Overview: USCIS FYs 2023-2026 Strategic Plan

The USCIS has released its strategic plan for the next three fiscal years, covering 2023 through 2026. This plan identifies the priorities of the USCIS over the next few years as well as how they plan to achieve these goals. 

Below, we have summarized the main highlights of the strategic plan and what changes and improvements we can expect from USCIS over the next three fiscal years.

USCIS Progress Report on FY 2022 Goals

The USCIS had the following goals for FY 2022:

  • Strengthen USCIS Fiscal Health and Management
  • Increase Hiring and Improve Employee Morale
  • Promote Efficiency in USCIS Adjudications
  • Deliver on their Humanitarian Mission
  • Strengthen Public Engagement and Improve Customer Service

The accomplishments of these priorities were as follows:

  • The US welcomed more than 1 million new US citizens.
  • A virtual naturalization process was developed and implemented for active-duty members of the US military stationed overseas.
  • The US met a growing humanitarian need for those seeking protection or assistance from oppression or violence in other countries, including refugees from Afghanistan.
  • Over 82,000 Ukrainians and immediate family members were paroled into the US under the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) process.
  • $20 million in grants were awarded to 66 organizations in 35 US states to help lawful permanent residents prepare for naturalization.
  • 87 national engagements were hosted to increase participation and feedback on proposed final rules.
  • Responded to over 179,577 inquiries from Congress, which was an increase of 150% compared to previous annual averages.

USCIS Strategic Goals for FYs 2023-2026

Here are the outlined strategic goals by USCIS that they hope to accomplish in FYs 2023 through 2026:

  • Goal 1: Strengthen the US legal immigration system including policies, regulations, processes, and communications.
  • Goal 2: Invest in workforce in order to recruit, train, and retain a workforce that drives high-quality organizational performance.
  • Goal 3: Promote effective and efficient management and stewardship to enhance organizational capability, sharing of resources, and to evaluate and balance competing demands to serve the agency’s mission.

Below, we will take a deeper dive into each goal and what the USCIS plans to do in order to accomplish these goals. 

Goal 1: Strengthen the US Legal Immigration System

There are a few key ways that the USCIS plans to strengthen the US legal immigration system. The USCIS aims to reduce wait times for decisions on applications and petitions, increase its capacity to process humanitarian missions, reduce barriers to the legal immigration system, and enhance its ability to identify threats to national security and detect fraud.

Access to the Legal Immigration System

One way the USCIS plans to strengthen the US legal immigration system is through breaking down barriers and increasing access for immigration. They plan to achieve this with the following:

  • Review current policy documents and regulations to identify and remove any barriers for immigrants.
  • Issue new policies and regulations to strengthen both family and employment-based immigration categories.
  • Issue new policies and regulations to strengthen asylum and refugees systems for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and other serious crimes, as well as effectively and quickly address urgent humanitarian issues and needs.
  • Review regulations and policies to make sure that they are not impacting their operational efficiency and innovation in a negative way in terms of intake, processing and adjudications. 
  • Make all policy and regulation documentation clear and easy to digest. 
  • Conduct a review of all forms related to immigration benefits to ensure that they are simplified and easily accessible for all. This includes expanding the e-filing of forms. 
  • Enhance customer service by reducing call wait times, ensuring appointment availability, and implementing a text feature for call-back notifications for better communication.
  • Develop a secure online center for applicants to interact with the USCIS regarding their case, as well as receive electronic case status notifications, respond to Requests for Evidence, filing online, and more.
  • Develop the E-Verify “Next Generation”, which will integrate the E-Verify and Form I-9 experiences and streamline the verification process for employment verification.

Fair, Efficient, and Humane Adjudication

  • Increase USCIS staff numbers to meet the current and growing workload of cases and improve processing times.
  • Use more technology to reduce backlog and be more efficient when working through cases.
  • The implementation of video conferencing or interviews to modernize communications.
  • Continue to protect asylum seekers and refugees through Temporary Protected Status, T and U visas, the Violence Against Women Act, deferred action, and parole.

Naturalization Promotion, Partnership Building, and Process Improvement

  • Promoting naturalization more to those who are eligible.
  • Enhance public engagement to ensure that those who are affected by policy enactments have the chance to voice their opinions and concerns. 
  • Improve the naturalization process for active-duty military members who are currently deployed overseas. 

Security and Integrity in the Legal Immigration System

  • Improve process for detecting fraud and national security risks within the immigration system.
  • Develop a risk analysis model to evaluate trends in fraudulent applications and petitions.
  • Redesign USCIS immigration documents, secure forms, and naturalization certificates to mitigate counterfeit risks.

Goal 2: Invest in USCIS Workforce

A high-performing organization will depend upon the strength of its workforce. The USCIS is working to hire, attract, and retrain skilled and motivated individuals to drive forward their growth and efficiency. 

Attract, Recruit, Train, and Retain Employees

  • Implement a USCIS Strategic Hiring Plan to improve the recruitment process.
  • Reengineer and modernize training curriculums with clear career pathways.
  • Improve technologies and processes to better retain employees.
  • Ensure Equal Employment Opportunities for current and future employees. 

Future of Work

  • Implement permanent offerings for expanded remote work, telework, and alternative work schedule options.
  • Mitigate threats to employees through proactive safety, security, threat, risk management, and preparedness and resilience programs.

Leadership and Employee Empowerment

  • Develop employee engagement strategy using FEVS results to drive action planning.
  • Create space and tools for managers to empower employees and promote diversity of perspectives.
  • Develop a formal approach to employee engagement to involve employees in process improvements.

Culture of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

  • Implement DEIA Strategic Plan and analysis framework to improve agency’s DEIA maturity.
  • Advance DEIA accountability and decision making through a data-driven approach.
  • Promote Alternative Dispute Resolution and train supervisors and employees in conflict management.
  • Create a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible workplace where all employees feel valued and respected.
  • Invest in expanding infrastructure supporting EEO and DEIA initiatives.
  • Enhance and expand organizational capabilities in EEO and DEIA through new senior leadership and specialized staffing positions.
  • Realize the ability to leverage diversity and ensure equal opportunity and inclusion in the workplace.

Goal 3: Promote Effective and Efficient Management and Stewardship

This goal hopes to maximize the agency’s utilization, administration, and dissemination of resources while also determining the best way to allocate these resources in order to meet the organization’s objectives and priorities. Ways in which they plan to do this include:

  • Strategically manage and allocate resources to achieve goals.
  • Streamline workflow and allocate resources effectively.
  • Utilize and communicate data effectively to drive decision making.
  • Offer exceptional customer service and experience.
  • Continuously strive for service and product improvement.

Financial Management

  • Implement multi-year budget planning aligned with strategic and operational goals.
  • Prioritize spending over several years and ensure solvency.
  • Ensure planned spending is within estimated resources.
  • Ensure accurate and reliable multi-year budgets aligned to strategic goals and operational priorities.

Human Resources Capacity and Processes

  • Enhance recruitment and hiring Strategies, customized based on data.
  • Provide customized advice and guidance to hiring managers.
  • Streamlined personnel security vetting.
  • Reduced time to onboard new hires.
  • Allow security clearance determinations to be carried between job positions with the same security level.

Quality Data and IT System Management

  • Modernize IT infrastructure: scalable, secure, and high-availability technical infrastructure through cloud hosting and improved network performance.
  • Supports end-to-end electronic processing and caseload reduction.
  • Increased capacity to process form digitization and retrieval and conduct video interviews.
  • Available, fast, and secure IT infrastructure for efficient delivery of immigration services and products.
  • Develop and implement data standards to increase accuracy and consistency of data shared between electronic case management systems, intake processes, and other government systems.
  • Improved ease of data sharing among government partners.
  • New data protection strategy to identify sensitive data elements requiring protection.
  • Enhances authentication, authorization, confidentiality, integrity, and auditing of all USCIS data.
  • Focus on user experience and incorporate employee input.
  • Increased employee engagement, increased use of public-facing tools, and maturation of best practices.
  • Develop an enterprise-wide framework for digitization of paper-based documents.
  • Faster, safer, and more reliable delivery of information for case processing.
  • Expand system capabilities for more accurate and efficient access to person-centric biographic and biometric data.
  • Improved initial application review, faster and higher quality adjudication decisions, and customer experience.
  • Investment in Zero Trust enterprise cybersecurity program.
  • Compliance with federal cybersecurity laws and policies.
  • Ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cybersecurity incidents.
  • Advance capacity to comply with federal requirements for protection of privacy and civil liberties.
  • Process to identify and evaluate trends in violations.
  • Improved communications to promote employee awareness of measures to protect personal and sensitive data.

Program Performance Evaluation and Evidence Building

  • Establish high-quality program evaluation and data analytics capability.
  • Focus on assessing operational and strategic effectiveness.
  • Support evidence-based decision making.
  • Provide information for policy, budgetary, operational, and management decisions.
  • Develop a robust system of frameworks, methods, and tools for monitoring program performance.
  • Conduct program evaluations and build evidence through analysis, evaluation, and experimentation.

In Conclusion

Overall, it appears the USCIS is planning on a multitude of changes that will make immigration processes easier, faster and more accessible. They are also focused on ensuring that they are diligently building up their workforce and creating a work environment that helps retain employees. 

All of their listed goals for FYs 2023-2026 are a roadmap to improving their processes and services, which will in turn benefit those who are looking for immigration benefits in the US. To read the full strategy plan, click here. Check back for updates on these goals as they are achieved in the near future.