Modernizing The Immigration Visa System

United States VisaIn 2014, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum on Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century. It called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DoS) to streamline and improve the legal immigration system.  Specifically, it spells out the need to :

Modernize the information technology infrastructure underlying the visa processing system with the goal to reduce redundant systems, improve the experience of applicants, and enable better oversight.

As part of our ongoing support of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), TeraThink was engaged to implement a digital solution to automate USCIS’ implementation. The solution required integration not only with USCIS’ own internal modernization program, but also that of other Federal agencies. We took an API first approach, using MuleSoft to orchestrate all the interactions between the different players. The end result was a successful launch and the creation of a new content services foundation for USCIS.

Design Principles

When we started, it quickly became obvious that we needed to focus our efforts around four key requirement areas.

  • Fast and reliable data sharing between organizations.
  • Effective management and tracking of complex business processes.
  • Creating content service APIs to serve as the basis for a new, electronic, immigration record.
  • Secure and quick resolution of any classified data spillage in the USCIS public cloud.

This was accomplished through close coordination of development efforts between other teams across three other Federal organizations. Today our Immigrant Visa Content Services (IVCS) platform provides a variety of capabilities to a wide array of internal and external consumers.

USCIS IVCS Microservice Conceptual Design

From Minimally Viable To Full-Featured Product

Our initial deployment did not have a user interface. The platform, as designed, consisted of MuleSoft orchestrating all the business logic and data transfer. IVCS consumes visa application packages and places them in USCIS’ content management platform. Content is then transformed and processed through to the other internal USCIS systems necessary to complete the immigrant visa process.

To make the records available, we defined APIs to allow systems to consume the records on demand. After our initial success, we began to expand the platform to support other features.

  • Text Analytics: With the content centrally located, USCIS can analyze the content to look for patterns and anomalies. USCIS can now perform fraud analysis directly from within the platform.
  • Transformation: Once used, the visa application is the foundation of new immigrant records. The ability to implement an immigrant’s record as fully digital starting on day one is now possible.
  • Records Management: These records are important functionally for USCIS, as well as historically as the decades tick by. Managing records digitally for 100 years requires thinking about digital preservation and how to protect and deliver the records as needed.
  • Encryption: The ability to not only encrypt content, but to perform encrypted deletion by deleting the encryption key adds additional layer of security as USCIS seeks to protect immigrant’s information in the cloud.

These are just some of the features that we have been able to add to the platform since we launched. We have been adding these, and other, features to meet the needs of other groups within USCIS. Most importantly, we have been expanding the capabilities without impacting the original purpose of the platform.

Continued Innovation

The IVCS roadmap continues to evolve. TeraThink is continuing to work with USCIS to help translate their needs into real capabilities. In addition, we are leveraging our years of experience at USCIS to help them think of how they can leverage the platform to facilitate their digital transformation efforts. Content services facilitate expanding capabilities. Many applications require flavors of existing capabilities and be using MuleSoft to assemble the needed recipe for each client API, we can quickly meet the needs of each new request.

If you want to know more, you can come see us this week at the 2018 Mulesoft Summit in Washington, DC. I will be there along with our lead architect, Mitch Spector. We’ll be going into deeper technical details about how we were able to use MuleSoft to built our content services and orchestrate success. Come by, listen, and then chat. We’ll be happy to answer any questions.

See you then!