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USCIS Automation of Immigration Benefits Processing Remains Ineffective

Executive Summary

Since 2005, USCIS has worked to transform its paper-based processes into an integrated and automated immigration benefits processing environment. As we previously reported, past automation attempts have been hampered by ineffective planning, multiple changes in direction, and inconsistent stakeholder involvement. Current USCIS efforts to automate immigration benefits processing also could be improved. Although USCIS deployed the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) in May 2012, to date only two of approximately 90 types of immigration benefits and services are available for online customer filing. The current ELIS approach also has not ensured stakeholder involvement, performance metrics, system testing, or user support needed for ELIS to be effective. As it struggles to address these issues, USCIS now estimates that it will take three more years—over four years longer than estimated—and an additional $1 billion to automate all benefit types as expected. Until USCIS fully implements ELIS with all the needed improvements, the agency will remain unable to achieve its workload processing, customer service, and national security goals.

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