The Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, is the form to become a U.S. Citizen. The USCIS receives 84,000 applications every month and naturalizes about 700,000 new U.S. citizens each year.
In 2005, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began transitioning to an online automated program for all 90 immigration benefit form types. In 2016, USCIS began automation for the N-400 Application for Naturalization. However, the transition has not been successful.
According to OIG, “the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) capabilities deployed did not include critical functionality necessary for end-to-end Form N-400 processing. ELIS repeatedly experienced outages and did not always perform as intended. Also, USCIS did not ensure field personnel were adequately trained to use the new system capabilities prior to deployment.”
OIG says that the errors can be attributed to poor program management, which have been prevalent since 2005. Further, backlogs have increased by 60% and processing times have doubled. In addition, Ceremonies for over 10,000 people have been cancelled, and worse, over 200 people became citizens without proper background checks, “posing threats to national security.”
Automated Errors Prevalent in the N-400 Application for Naturalization Process