The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is bringing many of its services to Honolulu online, starting Monday, and is encouraging applicants to take advantage of them, potentially saving time and money from making a trip to the field office at Waterfront Plaza.
The online services are part of the USCIS’s “Information Services Modernization Program,” which started as a pilot last March, and is expected to be available at all remaining field offices by the end of fiscal year 2019.
“The agency hopes this new system will help people ‘skip the trip’ and they will only have to come in for urgent situations,” said the USCIS in a news release. “An additional benefit is that this system ultimately gives USCIS field officers greater capacity to complete their cases more quickly.”
The new program, however, ends the self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments and encourages applicants instead to use USCIS online information resources to view general how-to information. The Honolulu field office at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 2-400, said on its website that it is not accepting walk-in requests or scheduling InfoPass appointments.
Recent improvements to online tools allow applicants to check on their case status and other information without having to visit a local field office, according to USCIS.
The USCIS Contact Center, for instance, allows applicants to check on the status of a pending application and case processing times, report a change of address, and file various forms online after creating an account. Emma, an online virtual assistant, answers questions about immigration benefits and is available in English and Spanish.
“Expanding this program is a significant step in our efforts to move more USCIS services and information online,” said USCIS Director Francis Cissna in the news release. “It also frees up agency staff to spend more time adjudicating benefit requests which should help reduce case processing times. USCIS remains committed to pursuing the most effective and efficient ways to administer our nation’s lawful immigration system.”
The USCIS said at its pilot field offices, the modernization program has reduced the average wait time for an appointment from 11 to five days. Additionally, when individuals needed in-person assistance, the USCIS Contact Center has been able to schedule it for them.
The USCIS’s website is uscis.gov. The USCIS is also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as @uscis. Representatives are available for live assistance at 800-375-5283 during working hours.