The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published the first in a series of regulations intended to promote the migration of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) benefit filings from a paper-based environment to an electronic one. The agency noted that the regulation "is an important step toward modernizing how USCIS handles the more than 6 million benefit applications submitted annually."
Over the next several years, USCIS plans to roll out an online account system that will enable people to submit benefit requests and supporting documents electronically. The new Web-based system is intended to simplify the process of applying for immigration benefits. It will assign new users a unique account that will enable them to access case status information, respond to USCIS requests for additional information, update certain personal information, and receive decisions and other communications from USCIS.
The new regulation revises more than 50 parts of DHS title 8 regulations. It eliminates references to outdated USCIS benefit request forms and descriptions of paper-based procedures. In addition, the regulation removes numerous obsolete provisions.
The public is invited to comment on this regulation and offer suggestions on further improvements. Comments must be received by October 28, 2011. The new regulation will become effective on November 28, 2011.
The new regulation, which was published in the Federal Register on August 29, 2011, is available here.
The USCIS announcement is available here.