I suspect that most of you use the USCIS website. After all, it gets about 30 million page views a month.
But did you know that the USCIS has a newsletter, a blog, YouTube videos, and numerous RSS feeds?
If not, apparently you are not alone.
Take their three excellent E-Verify videos, all uploaded to YouTube eight months ago. None of them have even 2,500 views. Yikes! Lady Gaga gets more views in eight minutes than USCIS does in eight months. Sad. HR professionals need to watch these E-Verify videos.
All in all, USCIS has 25 videos dealing with such subjects as citizenship, E-Verify, how to use their website and Haitian TPS.
USCIS also has a Twitter page. A lot of the tweets contain useful information. Most of the tweets link to the USCIS website or to other USCIS social media sites. The Twitter page has over 7,000 followers, but should have many more.
Then there is The Beacon, "the official blog of the USCIS". The Beacon went online at the beginning of 2010. A lot of their recent blog posts are about how to become a U.S. citizen. Others deal with subjects as diverse as I-9s and EB-5 investors. A lot of useful material.
The USCIS also has a wide variety of useful free RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds for you to subscribe to on each of the following topics:
1) Applications for Immigration Benefits and Naturalization Monthly Statistical Reports
2) E-Verify News
3) Forms Updates
4) Haitian Earthquake News Updates
5) News RSS Feed
6) Temporary Protected Status News Updates
7) U Visa - Victim of Crime
8) Federal Register Announcements
9) E-Verify - What's New? (Seems similar to #2 above, no?)
And finally, there is "Straight From the Source", USCIS' monthly e-mail newsletter. I am a subscriber to this newsletter, and I find a lot of helpful materials here that are available nowhere else.
So given the wealth of information published by the USCIS, I find it very disappointing that so few people know about the agency's social media efforts.
Back in the dark days before the Internet, when I worked for the INS, I started a program where INS Citizenship Attorneys volunteered to speak at Adult Citizenship classes in the evening. The day that I was promoted to Trial Attorney, this program evaporated without a trace. Now, however, the USCIS seems to be doing everything it can to educate the public about how to apply for immigration benefits.
However, the question remains, why don't more immigrants and their lawyers, employers and relatives sign up for these free services? Lack of interest? Don't know how to use the Internet?
I think it is something else.
As noted above, the USCIS website is phenomenally popular and should serve as a great launching pad for a newsletter and social media pages. So I tried a little experiment. I typed "Straight from the Source" into the site's search engine. The result: "O results for 'Straight from the Source'". So I took a different tack. I looked for "Straight from the Source" in USCIS' Site Map. Again, no listing. Hmm...very strange.
Finally, in desperation, I googled "Straight from the Source" followed by the word "immigration". The first three listings were back issues on the newsletter on the AILA website, then a copy on the NAFSA website, but nowhere did I see uscis.gov. Was this some kind of bizarre oversight on USCIS' part?
To find out, I returned to USCIS' Twitter page. Near the top of the page are the words: "Official Twitter channel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. See our Twitter policy at www.uscis.gov/socialmedia" So, I typed in this URL on my brower. Up popped the USCIS website with the following message: "404 - Requested Page Not Found on Site".
My conclusion is that the reason immigrants and their employers are unaware of the information contained in the USCIS newsletter and social media sites is that the agency does not highlight these activities on its website.
USCIS.gov highlights 11 topics near the top of its website, and a couple of dozen more at the bottom of each page. On our website, we emphasize the fact that we have a newsletter and various social media pages. If USCIS truly cares about its "customers", it should do the same.
Director Mayorkas, are you listening?