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Homeland Security

03 March 2003

Immigration and Naturalization Service Transformed

(Functions transferred to newly created Department of Homeland
Security) (780)
On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS)
was transformed into the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration
Services (BCIS). The transition was one component of the formation of
the new Department of Homeland Security. BCIS issued the following
fact sheet February 27 to explain the transition.
Further information is available at www.immigration.gov 
Following is the fact sheet:
(begin fact sheet)
On March 1, services currently formerly provided by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) transitioned into the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) under the Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration
Services (BCIS). In support of the DHS overall mission, the immediate
priorities of the new BCIS are to promote national security, continue
to eliminate immigration adjudications backlogs, and implement
solutions for improving immigration customer services. The BCIS will
continue efforts to fundamentally transform and improve the delivery
of immigration and citizenship services.
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS)
Created as a separate bureau by the Homeland Security Act of 2002,
BCIS allows the DHS to improve the administration of benefits and
immigration services for applicants by exclusively focusing on
immigration and citizenship services. This new Bureau includes
approximately 15,000 employees and contractors, and is headed by the
Director of BCIS, who reports directly to the Deputy Secretary for
Homeland Security.
Through a network of local offices, Application Support Centers,
Service Centers, local area immigration services field offices,
National Customer Service Call (NCSC) Centers, Forms Centers, and the
Internet, BCIS processes all immigrant and non-immigrant benefits
provided to visitors of the United States, including:
--Family-based petitions -- facilitating the process for close
relatives to immigrate, gain permanent residency, work, etc.;
--Employment-based petitions -- facilitating the process for current
and prospective employees to immigrate or stay in the U.S.
--Asylum and Refugee processing -- adjudicating asylum and the
processing of refugees;
--Naturalization - approving citizenship of eligible persons who wish
to become U.S. citizens;
--Special status programs - adjudicating eligibility for U.S.
immigration status as a form of humanitarian aid to foreign nationals;
--Document issuance and renewal - including verification of
eligibility, production and issuance of immigration documents.
Long-term strategies for improving immigration and citizenship service
delivery will enhance BCIS's ability to annually (based on FY 2002
--Process and adjudicate over 7 million applications; 
--Serve over 13 million customers via the National Customer Service
Call Centers;
--Serve over 6 million customers through information counters at local
--Serve over 6 million customers by phone through contacts at the
Service Centers;
--Process approximately 70,000 asylum cases; and 
--Perform approximately 100,000 refugee interviews. 
All BCIS field offices are engaged in proactive public information
efforts to reassure and remind former INS customers and stakeholders
of the following important customer services issues:
--Official forms and documents issued by the former INS will still be
valid and will continue to be accepted by BCIS and other agencies as
evidence of status in the United States.
--BCIS local offices are still located 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. Mail addressed to the INS will continue to be processed
in the same manner as it was prior to March 1.
--The National Customer Service Call Center continues to be available
at 1-800-375-5283, or for the hearing impaired, at 1-800-767-1833.
--Customers are still able to download forms and check case status
online (for cases pending adjudication at Service Centers). The Web
address for the new BCIS is www.immigration.gov.
Over the last several years, INS has worked to improve immigration
services in a variety of areas. Several major successes include:
--Expansion of National Customer Service (NCSC) Call Center coverage
enabling customers from anywhere in the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands,
Puerto Rico, and Guam to call a toll-free telephone number for
automated or live information about immigration services and benefits;
--Implementation of Naturalization Quality Procedures (NQP) to ensure
standardized processing of all applications for naturalization;
--Establishment of Application Support Centers (ASCs) to standardize
and automate the collection and transmittal of fingerprints to the FBI
for criminal background checks; and,
--Reduction in the number of pending naturalization application
backlogs from more than 2 million in 1998 to less than 600,000 in
The new Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services will continue
the commitment to service set forth by the INS, modernizing the
business of immigration to improve processing times and preserving
national security.
Last Modified 02/27/2003
(end fact sheet)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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