“Emma” launches assist with USCIS self-help tools

USCISUnited States Citizenship and Immigration Services is continuing its focus on the development of self-help tools with the launch of “Emma,’ a virtual assistant now available on the USCIS home page. Emma, which will grow over time, is designed to enhance customer service.

Specifically geared to handle general information, Emma streamlines information channels away from USCIS call centers that “currently receive many questions concerning general information requests that can be provided through the Web,” according to a USCIS release on the development.

Additionally, Emma’s knowledge base grows as customers ask more questions, which prompts Emma to get smarter and “better assist future customers.” According to the release, part of this better assistance will be the expansion to mobile devices. At launch, Emma was available to desktop and laptop users.

Currently, Emma offers only English-language interaction, which is offered without jargon or technical terms. The Spanish-language counterpart will arrive on the scene early next year.

Emma is named for Emma Lazarus, the poet whose words are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty base.

The USCIS focus on self-help tools correlates to growing consumer interest in easy access to Web-based information. Another approach in this effort was the introduction of Twitter Office Hours, and initiative launched in September. Twitter Office Hours are scheduled for the second Tuesday of every month. The initiative happens the second Tuesday of every month. USCIS hosted its fourth event on December 7.

Twitter Office Hours is described as a “pilot program” in information about the December event. In an August release that announced the program, USCIS described the purpose of the Twitter Office Hours as a way to help as many customers as possible. In doing so, USCIS clearly states the purpose of the program was to help customers who need help in navigating immigration and visa programs.

“We’re always working on new and different ways to help you,” the release said.