United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the main government agency that processes immigration applications in the United States. USCIS is one of many agencies involved in immigration governance and falls under the management of the Department of Homeland Security.
USCIS evaluates a person’s eligibility for citizenship, naturalization, immigration based on familial status, permanent residency status, visa extensions, and humanitarian aid. USCIS also plays a major role in evaluating eligibility for asylum and work visas that involves other agencies and immigration courts. The authority as shared between agencies is rather complex. For example, USCIS, the Department of Labor, and the Bureau of Consular Affairs all play a role in granting H-1B visas.
USCIS along with court cases at the Executive Office of Immigration Review are renowned for their backlog of applications and cases. A person may face a year or longer before having determinations on their immigration status for certain kinds of applications.
[Last updated in May of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]