What is USCIS? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Diego, California. In today’s video, we’re going very basic. We’re going back to the beginning, we’re taking it back to the roots and to let you know about USCIS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The idea is that this is the kind, nice, gentle part of the immigration process. USCIS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, suggests that they are providing a service. I don’t know how our immigrant clients feel about the service that they are receiving from USCIS. Hopefully, with the transition to a new president, that there will be a whole lot more service in USCIS. But USCIS was created after 9/11. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Immigration and Nationality Service, the INS, was separated into two groups, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is ICE, and USCIS.
So, USCIS is charged with processing all kinds of immigration applications. So, these are domestic applications, and then they also work with the State Department to give out benefits to foreign nationals who are coming to the United States. So, USCIS is in charge of monitoring students in the United States. They are in charge of processing applications for work authorization, applications for asylum, applications for marriage-based green cards, applications for employment-based green cards. USCIS is responsible for naturalization and the citizenship process. So, USCIS is where you go to have all of your interviews. And the way that USCIS is set up is that the headquarters of USCIS are based in Washington, DC. Then they have service centers around in various areas of the country. They have them in California, Vermont, and other places. The National Benefit Center, where a lot of the cases are processed, are actually here in Missouri.
And then, there are also field offices located throughout the United States. And there are also asylum offices located throughout the United States. So, most major cities have a USCIS field office, and that is run by a USCIS field office director. And then, you have immigration services officers of varying levels working at those offices, handling immigration interviews and the processing of cases. The National Benefit Center and the service centers, they handle a lot of the work that doesn’t involve face-to-face contact with the public. So, like work authorizations and things like that. And then, of course, the asylum office handles the asylum offices. All those are under the purview of USCIS and USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security. So, you go from the president to Homeland Security to USCIS to the field offices. And of course, when we sue them for delays, that’s who we’re suing. We’re suing all those entities.
So, USCIS has a huge budget. They are supposed to be self-funded. All these filing fees that people have to pay in order to get their immigration benefits, USCIS is supposed to be self-sufficient and able to finance themselves and take care of themselves. And they’re not supposed to be depending that much on government bailouts or government money. So, that’s why the fees have gone up so much. And even though the fees have gone up, we’ve been seeing more and more delays at USCIS. So, hopefully, when president- elect Biden appoints a new USCIS head, he or she are going to be focused on cleaning things up at that agency and making cases go a whole lot faster than they are now. And like I said, putting some more service into USCIS.
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