Created as a separate bureau by the Homeland Security
Act of 2002, USCIS 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 USCIS, who reports directly to the Deputy
Secretary for Homeland Security.
If you’re a citizen of a foreign country,
in most cases you’ll need a visa to enter the United States.
A visa doesn’t permit entry to the U.S., however. A visa simply
indicates that a U.S. consular officer at an American embassy or
consulate has reviewed your application, and that the officer has
determined you’re eligible to enter the country for a specific
purpose. Consular affairs are the responsibility of the U.S. Department
A visa allows you to travel to the United States
as far as the port of entry (airport or land border crossing) and
ask the immigration officer to allow you to enter the country. Only
the immigration officer has the authority to permit you to enter
the United States. He or she decides how long you can stay for any
particular visit. Immigration matters are the responsibility of
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
There are two categories of U.S. visas: immigrant
Immigrant visas are for people who intend to live
permanently in the U.S. Non-immigrant visas are for people with
permanent residence outside the U.S. but who wish to be in the U.S.
on a temporary basis – for tourism, medical treatment, business,
temporary work or study.