Almost every immigrant has a story about their adventure navigating the maze that leads to US citizenship. These tales usually involve a never-ending pile of forms, confusing questions, and thousands of dollars in legal fees. And evolving immigration policy and a complex application process has made applying for US visas, greencards, and citizenship a challenge for not only applicants but also immigration lawyers.
It’s hard to imagine just how much paperwork is involved in immigration. The entire process of capturing, processing, and storing necessary immigration documents is so extensive that an entire industry of immigration technology companies has popped up to face this challenge. And the company I started in my garage in California over 20 years ago, INSZoom, is one of them.
Truly, the story of INSZoom is the story of much of today’s immigration tech sector. We were the first cloud-based immigration software in the market, and since our very first product back in 2000, we’ve tried to remain on the cutting edge of the industry.
But here’s the thing – it’s not easy to stay on top of both technology as well as immigration updates, policy changes and more. Indeed, in 2020, it seems that immigration has been changing almost daily. So how is it possible to keep up with everything?
The answer is simple – work with great people. And that’s exactly what we have at INSZoom.
In this article, I wanted to write about and celebrate one particular team, which is the INSZoom Forms Team, who ensure that our users have the most up-to-date immigration forms in almost real-time if and when there are changes.
But before I share more about our forms team, here’s a bit of immigration software history.
A brief history of immigration “tech” before the cloud
The US government knows its immigration system is a heaving mountain of paperwork, and they’ve invested millions and millions of dollars to try and replace and digitize its antiquated immigration management system. Until the government sorts out how to make its hundreds of immigration forms accessible online, which a recent spending bill is trying to do, foreign nationals, their employers and their lawyers have been left trying to manage the system themselves.
Before immigration software existed, the entire process involved immigration lawyers essentially getting immigration forms from the government shipped to them by mail, making photocopies and keeping stacks of these forms at their office, and then filling them out manually (often with a typewriter) and shipping them back to the appropriate government office. As you can imagine, delays were common and just one missing form could set-back an applicant’s entire immigration process by months.
The first wave of immigration software was centered around digitizing these forms, which was an amazing step up from having thousands of hard copies sitting in an office. But there was one major flaw – these software programs lived on their users’ actual computers, which means they had to be installed with a CD and, perhaps more importantly, could only be updated with new CD versions.
So whenever the US immigration system changed — whether a new form was created or an old form was updated — immigration lawyers couldn’t get these updates on their computers right away. Instead, they would receive quarterly software update CDs that they would install and only then have the most up-to-date forms.
Plus, for law firms who couldn’t quite manage the IT process themselves, they had to hire outside IT firms who would show up just to install these quarterly updates. And so when the government changed a form, law firms would need to wait until the next quarter to get that update and in the meantime request a physical copy of each form in the mail that would need to be copied and distributed.
If this sounds exhausting and inefficient, that’s because it was.
And then INSZoom changed the game.
Bringing cloud-based technology to immigration
INSZoom was the first immigration software in the cloud. Instead of having to get a CD, download software on each of your immigration law firm’s computers, INSZoom, from the start, enabled users to access the platform from the web. And while software as a service (SaaS) is the norm today, this was seen as a bad idea back in 2000 when INSZoom launched. The dot com bubble had just burst, the internet wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it is today, and no one else in the industry was doing this. So naturally the industry was skeptical.
But we forged on.
We understood that immigration law is complicated, intensive and often deeply personal, and we knew that immigration technology had to evolve to help law firms bring those services into the 21st century through better business, reduced costs, and error-free, stress-free immigration.
Personally, I think the biggest and most important thing that INSZoom continues to offer all these years is near-real time access to the most up-to-date immigration forms and applications. USCIS regularly releases new and updated forms that sometimes include small changes and other times involve massive overhauls. For immigration lawyers, manually monitoring these changes and updating forms is almost impossible.
Our Forms team does that work for you. The team works 24/7 to monitor and track updates from USCIS so users never have to worry about using an out-of-date form. Between 24 to 48 hours after a form is officially changed or a new version is available, the Forms team will already have mapped and updated that form with INSZoom.
The Forms team is truly dedicated to improving the immigration process, and some members have been working with INSZoom for many years.
So let’s meet them and celebrate them, shall we?
Celebrating INSZoom’s Forms team!
The INSZoom team is a strong and passionate group of people that drives the company forward and has kept it growing for over 20 years! And what I’m most proud of is the fact that some of the company’s Forms team members have been with INSZoom for many years. Indeed, their passion for the company and the field of immigration is as strong, if not stronger, than it was when they joined years ago!
You might be wondering what keeps someone in the immigration tech industry for decades. The answer is simple: immigration is powerful and emotional, and often creates a positive result in the end. INSZoom team members are part of every immigrant’s journey who in one way or another interacts with our system, and, in a way, our team helps them live out their immigrant dream.
Here’s a story for you.
Years ago, one of our immigration law firm users found out her client was picked up by officials and was facing immediate deportation. When the lawyer found out, she grabbed her laptop, jumped into her car, and drove to meet her client. When she got there, nearly in the nick of time, she met with the client, pulled out her laptop, signed on to INSZoom and filled out the necessary forms to apply for a Stay of Removal. In the end, her quick action and fast access to the appropriate forms she needed actually kept that client from being deported. She told us this story, and it’s exactly situations like this that fuel the INSZoom Forms team’s passion for what they do.
So today I want to celebrate a few members of the Forms team, particulation those who have been with us for a while.
● Sunil Kolkur has been with INSZoom for more than 2 decades. He started as a System Administrator and later became head of IT Infrastructure & Data Security as well as the head of the Forms team. He is a visionary leader who strategically plan & set goals to empower and help his whole team reach deadlines and complete projects. Sunil has contributed much of his skills and knowledge in perfecting the most important and crucial parts of the application which are forms and questionnaires. His continuous presence is what makes the back-end operations a well-oiled machine.
● Sumitha Ravindra, has been with INSZoom for more than 11 years. She spearheads the forms and questionnaires department. She is behind the development of new products which aims to provide robust and effective features for all types of clients. Sumitha acts quickly and is a great influence in resolving occasional application issues. She is equipped to adjust and evolve with the continuous change in the immigration industry. She succeeds with a knack of incorporating empathy into the design and development of products to meet customer needs.
● Dileep Renugopal, has been with INSZoom for more than a decade. He oversees government procedures and how it applies to the case management process. He also builds the forms and questionnaires team and facilitates the process on how to simplify the application to make it easy for end users. His constant support and timely response to user needs ensure that INSZoom can retain customer loyalty.
● Kanika Rathore, a lead with 5+ years of experience at INSZOOM, whose day-to-day mission is to understand customer needs and how she can translate it to scalable and practical solutions. She plays a critical role in being able to make required and immediate changes in the application in a live environment without impacting product availability and performance at any given moment. Her talent in creative design helps INSZoom bring modernized forms and questionnaires to users. She is one of the phenomenal minds behind engineering at INSZOOM forms & questionnaires.
● Saranya Subramanian, is a fresh talent and energetic product engineer who has 3+ years of experience and is part of the forms team. Saranya is an impressive technical developer who translates all ideas, designs, and solutions into codes and applies her final touches to adhere to customer and business needs. She belongs to a pool of young gene of innovative and strategic developers at INSZoom. Her innovative ideas, R&D contributes to the growth and success of the business.
INSZoom’s success is due to dedicated team members like these, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their tireless effort and dedication!
INSZoom has been committed to being at the forefront of immigration technology since its inception, and a key element of that has been the Forms team. We love to look ahead to what’s next, but it’s important to also look back on where the company came from and who makes it what it is.
Want to learn more about how INSZoom can improve and secure the immigration process for immigration law firms, companies, and foreign nationals? Check out our new and improved website or connect with your existing INSZoom rep!