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INS Absorbed by Homeland Security
INS becomes Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services 
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• Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services

Department of Homeland Security

On March 1, 2003, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officially became the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), operating under the Department of Homeland Security. President Bush has named Eduardo Aguirre as the Acting Director of the BCIS.

All former services and enforcement missions of the INS and Border Patrol are now being handled by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

New divisions for services and enforcement
Under this sweeping reorganization, the new Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services will focus exclusively on providing immigration services such as: 

  • processing applications for U.S. citizenship, 
  • administering the Visa program
  • administering work authorizations and other permits, and 
  • providing services for new residents and citizens.

Border security and enforcement of immigration laws, however, will be handled by the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security (BTS). BTS absorbs the INS's Border Patrol agents and investigators who now join with agents from the U.S. Customs Service, Transportation Security Administration and other enforcement personnel to protect the nation's borders. The mission of BTS will include:

  • managing illegal immigration,
  • securing the borders against illicit drugs and unlawful commerce and - as the Department's main priority - 
  • preventing the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terrorism into the United States

With the March 1 transfer of INS immigration enforcement responsibilities into the DHS, the new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was created. ICE will focus on the enforcement of immigration and customs laws within the United States, the protection of specified federal buildings, and air and marine enforcement.

Fees for immigration services changed
Beginning February 27, 2003, the fees for immigration services were returned to their previous amounts. The provision of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 that directed INS to stop collecting that portion of fees used to fund asylum and refugee services and the fee waiver and exemption programs has been repealed.

Immigration forms
Most of the forms used by the old INS remain unchanged under the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and can be downloaded from the BCIS Forms and Fees page. However, BCIS warns that some non-BCIS Websites offer Immigration forms. Some will allow you to download them for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with BCIS, and these sites may not have the latest official versions of forms. In some circumstances, use of older forms may result in your application or petition being denied or delayed.


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