David Blair has been steadfastly working to ensure the security AND integrity of the nation’s immigration system by allowing those who need any type of immigration service to get it efficiently, quickly, and securely. At U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Blair is in charge of the agency’s digital modernization program, where he is decreasing processing times, moving the agency away from paper, and meeting operational needs while achieving operational efficiencies.
He’s been leading the development of the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS), the end-to-end electronic system through which people seeking immigration services – from passports to green cards – are processed. The idea was to create one record for an individual that holds as much information as possible whether that data is from USCIS only or from other agencies. ELIS has been a game-changer for both USCIS employees and the public. ELIS now burns through applications so fast: the I-130 petition for a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to help a noncitizen relative obtain a green card used to take up to 5 months, but now takes 5 seconds. The I-90 process to renew or replace a green card has dropped from more than 120 days to fewer than 28. But increasing the speed of processing is just one piece – ELIS also shares information with the Department of State, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and even the FBI. This cross-collaboration – taking place in seconds – is exactly what the 9/11 Commission report called for, and David Blair is making it happen in an information-sharing model applicable across government.