Despite $1B Investment, the US Has Only Digitized One Immigration Form in 10 Years and It’s Worse Than Geocities

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The $1 billion pumped into the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website hasn’t been enough to make it 2015-ready. In the last decade, USCIS has been working toward making their nearly 100 forms electronic, so that people can apply for visas and green cards online (rather than sending in mountains of paperwork). But despite the massive amounts of money spent on the project, only three forms were ever digitized, and two of those were later taken offline after the software and hardware used for the online system had to be scrapped, according to The Washington Post.

The only form currently available online is the green card renewal/replacement form, and it works unreliably. Roughly 200 individuals have reported waits of more than a year to get their green cards, and others never even got them. USCIS also planned to make the payment of related filing fees possible online, but as of now only one of the 40 types of filing fees is eligible for the electronic payment system.

The digitized project was supposed to be finished by 2013 and come at a $500 million cost, but mismanagement and software issues got in the way. Now, it’s going to take another four years and $3.1 billion for the digital forms to be ready.

Automating immigration services is seen as a key part of overhauling the nation’s immigration system, which processes 8 million applications a year. Deploying a new technological system would enable USCIS to handle any major changes that may come if Congress ~actually~ passes comprehensive immigration reform –including higher volumes of applications.

In the meantime, The Washington Post writes: “Processing immigration applications now often involves shipping paper documents across the country, and delays are legend. A single missing or misplaced form can set back an approval by months.”