has been living with the spouse continuously for at least three years and the spouse has been a resident for at least three years.
USCIS consists of 19,000 federal employees and contractors working at 223 offices around the world. Unlike most other federal agencies, USCIS is funded almost entirely by user fees. Under President George W. Bush’s FY2008 budget request, direct congressional appropriations made about 1% of the USCIS budget and about 99% of the budget was funded through fees. The total USCIS FY2008 budget was projected to be $2.6 billion
For more information on the EB-5 program,
please click here to visit the USCIS website.
|Formed||March 1, 2003|
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
|Annual budget||$3.219 billion (2014)|
|Parent agency||United States Department of Homeland Security|