By Anu Kumar
October 23, 2014
Caption : FileRight, a company based in Silicon Valley, are meeting with officials from the Obama administration about using an online system in order to make filling out immigration forms less of a hassle.     

FileRight, a company based in Silicon Valley, is meeting with officials from the Obama administration about using their online start-up to make filling out immigration forms less of a hassle.

The platform would resemble products like TurboTax. The company said they are not lobbying for immigration reform, but are simply interested in helping the government find an alternative route from its current problematic paper-based system.

After hiring lobbyists in January, executives from the company have had meetings with the White House, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and congressional offices among both Democrats and Republicans.  

While the future of the nation’s immigration system is uncertain at the moment, the executives at FileRight are encouraging the government to be prepared for new applicants in order to avoid a backlog of applications. The USCIS already receives millions of immigration application paperwork each year. If the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States were granted the opportunity to apply for citizenship through immigration reform, or President Obama’s pending executive order, the number of applications would increase drastically. 

FileRight’s founder, Cesare Alessandrini, said that the online system could potentially fill this gap and help ease the influx of applications. 

The USCIS currently allows individuals and attorneys filling out paperwork on behalf of immigrants to fill out some forms online, but the system still predominantly functions through paper applications. The FileRight system would allow users to fill out forms online, and then print and manually mail in the applications. The system also alerts applicants to any errors or areas that might require the help of an attorney.

Currently, FileRight does not offer legal support, but the company’s chief strategy officer, Casey Berman, said that they aim to include a feature that would direct users to non-profits and advocacy groups that would offer appropriate legal guidance. 

FileRight’s lobbying efforts currently appear to be effective, but the system is still far away from being implemented. The USCIS is unlikely to switch over without careful consideration and, as many have remarked, the government is not known for its swift adaptation of new technology.

While an online platform would not change the entire system of immigration in the United States, it certainly might help in combating the issues of backlog in the system. Additionally, with an ever-increasing number of immigrant Millennials looking to make a permanent home in the United States, an online platform might give this tech-savvy generation an additional door to documentation.

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