U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched a virtual assistant named “Emma” on their website on December 2, 2015. It allows customers to quickly find accurate information to frequently asked questions. Emma answers questions in plain English and navigates users to relevant USCIS web pages.
Just in case you’re wondering, Emma is named after Emma Lazarus, whose famous words are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Emma was developed in response to a growing interest in self-help tools and to ease pressure on customer service representatives. USCIS call centers receive many of the same questions concerning general information over and over again and so, by giving people a way to get these answers without tying up customer service representatives, it hopefully will relieve some of the customer service representatives and in doing so provide better service to all.
The USCIS admits that Emma has her limitations. Although Emma can currently answer many questions customers commonly ask, Emma’s knowledge base is still growing and thus is a work in progress. It is hoped that as customers ask more questions, Emma gets smarter and can better assist future customers. But remember, Emma is designed to answer basic questions and not go into the nitty-gritty of someone’s case.
You can try Emma by accessing her on your desktop or laptop computer. The USCIS claims that she will be expanding to mobile devices but, with no date.
It is important to note is that Emma only answers the most basic questions. She is no substitute for an experienced immigration attorney who can provide you with answers to your immigration questions specifically tailored to your needs. No machine can do that.
So, if you have an immigration issue – give Emma a try. It’s free and is a good place to start. But, remember, it’s only a machine. To get the job done you’re going to need a human. And, that’s where we fit in. To schedule an appointment with me and give me a chance to ‘pick up” where Emma leaves you – call my office for an appointment. Our number is 616-233-9300.
Robert Mirque is a Grand Rapids, Michigan lawyer specializing in immigration law. For 23 years, he has been providing creative solutions to the immigration goals of businesses and individuals. I invite you to visit me on Facebook at MirqueLaw or check out my website here.