REI Insights

Transforming a Monolithic Application into a Microservices Architecture to Improve Service and User Experience
August 12, 2021


The US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adjudicates requests for immigration benefits. The system is mostly paper-based, consisting of multiple forms, requires weeks to reach USCIS offices when submitted, resulting in long waiting periods and little visibility into the status of applications for applicants. The process was also error-prone, leading to many erroneously rejected applications. USCIS wanted to modernize the process and streamline the experience for applicants. Previous modernization efforts were attempted of the adjudication systems and failed because of their “big bang” development style approaches instead of an agile software development technique.


ELIS has become the gold standard for Agile software development and outcome-based delivery in the Federal government. It is a secure, scalable, microservice-based architecture that reduces technical debt and costs, while improving speed-to-market. Our DevSecOps and UX teams delivered system features through an iterative cycle that included platform engineering, user research, prototype design and development, usability, and beta testing. Also, the management of a CI/CD software development pipeline was created and used by more than 200 developers. We improved USCIS’s ability to see data assets across all enterprise services through a single system that provided a much stronger assurance of quality and adjudication consistency. Finally, we created a consistent data model for benefits processed and an enterprise schema for data consumption and reporting.

Citizen Impact

  • Immigrants and asylum seekers experienced reduced wait time, increased transparency, and a simplified process.
  • Reduced mail handling and mailing costs
  • Online engagement provides online access filers instant, direct communication
  • Reduced filing rejections because of mandatory online fields

Agency Impact

  • Autonomous microservices minimized expensive system downtimes
  • Digitized several paper-based benefit types onto a common platform
  • Reduced paper transactions by 55%
  • Standardized UI/UX with a common set of digital tools and processes
  • Reduced workload within immigrant, citizenship, and humanitarian lines of business