ALERT: Recent News from DOS, DOJ, DOD, Treasury and INS
Department of State American Citizen Services: ∙ DOS issued a Worldwide Caution on March 17 stating that the attack on worshippers at the Protestant International Church in Islamabad underlines the growing possibility that as security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists and their sympathizers will seek softer targets. ∙ DOS American Citizen Services will soon begin issuing U.S. passports with new security features to those U.S. citizens residing or traveling abroad. Those U.S. citizens are encouraged to apply early for passport renewal since processing times at some U.S. Embassies and Consulates will increase. ∙ DOS has extended the ban on the use of U.S. passports for travel to, in, or through Iraq due to “hazardous” conditions for U.S. citizens. ∙ Travel Warnings for Yemen and Pakistan were issued on March 18, 2002. DOS has authorized the voluntary departure of dependents of U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel in Pakistan. Department of State Visa Services: ∙ U.S. Consulate posts in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan recently announced the suspension of visa services. Services for U.S. citizens will continue to operate at these posts. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is currently open for all services. ∙ U.S. Consulate Chennai, India now utilizes the same web-based appointment system already in use by U.S. Embassy New Delhi and U.S. Consulate Mumbai. ∙ U.S. Embassy Paris Nonimmigrant Visa Processing (NIV) has a new address necessitated by new anti-bioterrorism screening measures: NIV Unit, Ambassade des Etats-Unis, 18 avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris. Please note the Embassy accepts applications by courier only and requires a courier return envelope. ∙ DOS published an interim rule requiring the FBI to give DOS access to certain of its criminal history record and other databases in connection with the USA Patriot Act. ∙ Change in automatic revalidation of expired visas: Effective April 1, 2002, nonimmigrants who are either in the process of applying for new visas or nationals of a country identified as a state sponsor of terrorism will not be granted automatic revalidation of expired visas when returning from short trips (30 days or less) from other North American countries or adjacent islands. Justice, Defense, Treasury: Through a cooperative arrangement between DOJ and DOD, 700 military personnel from the National Guard will assist the INS on the Northern and Southern U.S. borders for up to six months. DOD personnel will lend additional administrative and air operations support to the Border Patrol along the northern border. ∙ President Bush’s FY 2003 budget proposal allocates $6.3 billion to the INS. This is a $712 million increase for border security and an additional $105.9 million to continue emergency counterterrorism initiatives. ∙ As of February 19, 2002, nonimmigrant visitors are prohibited from buying, selling, or possessing firearms and ammunition in the U.S. pursuant to a temporary rule issued by the Department of Treasury through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Although the law has certain exceptions for hunters and sportsmen, nonimmigrants must now obtain a permit before bringing firearms and ammunition in the U.S. for sporting purposes. Immigration and Naturalization Service: ∙ 28,000 H-1B petitions have been approved against the 195,000 cap for Fiscal Year 2002. This number represents first quarter H-1B petitions approved between October 1, 2001, and December 31, 2001. ∙ INS is considering reduction in Visitor (B-1/B-2) Visa admission period to 30 days rather than the current practice of admitting visitors for 180 days, according to the INS Commissioner’s March 19 statement before Congress. ∙ INS may soon implement Premium Processing for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, filings. Under the Premium Processing program, an employer may request that the INS process certain employment-based petitions within 15 days for an additional $1,000.00 fee to the INS. ∙ Social Security Administration is no longer assigning a Social Security Number (SSN) for the sole purpose of complying with state statutes that require a SSN for issuance of a driver’s license. ∙ The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed an extension of Section 245(i) regarding adjustment of status to legal permanent residence as part of the Border Security Bill. According to the current House bill, Section 245(i) will be extended to the earlier of November 30, 2002, or four months after the INS issues regulations implementing the law for those individuals who were eligible for Section 245(i) prior to August 15, 2001, and who were physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000. Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act permits certain foreign nationals not normally eligible for adjustment of status to in fact adjust their status to permanent residence for an additional fee of $1,000.00. Should you have any questions concerning the above or any other employment-based immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact one of the authors listed at the top of this page.