ELIS is a name for the USCIS's online electronic immigration benefits system. The word ELIS resonates of the word "ELLIS," an island through which more than 12 million immigrants entered between 1892-1954. Originally a mere 3-acre plot, is now almost 30-acre plot: a result of real estate acquisition by the port authority. Whereas ELLIS needed a ten-fold increase in real estate to accommodate the great influx of immigrants entering the U.S., ELIS needs only a few megabytes of online real estate. For now, ELIS will only take care of I-539 extend/change non-immigrant status. But there are plans to expand this portal to include immigration related services (not just nonimmigrant services).
The ELIS system is available to accept requests for extension of status for those who are in B-1, B-2, M-1, or M-2 status. Also included are F-1s who were admitted with I-94s that contained an end date, rather than the standard D/S indicating validity for duration of status. It is also available for nonimmigrants seeking to change status to B-1, B-2, F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, or M-2. Finally, it is available for F-1 or M-1 students seeking to reinstate status.
So, what to do?
If you are applying for a change or extension of nonimmigrant status, check out the detailed chart at the USCIS WebSite. There you will also find instructions on opening your account for using ELIS. In order to visit ELLIS, you have to go to New York. But ELIS, you can visit from your living room.