Monday, August 31, 2015

Can the USCIS speed up processing time with social media?

uscis on twitter | can the uscis speed up processing time with social media
The USCIS shall begin to hold "office hours" on Tuesday, September 1, 2015, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST

He writes...

Tomorrow, September 1, 2015, the USCIS will host its first ever office hours on Twitter from 3:00-4:00 p.m. in an effort to find and implement "new and different ways" to help its customers with questions and updates on the US immigration process.

In addition to its Facebook page and its existing methods of providing case statuses online, via email, and via text messages, holding "office hours" on Twitter is catchy, but one must wonder: how does this speed up the processing of my case?

A simple answer to this ubiquitous question is that filing the right form in a complete and proper manner with all the correct supporting evidence and documents can speed up the process for any applicant. Imagine if during one of your routine morning visits to Starbucks, that everyone in that long line knew exactly how to order their espresso or blended drink, knew Barista-ese and used the exact language and lingo for drinks, even with their exquisite modifiers ("half-caf quad grande sugar-free vanilla non-fat 180 upside-down caramel macchiato"), paid with a Starbucks Card that didn't need reloading, and knew not only what pastry they wanted but also immediately had a backup in case their first choice wasn't available. That 10-minute line then becomes a 3-minute line. But alas, the world isn't this perfect, and even the best-pulled espresso shot couldn't make it so.

This may be a wild example, but it illustrates what kind of results that a set of processes could yield in a defect-free environment. For sake of the above example, "defects" could also relate to variances, or exceptions along the path towards the intended effect. Within the context of the US immigration process, examples of "defects" or exceptions could be the use of the wrong form, the submission of a form that wasn't signed and dated, inconsistencies from form to form, missing supporting documents like marriage certificates or tax forms or police clearances, and even illegibility.

Thus, instead of asking the common question of how can Twitter office hours (and other tools and guides for the immigration process) speed up one's case, I challenge and encourage each applicant, employer, lawyer, legal assistant, petitioner, and agent who participates in the immigration process to ask the question differently with a more impactful mindset: what tools and guides from the USCIS can I optimally use to ensure that I follow the process correctly so that it speeds up case handling for everybody?

As of a little over a year ago when my wife and I went through the immigration process for her spouse visa, the total staff at the National Visa Center (NVC) had not changed for at least seven years, and there were no plans to add to their staff. Even though current metrics to measure case processing is limited to generic processing timetables, it doesn't take advanced business analysis to surmise that processing time delays are the result of defects and variances in the "inputs" of the process (applications), and not necessarily the process stages themselves.

USCIS's presence on social media enables it to provide quick answers to important questions about formal processes that it oversees and manages. Any type of assistance with what for many can be a complicated process is helpful. Tying back to the above Starbucks example, taking advantage of all the tools and guides while using a different mindset and approach to the process can yield amazing results.

It will be interesting to monitor how the USCIS "office hours" on Twitter work out. Apparently, most of the response tweets from USCIS will consist of links to pages on their website, which shall save USCIS customers from expending time and effort to find answers and guides to their questions. 

One of my favorite quotes from legendary UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden reads, "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" Completing immigration forms and providing supporting documents correctly from the onset can speed up the collective processing time as well as that for an individual case. My wife and I shaved off 4 months processing time by submitting what I believed was meticulous form completion and follow up. It comforts me to think that we also shorted the wait time for another couple who wanted to be together as badly as we did.


Related Entries:

CLARIFY your case: Tips on completing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative



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