Bureau Of Citizenship And Immigration

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration might not sound familiar, but if it is identified as the new name for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), more people might recognize the reference. As a result of a reorganization of several federal agencies and their responsibilities after September 11, 2001, the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USBCIS or BCIS) now oversees the country's immigration laws. A bureau of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the BCIS has been administering these laws since March 1, 2003, when it became a part of the DHS.

Administering the services involved in immigration is the job of the BCIS; enforcement of immigration laws is the bailiwick of the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security, also a part of the DHS. The distinction between providing services and enforcement is crucial, and this separation of duties is the result of problems found in the INS, which combined both roles. Today, the revamped United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services has a name that reflects its actual function.

Role of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration

The BCIS welcomes immigrants to this country through its administration of various procedures designed to facilitate legal entry into this country. One of its main services is overseeing the sponsorship of immigrants and nonimmigrants that is required for most entrants into the United States. Other essential services include adjustment of status, work authorization and other permits, naturalization, and asylum or refugee determinations.

Each of these services is complex because the relevant laws must necessarily cover most of the situations that arise in human affairs. If, for example, a common-law wife seeks permanent residence as the legal wife of her resident husband, does this conform to the laws governing spousal entry into the United States? If polygamy is legally practiced in another country, are the various wives of a husband entitled to legal status as residents of this country?

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