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Latino Daily News

Wednesday February 23, 2011

Computerization of USCIS Immigration Files Taking Longer Than Expected

Behind schedule and over budget, the plan for the computerization of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ files has clearly not gone according to plan.

According to online records, USCIS has moved the plan’s deadline three times and changed the expected budget just as many times. And Thursday, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas admitted, “We are not on the timetable that was originally devised.” So far, $631.1 million has been spent on the project named Transformation, and an estimated $2.4 billion will be spent in total.

Once complete, Transformation should have USCIS’s documentation online by 2016, with operational costs covering it until 2022.

If the program can remain on track, by this fall, immigrants filing for work permits, visa extensions, and other common applications will be able to set –up online accounts and file their application(s) electronically.

Mayorkas said most of the delay was caused by arguments over which applications should go online first. It was originally planned that citizenship applications would go up first, but in 2009 Mayorkas decided that the initial documents that immigrants need to file at the beginning of the process should go up first.

Further setbacks occurred when Accenture LLP protested that USCIS awarded a major contract to IBM, not them, and since getting the $200 million contract, IBM has had problems with the program’s pilot tests. The pilot for filing adoption paperwork for example, has seen issues, as IBM has failed to meet the government’s website accessibility requirements for the visually impaired.

So while Transformation will ultimately help speed up and organize the application process through USCIS, it still has a long way to go.