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DHS Expands USCIS Electronic Immigration System to Eliminate Legacy Paper, Improve Security Checks

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is converting legacy, paper-based processes into the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS), an electronic case management system that allows USCIS to process certain immigration benefit requests.

USCIS oversees lawful visits and immigration to the United States which includes receiving and adjudicating a wide variety of immigration and nonimmigration benefits and requests.

According to a new Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for the USCIS Electronic Immigration System, “USCIS has relied onmanual, paper processes to perform this function. USCIS ELIS is a centralized, web-based system designed to transform USCIS business operations from a ‘transaction-centric’ model to a ‘person-centric’ model using unique customer accounts.”

USCIS is expanding its use of USCIS ELIS over the next several years by expanding the immigration benefit types USCIS ELIS will process in an incremental fashion. As new immigration benefit types are made available in USCIS ELIS, all benefit requests within that immigration benefit type will be processed in USCIS ELIS, including paper and electronic filings.

Originally launched in the spring of 2012, “USCIS is conducting this PIA to describe a new iteration of the existing USCIS ELIS system,” the PIA stated, noting that, “The current USCIS ELIS system, now known as the ‘Legacy USCIS ELIS’ system, is no longer accepting documents and will be decommissioned. The two systems are completely separate, including separate login accounts for customers and employees and a different user interface. However, the new system does follow the same general purpose and data collection process as the previously-used system. Each system accepts different immigration benefit types, which limits the number of customers who have reason to access both systems.”

The primary users of USCIS ELIS are USCIS adjudicators processing benefit requests. But “USCIS ELIS also interfaces with other IT systems that conduct other functions, such as customer service and fraud detection, without subsuming or replacing those functions,” the PIA explained. “Unlike Legacy USCIS ELIS, USCIS ELIS does not attempt to conduct advanced link-analysis for fraud or national security purposes.”

Instead, it interfaces directly with other USCIS systems that are operated specifically for those purposes.

The new completely electronic system will also, “Facilitate criminal and national security background checks.” Information collected includes name, date of birth and country of birth for use by Customs and Border Protection’s [CBP] TECS and USCIS Benefits Biometric Support System (BBSS) in running background checks; physical description (eye color, hair color, height and weight) required by BBSS; mailing address to provide to USCIS National Appointment Scheduling Service (NASS) to schedule an Application Support Center (ASC) appointment for The customer if required for biometric appointment scheduling; and results of criminal and national security background checks from CBP TECS and USCIS BBSS for referral to USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Directorate as needed.

USCIS ELIS information is shared outside of USCIS in a read-only state over the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and may be viewable by the Department of State (DoS) Consolidated Consular Database via Person-Centric Query System. Also, USCIS ELIS feeds data to USCIS BBSS for background checks, and BBSS uses that data as part of the record that is forwarded to the FBI to conduct its criminal and national security checks.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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