A March 28, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) notice sets out a USCIS plan to implement the first phase of its electronic "Transformation" project with Form I-539, which is used by nonimmigrants to apply for extension of stay, change of status, and student reinstatement.
Public comments are due on or before May 27, 2011. Read NAFSA's comments to this proposal.
According to the March notice, in December, 2011 it will become possible to file Form I-539 electronically, and that eventually USCIS may “eliminate the option of filing on a paper form, and instead require this benefit application to be filed” electronically. USCIS added that it is “very interested in receiving comments concerning mandatory e-filing of this benefit and any future benefits that are added” to the program.
"Transformation" is the name of the DHS initiative to move USCIS immigration services from a paper-based model to an entirely electronic environment. The goal is to develop a Web-based system for individuals to submit and track their applications and petitions, and for USCIS to adjudicate those applications and petitions.Like SEVIS II, the system envisioned by Transformation will be account-based; that is to say, each individual that has contact with the immigration system, including petitioners, beneficiaries, and applicants, would be required to create and maintain a customer account with a unique identification number, before interacting with the system. All immigration benefits over time would be tracked through an individual’s permanent customer account. The March 28, 2011 information collection notice says that the first benefit type USCIS plans to make available is Form I-539:
“Beginning in December 2011, USCIS customers will be able to apply for an extension or change of their nonimmigrant status using the IOE or continue to use the current paper Form I-539 (OMB Control No. 1615-0003). In the future, however, USCIS may allow the current paper Form I-539 to expire, eliminate the option of filing on a paper form, and instead require this benefit application to be filed through the automated IOE. USCIS is very interested in receiving comments concerning mandatory e-filing of this benefit and any future benefits that are added to the automated IOE. USCIS also welcomes comments on which groups, individuals, or businesses for which it would be the most appropriate for USCIS to require (or not require) electronic filing of all benefit requests.”
NAFSA compiled into a single bookmarked PDF file a set of 5 Government documents associated with this information collection, which can assist in formulating a comment:
- The Federal Register notice which explains how the public can comment
- An "I-539 Decision Tree"
- A "Change of Status and Extension of Status Evidence Chart"
- A USCIS Supporting Statement
- A set of "User Interface Design Screen Shots" that illustrates what the proposed system might look like