IMMIGRATION ALERT: Recent News from DOJ, INS and DOS
Department of Justice/Immigration and Naturalization Service: * DOJ’s Immigration and Naturalization Service becomes part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 1, 2003. Within the DHS, the Bureau for Citizenship & Immigration Services (BCIS) will handle the immigration benefits function, including employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions and applications for adjustment of status. The new Director of the BCIS is Eduardo Aguirre. * Also within the DHS, the Border & Transportation Security (BTS) directorate will be responsible for maintaining security of the nation’s borders and transportation systems, including immigration enforcement. The new Under Secretary for BTS is Asa Hutchinson. * The transition of immigration related responsibilities to the Department of Homeland Security should not affect currently pending INS petitions and applications. Operation of INS district offices, service centers and customer service should also remain uninterrupted. * DOJ’s National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) continues to be in effect. Further information relating to the Special Registration program can be obtained by visiting the INS’ website at www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/lawenfor/specialreg/index.htm. * DOJ has extended the registration deadline for citizens/nationals of certain countries. Citizens/nationals of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Kuwait who must register with the INS can do so on or before April 25, 2003, and citizens/nationals of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who must register with the INS can do so on or before March 21, 2003. * The INS is reportedly requesting evidence that the beneficiary of an I-129 petition has complied with the NSEERS “Call-in” Special Registration requirements, if applicable. * Pursuant to an INS interim rule, published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2003, INS’ fee schedule has been readjusted to restore surcharges used for asylum and refugee services, fee exemptions, and fee waivers. The surcharges were removed on January 24, 2003, pursuant to section 457 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002; subsequently, Congress repealed that section in the Homeland Security Act Amendments of 2003. The new interim rule effectively readjusts the immigration benefits application fee schedule to the levels existing prior to January 24, 2003. Department of State: * DOS issued a worldwide caution on February 6, 2003 to remind U.S. citizens of the need to remain vigilant due to a heightened threat of terrorist actions. The DOS also recently issued travel warnings for the countries of Venezuela, Colombia and Iraq and public announcements to inform U.S. citizens of the security concerns in Guatemala and Laos. * Gunmen opened fire today outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing two police officers and injuring six others, including a civilian. One of the suspected gunmen has been detained, but there has been no word as to the reason or cause for such attack. * U.S. Consulates in Canada now accept non-immigrant visa applications from landed immigrants of Canada who are citizens of the Commonwealth countries and Ireland. Beginning March 17, 2003 landed immigrants of Canada seeking to enter the U.S. as non-immigrants must possess a valid passport and non-immigrant visa. This does not change the Visa Waiver Program in place for citizens/national of certain Commonwealth countries.
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