U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Functions and Funding [May 15, 2015] [open pdf - 409KB]
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), performs multiple functions including the adjudication of immigration and naturalization petitions, consideration of refugee and asylum claims and related humanitarian and international concerns, and a range of immigration-related services, such as issuing employment authorizations and processing nonimmigrant change-of-status petitions. Processing immigrant petitions remains USCIS's leading function. In FY2014, it handled roughly 6 million petitions for immigration-related services and benefits. USCIS's budget relies largely on user fees. The agency and its predecessor, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), have had the legal authority to charge fees for immigration services since before the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA). In 1988, Congress created the Immigration Examinations Fee Account, which made the portion of USCIS's budget collected from user fees no longer subject to annual congressional approval. Since the President announced the Immigration Accountability Executive Action on November 20, 2014, USCIS's budgetary structure has received increased attention. Among other provisions, the executive action included an expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was initiated in 2012, as well as a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program that grants certain unauthorized aliens protection from removal, and work authorization, for three years. If implemented, these programs would require applicants to submit petitions and pay a user fee to USCIS. The user fees would purportedly pay for the cost of administering the program."
CRS Report for Congress, R44038