Get to Know the
USCIS Government Agency



The make-up of the USCIS government agency is an important factor in your bid to gain either lawful permanent residence in the US or to become a naturalized US citizen in the future if you choose to do so. Learn about the structure of the CIS, its governing body, and about the agents your residence and citizenship depends upon.

Who Governs the USCIS?

The USCIS office is governed by the newly created Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The CIS was formerly the US Immigration and Naturalization (USINS). It became part of the DHS and was renamed and restructured into the USCIS in 2003. Therefore, the CIS is governed by, and in part functions to support, the USDHS.

The restructuring came in response to threats to the safety of the United States. By grouping related agencies together, there was better control over safety and function, and many processes actually became streamlined as a result of it.

Who is the USCIS to You?

To you, as either green card applicant or applicant for US citizenship, the CIS is the body who will process and decide your case. They are the government agency that collects, evaluates, and then decisions your application after completion of the process. They do this with the assistance of the various offices and persons working for them and in association with them.

Other USCIS Offices and Agents

A number of people assist in processing and decisioning your application for a green card or naturalization. Some of the agents working under the CIS include:

  • The National Visa Center (NVC) processes and stores petitions and applications until they are needed. They also collect fees on behalf of the CIS.
  • US Consulates in nations abroad work as contact points and processing points for completing visas and green card processing for those people not currently in the US. If you are in another country, you will go through Consular Processing at a consulate to get approved for a green card by marriage.
  • CIS Officers are the people who you actually meet with to complete processing. They may work in a USCIS government office inside the US, or outside at a US consulate. These are the people who handle interviews and testing, and often decide applications on the spot (or otherwise decide to continue them).

While CIS officers may be the only actual persons you meet during the application and approval process, be assured that the USCIS government agency is vast. The office and its associates were created to help people like you come into the US and make it their home. As such, the USCIS is one of your best resources for immigration information, and the resource this site and immigration professionals rely upon.

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