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US Government Releases New Guide for Immigrants

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has unveiled a new guide giving new permanent residents to the United States a wide range of useful information.

The title of the new publication is "Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants," which, according to U.S. CIS spokesman Bill Strassberger, means exactly what it says.

"It's a great tool for people when they first come to the United States," Mr. Strassberger says. "You could almost call it an orientation manual or just a handbook on how to function in the United States. It covers a variety of topics, everything from how to get an apartment, how to sign a lease, to how to register your kids for school, who has to go to school, how to deal with the banks, child care, a whole variety of issues."

Besides practical information, the guide also contains basic civics information that will introduce new immigrants to the U.S. system of government. It also lets new immigrants know of their rights and responsibilities as permanent residents in the United States.

Mr. Strassberger says his office decided to issue the new guide as part of its efforts to help immigrants.

"It's not so much a charm offensive. It's just part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services desire to improve customer service to the best extent that we can," Mr. Strassberger says.

The guide is initially available to the public in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese. Plans are under way to publish it in Arabic, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Tagalog within the next few months. Mr. Strassberger says these foreign languages were chosen because they represent the largest immigrant populations in the United States.

He says another feature of the guide book is that it is available to anyone, anywhere in the world, to download free, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' website.

"It seems everyone, no matter where you go in the world today, can get access to information from the Internet," Mr. Strassberger says. "So, even if they don't have the availability of getting specific information about coming to the United States, about a particular type of visa or Green Card, or what have you, they can go to the Internet and get it."

The spokesman says the information in the booklet would be of limited use to illegal immigrants.

"This is good information for someone who is already here to know. But at the same time, their status is still that as, if they're here illegally here, undocumented, they still would not be able to function easily in the United States without the legal documentation," Mr. Strassberger says.

Since Monday was just the first day, it was too early to tell how many people had actually viewed the new guidebook. But Mr. Strassberger said the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website is very busy and gets thousands of hits every day.