As the agency charged with the administration of lawful immigration to the United States, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), works on multiple levels to achieve high marks with customers, employees and policymakers. In its mission, USCIS strives to provide accurate and useful information to customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship and ensuring the overall integrity of the U.S. immigration system.
USCIS, which is made up of 19,000 government employees and contractors working at 223 offices across the world, is funded primarily through the fees paid by immigration and naturalization applicants and petitioners. Fees collected by USCIS are deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA), an entity established by Congress in 1988. With IEFA, USCIS was granted the authority to recover the full cost of immigration benefit processing. For fiscal year 2016, 95 percent of the USCIS budget was accounted for with IEFA funds. The remaining 5 percent of the budget comes from two other mandatory fee accounts and appropriated funding for the E-Verify program.
Under the funding rules established by Congress, the USCIS financial operations team conducts biennial fee reviews for the IEFA. Prior to the current fee hikes, USCIS fee adjustments last occurred in 2010. For 2017, officials determined an adjustment by a weighted average increase of 21 percent to ensure full cost recovery– including fraud detection and national security as well as customer service and case processing. The fee increase also covers the costs associated with services provided to refugee, asylum applicants and other customers who are eligible for fee waivers and exemptions.
“USCIS will secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system,” according to the agency’s mission statement.
Specific strategic goals of the agency include:
- Strengthening the security and integrity of the immigration system
- Providing effective customer-oriented immigration benefit and information services
- Supporting immigrants’ integration and participation in American civic culture
- Promoting flexible and sound immigration policies and programs
- Strengthening the infrastructure supporting the USCIS mission
- Operating as a high-performance organization that promotes a highly talented workforce and a dynamic work culture
In giving federal workers and contractors the tools they need in order to move toward achieving the strategic goals, officials laid out a value framework from which they operate. These include a demonstration of respect in all actions as well as fostering a climate of innovation, resourcefulness, creativity, and sound management principles to strive for world-class results.