There has been outrage and controversy surrounding “Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration,” a game application or “app” for the iPhone and iPad, scheduled for release in March 2011, as published in The New York Times article on February 7, 2011. The app allows users to drive an image of a truck full of immigrants across the U.S./Mexican border, while attempting to keep the people from falling off the truck as they encounter numerous obstacles along the way. Regardless of how one views the Smuggle Truck app, it sheds light on the expanding wingspan of mobile applications and how controversial news themes are manifesting in the latest technological trends.
The increasing popularity of smart phones and tablets, in the new “mobile era,” has taken the world by storm — a storm as transformative as the one that brought about the advent of laptop computers, which are now a ubiquitous household item. We continue to grow increasingly dependent on mobile devices for up-to-the-minute information, constant access to email, GPS, and social networking, literally at our fingertips. With escalating mobile broadband speeds, 3G, 4G and WiFi connectivity, more sophisticated and creative applications or “apps” are popping up every day, and apps have become a global phenomenon and a multi-billion dollar industry. By the end of 2011, an estimated one billion people around the world will be connected to the mobile web and 50% of all Americans will own a smart phone. Recent statistics show Android and iPhone users spend 79-80 minutes per day using apps. You can now organize your life, deposit a check, learn a new language, read a book, watch Netflix movies, file your taxes, video chat, play a game, pay your bills, and even prepare to become a U.S. citizen, all at the touch of a screen on your phone. It was only a matter of time before U.S. immigration themed mobile apps began to appear for these devices, especially with the global growth of the “mobile era.”
The iTunes App Store and the Android Marketplace features several U.S. immigration-related applications. Many of these apps can be useful for those attempting to navigate the complex field of U.S. immigration. Below is a small sampling of the apps that are currently available, many of which are free:
- U.S. Citizenship – Civics Test Apps – There are many different Civics Test apps available for iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Android, which can help U.S. naturalization applicants prepare for the civics test at their interviews by providing flash cards covering all of the tested questions and showing the acceptable answers. Some of these apps are available through the App Store and Android Marketplace for free (including “USCIS Immigration Test Prep” for Android) but others range up to $4.99 in price.
(Below, from left to right: U.S. Citizenship Test – $4.99, available on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad; Naturalization Test – $0.99, available on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad).
- VisaProcs – an app that provides the most recent visa bulletin and current processing times for petitions and applications submitted to the USCIS. This information is available through the USCIS website but this app, available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad ($1.99), makes the information easily accessible in just a touch of the screen in a more user-friendly format (see below).
- Know Your Rights – while not specifically an immigration app, this useful tool has an entire section dedicated to “Non-citizens” as well as “Rights at Airports and Other Ports of Entry into the United States.” Available for iPad, iPod Touch and iPad free through the iTunes App Store (see below).
- BorderTimes – a useful app designed to provide land border wait times between Canada and the United States. Like VisaProcs (above), the information is available on the Canadian Border Services Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection websites but this free app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch puts all of the information in one place, particularly useful for frequent Canadian-U.S. border-crossers (see below). A similar app that also includes crossing times for the Mexican border, “Border Wait,” is available for Android phones ($0.99) through the Android Market.
- Immigration and Nationality Act – lastly, there are apps available that bring searchable immigration statute and U.S. code right onto your smart phone, including the authoritative Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) and Title 8 of the United States Code (8 USC):
While this is just a small selection, many more apps are appearing almost every day. Apps provide assistance and can make useful information immediately available for those needing to navigate the complex U.S. immigration minefield.
** The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only Any information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific needed. Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group does not endorse or recommend any applications listed here. **