Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Policing

The Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is a  branch of the Department of Homeland Security that has the responsibility of dealing with lawful immigration matters, such as the issuance of green cards.

The Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is an agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which plays a vital role in the management of lawful immigration to the United States. The agency is responsible for a range of activities, including the processing of various visa petitions, granting lawful permanent residence, and conducting naturalization ceremonies.

USCIS traces its roots back to 1906, when it was established as the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) under the Department of Commerce and Labor. The agency underwent several reorganizations and name changes over the years before finally being re-designated as the USCIS under the DHS in 2003.

One of the primary functions of USCIS is to provide legal avenues for foreign nationals to come to the United States and reside or work there. It is responsible for processing different types of visa petitions, including family-based petitions, employment-based petitions, and humanitarian relief. These petitions allow eligible foreign nationals to obtain a visa to enter the United States or adjust their status to lawful permanent residence.

In addition, USCIS plays a critical role in national security by conducting extensive background checks on visa applicants to prevent terrorists and other criminals from entering the United States. The agency is also responsible for ensuring that the naturalization process is conducted efficiently and fairly to ensure that only eligible individuals become U.S. citizens.

Another important responsibility of USCIS is the management of the E-Verify program, a web-based system that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their new hires. This program is critical in ensuring that only authorized workers are employed in the United States.

USCIS also oversees the issuance of various documents, such as employment authorization documents, travel documents, and green cards, which are proof of a person’s legal status in the United States. The agency also provides various services, such as fingerprinting and biometric data collection, to support its various programs.

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Last Modified: 04/10/2023

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