CIS Ombudsman States that Digitization Cannot Come Soon Enough Considering the Current Backlog

United Stats Citizenship and immigration services works toward digitization to better tackle growing backlogs

The ombudsman of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently stated in her annual report that, although the work toward digitization could not come quickly enough, there is still a growing backlog because the agency did not digitize before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, the CIS ombudsman’s annual report pointed out the pandemic’s effect on the agency’s ability to process applications and generate revenue. In most accounts, the results of the pandemic have continued to affect the USCIS and the people it serves.

The report credits the USCIS for its steps to deal with these issues. However, it also states that the USCIS must do more because applicants are still losing time, jobs, and the ability to travel. One problem the report specified was difficulty applying for expedited or emergency benefits. This difficulty causes more inquiries and requests, thus diverting additional resources to customer service, case assistance requests, duplicative filings, and congressional queries.

The report recommended several steps the USCIS should take to improve its service. Here are some of the suggestions.

  • The USCIS needs to hire and train more staff to handle processing surges, plan for and meet humanitarian obligations without having other applicants cover the costs, provide good customer service, and complete its digital strategy.
  • There should be increased flexibility for the renewal of employment authorization, which should build on the current automatic extension periods to allow work authorization to continue. At the same time, workers wait for the USCIS to adjudicate a renewal EAD application.
  • Provide improved options for non-immigrant spouses who are trying to renew their employment authorization
  • Permit applicants to file for renewal earlier and issue the renewals with a validity period that starts as soon as the applicant’s current EAD expires.
  • Continue to expedite renewals for workers that are in occupations that are of national interest.
  • Encourage filers to use a myUSCIS account to file online, including by possibly increasing the current discount for doing so

These are just some recommendations for improving the USCIS’s services. The report contains several more recommendations. Hopefully, the USCIS will put many of the recommendations into effect. Implementing these changes could help many employers by allowing them to attract and retain talented workers.

For those employers that do hire immigrant employees, they will need to complete Form I-9. This form can be stressful because employees may present many different documents. The best way to ensure you complete Form I-9 correctly is to use an electronic I-9 management system. This tool will guide hiring personnel through the process, thus ensuring Form I-9 is accurately completed and securely stored along with any documentation.

Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.