Chapter 9 – Web-Based Customer Information
As the web has expanded and evolved, the need to provide customers with timely information and service “where they live” has remained constant. An increasing number of customers expect to interact with institutions, not only through traditional websites, but also through social media and multimedia. Therefore, USCIS continuously strives toward a web presence that is built to fully engage its customers and meet their needs in a multi-dimensional and multi-channel format.
Social media provides an informal and compact means of communication, but also connects customers with core information and services on the USCIS website. In this way, social media complements the USCIS website and increases USCIS’ ability to communicate with customers.
B. Web-Based Customer Information Tools
The USCIS website provides customers with the following:
•Timely and accurate information on immigration and citizenship services and benefits offered by USCIS;
•Easy access to forms, form instructions, and other information required to successfully submit applications and petitions;
•The latest news and policy updates;
•Information on outreach events and efforts; and
•Information on ways customers can contact USCIS.
In addition to USCIS.gov, USCIS also hosts the following sub-sites:
•InfoPass (http://infopass.uscis.gov) – Allows customers to make appointments online
•Customer Relationship Interface System (CRIS) (http://egov.uscis.gov) – Allows customers to check case status, change an address online, locate an office, and complete other tasks
•Citizenship Resource Center (www.uscis.gov/citizenship) – Hosts information and resources designed to assist prospective citizens
Social media tools have also become an integral part of USCIS’ web presence. At present, these tools include:
•Official blog of USCIS, “The Beacon”
1. USCIS Website
Redesigned in 2009, USCIS’ website provides customers with access to the most searched and visited pages as well as current news releases, alerts, and other updates. USCIS designed the website to accommodate easy navigation to highly trafficked pages directly from the homepage, as well as a logical structure and search capability for easy access to all other pages.
USCIS makes every effort to provide complete and accurate information on USCIS’ website. USCIS does its best to correct errors brought to its attention as soon as possible. When the USCIS webmaster receives notification from the public about a possible error, the webmaster forward the notification to the directorate or program office responsible for the content in question.
The responsible directorate or program office reviews the content and provides corrections or clarifications, if necessary. Both the English language and Spanish language pages are updated at the same time as appropriate. USCIS directorates and program offices that submit content for posting on the USCIS website are responsible for notifying the Office of Communications (OCOMM) when there are changes to that information.
2. USCIS Blog, The Beacon
USCIS uses The Beacon to communicate with customers and stakeholders. OCOMM serves as the executive agent for The Beacon and controls who at USCIS has access to make changes to the blog.
The Beacon was created to foster an ongoing dialogue regarding the immigration and naturalization process in the United States. Readers are encouraged to provide USCIS with comments, ideas, concerns, and constructive criticism. USCIS appreciates and considers comments received on The Beacon, especially as to how USCIS might improve its web presence and better serve customers.
To protect privacy, readers of The Beacon who submit comments to blog posts should not include their full name, phone number, email address, Social Security number, case-number, or any other sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) in their submissions. Comments including this information will not be posted.
Further, USCIS may share information posted on The Beacon if there is a demonstrated need to know, and only posts information after it has been appropriately approved and vetted by OCOMM. The Beacon is a moderated blog. USCIS reviews all reader comments submitted before posting.
USCIS does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by persons on this blog is correct and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. USCIS may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for any comments posted on The Beacon by any other person. The views expressed on the site by commentators do not reflect the official views of USCIS or the U.S. Government.
USCIS recognizes that the web is a “24/7” medium, and comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, USCIS moderates and posts comments during regular business hours on Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours, on weekends, or on federal holidays are reviewed and posted as early as possible; in most cases, these comments are posted the next business day.
3. USCIS Twitter Account
USCIS approaches its Twitter account in much the same way as the blog: USCIS’ Twitter account is another electronic channel that helps USCIS make information and services more widely available to the general public, and promote transparency and accountability.
Further, Twitter is used as a tool for short, real-time communication with the public. OCOMM serves as the executive agent for the USCIS Twitter account and controls who at USCIS has access to publish tweets. Like the blog, any information posted on the USCIS Twitter account is available to the person posting and to any and all users on the USCIS Twitter account who are able to access the public side of the account.
USCIS may share information posted on the USCIS Twitter account if there is a demonstrated need to know, and only posts information after it has been appropriately approved and vetted by OCOMM.
4. USCIS YouTube Channel
Before USCIS launched its own YouTube channel, many USCIS videos published on USCIS.gov were also available on the DHS YouTube channel. As the number of videos increased, a decision was reached to start a separate USCIS YouTube channel for USCIS-specific content. The USCIS channel remains accessible and searchable through the DHS channel.
Comments and video responses posted to the USCIS YouTube channel are subject to YouTube's usage policies. Comments are public and available to anyone visiting a USCIS channel or video. To protect one’s privacy and the privacy of others, users should not include their full names, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, case numbers, or any other PII in comments or response videos.
USCIS does not moderate user comments on its channel prior to posting, but reserves the right to remove any materials that pose a security risk. Any opinions expressed on YouTube, except as specifically noted, are those of the individual commentators and do not reflect any agency policy, endorsement, or action. USCIS does not collect or retain comments in its records.
5. USCIS Facebook Page
USCIS social networking web pages welcome comments and postings. USCIS does not moderate comments on the USCIS Facebook page prior to posting, but reserves the right to remove any materials that pose a security or privacy risk. Only USCIS employees acting in their official capacity are authorized representatives to administer a USCIS Facebook page. All postings and content are considered property of USCIS, and USCIS retains the authority to remove or limit its distribution.
USCIS generally uses the Facebook page for external relations (for example, communications, outreach, public dialogue) to make information and services widely available to the general public, to promote transparency and accountability, and as a service for those seeking information about or services from USCIS.
DHS OCOMM serves as the executive agent for the USCIS Facebook page and controls who has and maintains access. USCIS may share information on the USCIS Facebook page if there is a demonstrated need to know, and only posts information after it has been appropriately approved and vetted by USCIS OCOMM.
See the DHS Privacy Resources for the DHS PIA “Use of Social Networking Interactions and Applications.”
POLICY ALERT – Customer Service
August 26, 2014
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance on its standards in customer service.