About Immigrating to United States
Immigration services can refer to a wide range of organizations and individuals who help people with matters related to their immigration status. The term can also be used to describe public or private agencies that provide legal services to immigrants, as well as educational and community support programs. Many of these services are free, but some require a fee to participate.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a federal agency responsible for overseeing immigration processes. It handles applications and forms for obtaining visas, conducts naturalization interviews for would-be citizens, and administers English and civics classes to help immigrants prepare for citizenship. USCIS is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. Its responsibilities are to protect the nation from foreign and domestic threats by enforcing immigration laws, ensuring the integrity of our borders and granting lawful access to persons seeking entry into the United States. Its agents are stationed at ports of entry and collect a head tax from each person entering the country. The work of the agency has been dramatized and depicted in movies, such as The Immigrant (1917), Paddy O’Day (1936), Ellis Island (1948), Five Came Back (1939) and Men in Black (1997).
Immigrants who are legally in the United States have the right to receive government benefits, such as food stamps, cash assistance, child care and education. However, some immigrants may not qualify for certain federal benefits because of their immigration status or a bar to eligibility established by 1996 laws. States can seek to fill some of these gaps in noncitizen coverage, either by extending eligibility for existing programs or by using state funds to cover those who cannot receive federal aid.
A variety of private companies offer immigration-related services, such as translations, employment screening, and document preparation. Some of these companies may be legitimate, but others are not. It is important for people who need help with their immigration status to use only licensed attorneys or accredited representatives of a recognized organization. Individuals who claim to have government permission to complete immigration forms or advise people about their eligibility for benefits should be avoided. These individuals are often scammers who charge a large fee for their services and may misrepresent themselves as immigration officials or other officials.
The International Rescue Committee continues to advocate for a permanent path to citizenship for Dreamers and other immigrant communities. In the meantime, we are supporting a network of local service providers that provide legal representation and civics classes for DACA recipients, as well as offering Know Your Rights workshops and other supportive services. To find a service provider in your area, visit our USCIS grantee directory or CitizenshipWorks. You can also find local English and citizenship classes on our national calendar of events.