Who is USCIS?

Last update: February 21, 2018

What is the role of USCIS?
It is the government agency that, as part of the Department of Homeland Security, oversees lawful permanent immigration to the United States.

What does USCIS do?
In family-based immigration, USCIS officers make the decision to either approve or deny the I-130 filed by the sponsor on the applicant’s behalf.

What happens after USCIS approves the I-130?
It depends. USCIS also makes the decision on the form I-485 filed by applicants who are requesting an adjustment of status from within the United States. But they hand over the approved I-130 to the National Visa Center, a unit of the Department of State.

Has USCIS always been in charge of approving I-130s?
No. Embassies and consulates abroad used to do that for applicants filing from outside the United States. But this is no longer the case, except in rare cases (see ‘direct filing’ in our glossary.

Is USCIS purely U.S.-based?
No, there are ‘USCIS-international’ offices co-located with certain embassies and consulates abroad. Any applicant who can file with these international offices should, as they are much faster than U.S.-based operations. Our smartCheck technology automatically checks whether the applicant has an opportunity to file with these offices.

What does USCIS stand for?
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.