Michael Aytes, USCIS Acting Deputy Director, responded to CIS Ombudsman’s recommendations for implementing electronic payment methods. Basically, USCIS agrees with what were suggested. We recently discussed this topic and are glad to see that some form of online payment may be on the way.
This is shaping up to be a huge project and major overhaul of USCIS’ filing system. In November, 2008, USCIS awarded IBM a contract worth $14.5 million, with options up to $491.1 million over five years, to transform the agency to a “new centralized and consolidated electronic environment.” Let’s hope it will be a success, or at least, not as bad as the labor certification consolidation project (anyone remembers BEC?) that the Department of Labor pulled together a few years ago.
USCIS plans to have an online “shopping cart” approach to filing immigration applications and petitions included in the USCIS Transformation Initiative that is currently underway. Although not described as a “shopping cart” under the IBM Solution contract, customers will get immediate feedback to resolve shortfalls in their benefit requests and find alternative benefits for which they may be eligible. This functionality is described by IBM as a filing “wizard.” The solution will also support e-payments and e-filing of applications and supporting documentation. USCIS anticipates these options becoming available to customers in later 2012 as apart of the transformation initiative.