What is INS?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the INS) is the government agency that manages the entire immigration process in the United States.

While applying for a visa or green card, immigration forms are to be filed either at the American Consulate or with the USCIS (formerly the INS) if the applicant is in the US. These applications/petitions are available on the USCIS website and also there are many private players in this field who have these forms available on their website and charge a fee for assisting applicants in filling and filing the forms. The help of lawyers is at times sought to fill the immigration forms that can be sophisticated at times. The USCIS (formerly the INS) is the authority that processes these applications/petitions.

The INS Application Process:

After you send the completed application to the USCIS (formerly the INS) along with the appropriate fee and supporting documents, you will receive an Application Receipt Notice that has a 13-character Application Receipt number. It would take around 30 days to receive this notification. The 13-character number generally starts with EAC, WAC, LIN, or SRC. This number is the proof that the USCIS has received the application/petition and that it is being processed. You can check the status of your application using this number while the application is pending.

If you received the receipt number and want to check the status of your case, you may visit the USCIS’s website, http://www.uscis.gov and select the link entitled “Case Status Online.” You have to enter the application receipt number. Whereas, if you do not have a receipt number, you can find out how long USCIS takes to process the applications by clicking “Processing Times” that is listed on the USCIS “Case Status Online” page. Processing times are categorized according to the type of application you filed and the location of the USCIS Application Service Center (ASC) where your application was filed. If you do not receive any notification from the USCIS (formerly the INS) even after thirty days of having submitted your application, you can contact them at their toll-free telephone line and talk to their customer service representatives who will provide you with the necessary guidance.

Applicants and their representatives (such as lawyers, charitable groups, or corporations) who are in need of regular access to information about their multiple cases can create an account to get this information easily. The services provided by USCIS (formerly the INS) to both account types are similar except for the fact that applicants’ representatives can enter their own internal office tracking number with each receipt number while dealing with multiple cases.

Additionally, a new program provides the facility where you can receive a text message notification to your US mobile phone number when a case status update happens. Applicants and their representatives can use this facility to receive this text message notification. However, Standard Messaging Rates or other charges related to these notifications may apply for such text messages. Applicants and their representatives can also receive automatic case status updates through e-mail. As the processing time for applications differ, these option are handy to applicants.

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