Early in the year of 2003, the various services and benefit functions that were part of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, or the INS, were placed under the direction of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It was then renamed the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is also now referred to as USCIS.
The USCIS is now responsible for administering all of the functions of immigration and naturalization adjudication. As well, it is responsible for establishing the policies and priorities related to immigration services.
One of the many various functions of the newly formed US Citizenship and Immigration Services, includes providing information to those who are interested in immigrating to the United States and becoming US citizens, as well as providing resources to immigrants.
The USCIS oversees and manages all of the many functions that are related to immigration, including: processing of visa petitions by immigrants; making rulings on naturalization petitions; adjudicating applications for asylum and for refugees; arbitrating procedures and rulings that are performed at the various service centers; handling all other adjudication requirements as required by the circumstances.
The department of US Citizenship and Immigration Services is comprised of approximately fifteen thousand employees. Some are employees of the United States federal government and some are independent contractors.
Roughly speaking, this large staff works out of 250 field offices and headquarters located around the globe. They serve the needs of people from all parts of the world who are interested in emigrating from their native countries to the United States.
Part of the responsibilities of the USCIS include providing resources for potential immigrants and for the various organizations that support and serve them. In the instance of immigrants, the USCIS primarily focuses their efforts on two key periods of time in an immigrant's journey.
The time when an immigrant first becomes a permanent resident and the point at which he or she is ready to formally begin the naturalization process, which will lead them toward integration into the US culture and society.
For the newly arrived immigrant, there is a vast amount of information and resources available at the official website of the department of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which can be located at USCIS. On this site, there is a comprehensive guide that can be downloaded. It provides practical immigration information designed to help new immigrants easily transition into the everyday lifestyle of the US.
This helpful guide is entitled "Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants," and it is available in eleven different languages. The guide also covers some basic US civics information which introduces the new immigrants to the United States system of government. This is information that they will need to learn to function well in their new country.
For those already in the process of naturalization, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website also offers an array of educational materials in a section titled "Civics and Citizenship Study Materials." These learning resources have been provided to assist immigrants in preparing for the US citizenship test, while also encouraging additional civic education.