(From Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a government bureau responsible for the service and benefit functions formerly performed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). It was created in 2003 as a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The bureau's predecessor, the INS, was founded in 1891 as the Office of the Superintendent of Immigration, a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Renamed the Bureau of Immigration in 1895, it was transferred to the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903, and in 1906 it was expanded into the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. When Commerce and Labor was split in two in 1913, the bureau was divided into separate units for immigration and naturalization, though both were part of the Labor Department. In 1924, Congress established the U.S. Border Patrol as part of the Immigration Bureau. An executive order of June 10, 1933, reunited and consolidated the two bureaus into one agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In 1940 the INS was transferred to the Department of Justice. When the DHS was created on Mar. 1, 2003, law enforcement was shorn from the functions of the new USCIS, and the Border Patrol became part of another division of the DHS.

The mission of USCIS is to provide services to persons legally admissible as immigrants and to ease their transition to U.S. citizenship. USCIS has approximately 15,000 employees and contractors. It is headed by a director, who reports directly to the deputy secretary for homeland security. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., it has 3 regional offices and 33 district offices.