Document management system helps break immigration logjam

At the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, 2,000 to 3,000 people per day seek visas to enter the U.S. Each applicant is interviewed and photographed, creating thousands of individual documents every day. Because of the complexity of U.S. laws concerning visas, hundreds of applications are rejected on a daily basis, requiring visitors and immigrants to reapply.

Until recently, color identification photos were attached to the applications and the information entered into a master computer database. The original handwritten paper forms and photos were bundled into small packets and stored in filing cabinets.

The result was a paper and photo logjam that was a huge waste of time and resources, not only for embassy staff, but also for the persons seeking visas. With staff shuffling manually through cluttered file cabinet drawers, each photo and paper application took from 10 to 20 minutes to locate, and this was time spent before actual processing activities.

The embassy got help from an independent reseller for both Ascent Capture software from Kofax of Irvine, Calif., and scanners from Eastman Kodak Co. The reseller designed a system that included a high-speed Kodak 3590c color scanner, an Ascent Capture scan station, two Ascent indexing stations, a CD library and an IMR Alchemy back-end database.

Using network workflow, the two-sided handwritten applications with color photos are scanned and moved into the Ascent workflow, according to a Kofax spokesman. At an Ascent workstation, the applicant's name, ID number and the date are sent via the Kofax-developed release script for Alchemy. The script integrates Ascent seamlessly with the Alchemy build, search and retrieve software.

Searching by name, date or ID number, embassy officials can quickly pull up each document and view the original handwritten application in seconds as opposed to minutes or hours.

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