People with a pending affirmative asylum application in the U.S. can now check their case statuses online, rather than in-person or by direct contact, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Jan. 28.

“The new capability increases transparency and assures applicants that they have the most up-to-date and accurate information about their case, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna in a news release. “We strive to adjudicate all applications and petitions in a timely manner and are working to reduce the impact on processing times by aligning resources appropriately.”

According to the news release, USCIS received reports that asylum applicants found the previous process for checking their statuses difficult to manage, and the system held up asylum office resources.

The new tool does not apply to defensive applicants, whose cases are pending in immigration court.

USCIS also made two citizenship application forms available online Jan. 29: the application for a Certificate of Citizenship and the application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.

“One of the major burdens to both benefit seekers and the agency’s adjudicators is the costly, time consuming and cumbersome process of traditional paper filing,” said Cissna. “This addition to our online capabilities is yet another positive advancement toward a more efficient and convenient filing experience for everyone involved.”

Applicants must have a USCIS online account to complete the forms digitally.