Agency begins transition from paper-based to online environment
Released May 22, 2012
WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today launched the first phase of its electronic immigration benefits system, known as USCIS ELIS. The system has been created to modernize the process for filing and adjudicating immigration benefits.
“Today marks a significant milestone in our agency’s history,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “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.”
This initial launch brings the agency closer to realizing the future of immigration services. Beginning today, individuals can establish a USCIS ELIS account and apply online to extend or change their nonimmigrant status for certain visa types. Eligible individuals include foreign citizens who travel to the United States temporarily to study, conduct business, receive medical treatment, or visit on vacation. USCIS ELIS will also enable USCIS officers to review and adjudicate online filings from multiple agency locations across the country.
Historically, USCIS customers have had to apply for most benefits by mail and USCIS employees then review paper files and ship documents between offices to complete their adjudication. Today’s launch signifies an important step forward and is the first of several releases. Future releases will add form types and functions to the system, gradually expanding to cover filing and adjudication for all USCIS immigration benefits.
This important transition for America’s immigration benefits system will take time and continued dedication to fully implement. Following this first release, USCIS anticipates making adjustments and improvements in response to user feedback. This process will enable USCIS to continually enhance the user experience for both customers and USCIS employees. It will also allow the agency to smooth the transition to electronic filing over time, mindful of those individuals without computer access and the agency’s commitment to serve our diverse customer base.
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.
Mayorkas attributed today’s successful launch to the steadfast dedication of the USCIS workforce. “USCIS employees believe in the transformation of our agency from a paper-based to an online environment. It is through their vision, unwavering commitment, and hard work that we have reached this important milestone,” Mayorkas said.
Visit www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis to take a tour of the new system, learn about eligibility and the benefits of using USCIS ELIS, and find frequently asked questions.