Website rebuild at US Citizenship and Immigration Services results in conspicuous transparency

Tuesday - 9/22/2009, 12:23pm EDT

Alejandro Mayorkas

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has rebuilt its website in an extreme online makeover to streamline business at the agency. Text messaging, e-mail and cell-phone tools have been added in the hopes that wait times can be cut.

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Hold your calls: The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has launched a rebuilt website as part of an effort to "leverage cutting-edge technology to reduce the unnecessary paperwork, backlogs, and the lack of transparency that's caused so many people so much heartache."

The President, in late June, announced a new and improved USCIS website designed with the user in mind. The goal, he said, was to "save them huge amounts of time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on hold."

Alejandro Mayorkas, the new Director for USCIS, told FederalNewsRadio the website does all that and more. He says it also "accomplishes some of the agency's broader goals of greater efficiency, greater customer services and greater transparency" along the way.

For example, he pointed to a page called My Case Status, which he says "enables an applicant to learn of the status of their particular case and where that status falls in the general... application procedure, so it's quite innovative."

One of the beauties of this web redesign is when a customer goes on the My Case Status page and learns of where they stand in the process, they are also able to view what steps lie ahead of them and what our anticipated processing times are for each of those steps.

And instead of hitting refresh on their browser, the applicants can request notifications via cell phone, text message or e-mail.

"Our current workers and existing resources are dedicated to updating the information regularly. We're on a real-time basis," says Mayorkas.

While USCIS is hoping the redesign draws more traffic to the website, the Director points out that they think it will, in turn, cut down on "the numbers that we get through other means."

But for those without computer skills or access "we still have our traditional means of providing information. We have a call in center. We have in-person visits. We've really gone out and broadened our reach in the community to make those as accessible as possible."

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On the Web:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services - uscis.gov

US Citizenship and Immigration Services - My Case Status dashboard

White House - Working Together for Immigration Reform blog

DHS - Secretary Napolitano and USCIS Director Mayorkas Launch Redesigned USCIS Website (press release)

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