Legacy INS Becomes New Group of Agencies

On March 1, 2003, the INS was reorganized under different branches.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE - The US Department of State Visa Office, which was responsible for issuance of all visas (for people who are overseas), whether immigrant or nonimmigrant will now be directly within the Department of Homeland Security. US Embassies and Consulates as well as the Visa Centers in the US are now directly within Homeland Security, and not within any sub-division. State Department's other functions remain within the Department without change. 

BUREAU OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (BCIS) - This includes adjudication of all immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions and applications, whether for permanent residence or temporary status formerly handled by the INS, and regardless of whether the person is in the U.S. and will acquire status here or overseas. If you're confused as to why overseas people are included here and above (in the former State Department functions), don't be. It is confusing! Just know that some cases first start with BCIS, and then go over to DHS's former State Department function upon approval of a petition. Eduardo Aguirre heads up this Bureau.

BUREAU OF CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (BCBP) - Robert Bonner will head up this Bureau which will be responsible for enforcement at US borders, including at airports, sea and land ports of entry formerly handled by the INS. Both customs and immigration inspection at these ports of entry will be handled together in this one bureau. 

BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION CUSTOMS AND ENFORCEMENT (BICE) - Michael Garcia will head this bureau. It will enforce within the interior of the U.S. and include customs, investgative and enforcement functions. People who are turned over for removal (deportation) and exclusion proceedings who are not found at ports of entry, will be processed through this bureau. 

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE - All of INS used to be within the Department of Justice. The only aspect remaining is the EOIR, Executive Office for Immigration Review. This consists of the Immigration Courts which hear deportation/removal and exclusion hearings. It also includes the Board of Immigration Appeals, which reviews cases handled in immigration courts. John Ashcroft, our Attorny General, heads up this Department."