Congress, the media, and immigrant advocacy groups have criticized the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for its inability to provide immigrants with timely decisions on their applications for such benefits as naturalization and legal permanent residence. INS continues to experience significant problems managing its application workload despite years of increasing budgets and staff. Automation improvements would provide INS with the management information it needs to determine how long aliens have been waiting for their applications to be processed. Automation improvements would also help INS determine whether it is processing all the applications it receives, working on applications in the order in which they are received, and providing prompt and correct responses to applicants' inquiries about the status of their cases. INS does not know how to maximize the deployment of staff to process applications in a timely fashion because it lacks a systematically developed staff resource allocation model. Such a model could help INS determine the right number and types of staff it needs, efficiently distribute staff to the right locations, and ensure that resources are deployed commensurate with the workload to minimize backlogs and processing times. INS could reduce the need to revoke employment authorization documents by providing guidance and training on application screening to its district staff and taking steps to ascertain whether improvements could be made to the application screening process. INS' long-standing problems with its fingerprinting process appear to have been largely corrected. With digital technology now being used by INS to fingerprint aliens and transmit the fingerprints electronically to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, opportunities may exist to store the fingerprints electronically and save the time and expense associated with the refingerprinting process.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|United States Citizenship and Immigration Services||1. The INS Commissioner should ensure that INS develop the capability and begin to calculate and report actual processing times for applications as soon as reliable automated data are available from CLAIMS 3 and CLAIMS 4. This includes naturalization applications processed by service centers and districts and all other applications processed by service centers.|
|United States Citizenship and Immigration Services||2. The INS Commissioner should ensure that INS develop guidance and training for districts on how to screen adjustment of status applications in order to reduce the number of errors made in the initial review process that is used to determine whether individuals whose adjustment of status applications are pending should be granted work authorization.|
|United States Citizenship and Immigration Services||3. The INS Commissioner should ensure that INS periodically review a sample of denied adjustment of status cases processed at service centers and districts to determine how many and what types of cases should not have been granted employment authorization during the screening process. This could provide useful feedback to INS in how it may improve its guidance and training for conducting the initial reviews of adjustment and status applications.|
|United States Citizenship and Immigration Services||4. The INS Commissioner should ensure that INS develop a staffing model for processing naturalization applications and expand the model to include other application types as their processes are reengineered and automated.|
|United States Citizenship and Immigration Services||5. The INS Commissioner should ensure that INS prepare a cost-benefit analysis on the digital storage of fingerprints. As part of this analysis, INS should calculate the time and cost savings that would result from eliminating the need to refingerprint applicants whose fingerprint check results expire. INS should also calculate the costs that INS or the FBI would incur as a result of storing the fingerprints.|