What is USCIS?

What is USCIS?

Suppose you have an issue with your immigration and emigration process, or someone is looking to renew or apply for a green card or permanent residence in the USA. In that case, you will have visited or contacted the USCIS and will be familiar with it. For those still unaware of what the USCIS is and what they do, keep reading this article to learn more. 

Before digging deeper into details, let us look at what the USCIS stands for. The USCIS is an abbreviated form of the word “The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The USCIS is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that administers the naturalization and immigration system of the United States of America. 

It was formed after the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) dissolution by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. It was later re-structured and replaced by three subdivisions within the DHS: USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The USCIS has over 20,000 employees and contractors employed at more than 200 offices across different regions worldwide. Your Mendoza Jaddou has been the director of USCIS since August 3, 2021. 

Functions and responsibilities of the USCIS

The service provided by the USCIS is of strategic importance to maintaining peace and order in the United States of America while serving the specific needs of its citizens.

By this point, we are aware that the USCIS is the US government appointment body to handle all immigration and emigration matters but listed below are some of their essential functions and responsibilities:

  • Adjudication of immigration petitions, such as handling applications and approving and issuing green cards for permanent residency or conditional residency to eligible persons.
  • Adjudication of naturalization petitions involves assessing and screening the applications to check if they meet the required criteria, approving them, and providing the required documentation and paperwork.
  • Consideration of refugee and asylum claims and related humanitarian and international concerns covers screening, interviewing, record checking, and handling refugee applications before handing out permanent residence status. 
  • Employment authorizations such as dealing with the application, regulating, and issuing of work permits/ EAD documentation within the USA ensure all people working within the USA possess the lawful status to continue working within the USA. 
  • Handling of change of status petitions. This process covers receiving, checking, and approving status change petitions such as removal of Permanent residence status, removal of conditional residency status subject to meeting the criteria laid out by the authorities, and renewal of green cards and work permit documentation.
  • They provide services about fraud detection and National security by working closely with law enforcement entities to handle foreign nationals whose applications and petitions trigger national security and criminal database notifications and to identify systemic fraud in the application process. 
  • Providing and assisting with civic integration services such as training and education programs on citizenship rights and responsibilities, related awareness programs, and managing the Immigrant Integration Grants Program
  • Filing, recording, and maintaining details of all immigration and emigration cases. A database generally updates this, but certain paper or manual records are maintained.

Immigration Forms handled by the USCIS 

The USCIS handles all forms, paperwork, and processing materials related to naturalization and immigration. The USCIS mainly takes two kinds of forms- forms relating to migration and naturalization. A specific name designates forms, and an alphanumeric sequence consists of one letter followed by two or three digits. Forms related to immigration are designated with the letter I (for example, I-551, Permanent Resident Card), and forms related to naturalization are designated by the letter N (for example, N-400, Application for Naturalization). This alphanumeric sequence makes it easy to distinguish between the two forms at a glance. 

Resources available to the general public by USCIS 

The USCIS has a wide range of tools, services, and resources both offline and online to assist, educate and respond to any customer queries regarding the immigration and naturalization process. 

All information relating to the functions of the USCIS, FAQs on the immigration and naturalization process, latest news, notices, and regulations on the matter of immigration and naturalization, essential details, and hotline numbers of immigration officials can be easily accessed from the USCIS official website. The USCIS website has also recently included a virtual assistant, Emma, who answers questions in English and Spanish.

The USCIS website also has an inbuilt status checker and address change request form that makes it easier and more efficient for applicants to track the status of their applications and submit any changes or queries online, which is more efficient and time savvy than doing it manually. A dedicated contact center with a toll-free number is also made available to respond to queries from customers at all times. 

FAQs 

1. What are the main types of forms handled by the USCIS?

I denote forms relating to immigration, and forma relating to naturalization is denoted by N.

2. How can I reach out to the USCIS for my concerns on the green card process?

You can check their website to understand the green card process and raise concerns online via the virtual assistant or create an inquiry request online. Alternatively, you can contact the contact center by email or physically visit the offices.

3. Does the USCIS handles the authorization of work permits?

Yes.

4. How is the USCIS Funded?

Fee incomes for the services provided mainly fund it. The agency has two other smaller accounts described below that were created to receive monies to support specific purposes within and outside USCIS.

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