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Homeland Security

26 February 2003

Immigration Service Transition Will Be Smooth, Agency Says

(Offers reassurances to immigrants about provision of services) (790)
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will become the
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) March 1, moving
from its current organizational home in the Department of Justice to
the newly-created Department of Homeland Security.
INS Acting Commissioner Michael Garcia is promising immigrants that
the transition will be as "seamless and smooth as possible," according
to a February 26 press release.
The agency is conducting a public relations campaign to inform its
constituency of the changes and what they'll mean. The press release
says all forms and documents previously issued remain valid, offices
remain in the same locations, and correspondence should be sent to the
same addresses.
BCIS will take over the immigration benefit services currently
performed by the INS. INS law enforcement functions will be taken over
by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; border
inspection procedures will be handled by the Bureau of Customs and
Border Protection.
Following is the text of the press release:
(begin text)
February 26, 2003
INS Assures Immigrants of Smooth Transition to Department of Homeland
WASHINGTON - As the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
transitions into the Department of Homeland Security, the agency is
reaching out to the immigrant community nationwide to ease concerns
about the impact of the change. On March 1, INS' benefits function
will become part of the new Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration
Services (BCIS) within the Department of Homeland Security.
"Yes, the INS technically ceases to exist at the end of this month,
but we are committed to making this transition as seamless and smooth
as possible for those we serve," said Acting INS Commissioner Michael
To underscore that message, banners, posters, and pamphlets bearing
the name of the new bureau are being mailed out to immigration offices
across the country beginning this week. Those materials provide
information about the status of INS documents, offices, and services
during the transition. The key points include:
--Official forms and documents issued by the former INS are still
valid and will continue to be accepted by BCIS and other agencies as
evidence of status in the United States.
--BCIS local offices will remain in existing INS locations, including
Application Support Centers and Service Centers. There will be no
immediate change in office locations.
--Forms should continue to be mailed to the address indicated in forms
and notices.
--The National Customer Service Call Center will continue to be
available at 1-800-375-5283, or for the hearing impaired at
--Customers will still be able to download forms and check the status
of their case online (for cases pending adjudication at Service
Centers). The new web address for BCIS will be www.immigration.gov.
The creation of a new bureau focusing exclusively on immigration
benefits is designed to enhance the quality of service received by the
tens of thousands who interact with INS every day. The BCIS will be
made up of some 15,000 employees and contractors headed by a director
who reports to the Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security. Eduardo
Aguirre Jr., currently Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of
the Export Import Bank of the United States, has been nominated by
President Bush as BCIS Director.
The services provided by the BCIS include: the adjudication of family
and employment-based petitions; issuance of employment authorization
documents, asylum and refugee processing; naturalization; and
implementation of special status programs such as Temporary Protected
While the administration of immigration benefits will be taken over by
the BCIS, the vast majority of INS' other functions will be
incorporated into two other new bureaus under the Department of
Homeland Security. Those bureaus are:
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - (BICE) 
The BICE brings together approximately 14,000 employees including the
investigative and interior enforcement functions of the INS, U.S.
Customs Service, and the Federal Protective Services. This Bureau also
includes Customs air and maritime assets. By unifying several
agencies' investigative functions, BICE will enhance the Federal
government's ability to carry out an effective, comprehensive interior
enforcement strategy. Acting INS Commissioner Michael Garcia has been
nominated by President Bush to lead the BICE as Assistant Secretary.
Bureau of Customs and Border Protection - (BCBP) 
The BCBP consists of approximately 30,000 employees, including
inspectors from the Agricultural Quarantine Inspections, INS, and U.S.
Customs, together with the Border Patrol. The Bureau will focus its
operations on the movement of goods and people across our borders,
ensuring consistent inspection procedures and coordinated border
enforcement. U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner will serve as the
Commissioner of the BCBP.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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