DHS Announces $12 Million for Operation Stonegarden to Support Local Border Security Efforts December 18, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, News and politics, Simply Immigration!, USCIS Press Release.
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Release Date: December 15, 2006
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
DHS Press Office, (202) 282-8010
Washington – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today more than $12 million in grant awards to the four Southwest border states in support of ongoing local law enforcement efforts at the border. The funding, as part of Operation Stonegarden, assists local authorities with operational costs and equipment purchases that contribute to border security. The distribution of these funds is as follows: Arizona, $6,353,174; California, $1,000,000; New Mexico, $1,580,258; and Texas, $3,070,081.
“Local law enforcement plays an undeniable role in helping to combat crime and secure the border,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Our ultimate success at the border is going to require close coordination with local authorities and sustained commitments to remedying a security challenge that has been decades in the making.”
Operation Stonegarden began as a successful pilot program in fiscal year 2005 that involved 14 border states. The initiative gave states the flexibility to use DHS grant funding to enhance coordination among state and federal law enforcement agencies at our borders. The pilot program resulted in an estimated 214 state, local and tribal agencies working 36,755 man-days on various public safety and border security operations.
Funding for Operation Stonegarden was made available through the fiscal year 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Hurricane Recovery. The program requires states to identify and prioritize solutions to their border security needs.
Other resources for this initiative come from the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP). As part of the expansion of Operation Stonegarden in January 2006, the department announced that states had the ability to use up to 25 percent of unspent LETPP funds from fiscal years 2004 and 2005. In addition, states can now use up to of 25 percent of their fiscal year 2006 LETPP funds for border security-related activities.
The $12 million in funds released today by the department will supplement the states’ opportunity to utilize 25 percent of their fiscal year 2006 LETPP funds to further enhance critical border security operations. More than $384 million was awarded nationwide through the LETPP program in fiscal year 2006.
DOS Publishes Final Rule on Consular Interviews for NIV Applicants December 18, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, Simply Immigration!, USCIS Press Release.
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[Federal Register: December 18, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 242)]
[Rules and Regulations]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
22 CFR Part 41
[Public Notice: 5646]
Visas: Documentation of Nonimmigrants Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended
AGENCY: State Department.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: This final rule amends guidance to consular offices for the waiver of personal appearance of applicants for nonimmigrant visas contained at 22 CFR 41.102, to conform to the requirements of Section 222(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by section 5301 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). The final rule replaces the interim rule published in the Federal Register on July 7, 2003 and reflects legislation enacted subsequent to that rule.
DATES: This rule is effective on December 18, 2006.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles Robertson, Legislation and Regulations Division, Visa Services, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-0106, (202) 663-1221, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Why is the Department promulgating this rule?
Section 5301 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) added a new Section 222(h) to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 222(h) sets out detailed statutory requirements for personal interviews of non-immigrant visa applicants in the INA for the first time. Previously, INA Section 222(e) left the question of personal appearance of nonimmigrant visa applicants to be defined by regulation. The Department’s interim rule published on July 7, 2003 (68 FR 40168) defined the requirements for personal appearance. This final rule replaces the previous interim rule to reflect the requirements of IRTPA and the new INA Section 222(h). Most of new Section 222(h) can be implemented through the Department’s existing personal appearance regulations and current requirements for fingerprint collection, but a few changes in the regulations are needed to conform fully to the new interview requirements. The most significant change is that a consular officer must now interview persons in the same age ranges as persons covered by the biometric collection requirement. In addition to the existing list of situations in which an interview may not be waived, the personal interview requirement may not be waived for NIV applicants from third countries and applicants who have been previously refused visas or found ineligible for visas, where that ineligibility was not overcome.
Are there any exceptions to these new requirements?
Section 5301 of IRTPA provides for some exceptions from the new interview requirements. In addition, as the President noted in the signing statement for IRTPA, the interview requirement is viewed “as advisory” with respect to foreign diplomats or foreign officials, because it otherwise would impermissibly burden the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations. Therefore, the regulations continue to permit exemptions from the interview requirements of persons in A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3 G-4, NATO- 1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO 6 classifications, and applicants for diplomatic or officials visas as described in 22 CFR 41.26 and 41.27.
Administrative Procedure Act
This regulation involves a foreign affairs function of the United States and, therefore, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553 (a)(1), is not subject to the rule making procedures set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553.
Regulatory Flexibility Act/Executive Order 13272: Small Business
This rule is not subject to the notice-and-comment rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act or any other act, and, accordingly it does not require analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601, et seq.) and Executive Order 13272, section 3(b).
The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UFMA), Pub. L. 104-4, 109 Stat. 48, 2 U.S.C. 1532, generally requires agencies to prepare a statement before proposing any rule that may result in an annual expenditure of $100 million or more by State, local, or tribal governments, or by the private sector. This rule will not result in any such expenditure, nor will it significantly or uniquely affect small governments.
The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996
This rule is not a major rule as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804, for purposes of congressional review of agency rulemaking under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-121. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign based companies in domestic and import markets.
Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Review
The Department of State has reviewed this rule to ensure its consistency with the regulatory philosophy and principles set forth in Executive Order 12866 and has determined that the benefits of the proposed regulation justify its costs. The Department does not consider the rule to be an economically significant action within the scope of section 3(f)(1) of the Executive Order since it is not likely to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or to adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or state, local, or tribal governments or communities.
Executive Orders 12372 and 13132: Federalism
This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Nor will the rule have federalism implications warranting the application of Executive Orders No. 12372 and No. 13132.
Executive Order 12988: Civil Justice Reform
The Department has reviewed the proposed regulations in light of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order No. 12988 to eliminate ambiguity, minimize litigation, establish clear legal standards, and reduce burden.
Paperwork Reduction Act
This rule does not impose information collection requirements under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C., Chapter 35.
List of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 41
Aliens, Foreign officials, Immigration, Nonimmigrants, Passports and visas, Students.
For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of State amends 22 CFR part 41 as follows:
1. The authority citation for part 41 shall continue to read:
Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1104; Pub. L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681-795 through 2681-801. Additional authority is derived from Section 104 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) Pub. L. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3546.
2. Amend Sec. 41.102 as follows:
A. Revise paragraph (b),
B. Amend paragraph (c) by adding the phrase “Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section” to the beginning of the second sentence.
C. Redesignate paragraph (d) as (e) and add a new paragraph (d). The new and revised text reads as follows:
Sec. 41.102 Personal appearance of applicant
* * * * *
(b) Waivers of personal appearance by consular officers. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section or as otherwise instructed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, a consular officer may waive the requirement of personal appearance in the case of any alien who the consular officer concludes presents no national security concerns requiring an interview and who:
(1) Is a child under 14 years of age;
(2) Is a person over 79 years of age;
(3) Is within a class of nonimmigrants classifiable under the visa symbols A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (except attendants, servants, or personal employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 and who is seeking a visa in such classification;
(4) Is an applicant for a diplomatic or official visa as described in Sec. Sec. 41.26 or 41.27 of this chapter, respectively;
(5) Is an applicant who within 12 months of the expiration of the applicant’s previously issued visa is seeking re-issuance of a nonimmigrant biometric visa in the same classification at the consular post of the applicant’s usual residence, and for whom the consular officer has no indication of visa ineligibility or of noncompliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations; or
(6) Is an alien for whom a waiver of personal appearance is warranted in the national interest or because of unusual circumstances.
* * * * *
(d) Cases in which personal appearance may not be waived. A consular officer or the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State may not waive personal appearance for:
(1) Any NIV applicant who is not a national or resident of the country in which he or she is applying, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview under paragraphs (b)(3) or (b)(4) of this section.
(2) Any NIV applicant who was previously refused a visa, is listed in CLASS, or who otherwise requires a Security Advisory Opinion, unless:
(i) The visa was refused temporarily and the refusal was subsequently overcome;
(ii) The alien was found inadmissible, but the inadmissibility was waived; or
(iii) The applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview under paragraphs (b)(3) or (b)(4) of this section.
(3) Any NIV applicant who is from a country designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor of terrorism, regardless of age, or in a group designated by the Secretary of State under section 222(h)(2)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver under paragraphs (b)(3) or (b)(4) of this section.
* * * * *
Dated: November 30, 2006.
Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. E6-21492 Filed 12-15-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-06-P
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In the days leading up to December 13, 2006, AILA received reports that USCIS Service Centers were rejecting forms I-907 Request for Premium Processing signed by attorneys for petitioners, declaring that an attorney signature can be accepted only if a Power of Attorney is attached. USCIS Service Centers Operations (SCOPS) has now clarified that the Power of Attorney requirement is limited to those circumstances where an individual other than the petitioner or applicant is signing a form as the petitioner or applicant, and it is accompanied by an I-907 signed by the G-28 attorney. Clarification of Form I-907 Signature Policy is provided by AILA’s SCOPS Liaison.
Congress Passes Physicians for Underserved Areas Act December 15, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, Immigration Laws and Policies, Info for Doctors and Health Professionals.
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On December 9, 2006, the Senate passed the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act (H.R. 4997) by a voice vote, clearing the bill for enactment by the President. The House approval came three days earlier, also by voice vote, on December 6, 2006. The bill extends a visa waiver program, often referred to as Conrad 30, that allows foreign physicians who work in underserved areas to remain in the country after completing their medical training. The authorization for the program expired on June 1, 2006. Once it is signed into law by the President, H.R. 4997 will reinstate the visa waiver program for an additional period of two years.
VISA BULLETIN FOR JANUARY 2007 December 13, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Visa Bulletin.
First: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.
Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent
Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:
A. Spouses and Children: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;
B. Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older): 23% of the overall second preference limitation.
Third: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.
Fourth: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.
First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.
Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.
Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “Other Workers”.
Schedule A Workers: Employment First, Second, and Third preference Schedule A applicants are entitled to up to 50,000 “recaptured” numbers.
Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.
Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.
4. INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed. Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal. The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit. These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas: CHINA-mainland born, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.
5. On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); “C” means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and “U” means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available. (NOTE: Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.)
|Fam-ily||All Charge- ability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPP-INES|
*NOTE: For January, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 15MAR00. 2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 15MAR00 and earlier than 15MAR02. (All 2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no 2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)
|Certain Religious Workers||C||C||C||C||C|
|Iraqi & Afghani Translators||18SEP06||18SEP06||18SEP06||18SEP06||18SEP06|
|Targeted Employ-ment Areas/
The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at: (area code 202) 663-1541. This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.
Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category: Section 203(e) of the NACARA, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105 – 139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year. This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program. Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.
B. DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY
Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a maximum of up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit immigration opportunities for persons from countries other than the principal sources of current immigration to the United States. The Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997 stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NACARA program. This reduction has resulted in the DV-2007 annual limit being reduced to 50,000. DV visas are divided among six geographic regions. No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.
For January, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2007 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:
|Region||All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately|
|NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS)||7|
|SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN||700|
Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery. The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2007 program ends as of September 30, 2007. DV visas may not be issued to DV-2007 applicants after that date. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2007 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2007. DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2007 cannot be taken for granted. Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.
C. ADVANCE NOTIFICATION OF THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN FEBRUARY
For February, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2007 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:
|Region||All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately|
|NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS)||7|
|SOUTH AMERICA, and the CARIBBEAN||825|
D. SCHEDULE A WORKER VISA CATEGORY
A small amount of Schedule A Worker numbers which had been provided to consular offices for November use were returned unused after the end of the month and thus became available for reallocation. All remaining Schedule A Worker numbers have been made available to applicants whose priority dates are within the January cut-off date (15JUN04). The Schedule A Worker category will be removed from the listings beginning with the February cut-off dates.
E. OTHER NOTES ON VISA AVAILABILITY
FAMILY: Demand for numbers in the Mexico and Philippines Family Third preference category has been very heavy during the first quarter. No movement of those cut-off dates can be expected, and continued heavy demand may require the retrogression of the dates at some point in the future.
EMPLOYMENT: Demand for numbers in the Employment Third “Other Workers” category, as well as the China and India Employment Second preference categories, has been escalating. No movement in those cut-off dates will be possible until the current level of demand subsides.
Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) Arrests 1,300 Workers in Raids December 13, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in News and politics, Simply Immigration!, USCIS Press Release.
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On 12/12/06, approximately one thousand Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents entered six Swift & Company meatpacking plants-in Greeley, Colorado; Grand Island, Nebraska; Cactus, Texas; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minnesota-with warrants permitting the agents to search and apprehend undocumented immigrant workers. According to a new release issued by ICE on 12/13/06, agents arrested 1,282 undocumented immigrant workers on administrative immigration violations, including 65 who were also charged with criminal violations such as identity theft, re-entry after deportation, and other violations. ICE did not bring charges against Swift officials during the raids.**Toll-free number for families members of workers detained in Swift raids: 1-866-341-3858
For complete USCIS release visit:
Congress Adjourns Without Enacting H-1B and EB Relief December 12, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Action, Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Simply Immigration!.
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Congress adjourned on Saturday, 12/9/06, without passing measures to provide relief from the restrictive H-1B visa cap and employment-based (EB) green card backlogs. However, Americam Immigration Lawyers Association plans to resume its push for H-1B and EB relief in early 2007, when new Congressional leaders, and committee and subcommittee chairs, are in place.
Congress Approves Expanded Visa Access for Athletes December 12, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, Simply Immigration!.
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On 12/9/06 the House passed the Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers, and Teams through Legal Entry (COMPETE) Act of 2006 (S. 3821), following passage by the Senate on 12/6/06. The bill expands P-1 nonimmigrant visa access to allow certain categories of athletes to perform or compete in the U.S.
Change in Who May Sign I-907 December 12, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Immigration Laws and Policies.
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USCIS Service Center Operations has informed AILA that the Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service must be signed either by the petitioner, or, by the attorney for the petitioner, but only if the petitioner has filed a Power of Attorney with the USCIS Service Center where the I-907 is being filed authorizing the attorney to sign the I-907, a copy of the power of attorney is attached, and a G-28 is attached. Because the reasons for the processing change are not clear, AILA SCOPS liaison is seeking clarification…
H-1B & EB Advocates Continue to Push for Relief December 6, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Immigration Laws and Policies, Immigration reform, MyComments, Simply Immigration!.
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As the House and Senate reconvene today for the final days of the 109th Congress, the chances of enacting H-1B visa and employment-based (EB) green card relief look increasingly slim. Despite behind-the-scenes efforts by immigration advocates and sympathetic members of Congress, reports suggest that the lame duck session is unlikely to offer an appropriate legislative vehicle for measures that would alleviate the caps and backlogs faced by high-skilled immigrants and their American employers.Plans by Republican leadership to pass a continuing resolution instead of completing appropriations legislation would preclude passage of H-1B and EB relief as part of fiscal 2007 spending bills. However, Congress may vote on a number of authorization bills this week, opening up a small possibility that H-1B and EB relief could be passed as part of authorization legislation.