United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a bureau within the Department of Homeland Security and the official arm of the government charged with monitoring all matters related to citizenship and immigration services. It offers citizenship and immigration services to thousands of people every year, assisting individuals entering the United States whether they intend to stay temporarily or relocate there for permanent residence.
In the performance of its duties adjudicating all matters related to immigration, USCIS maintains several free services for United States citizens and non-U.S. citizens who are looking for more information about the naturalization process and the various ways in which individuals can obtain citizenship.
Applicants can also check the bureau’s website for an update on the estimated processing time necessary to complete their request. Because USCIS has several offices throughout the United States, and its processing time can be affected by factors such as the workload of the office receiving the request, applicants are assigned a receipt number. This number tells applicants which center is handling their paperwork, allows them to check the status of their request online, and serves as proof that their application has been received and is being processed.
Other services provided by the bureau include:
- Information on the various ways an individual can go through the immigration process to become a naturalized citizen, including family-based or employer-sponsored immigration as well as the requirements for obtaining temporary visas.
- The ability to schedule “Infopass” appointments. These appointments allow individuals to discuss their questions one-on-one with a U.S. immigration officer.
- Free test information, including a list of 100 questions on civics and United States history that may appear on the applicant’s citizenship test. The site provides sample questions and answers in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Spanish.
- The ability to notify the bureau if an individual’s address has changed. Anti-terror measures have made it mandatory for all non-U.S. citizens to provide notification to the bureau when their address changes.
- Assistance in locating attorneys for applicants in need of legal representation. The bureau’s website links to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website, which provides a national directory of its members.