The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the U.S. agency that is in charge of lawful immigration forms and collecting the INS fees.

Note: The USCIS changes the immigration forms and the immigration fees periodically. You must make sure that you are filing the most recent form and that you are submitting the correct fee. has the most recent forms available.

INS is no longer a U.S. government agency.

Prior to 2003, the government agency in charge of lawful immigration was the INS, which stood for Immigration and Naturalization Service. Its functions included inspecting all foreign travelers entering the U.S., regulating permanent and temporary immigration, controlling the borders and handling deportations.

As a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush Administration created The Homeland Security Act of 2002 and it marked the end of the INS. The dismantling of the INS did not mean an end to the responsibilities. What it meant was that a single agency would no longer be in charge of all immigration duties.

The INS was split up into three agencies: the USCIS, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The USCIS oversees processes such as citizenship petitions, family-member Green Card requests and employment visa requests.

When filing your forms, reading every instruction, notice, warning or explanation is extremely important. The fees are explained in the instructions. Your application will not be accepted unless the full fees have been paid.

The fees are paid for through check or money order from funds in your bank account or other financial institution. The payment must be in U.S. currency.

Checks or money orders must be made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not use the initials USDHS or just DHS. Any check or money order that only has the initials will not be accepted.

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