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Apr 02, 2022 | Rommel H. Ojeda

What to Know About USCIS, the Agency in Charge of Processing Immigration Cases

-> This article is part of Documented’s Glossary. We want to make it easier to understand the U.S. immigration system. If you want to know more about different visa types and immigration terms, please check our updated library here.
-> To find useful information for immigrants, such as where to find free food or legal representation, check out our Master Resource Guide.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for administering and overseeing the United States’ naturalization and immigration system. 

USCIS inherited many of the responsibilities of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in March 1, 2003, after INS was disbanded following the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which sought to reshape the national immigration system and address issues of security. 

USCIS is in charge of administering and processing immigrant visa petitions, naturalization petitions, affirmative asylum applications, and refugee applications. It is one of the largest government agencies in the U.S. employing 19,000 government employees and contractors in more than 200 offices around the world. 

The agency is also in charge of administering E-Verify, a web-based system that confirms employment eligibility. It is required by law for employers to enter the information of new hires in the I-9 Employment Verification Form, which is then compared with records held by DHS and the Social Security Administration. In fiscal year 2020, 37 million new hires were verified.

Also Read: Organizations Serving Immigrants in New York

Among the humanitarian programs that USCIS administers, it also conducts credible fear and reasonable fear interviews. When individuals facing expedited removal claim a fear of returning to their country, USCIS asylum officers determine whether it’s a significant possibility the individual could establish eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal. 

In fiscal year 2020, USCIS received 7.7 million petitions and requests, which is a decline from from fiscal year 2019 which had 8.1 million.

Also Read: How the Department of Homeland Security Was Created and What It Does

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