The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Citizenship an Immigration Services has spent more than $1 billion trying to replace its antiquated paper-based approach to managing immigration with a system of online forms. But a decade in, all that officials have to show for the effort is a single online form (I-90, used for renewing or replacing green cards). The other 94 forms can be filed only on paper.
USCIS did not even complete a basic plan until nearly three years after the initial $500 million contract had been awarded to IBM, reports the Post. And the approach to adopting the technology was outdated before work on it began.
A USCIS spokesman says, “we are confident we are moving in the right direction.” But until progress is made immigrants and their lawyers will remain hugely frustrated by the government’s archaic, error-plagued system.
A great place for USCIS to focus its efforts would be the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This form is used by sponsors and joint sponsors of green cards for family members. Currently, the paper form needs to be signed by up to three people (sponsor, interpreter, lawyer) before being filed with the government. Digitizing the form would save big on mailing fees and delays as well as alleviate the need for manual data entry by officials.
In fact, the White House released an update this summer on immigration reform entitled, Modernizing & Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century (July 2015). A key recommendation was to digitize the Form I-864. How about it?
For more about the Form I-864, see the Affidavit of Support Help Center, where you can read more, ask questions, and consult with an immigration lawyer.