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USCIS and INS History
  • 1776 to late 1800s
  • Open border, free immigration
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  • 1875
  • Immigration became a federal matter
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  • 1891
  • Office of the Superintendent of Immigration established - first federal immigration agency
    The office was under the Treasury Department
    Immigrant Inspectors started working at major ports of entry
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  • 1892
  • The legendary immigration station - Ellis Island - opened in New York
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  • 1895
  • Bureau of Immigration was created to replace the Office of the Superintendent of Immigration
    The Superintendent became Commissioner-General of Immigration
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  • 1903
  • Bureau of Immigration was transferred to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor
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  • 1906
  • Bureau of Immigration became Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization after Congress passed the Basic Naturalization Act
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  • 1913
  • Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization split into two bureaus - one for immigration, one for naturalization - under Department of Labor
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  • 1920s
  • Congress started to set annual quota to limit incoming immigrants based on nationality
    The State Department was responsible for issuing annual visas
    Immigration Board of Review was created within the Immigration Bureau
    Border Patrol was also created
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  • 1933
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was born by reuniting Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Naturalization
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  • 1940
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was moved from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice
    The Board of Review became the Board of Immigration Appeals (which later become Executive Office of Immigration Review under the Department of Homeland Security)
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  • 1952
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was created
    Various refugee relief bills were enacted from the 1940s to 1960s
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  • 1965
  • The national-origins system was replaced with a preference system that allowed more family members and skilled workers to come in
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  • 1986
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act:
    Legalized certain aliens residing in the U.S. unlawfully since 1982; created temporary agricultural worker category; established the Visa Waiver Program.
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  • 2003
  • The mighty INS ceased to exist
    Employees of INS were re-assigned to three different agencies under the Department of Homeland Security:
    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
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