USCIS Overview

About the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

USCIS is a U.S. government agency comprised of approximately 15,000 federal employees and contractors working in approximately 250 Headquarters and field offices around the world.

USCIS is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

At one time, the USCIS was called the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and was part of the Department of Justice which was primarily responsible for immigration and naturalizations services. On March 1, 2003, service and benefit functions of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) transitioned into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as USCIS.

The core responsibilities of the USCIS are to improve customer service, eliminate immigration application and case backlogs, and enhance national security. If you want to become a U.S. citizen or need help with a U.S. green card or U.S. citizenship certificate, you will be dealing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The Executive Office for Immigration Review reviews decisions made by USCIS. Funding from USCIS comes primarily from fees, although about 1% of the budget comes from congressional appropriations.

What USCIS Does

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are responsible for many things:

  • Granting U.S. Citizenship
  • Processing immigrant visa petitions
  • Taking care of naturalization petitions
  • Adjudicating asylum and refugee applications and claims
  • Making adjudicative decisions at the bureau's service center
  • Managing immigration benefits and services
  • Issuing documents for employment authorization (EAD)
  • Adjudicating petitions for temporary workers who are not immigrants
  • Granting recognized permanent resident status

Contacting and Dealing with USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was created because INS was considered to be relatively ineffective in many ways. Under the INS, immigrants often faced long wait times to have applications processed and after September 11, 2001, some scandals developed about the way that U.S. citizenship requests were handled.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a relatively newly formed agency, but changes have been made to make things easier for immigrants and those needing U.S. Green Card or U.S. Citizenship services. The USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC), for example, allows anyone to call for information about their case status. The NCSC is also available for general questions. The main problem with the service center is that the employees who answer the phone are civilian workers and not USCIS immigration officers. In many cases, these customer service representatives have only some knowledge about USCIS and U.S. immigration. They may tell you to contact your local District Office. To do this, however, you need to use the INFOPASS Appointment system to set up a meeting. This can get complex and may take some time.

A Better Way of Contacting USCIS?

Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is meant to improve on the service of the INS, USCIS is still quite new and therefore it is hard to predict how effective the new bureau will be. Already, there are some problems. For example, the call centers for the USCIS are not staffed by U.S. immigration experts. You still need to make an appointment with your local office to get basic information. Plus, the USCIS still deals with an enormous amount of paperwork and many forms. Negotiating through the maze can be tricky, and you may hear different things about the U.S. immigration process, adding to your confusion.

Many people who deal with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) do not have proficient English skills and simply do not have the time during their working day to get the answers and service they require. Some people turn to immigration attorneys for help, but attorneys can be very expensive.

At, we have developed a better way. At, you can apply for all your immigration needs on-line, easily and with full confidentiality. You can fill out forms at your own pace, easily find the forms you need, and take all the time you need to complete the forms fully. We even have a full resource library that provides you with the most up-to-date information about U.S. citizenship and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We can help you become a citizen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.