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Monday, August 29, 2011 Say Goodbye to Traditional Immigration Processing Forms

In preparation for a long-delayed transition to online processing of immigration applications, the Homeland Security Department has released new rules for describing forms and filing procedures in official policies.

The 43-page federal notice published Monday instructs the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a unit of DHS, to stop typing on documents the traditional numbers and titles for various benefit claims, such as "Application for Naturalization, form N-400." Instead, to accommodate the new computerized Transformation system, USCIS policies and rules will carry more generic phrases, such as "the form designated by USCIS."

The linguistic changes will be necessary once Transformation becomes functional. The program currently is about a decade behind schedule. The new rules take effect shortly after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 28. Agency officials have said the first digitized form, one for visitors requesting extensions to stay in the country, should be ready by the end of the year.

Under Monday's rules, the term "Service," which had been synonymous with USCIS, will now refer, more generally, to DHS immigration services at various agencies, including USCIS, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The definition of 'Service in forthcoming rules "is amended to provide flexibility," the guidelines state.

Going forward, rules will not specify requirements, locations or procedures for processing, but instead convey handling instructions in more ambiguous ways because such provisions are subject to change during Transformation, officials added.


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