USCIS Advises on New Immigration Benefits Electronic System
Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 13, 2011 – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) has released information about its upcoming electronic, account-based system that foreign nationals will use to apply for U.S. immigration benefits.
The first release of the new system will occur in December 2011 for those applicants filing standalone applications to extend or change their nonimmigration status. Applicants include those filing to extend, change or reinstate their nonimmigrant B, F, J, or M visa classification. USCIS advises that the program will initially be voluntary, so applicants will be able to choose the existing paper-based system, or the new electronic one. The new system will ultimately replace the existing paper-based system. USCIS expects the application process to be more secure, precise, and faster. Because the service has not yet been unveiled to the public, it is unclear how well the site will work for applicants.
“In principle, offering a paperless, web-based means to submit an application or petition for an immigration benefit sounds convenient, and environmentally friendly,” said Stewart Rabinowitz, a Dallas immigration attorney with the firm Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz. “The real test will be how well both USCIS performs in adjudicating this application, and how user-friendly the system actually is for applicants.”
While USCIS has said the online system will speed up the process, some users are worried about the lack of a paper trail. Also, online application systems from other government agencies have often left users frustrated, especially when the system requires applicants to upload a picture, Rabinowitz said.
“Foreign nationals have already experienced the purely on-line nonimmigrant visa application software the Department of State now requires. It has 20-minute security ‘time outs’, which are frustrating, and issues with uploading qualifying photos for many applicants,” Rabinowitz said. “In addition, any digital application can be recalled by the government with a keystroke, because a digital memory never forgets. It remains to be seen how many applicants will actually keep a copy of their digital applications.”
USCIS announced it will update the online application with additional features and functions every six months after its initial release, and it will seek input from users and use the information gleaned to guide future updates.
Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Dallas-based Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To learn more, contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney at Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C., call 1.972.233.6200 or visit http://www.rabinowitzrabinowitz.com.
Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C.
14901 Quorum Drive, Suite 580
Dallas, Texas 75254
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