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Obama administration calls to digitize and simplify immigration processes

“Currently, the immigration application and adjudication process is mostly paper-based, requiring documents to change hands and locations among various federal…

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The White House yesterday released the following series of guidelines for “Modernizing & Streamlining our Legal Immigration System” as instructed by President Obama last November when he announced a series executive actions on immigration.

The report led by the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security recommends digitizing immigration processes; creating a communications task force to simplify instructions, and adopting best practices to enhance data collection and publication in order to increase transparency.

“Currently, the immigration application and adjudication process is mostly paper-based, requiring documents to change hands and locations among various federal actors at least six times for some petitions,” reads the report.

In order to streamline immigration processes and to address the backlog resulting from statutory caps —which can only be addressed through legislation— the federal agencies recommend:

  • Improve the issuance of employment-based immigrant visa numbers
  • Enhance opportunities and provide greater clarity for certain non-immigrants, including the circumstances under which U.S. employers may sponsor foreign students for green cards.
  • Increase efficiency for international arrivals through enhanced technology and a greater focus on high-risk travelers
  • Increase the minimum investment for immigrant investor visas
  • Implement the “Known Employer Program,” which will allow certain employers who meet strict criteria to pre-establish certain requirements as petitioners, by creating a prototype, publishing a report upon completion of the pilot, and developing an implementation plan for a permanent program

The following recommendations seek to improve the system for individuals seeking humanitarian relief:

  • Allow certain family members of Filipino veterans, who are currently in the family immigration backlogs, to come to the United States so they can care for these aging veterans
  • Simplify systems for domestic violence survivors who seek immigration relief through the VAWA self-petitioner process
  • Implement statutory provisions for victims of crime and trafficking 
  • Provide guidance and consistency for vulnerable populations seeking immigration relief
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