In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.
Secretary Napolitano highlighted the Department's progress in 2011, emphasizing the major steps the Department has taken this year to enhance America's capabilities to secure the nation's borders and engage in smart enforcement of our immigration laws.
- In 2011, USCIS held more than 6,000 naturalization ceremonies for approximately 692,000 lawful permanent residents who became U.S. citizens, including more than 10,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- USCIS launched the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL) initiative, a national, multi-agency campaign that spotlights immigration-services scams and the problems that can arise for immigrants when legal advice or representation is given by people who are not attorneys or accredited representatives. UPIL began in seven pilot cities in 2011 and will expand nationwide in 2012.
- USCIS launched a series of policy, operational, and outreach efforts to fuel the nation's economy and stimulate investment by attracting foreign entrepreneurial talent who can create jobs, form startup companies, and invest capital in areas of high unemployment. These efforts include:
- Several enhancements to streamline the Employment Creation Program, commonly known as the EB-5 Program, including conducting a top to bottom review of EB-5 business processes, and hiring economists and business analysts to support EB-5 adjudications;
- Increased efficiencies for companies filing multiple L-1 visa petitions, which enable U.S. employers to transfer executives or managers from an affiliated foreign office to an office in the U.S.;
- Providing information on how H-1B visas, which allow U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, and EB-2 National Interest Waivers, which offer eligibility to certain foreign workers with advanced degrees and/or exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business, may be utilized by foreign-born entrepreneurs; and
- Announcing the Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative to ensure that USCIS policies and practices better reflect business realities of industries that regularly use visa categories for immigrant investors, job-creating entrepreneurs, and workers with specialized skills, knowledge, or abilities.
- USCIS launched the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative to promote awareness of the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship and the free naturalization preparation resources available to permanent residents and immigrant-serving organizations. This multilingual effort is designed to reach nearly 8 million permanent residents eligible to apply for citizenship.
- In September 2011, USCIS awarded $9 million in Citizenship and Integration Grants to 42 organizations to expand citizenship preparation programs for permanent residents across the country.
- USCIS developed its Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) to begin the agency’s transition from a paper-based to an electronic, online organization. USCIS is currently testing the system and will begin its public releases in early 2012. When fully released, ELIS will modernize the way USCIS handles the more than 6 million benefit applications submitted annually.
- Secretary Napolitano announced in 2011 that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals from Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Honduras would be extended for 18 months, allowing eligible nationals from those countries currently residing in the U.S. to apply for an extension of their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). The Secretary also designated the new nation of South Sudan for TPS for 18 months, which permits eligible nationals to obtain EADs.
- To enhance the nation’s economic, scientific and technological competitiveness, Secretary Napolitano announced the launch of the Study in the States initiative, an effort aimed at encouraging the best and the brightest international students from around the world to study in the U.S. by finding new and innovative ways to streamline the international student visa process. As part of the initiative, the Study in the States website will allow DHS and its component agencies to proactively coordinate and disseminate information to prospective and current international students, exchange visitors and their dependents.
- In September 2011, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman launched Ombudsman Case Assistance Online nationwide. Ombudsman Case Assistance Online is a web-based platform that provides direct, paperless submission of requests for assistance and facilitates the same case assistance requests as the paper-based Form DHS-7001, but provides easier, more immediate access to the Ombudsman’s Office.