Linh Dao

Assistant Professor, Interaction Design, California Polytechnic State University. 




Linh Dao

Interaction Design, Assistant Professor, California Polytechnic State University

Immigration Documentation

Artist Statment

How we treat each other is based on not only our social interactions, but on how political structures shape our perceptions of people. I dissect how technology is a growing part of that structure and how it carries patterns of bias and discrimination urging to be interrupted. I intended to demonstrate the legal immigration process as both personal and subtly dehumanizing at the same time. While mobile technology bridges the distant between the abstract process and its petitioner, it also reduces individuals to a few lines of receipts for their legal fee payment, distilling the entirety of a person into data, barcodes, and numbers using a tracking system that likens “non-citizens” to consumer products.I am interested in the larger picture of immigration being more than just physical borders. As long as there are still poverty, inequality, war, and inaccessibility, human bravery will overcome obstacles for a better live elsewhere.

Product thinking

Immigration Documentation allows immigrants to keep track of their passport, entries, visa, and visa application status. It also alerts the user if/when immigration policies changes take place. The core of the application is a centralized, more actionable, and improved version of what is offered on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Travel Documents. Each of these websites come with its own set of issues and challenges, in addition to the fact that they are separated.The main issue that I tackled was to reorganize information architecture for a simplified process of applying for a visa or a visa stamp. On the surface, this is a pure usability issue. A deeper look reveals that I lessened the emotional burden of the user going through the difficult process of immigration, addressing their feelings of fear.

The limitation of the project is that I can only work with what is currently offered by the USCIS and CBP in term of information available for users. For example, once the application is en route, there is no status updates available for the user, or in other words, applicant or petitioner. The application reflects this fact with honesty.
Interaction design

The hardest interaction design problem I came across was to make sure that the user understood the capacities of the application: It can help them apply, pay, and track the status of their applications.

The current actual process of applying takes place in different places: on websites, on paper, through the mail, in the paralegal office. This is both a legal and policy issue and a usability issue. What I could do within my ability as a designer not involved in the resolution of the first issue is to increase the usability as best as I can. The application therefore contains external links, but with all of the guidelines organized in one place in addition to a checklist.

Visual design

I worked within existing pattern libraries and OS guidelines and at the same time, developed something entirely different in term of the theme and feel. I recognized the need for the application to be pleasing in a old-fashioned kind of way. It needed to resembles a physical object: Immigrant has no home in the United States. Everything that they own, they might have to let go. Real ownership is something that an immigrant don't have. This could be one of the few things that they own, and they can take with them.

The application should also reflects its users. It should looks like it has a history, and stories to tell, yet not overwhelming with excessive and unorganized information.

Juried exhibition and featured include: University of Texas at Tyler, Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, and North American Poster Exhibition at University of Northern Iowa.

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