US CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (USCIS)
Last update of this source description: 3 July 2008. Please note USCIS does not publish COI materials on its website anymore since mid-2004 (as at 19 October 2011).
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are a “government agency comprised of 15,000 federal employees and contractors working in approximately 250 Headquarters and field offices around the world.” USCIS is “responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.” On 1 March 2003, service and benefit functions of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) transitioned into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as USCIS (USCIS Website > About USCIS, accessed on 3 July 2008).
United States Congress; US asylum and immigration officers; USCIS does not “conduct research for the general public or private attorneys” (USCIS Website > Education & Resources > Asylum Resources, accessed on 3 July 2008).
The Resource Information Center (RIC) of the Asylum Division of the USCIS seeks “to meet the information needs of the Asylum Officer and Immigration Officer Corps in the USA and overseas by providing […] information on conditions in the countries of origin of asylum and refugee applicants.” COI is compiled in a variety of publications, most notably query responses in the framework of the ‘Question and Answer Series’, “that are distributed to the Officer Corps.” (Refworld, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,QUERYRESPONSE,,,0.html, accessed on 19 June 2008).
According to the Department of Homeland Security website, the US Congress mandates USCIS to be self-funded. USCIS draws its financial resources from fees charged for processing a variety of applications (including naturalisation, employment authorisation, adjustment of status, biometrics, and premium processing) (USCIS: Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2007. Financial Snapshot, p. 32, http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/financial_snapshot.pdf, accessed on 3 July 2008).
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: All countries worldwide (except the United States).
Thematic focus: Information on emerging social and political developments in countries of origin; chronologies of political developments, summaries of recent changes of government (including coups), or information on particular ethnic, political, religious, racial or social groups at risk (USCIS Website > Education & Resources > Asylum Resources > Questions and Answers Series, accessed on 3 July 2008).
Query responses “are prepared by expert consultants and/or the staff of the Resource Information Center, Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of Justice”. Information is drawn from publicly available documents from “the Department of State, the Office of International Affairs, other Service offices, or other credible sources, such as international organizations, private voluntary agencies, news organizations, or academic institutions” (see disclaimers in USCIS query responses at USCIS Website > Education & Resources > Asylum Resources > Questions and Answers Series, accessed on 3 July 2008). Occasionally e-mail inquiries or telephone interviews are conducted to obtain information. Sources are regularly referenced.
USCIS Resource Information Center (RIC) query responses were published in irregular intervals. No query responses have been published since 2004.
Navigation of website:
Home > Education & Resources > Asylum Resources: Leads to 3 categories (Profile Series; Perspectives Series; Question and Answer Series).
Resource Information Center query responses are only accessible via the search function (search term: RIC query). All published USCIS RIC query responses can be easily retrieved on ecoi.net via the advanced search (select country and source US Citizenship and Immigration Service).
In a response to National Stakeholders, USCIS states: “The Asylum Division is reviewing the information provided to the public via the USCIS website and is working with the USCIS web team on revisions. [...].The Asylum Division no longer prepares many of the country conditions documents referenced on the RIC Country Information Pages, and thus there are not more recent versions to post. In addition, the Asylum Division does not plan to post newly-created country conditions documents to the website [...]." (Baughman & Wang, Attorneys at Law Weblog: USCIS answers questions (April 29, 2008), question 13, 22 May 2008, http://lawbw.blogspot.com/2008/05/uscis-answers-questionsapril-29-2008.html, accessed on 3 July 2008)