top of page


The United States Immigration System can be complex and confusing for some immigrants. There are different agencies involved and each of them have specific functions, on this article we will be sharing with you some of their competences.

Clients often come to our office with questions and concerns related to notifications they get from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or the Immigration Court.

Here are two hypothetical cases set as an example:

1) You were inspected when crossing the U.S. border by an immigration officer. He/she asked you to provide an address where you´ll be staying in the U.S. Later you get what is called a “Notice to Appear (NTA)”. NTA is a document that instructs an individual to appear before an immigration judge. This is the first step in starting removal proceedings (Do not panic and keep reading, there is always solution).

2) You are in the process of adjustment of status (about to become a lawful permanent resident or obtain a green card) and get notifications from USCIS regarding forms you have to submit or biometrical appointments you have to attend (That is a good sign, it means your application is moving forward).

In any of the two scenarios presented above it is your obligation to respond in due time and proper form and comply with the information they are requiring, otherwise you are just aggravating your situation. If you don't fully understand what the notification is about, we encourage you to look for assistance with an experienced immigration lawyer, especially if you get an “NTA”. We know it can be frightening but it is always better to act fast so you and the attorney have time to prepare.

Below you will find some information about the agencies in charge of the immigration system and their job.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is focused on securing the U.S. borders and keeping communities safe. DHS accomplishes such responsibilities by enforcing U.S. customs and immigration laws and regulations with the collaboration of other agencies:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

CBP Officers are responsible for the U.S. border security at ports of entry, safeguarding the U.S. and the community from terrorism, illegal activity, narcotics and human trafficking. The U.S. Border Patrol (“BP”) is part of CBP and is responsible for patrolling the areas at and around international borders.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

ICE is responsible for interior enforcement and for detention and removal operations.

Another common question: ICE can stop me on the street? The answer is yes, but only under certain circumstances and for limited reasons. (You´ll find more about it soon on our blog).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

USCIS adjudicates applications and petitions for immigration and naturalization. It is primarily responsible for approving green cards, work permits, travel permits, and other “immigration benefits.”

Immigration Court

The Immigration Court is an administrative court within the Department of Justice (DOJ) responsible for adjudicating immigration cases in the U.S.

We would like to highlight the importance of verifying your mail on a regular basis and to pay special attention to the issuance date of these notifications. Please bear in mind that if you get communications from the Immigration Court, it means (in most cases) that you will need to hire an immigration attorney to represent you in court. And as we mentioned earlier, the more time the lawyer has to prepare your case the better for you and your family.

Datelines are crucial when it comes to immigration proceedings, do not risk it!

The Law Offices of Uzoma Ubanii

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

A national of a foreign country wishing to travel to the United States generally must obtain a visa in order to enter to the country. We say generally because there are some countries that are visa ex

The R visa type is for individuals seeking to enter the United States to work in a religious capacity on a temporary basis, as defined in The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §101(a)(15)(R). How

bottom of page