Over $1 billion has been spent by the US Government in an attempt to replace its outdated, paperwork-intensive method of immigration management with digitization, in order to allow for applications to be made online via a full repertoire of almost 100 electronic forms; however, after ten years of effort, only one form is currently available, as well as one payable electronic fee. Paper is still the only way to file the other 94 forms.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services is in charge of the program, which was originally supposed to have been completed two years ago, back in 2013, for the cost of half a billion US dollars. However, the cost has now ballooned up to $3.1 billion and is not expected to be completed until another four years from now, in 2019.
The delay has put in jeopardy attempts to overhaul the immigration policies of the US, detecting threats to national security, and dealing with immigrants who have already put in their applications for citizenship, according to interviews and documents obtained from current and former officials in the federal government.
“You’re going on 11 years into this project, they only have one form, and we’re still a paper-based agency,” notes the former president of the immigration agency’s employee union, Kenneth Palinkas. “It’s a huge albatross around our necks.”
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security admit that there have been setbacks but insist the immigration service is now well on track to full automation.