What Is USCIS and What Do They Do?

What Is USCIS and What Do They Do?

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is run by the federal government. It is the agency that is given the responsibility of overseeing lawful immigration within the boundaries of the United States. The agency falls under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security.

USCIS provides specific services at a federal level. Many of these services include:

An Avenue to Citizenship

The USCIS provides the processes and procedures for lawful immigrants wishing to become a United States citizen. Through the naturalization process, an eligible applicant can submit an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (N-400).  Once USCIS determines an applicant is prima facie eligible, he or she will have an ‘interveiw’ with an immigration officer at the local USCIS office to confirm the information in the application and administer the English and civics examination.

If the application is approved, the applicant will receive an invitation to the ceremony where he and she will take the United States Oath of Allegiance and become a naturalized citizen. The agency offers a full online Citizenship Resource Center that provides the many different eligility requirements for obtaining United States citizenship, as well as the testing requirements for the examination.

Family Petitions

USCIS allows for certain lawful residents of the United States to apply for certain family members to also be extended legal immigrant status.  Certain lawful residents and citizens can file I-130, Family Petitions on behalf of qualifying relatives to allow them to immigrant to the United States, obtain work authorization, and reside in United States indefinitely.

Work Permits

The federal agency has the ability to manage the procedures and processes involved in allowing foreign nationals to work within the boundaries of the US. Many of these opportunities are provided through a temporary work permit. Others include creating a pathway to permanent residency through a green card based on an employment sponsorship.  This process is known as the I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

Maintance of Green Cards or Work Permits

If you are a foreign national residing in the United States, you must be able to show that you have permission from the government to work in the United States.  There are only two official documents that can show employment authorization: a valid green card or an valid employment authorization card.  USCIS issues and produces both cards, and  provides the ability to replace or renew your green card, or to remove any specific conditions associated with the card.

Verification of a Legal Right to Work

Through an electronic verification process, the USCIS agency manages employment eligibility. This provides the opportunity for a participating employer to determine or verify the eligibility of a potential employee through the E-Verify program.

Humanitarian Programs

This is the federal agency that initiates humanitarian programs in their effort to protect those residing in the United States during difficult times in their home country. It assists individuals that have been displaced or are unable to return home because of  disarming political or civil unrest, famine, war, natural disasters, or other devastating scenarioes.  The most common means of accomplishing this is by the government authorized Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  In addition, those that have needed to flee their country in an effort to escape torture or potential death from those that mean to do them harm may be eligible for Asylum.

Additionally, USCIS promotes programs concerning battered parents, children and spouses and are directly involved in the prevention and prosecution of harmful felonious crimes including human trafficking through the VAWA program. They also offer assistance through an extended visa (U Visa), where the individual that was victimized by a crime can assist law enforcement officials in the investigation and prosecution of criminals involved in the serious felony.

Legal Non-Citizen Adoptions

The federal USCIS agency manages the adoption process of non-citizen children adopted by legal citizens of the United States.  The process allows the adopted child to immigrate to the United States and provides legal status once the child gets to the United States.  Nearly 20,000 USCIS agency adoptions occur every year.

USCIS oversees many types of applications, each of which confers some benefit to the applicant upon approval.  If you need assistance with filing and application with USCIS or have questions concerning an application you filed with USCIS, contact us today.