USCIS: US Citizenship & Immigration Services

On Nov. 1, 2003 the BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services) was replaced by the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Although the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) transitioned into the DHS, all customer services remained in place. All familiar immigration customer services were retained through this transition. In addition, all INS enforcement-related information also remained in place.

Official forms and documents issued by the former INS are still valid and will continue to be accepted by USCIS and other agencies as evidence of status in the United States.

USCIS local offices remained in existing INS locations, including Application Support Centers and Service Centers. There was no immediate change in office locations, although some offices may have since changed. You can look up the office nearest you through Legal Language Services USCIS Office Locator.

The services provided by the USCIS include: the adjudication of family and employment-based petitions; issuance of employment authorization documents, asylum and refugee processing; naturalization; and implementation of special status programs such as Temporary Protected Status.

While the administration of immigration benefits was taken over by the USCIS, the vast majority of the other functions performed by INS were incorporated into two other bureaus under the Department of Homeland Security. Those bureaus are:

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    ICE brings together investigative and interior enforcement functions of the INS, U.S. Customs Service, and the Federal Protective Services. This bureau also includes Customs air and maritime assets. By unifying several agencies’ investigative functions, ICE will enhance the Federal government’s ability to carry out an effective, comprehensive interior enforcement strategy.
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
    CBP includes inspectors from the Agricultural Quarantine Inspections, INS, and US Customs, together with the Border Patrol. This bureau will focus its operations on the movement of goods and people across our borders, ensuring consistent inspection procedures and coordinated border enforcement.

Due to the former INS functions being placed within the new DHS, many new acronyms have been formed:

  • DHS — Department of Homeland Security
  • CBP — Customs and Border Protection
  • BCBP— Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
  • ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • BICE — Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • CIS — Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • BCIS — Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • CISO — Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
  • USCIS — US Citzenship and Immigration Services

The new website of the former INS is now US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at http://www.uscis.gov.