Politics of Budgeting: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
How politics play a role in budgeting for organizations
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Politics of Budgeting: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Politics of Budgeting
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a federal agency
under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency oversees the lawful
immigration to the United States. That is “it is responsible for the administration of immigration
and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration policies and priorities”
(The United States Government Manual 2009-2010 229).
USCIS mission statement
The mission of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is to secure the
promise of America as a nation of immigrants. This is through the provision of useful
information to its customers, granting the benefits of immigration and citizenship, promoting
awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensure the integrity of the American
immigration system (www.uscis.gov).
The agency has a 19,000 workforce comprising of employees and contractors across the
world. The agency recognizes that the achievement of its goals has been made possible through
the engagement of the different elements of the organization. Through partnering, the agency
seeks to achieve the following strategic goals (McElreath et al. 80; Ibpus.com 59)
a) Ensure the security and the integrity of the immigration system is strengthened.
b) Provide immigration benefit and information that is efficient and customer-oriented.
c) Support the integration and participation of immigrants in the American civic culture
d) Ensure the immigration policies and programs are flexible and sound
e) Strengthen the USCIS support infrastructure
f) Conduct its operations as a high-performance organization that focuses on the promotion
of a workforce that is highly talented and also promote a work culture that is dynamic.
In its mission, the agency will ensure integrity, respect, ingenuity, and vigilance. These
four comprise its core values.
Each day, employees at USCIS work towards the fulfillment of the agency mission to
enhance both the national security and the integrity of the immigration system. This is through
identifying threats posed to the national security and safety of the public by those seeking the
benefits of immigrants. Second, the agency deters, detects, and pursues the fraud due to
immigration benefits. Third, USCIS identifies and removes any systematic vulnerabilities in the
legal immigration system. Finally, the agency promotes the sharing of information with other
agencies for better coordination and operation (Department of Homeland Security, 133).
Group of people and organizations that the agency serve
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services serves a variety of people and
organizations in its role of ensuring that immigrants earn United States citizenship. The agency
serves those who;
a) Apply for citizenship
b) Apply for Green Card or wants to renew the green card. In some cases, the agency
removes conditions on a green card as a result of marriage.
c) Petition for a relative
d) Are required to verify their employee’s identity
e) Apply for affidavit of support
f) Apply for travel documents
g) Apply for authorization of employment
Through web-based services, the agency receives and processes applications for those
who want to become American citizens, upon the payment of a fee. The fee paid by the
applicant's act as a revenue for the bureau. This includes those who have served in the United
States military or their close relatives and want to be naturalized.
Those applying to become US citizens must meet certain requirements. This include
living in the US for a period of five years if not married and three years for those who are
married, be of good moral character (no convictions), be of sound mind, and be able to speak or
understand English unless the applicant is elderly or disabled. Applicants are also supposed to
pass a citizenship test that is administered by the USCIS. Passing the test is an indication of the
understanding and sharing of the American values (Ibpus.com 73).
Since the majority of those who seek citizenship do it for financial and social benefits,
they are often ready to do anything to acquire it including fighting wars. The participation in the
military activities by non-citizens offers them the opportunity to become US citizens as their
involvement is viewed as a commitment to the United States. The spouses of citizens and non-
citizens who served in the military can also apply for citizenship. The waiting period for the
military service personnel to acquire citizenship has since been reduced from three years to one
year (Ibpus.com 74). Application for citizenship due to military service is done by filling form
The grandparent rule
The USCIS also serves those who apply for citizenship based on the grandparent rule.
This rule enables persons to emigrate to the United States if they could prove that a grandparent
was a citizen.
The USCIS also serves corporations that seek to be American citizens. According to
international business publications (Ibpus.com), there is a sense in which organizations can be
considered citizens (75). Before the law, corporations are viewed as citizens. For example, the
U.S. Department of Transportation received a request from the airline Virgin America, which
was asking to be treated as an American air carrier. Corporate citizenship assures organizations
of the protection and support of the government of the United States when engaging in
international flights. This is mainly in the areas of airports and air routes.
Green Card applications
The USCIS also handles all the applications from those seeking Green Cards or
immigrant visas. A green card is a proof that a person is registered to live and work in the U.S.
and also signifies compliance with the U.S. immigration laws. The immigrant visa permits one to
stay in the US for as long as they would like. However, being an immigrant visa holder does not
imply a person is a citizen of the United States. It only offers an individual a permanent resident
status (Kirkegaard 36). Green Card applications are filled through Form I-485.
The USCIS also receives applications for the visa holders who want citizenship status.
Additionally, the agency also replaces cards that have been lost, stolen or damaged. Replacement
can also be done if the card holder has changed name through marriage and invested in a US
business. The agency working in collaboration with the department of homeland security can
also revoke the immigrant visa on several grounds. These include leaving United States for a
longer period, failure to maintain US permanent residency or breaking certain laws.
Petition for a relative
The USCIS also provides services to legal US residents or citizens who want their alien
relative to emigrate to the US. Families eligible for this service have to wait until a visa number
is applicable before they can apply (Wernick 238). The petition is done by filling Form I-130.
Verification of employment eligibility
The USCIS also serves organizations that are required by law to verify the identity of
their employees whether they are citizens or non-citizens but employed in the United States. The
employer and the employees fills Form I-9. The employee is required to provide the employer
with identifications documents that the employer is required to verify if they are genuine, fill
Form I-9 and avail it to the necessary government offices (www.uscis.gov). The USCIS also
utilizes the E-Verify system to conduct the employment verification. However, the use of this
system is not mandatory for all employers (Stana 10).
The agency also provides authorization for those who wish to be employed but are
staying temporarily in the United States. This is also applicable to those authorized to work in
the US with no restrictions so as they can obtain documents to show the authorization.
Applicants are required to fill Form I-765. This helps to fight unauthorized employment at the
Affidavit of support
An immigrant may enter the United States upon the request of a sponsor who pledges to
support him. The family must be financially stable meaning that the immigrant will not rely on
the federal government for financial aid. The sponsor signs the affidavit of support as provided
by the agency to ensure the immigrant does not become a public burden. The USCIS provides
two types of affidavits, the USCIS Form I-134, and the USCIS Form I-864. The USCIS Form I-
134 is applicable to temporary visitors, diversity visa immigrants, and public interest parole. This
form of the affidavit is not enforceable. On the other hand, the USCIS Form I-864 is applicable
to family visa petitions and some employment visa petitions. Affidavit of this kind is enforceable
(Baumgartner 227). The agency also provides the regulations on who qualifies as a sponsor.
Application for travel documents
The USCIS is also mandated to coordinate the issuing of a reentry permit, refugee travel
documents, or advance parole upon the payment of a fee. The applicant must make the
application while in the United States. A reentry permit is used by permanent resident who wants
to return to the United States from abroad during the period of the permit validity without
necessarily obtaining a returning resident visa. On the other hand, the USCIS travel document is
used for purposes of travel. The travel document will also facilitate the refugees return to the US
after traveling abroad (Divine 1-32).
Formation and purpose of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
The USCIS was created on March 1, 2003. On this date, the agency assumed the
responsibility for the all the service function of the immigration in the federal government. This
was preceded by the dismantling of the Immigration and the Naturalization Service (INS) by the
Homeland Security Act of 2002 (PUBLIC LAW 107–296—NOV. 25, 2002). The Act separated
the INS into three agencies all under the Department of Homeland Security. The other two are
the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
The agency was formed to enhance the state of security especially after the September 11
attack and the claims of laxity of the INS. The organization was also established to improve the
efficiency of immigration services nationally by focusing exclusively on the administration and
provision of the benefit applications. The CBP and the ICE complements the functions of the
USCIS by handling the enforcement of immigration and the security functions at the border.
Policies that USCIS implement
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is tasked with implementing a
number of policies and procedures. These policies are in the USCIS Policy Manual, an online
repository for the agency immigration’s policy (www.uscis.gov).
a) National security and public safety
b) Non-immigrant policies and procedures
c) Policies and procedures for protection and parole
d) Policies and procedures for immigrants
e) Policies and procedures for refugees
f) Policies and procedures for asylees
g) Policies and procedures for adjustment of status
h) Admissibility policies and procedures
i) Policies and procedures for waivers
j) Policies and procedures for consent to reapply
k) Policies and procedures for citizenship and naturalization
Budget for the United States Citizenship Immigration Services
The USCIS was formed in March 2003. As such, the budget from 1995 to 2002 is for the
Immigration Naturalization Service. The amount allocated to the INS currently represents the
three agencies (USCIS, USCBP, and ICE) that are under the Department of Homeland Security
that deals with immigration. As such the figures do not represent the budget of USCIS alone. The
budget for the agency from the financial year 2003 to 2015 is shown in Table 1.
The budgetary amount for the USCIS from 2003 to 2015 has increased from President
George W Bush to the President Barack H Obama administration. The amount for each financial
year is inclusive of $4 million that is transferred to the Department of Justice. The agency
receives the budgetary allocations once per year. USCIS also receives revenue from the
application for citizenship throughout the year. The increase in the budget may be attributed to
the increasing number of refugees and the high rate of deportation as conducted by the DHS.
Table 1: Budget for the USCIS from the year 200 to 2015
(Source: The Department of Homeland Security, Budget in Brief, 2003-2015)
Financial Year Amount ($000)
The high cost can also be attributed to putting more effort on enforcement than reforming
the immigration system. The two, enforcement and reform, should work together if the number
of immigrants is to be kept low or controlled.
Areas on which the agency spends money
The agency is divided into three directorate that receive a significant share of the budget
in order to perform their activities as assigned. These directorates are the Field Operations
Directorate, the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate, and the Customer
Service and Public Engagement Directorate. The agency also has program offices such as the
Office of Citizenship, the Office of Communications, the Office of Privacy, and the Office of
Transformation Coordination (www.uscis.gov).
The Customer Service and Public Engagement Directorate
This directorate ensures the timely provision of accurate and clear responses to
customer’s feedback and questions. This is to enable the public engagement through dialog that
promotes the participation of the citizens (Stana 9; Bullock, Haddow, and Coppola 237;
The Public Engagement is also divided into two; the Community Relations and
Engagement Division and the Intergovernmental Affairs Division. The Community Relations
division develops and maintains collaborations with organizations such faith-based groups,
community organizations, employer organizations, employee organizations, law enforcement
entities, and other stakeholders who interact with the agency.
On the other hand, the Intergovernmental Affairs Division promotes associations with the
tribal leaders, local, state, territorial partners, and other intergovernmental offices. This division
also forms the link for aligning the agency objectives with those of DHS. The customer
assistance office is responsible for promoting the agency mission of providing clear and accurate
information to clients when applying for immigration services.
To run the functions of this directorate, the agency needs to allocate a significant amount
of money to enable the provision of these services and thus the collection of revenue from the
customer applications. This division is important for promoting the relationship of the agency
with the public it serves.
The Field Operation Directorate
The agency also allocates a significant amount of its budget to this directorate to ensure
a) The provision of management and oversight of the various offices of the agency and the
National benefits center
b) The benefits of the immigration applications and petition is adjudicated.
c) Applicants are interviewed for the immigration benefit
d) Naturalization ceremonies are conducted nationally
e) Immigration information is provided
f) Security and background checks are completed for all applications and petitions that are
The Fraud Detection and the National Security Directorate (FDNS)
The FDNS was formed by the USCIS to ensure fraud is in the immigration system is
detected. For instance, the directorate ensures that individuals who pose a security threat do not
get the immigration benefits. The directorate also perform checks on the agency’s’ database to
ensure the information provided by the applicant. It also participates in site visits, conducts fraud
assessment, and reviews applications to ascertain compliance. These activities are all carried out
from the federal budgetary allocation.
The Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations (RAIO) Directorate
This directorate also receives money from the USCIS to protect and provide immigration
and humanitarian services to people who are either fleeing persecution, torture or oppression or
are in need of urgent humanitarian help. As its name suggests, the directorate is divided into the
Refugee Affairs Division, the Asylum Division, and the International Operations Division.
The Refugee Affairs division in tasked with the provision of resettlement benefits to
people who do not wish to return to their home countries due to fear of oppression or
persecution. The Asylum Division manages the United States asylum process while the
International Operations division acts as the face of USCIS in foreign countries.
The agency also spends a portion of its money on training of its workforce through
developing training materials and conducting the training of all the new staff (Johnson and
Trujillo 77-8; Stana 54; Bullock, Haddow, and Coppola 238; www.uscis.gov). The training is
also conducted at divisional levels.
Politics surrounding your agency
Many political leaders have failed to see the high cost of using an enforcement-only
approach. They have persistently advocated the use of expensive mediums for ensuring the
refugee number is contained. For instance, the use of the E-verify system that requires employers
to verify the identity of their employees and the expansion of detention centers for the refugees.
This system is expensive and has not achieved its purpose. Politician who recommends the use of
such measures argue that those responsible for the September 11 attacks were foreigners a
sufficient proof that immigration causes crime (Loucky, Armstrong, and Estrada 59)
Likewise, some other leaders have advocated for the noncitizens to be naturalized if they
meet certain requirements. Still other have called for radical immigration reform. They argue
that reforms in the immigration sector can raise the population growth and labor force that are in
turn reflected in the gross domestic product.
The Obama immigration policies that favor children brought to the United States to gain
citizenship has also met resistance. The Republicans have accused the President overstepping the
powers of his office. The President action was met with resistance from 25 states led by
Governor Greg Abbott. A Texas court ruled in favor of the states that led to the Obama
administration to start fresh talks with the Republicans.
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Bullock, Jane A., George D. Haddow, and Damon P. Coppola. Introduction to Homeland
Security: Principles of All-Hazards Risk Management. Elsevier, 2012. Print.
Department of Homeland Security. Budget-In-Brief. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/sites
Divine, Robert C. Immigration Practice - 15th Edition. Juris Publishing, Inc., 2014. Print.
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Puede?. University of Arizona Press, 2011. Print.
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