Tens of thousands of immigrants receive the H-1B visa every year, but what is the path of their professional lives? Check out INSZoom’s newest infographic to better understand the Immigration lifecycle for Foreign Student through H1B.
I often read on blogs or websites about the kind of questions individuals with immigration cases under process ask for themselves or for their family members. One question that stands out is ‘What is the status of my case?‘ On hearing this I reminiscent back to the time I started my career as an immigration professional, when our mailboxes and telephone lines would be flooded with these questions. I used to think Why!!! Why can’t we have a simple way of getting this information other than having to call the USCIS and then sending the information to the employee?
Just over a decade ago the Online Case Status Check was introduced by the USCIS, in October 2002. A long time has passed since, and today there is a significant difference in the customer experience while dealing with the USCIS. Today they have multiple online options like Case Status Check, My Case Status, the portal released by USCIS in April 2004 with email and SMS capability and the recent e-Request feature, to inquire or learn about processing of cases.
With the Department of State introducing the Visa Status Check, they seem to be taking a leaf from the experience of the USCIS in improved customer experience, a move I strongly believed was long overdue.
I am excited to be a part of the team at INSZoom, that takes another step, to continue being the forerunner in providing technology solutions by integrating with the Visa Check Status. This cool and intuitive feature will enable checking the status of the DOS Case directly from the INSZoom system. This in addition to the existing USCIS case tracking features. To learn more about this cool new feature feel free to contact our customer service representatives.
By Umesh Vaidyamath
I came to the United States in 1990. I was a dreamer and was lucky to have an H-1B immigration status, unlike Obama’s DREAMers of today.
I was sponsored for my H1-B and then my Green Card by the Fortune 100 company I worked for. I still remember how the company’s HR department had no clue about the seriousness or complexity of the immigration process. For them, it was just another set of paperwork. They empowered me to take care of my own immigration needs. They gave me a budget. I chose my own attorney and, with him, managed my own immigration process. It took me 18 months to get my Green Card.
But oh the times have changed. Today, many HR departments get it. The U.S. government as well as advocacy groups like the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Council of International Professionals (ACIP) have done a tremendous job of educating the industry of the need and the complexity of immigration.
Just as important is the support and advocacy from leaders from companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Dropbox and Microsoft. If you haven’t yet heard of it, take a few moments to learn more about FWD.us. They are an organization started by key leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Reid Hoffman and they want to make immigration reform real.
FWD.us is conducting a “Hackathon” on November 21 and 22, in which DREAMer engineers and product designers and their mentors will code for 24 hours straight at LinkedIn’s headquarters.
I would like to personally congratulate all of the selected DREAMers and wish them the best of luck during the Hackathon and in their future careers and lives. Godspeed to all of you and kudos to Mark Zuckerberg and the entire FWD.us team for this great initiative.
DREAMers selected for DREAMers hackathon
Luis Aguilar, 25, Falls Church, VA
Gerardo Alvarado, 25, Milwaukee, WI
Isabel Bahena, 23, San Leandro, CA
Sarahi Espinoza, 23, East Palo Alto, CA
Roly Fentantes, 25, New York, NY
Erick Garcia, 27, Mesa, AZ
Jay Hu, 23, New York, NY
Henry Lopez, 19, Falls Church, VA
Rocio Lopez, 24, Mountain View, CA
Celso Mireles, 26, Phoenix, AZ
Justino Mora, 24, Los Angeles, CA
Erick Orellana, 20, Patchogue, NY
Edson Sierra, 20, Charlotte, NC
Kent Tam, 24, Los Angeles, CA
Dayana Torres, 19, Fairfax, VA
Edgar Torres, 26, Oceanside, CA
Jorge Torres, 27, Oceanside, CA
Carlos Vargas, 28, New York, NY
New Barcode Updates
INSZoom’s focus on always staying at the leading edge of new technology and engaging with Government agencies as it did with the USCIS on the bar coded forms, recently had a big payoff when the company was invited to participate in a stakeholder conference with USCIS. On November 6, 2013, key INSZoom immigration case management software staff and other stakeholders involved in the immigration process participated in a teleconference with USCIS to discuss issues and concerns about USCIS’ new barcode forms.
In this stakeholder conference, USCIS shared its vision and reasons for moving forward with new barcode technology. These reasons included the agency’s motivation to implement more standardized, efficient and error-free methods that use technology efficaciously. Barcodes are much more effective and accurate than the previous technology (manually entering data or using OCR scans to capture data and transfer to a database system).
Forms Affected by the New Barcode Updates
USCIS also shared future goals. Currently the forms that use the new barcode technology include the following:
- Form I-90
- Form I-824
- Form I-131
- Form G-28
In the near future, Phase Two will introduce barcode technology for the following additional forms:
- Form N-400
- Form I-821
- Form I-765
- Form I-130
- Form I-485
Also in the stakeholder teleconference, USCIS shared key issues they faced when developing the new barcode technology and problems they currently see from applicants:
- Missing data
- Data shifted to other fields when the barcode was scanned
- Damaged barcodes
To address these issues and ensure there is no delay in case processing, USCIS suggested the following:
1. Don’t reuse forms; always create new forms for each case.
2. If the data on a form changes, reprint the complete form and not just a single page.
3. Do not damage the barcode; this may result in inaccurate information being uploaded to USCIS’ systems.
4. Follow a single protocol for completing the form. Either electronically fill out the form or hand write it. Do not mix the two in a single form.
5. In many cases forms from a case management provider are not in sync with the USCIS form. This is not the case with INSZoom’s forms, by the way. We pride ourselves on our technology’s ability to sync with the federal government’s systems!
How USCIS Guidance Will Help Immigration Case Management Software Companies
USCIS plans to share their barcode specifications shortly that will help immigration case management software providers like INSZoom ensure accurate syncing of data from their forms with the USCIS systems.
We at INSZoom applaud USCIS’ efforts to introduce new and robust technology methods such as the new barcode technology. This will result in a significant reduction in erroneous information passing through digital systems. In the long run it will reduce redundancy and increase efficiency, two things that we try to do with all of our technology solutions!
To celebrate the festivities of Diwali, an Indian festival equivalent in fervor and spirit of Christmas, a group of us decided to go into town and have some fun. Conversation topics during the celebration ranged from family and friends to politics and what all expatriates in the U.S. love to discuss – immigration and the pitfalls of the current system.
During this discussion one of the people present (lets call him John) mentioned a call he got from someone who said he was a USCIS officer. This person knew John’s personal information as well as his immigration status.
The “officer” was initially polite and courteous and took additional information from John. But then, the “officer” turned the tables. He referred to a series of inaccuracies and fallacies in John’s immigration documents and records. He then indicated that these could be quickly corrected to ensure that John would not face any problems with the USCIS.
Obviously, John was eager to correct these “errors”. The so-called officer then dropped the bombshell indicating that there would be a hefty charge to have these records updated and corrected. This request set off warning bells. John questioned the officer.
The discussions quickly turned ugly. The “officer” used threats and strong language to attempt to get John to pay the fees.
John made a wise next choice. He asked the “officer” to send him a written notice. If the fee was legitimate, John said he had no problem with paying it.
John, however, was now convinced that this was a scam. After the “officer” hung up, John tried to call back the number, but it was a spoof number.
Since then I have heard numerous similar stories. Some people have even paid these scam artists.
Like all governments, the U.S. government has its fair share of positive and negative aspects. But this country excels in its commitment to be fair and impartial to any individual. People have the right in this country to be heard and clarify their positions before any action is taken. To do this, the U.S. government gives individuals written notices and gives them the opportunity to respond.
If you are ever a recipient of such a call, ask for the officer’s credentials, write down his or her contact number and insist that a written notice be sent to you on the allegations and the course of action available to you to remedy the issue. Never make payments over the phone unless you have initiated the process and there are specific provisions to make phone payments. Remember, the U.S. government never requires any particular payment method; they provide you with multiple payment options, including checks, which provide a complete trace of the transaction.
Last but not least, seek advise from a legal representative or corporate immigration team before acting upon any such request you receive.