Immigration can be a complicated, windy, and scary road for prospective citizens, filled with bureaucracy and paperwork that might not be in the same language they are accustomed to speaking. To make the process simpler, a company called Clearpath offers a hand to immigrants who are trying to navigate these new, unfamiliar waters, by making it a digital process.
Clearpath was founded in 2008 by Michael Petrucelli, former head of the United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In an interview with Más Wired, Petrucelli explained the goal of Clearpath is to make the immigration process simpler – similar to how TurboTax streamlined the process of filing taxes. Clearpath is meant to act as an alternative to get through some of the immigration process – by aiding the user in trying to complete a variety of the forms that the U.S. government asks for, such as an application of naturalization, change of address, requests for tax return transcripts, and even freedom of information act forms.
The services are available for citizenship applications, green cards, applications for U.S. visas. Clearpath also provides some information about investing in the U.S. through the EB-5 application.
The CEO of Clearpath, Alan Samuels, explains that Clearpath helps immigrants because: “It is no simple task to navigate the USCIS website, identify the appropriate form, or complete it correctly. Lawyers charge between $4,000 and $10,000 to aid this process. We can provide similar services for a fraction of that cost (typically around $200).”
Samuels differentiates Clearpath from other services online which also provide services to immigrants, such a those that direct users to lawyers, as well as scams which will charge people money for information packets.
Of course, all of this information is available from the government, but Samuels explained that Clearpath is not paper-driven, all of the forms are available online. The user is able to fill them out online, and when the form is completed, able to print it out and mail it to USCIS.
The service also checks for errors in the forms for the user, as well as only asking the relevant questions in regards to immigration. Drop-down forms help users make sure that they enter in the correct information, and hover-over tooltips can allow a user to move their cursor over something they don’t know, and figure out what it is asking. Users can also toggle the language the questions appear in. Clearpath currently supports English and Spanish, but Samuels reports that they will be rolling out additional forms in Korean and Portuguese within a few weeks.
At the moment, Clearpath is unable to help undocumented immigrants.
“Clearpath is able to help anyone eligible for adjusting their U.S. immigration status (e.g. citizenship, legal permanent residence, etc.) and to apply for that status as quickly, simply and affordably as possible. At this time, we cannot help streamline the process for anyone who is not eligible for a legal status,” he said.
At the moment, Clearpath offers a cheaper, and digital, method of filling out some of the piles of paperwork that the U.S. government requires to obtain U.S. citizenship. It is a good idea for consideration for people who may lack the cash and English comprehension skills that other immigrants may have — however, for some, computer access may be difficult to obtain.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect new information. Clearpath allows users to fill out forms online, and then send them in the mail to USCIS.