USCIS launches first online form


The Citizenship and Immigration Services agency has launched its first online application form, which the agency said is a key first step in its multi-year transformation initiative to shift from paper to digital forms.

Starting immediately, eligible visa-holders can establish an online account in the USCIS “ELIS” system and apply online to extend the duration of their visit to the United States or request other changes in their status, the agency said in a May 22 news release. The initial application form for visa holders is the first of many forms expected to launch on the ELIS system, which is a new central resource for application and adjudication of immigration benefits.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our agency’s history,” USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas said in the release. “We have launched the foundation for the Web-based future of our agency and our immigration benefits system. USCIS ELIS will transform how we interact with our customers and how we manage the 6-7 million applications we receive each year.”

Eligible individuals include foreign citizens who travel to the United States temporarily to study, conduct business, receive medical treatment, or visit on vacation.

The agency said the new digital system will enable quicker and more centralized reviews of the application, because paperwork will no longer need to be collected from multiple agency locations across the country.

“Benefits of using USCIS ELIS include filing applications and paying fees online, shorter processing times, and the ability to update user profiles, receive notices, and respond to requests electronically. The system also includes tools to combat fraud and identify national security concerns,” the agency said.

The agency has been working on its Transformation initiative since 2005 after struggling with a backlog of 1.5 million cases and thousands of missing or poorly-organized paper files.

After delays, the program was believed to be progressing from 2006 to 2009, according to a 2009 audit report from the Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.

In 2008, USCIS awarded IBM Corp. a transformation initiative contract worth as much as $491.1 million over five years. The total transformation program was estimated to cost $536 million at that time.

A report by Nextgov in February 2011 said the total transformation project cost was projected to increase to $2.2 billion.





About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.