USCIS Making Progress Towards Electronic Processing

The USCIS has been stating its intent to modernize by changing to an electronic filing system for almost twenty years. The system it had intended to put in place was ELIS, the Electronic Immigration System. When the system was introduced in 2005, it was supposed to involve an investment of $500 million and be put in service by the year 2013. But, the system is not even close to being implemented and is now expected to cost more than 3.1 billion dollars.

Additionally, there have been problems with the initiative, some of which were mentioned as part of an audit performed in November 2017 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General.

The USCIS has made very little progress in allowing people to file forms electronically. In fact, of the 101 forms the USCIS has in publication, only 12 forms can be filed electronically.

With so many applications being prepared and filed electronically today, it would be a good time for the USCIS to complete its goal of electronic systems integration. Learn More

The USCIS does have a plan to allow for the acceptance of electronic payments at all USCIS filing locations, issuing correspondence electronically, electronic filing of all applications and petitions for immigration benefits, as well as achieving faster processing times for requests for immigration benefits. The USCIS intends to complete its plan by the 2026 fiscal year.

The USCIS did start to modernize its payment process back in June 2021 when it stated it had a pilot program in which it was taking credit card payments using Form G-1450 for those U nonimmigrants that are filing Form I-485, an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

The pilot program to accept credit card payments for these applications started in the Nebraska Service Center but spread to the California, Texas, and Vermont service centers and included all forms other than Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for H-1B and H-2A petitions.

Another change by the USCIS is that it will not accept a combined fee payment when Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition), Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), or Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) is filed along with an H-1B1 or H-1B petition.

The reason for this is the USCIS is going to be using electronic processing for immigration benefit requests, and they will be using several different systems to receive and process the different immigration benefit requests. Therefore, since H-1B and H-1B1 petitions and other applications won’t be processed using the same system, separate payments will be necessary for each different form.

The most noticeable sign that the USCIS is going digital is the electronic registration process it is using for the H-1B cap. H-1B petitions still cannot be filed electronically, but that is likely coming. The changes the USCIS has made recently show that it is working to fulfill its plan to change to electronic processing.

There’s a smarter way to verify your employment eligibility I-9 Compliance makes things easier on your end with automation. Start today.