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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly called the INS) is the official government agency that takes care of the entire immigration related process in the United States.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was previously called the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization(BCIS) from 1903. Later, the INS was established on 10 June 1933 after its merger to administer matters related to immigration and naturalization policies. On March, 2003, most of INS’ functions were transferred to three new agencies under the newly created Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the INS ceased to exist under that name. It was an effect of the September 11 attacks of 2001.

How is the INS Referred to Today?

The administration of all immigration services and other functions came under the the direct control of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), the name which lasted only for a short period of time before changing to its current name, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Visa and green card petitions are filed either at the American Consulate or with the USCIS. The USCIS has direct control over all the applications/petitions filed in the US.

The application process

Once you send the completed application to the USCIS along with the appropriate fee and supporting documents, you can expect to receive an Application Receipt Notice that will contain a 13-character Application Receipt number within 30 days of having filed your application. With this number, you can track the progress of your application while the application is being processed.

To track your application status, visit the USCIS’s website, and select the link “Case Status Online” and just type the receipt number. Remember that processing times vary according to the type of application you filed and also according to USCIS Application Service Center (ASC) where you filed your application. If it is more than a month since you filed your application and yet to receive a notice from the USCIS, you can get in touch with their Customer Service representatives at the USCIS toll-free telephone.

Applicants who have their representatives (lawyers, charitable groups, or corporations) who require regular access to information as they normally submit many applications, can create an account with the USCIS to get such information. Though the USCIS provides similar service to both account types, applicants’ representatives can have their own internal office tracking number since they deal with multiple cases.

There is another option where you can receive a text message to your US mobile phone number whenever there is a change in your application progress status. Applicants and representatives can use this option receive instant notification. However, Standard Messaging Rates or other charges related to such notifications may apply. Applicants and their representatives also have the option of receiving case status updates at their e-mail address.

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