By Allison Posner
On November 6, 2013, USCIS held a stakeholder engagement on its new 2D barcode technology. The new technology is part of the agency’s Forms Improvement Initiative, intended to enhance the agency’s ability to conduct intake at the lockboxes quickly and accurately.
Barcodes will be added initially to the most high-volume forms: I-90, G-28, and I-131. The agency plans to add the barcodes to additional forms as they come up for revision. The next form to be barcoded will be the N-400, followed by the I-821, I-765, I-130, and I-485.
Data typed into the forms will be readable in a barcode at the bottom of each page. USCIS will scan the barcodes and upload the data directly to its system.
Applicants may change or delete information from a partially completed form; the barcode will change to reflect the changes. Further, applicants may change information on one page of the form after it has been completed and printed out. There is no need to re-do the entire form. The barcodes are page-specific.
USCIS is looking into technical issues that have arisen through use of the barcoded forms, including problems from damaging or attaching anything to the form; fields left blank causing data to shift; and handwritten information not able to be captured. The system will automatically check the first three fields on each form; if the information there does not look accurate, the form data will be entered into the system manually. The agency has put together a working group to address issues as they come up.
The agency confirmed that where a submitted Form G-28 is incomplete or otherwise contains errors, officers are instructed to place the form in the A-file, but not to honor it. It is important to note that currently, USCIS does not contact the attorney or applicant to let them know that the form is incomplete and not being honored. The agency is looking into options for letting the applicant know.
At this time, the agency is encouraging applicants to use the fillable forms on its website, though use of the barcoded forms is not yet required. Applicants should not, however, provide both typed information and handwritten information on one application.
USCIS will consider further stakeholder engagements on this issue, as well as additional information, such as FAQs on the website.
USCIS has posted the 2D barcode requirements and specifications for third-party vendors’ use to accurately reproduce the barcode. That page will be updated as additional forms containing the 2D barcode are published.