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  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)


    The USCIS has jursidiction over (i.e., is responsible for) determining whether a foreign national is permitted to be in the United States. They are responsible for "pre-approving" most visa applications (with the notable exception of B-1, E-2 and J-1 visas) prior to an individual applying for a State Department visa stamp. The USCIS does this by granting an individual a non-immigrant or immigrant "status".


    In other words, in most cases, filing a non-immigrant "petition" with the USCIS is the first step in being able to live and work in the United States.


    • If an individual is living inside the United States when the USCIS issues them a non-immigrant "status", then they need not do anything else.
    • However, if an individual is living outside of the United States when the USCIS issues them a non-immigrant "status", or leaves the United States after obtaining a new non-immigrant status, then they must obtain a "visa stamp" from the State Department so they can be allowed to (re)enter the United States.


    IMPORTANT: Before any non-immigrant leaves the United states, they should notify Thompson Immigraiton so that we can ensure that their visa stamp is current.  If it is not current, then the non-immigrant will not be allowed to re-enter the United States until a non-immigrant visa is obtained.


    CAVEAT: This rule does not apply to non-immigrants who visit either Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days.  In this instance, the non-immigrant will not have to turn in their I-94 card, but instead can use this card to re-enter the United States.


    With regard to immigrant visas (i.e., green cards), the USCIS is responsible for processing all family-based applications; as well as all employment-based applications once the U.S. Department of Labor has determined that the foreign nationals sponsorship will not take a job away from a U.S. worker.


  • U.S. State Department (DOS)


    The U.S. State Department has jursidiction over (i.e., is responsible for) all immigration work performed outside of the United States. It operates out of U.S. Embassies and consulates. The State Department does this by issuing an individual a non-immigrant or immigrant "visa" or "visa stamp". This visa stamp is a person's "permission" to enter the United States.


    Most of these visas must be "pre-approved" by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (or "USCIS).  The USCIS approves a non-immigrant or immigrant petition, and then the State Department issues the appropriate visa.  However, the State Department may still refuse to issue a visa even if the USCIS approves a petition.

    A "visa stamp" gives a person permission to enter the United States during the period in which the visa is valid.  In other words, the visa stamp has nothing to do with how long a person may remain in the United States.  It is the ICE that actually determines how long a person may remain in the United States.  This is done when a person enters the United States at an airport or other border crossing.


  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)


    To oversimplify the DOL's mission, their goal is to:


    • Protect U.S. workers' jobs from being taken by foreign workers; and
    • Protect foreign workers from discriminatory practices by U.S. employers.


    The DOL addresses the first issue by ensuring that no foreign workers are hired in order to break a strike; and that no foreign worker is sponsored for a green card when there is a U.S. worker who is ready, willing and able to perform the job being sponsored.


    The DOL addresses the second goal by ensuring that U.S. employers pay foreign workers the typical wage for a particular position in a particular geographic region (or the "prevailing wage" for that position); and that U.S. employer provide the same workplace settings and benefits to foreign workers as they do to U.S. workers.


  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP)


    For our purposes, the CBP is responsible for checking everyone's immigration status when the enter the United States.  If the ICE officer does not believe that the individual entering should be permitted to enter, they have the right to refuse that person entry into the Untied states and make them return to their country of origin.  this usually occurs when a foreign national is entering the United States ona  vsitor visa and cannot adequately document the purpose of their trip.


  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE)


    For our purposes, the ICE is responsible for all Form I-9 audits.



Agencies Involved



The following agencies are responsible for implementing different aspects of the United States' immigration laws.  While each agency has multiple responsibilities under the law, we will address only those responsibilities that typically impact the work performed by Thompson Immigration on behalf of our clients.


  • Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS or USCIS)
  • U.S. Department of State (DOS or USDOS)
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL or USDOL)
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP or USCBP)
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE or USICE)


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