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On March 1, 2003, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assumed responsibility for the immigration service functions of the federal government. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107–296, 116 Stat. 2135) dismantled the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and separated the agency into three components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Homeland Security Act created USCIS to enhance the security and efficiency of national immigration services by focusing exclusively on the administration of benefit applications. The law also formed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to oversee immigration enforcement and border security.

USCIS benefits from a legacy of more than 100 years of federal immigration and naturalization administration.  The USCIS History Office website provides information about our agency’s history, presents research from the Office’s historians, and makes selected historical documents available electronically.

For an overview of INS history please see our Agency History page.  Be sure to check for updates to the Historian's Mailbox, which regularly features new historical articles. Students and scholars interested in conducting in-depth research on the history of federal immigration and nationality administration should consult our Research Guide.

Agency History

Historian's Mailbox


History Icon Who's #1? Certificate of Naturalization # 1 and the “First Naturalized U.S. Citizen”
Several curious researchers have asked the USCIS History Office, “Who was the first naturalized U.S. citizen.

History Icon INS Records for 1930's Mexican Repatriations
The latest Historian’s Mailbox entry explores why researchers may not find “deportation records” for many Mexicans who left the U.S. in the 1930s.

History Icon I'm an American

History Icon Edward Bing Kan: The First Chinese-American Naturalized after Repeal of Chinese Exclusion

History Icon Origins of the Naturalization Civics Test


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