U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for providing services to immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors, including immigration admission, asylum and refugee processing, naturalization proceeding, administration of special humanitarian programs, and issuance of all immigration documents. The director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports directly to the deputy secretary for homeland security. The agency is served by about 15,000 employees and contractors. With increased emphasis throughout the U.S. government on security issues, early initiatives of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services included greater reliance on electronic biometrics, with new technology systems enabling extensive storage of fingerprints, photographs, and signature information. The agency also introduced a business model of operation in order to eliminate the backlog of approximately 3.7 million cases pending at the end of fiscal year 2003.
On November 25, 2002, the Homeland Security Act was signed by President George W. Bush, transferring functions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to the newly created DHS. The functions of the INS were then divided between the USCIS, focusing on immigration services, and the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, focusing on immigration enforcement. On March 1, 2003, the INS was formally dissolved, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services became operational.