Hello and welcome to the October 2008 Immigration Newsletter!
With the advent of the 2010 DV Lottery program this month in immigration was no less than an adventurous roller coaster ride. The 2010 DV Lottery came in with so little fanfare that unless you were paying attention you would have missed the announcement. With the 2010 DV Lottery Russians have reason to celebrate – they have returned to the list of eligible countries and can now participate in the DV Lottery program. Also, new to the list of eligible countries this year is Kosovo. While Russia and Kosovo were added to the list no countries were removed from the list of eligible countries for DV-2010. As with past years individuals from those countries, including India, China, Pakistan, Canada, Mexico and 14 other countries, that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the US in the previous 5 years are not eligible to apply. The Department of State began accepting applications for the DV-2010 Lottery Program on October 2, 2008. The last date for submitting a DV-2010 Lottery application is noon EST on December 1, 2008, so you still have time to apply. What are you waiting for, hurry up!
The DV Lottery is a nice reminder of the diversity that we now find in the US population. A recent survey shows that the makeup of America’s newest citizens has changed from the European pioneers that forged a new nation in its early days, to the recent wave of Hispanic and Asian migrants that are adding their skills and talents to the world’s largest economy. Statistics from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) detail this shift and highlight the ever increasing influence immigration imparts on the nation. Immigration has been slowly, but constantly, changing the demographic makeup of the US. Beginning in the 1960s, the countries of origin for America’s immigrants have shifted from Europe to Asia and Latin America. Most experts believe that immigration, under our current policies, will continue to dramatically change the demographic landscapte of America in the coming decades. Most predict that by the year 2050 one in four Americans will be of Hispanic origin.
On the political front (a very hot area with the Presidential elections coming up on November 4, less than 3 weeks away) the “web-based grassroots community of pro-migrant, human rights, and civil-rights bloggers and activists group,” The Sanctuary, sent a questionnaire to both US Presidential candidates. In his response, Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for President, stated that he would make immigration one of his “top priorities” during the first month of his presidency. One of the questions in the survey asked if the candidates supported expanding the H-1B visa scheme by raising the limit above the current 65,000 H-1B visas allowed per year: Obama replied that he would support “multiple proposals for increasing access to the world’s best and brightest to work in America.” In response to a later question on reducing family-based visas in favor of a merit-based system, he stated that he would not support having skilled immigration take precedence over family-based immigration. Asked whether he supported a guest worker program, Obama replied that he did, however it would have to meet certain requirements. Obama’s statement to make immigration the top priority has certainly brought smile on many advocates faces. Let’s see if he holds to his statements if elected.
Many people think of the USCIS as a large and unfeeling organization, however in truth they try to understand and accommodate people when the unexpected happens. In this vein they recently sent out a reminder of the services available to those that have been affected by the recent bad weather in the Caribbean. The USCIS noted in the reminder that they understand that unexpected events in a person’s home country can sometimes affect their travel or other plans and that they will try to be flexible in assisting those individuals. The reminder then laid out some of the services that are available to those travelers that were delayed in the US (foreigners in the US on a visitor’s visa may request for the extension of their stay or change of their status if the unexpected events in their home country delay their travel); and for students either on F-1 or M-1 visas that may be affected by the recent global financial crisis (may request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)). In these situations, nonimmigrant visitors affected by unexpected events in their home country may request expedited processing of their applications or petition. The USCIS gave some relief to many of the foreign nationals by taking the initiative to remind its customer base of the flexibilities in their programs.
There was some very welcome news for employers this month. The Department of Homeland Security recently took a step in the right direction when it increased the amount of time a TN nonimmigrant from Canada or Mexico can remain in the US. On October 14, 2008, USCIS announced the adoptions of a final rule that increased the maximum period of time a Trade-NAFTA (TN) professional worker from Canada or Mexico may remain in the United States before seeking readmission or obtaining an extension of stay. With the adoption of this final rule the initial period of admission for TN workers is increased from one to three years, making it the same as the initial period of admission given to H-1B professional workers. Additionally, under the new rule eligible TN nonimmigrants may be granted extensions of stay in increments of up to three years instead of the prior maximum period of stay of one year. This will ease administrative burdens and costs on TN workers and also benefit US employers by increasing the amount of time TN employees will be able to work for them before having to seek an extension of status. Spouses and unmarried minor children of TN nonimmigrants in their corresponding nonimmigrant classifications will also benefit from the new regulation.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
USCIS Delays Implementation of Direct Mail Program For N-400, Application for Naturalization
The USCIS announced that it will delay implementation of the Direct Mail Program for the N-400, Application for Naturalization. The USCIS even realized a Federal Register notice which was published on Oct. 10, 2008, announcing this delay. The USCIS is delaying implementation of this new filing procedure to conduct additional tests of the technology involved. Applicants for naturalization should continue to submit their Form N-400 according to the instructions on the form until further notice. In almost all cases, this means applicants will submit their N-400s to a USCIS Service Center.
Overseas Naturalization Eligibility for Certain Children of U.S. Armed Forces Members
President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 on January 28, 2008 and this law amended Section 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow certain eligible children of members of the armed forces to become naturalized U.S. citizens without having to travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process. This Section 322 provides for the naturalization of minor children of U.S. citizens residing abroad. The general conditions are that at least one parent is a U.S. citizen, that the child is younger than age 18 and resides abroad in the physical and legal custody of that parent, and that parent has been physically present in the United States for a certain period of time. Section 322 requires that in general, the child must be temporarily present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission in order to complete the naturalization.
CBP Installs Radiation Monitors in Alabama Port
U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on October 3, 2008 that they have unveiled the first radiation portal monitors at the Port of Mobile, Ala. yesterday. The CBP designed these highly sophisticated tools to prevent any attempts to smuggle radiological materials used in nuclear weapons into the United States. The five portal monitors now in operation act as an extremely sensitive receiving antenna to detect radiation sources. These systems are capable of detecting various types of radiation emanating from nuclear devices, dirty bombs, special nuclear materials, natural sources, and isotopes commonly used in medicine and industry. They are completely safe for anyone passing by them; they are passive “detectors” of radiation, not emitters of radiation.
U.S. and U.K. Border Agencies Exchange Passenger Information to Protect Borders
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) entered into a joint agreement with the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) in Washington, D.C., to strengthen the countries’ borders by sharing information on people who may present a threat – including illegal immigrants, smugglers and foreign criminals – before they even arrive. The agreement will strengthen the capability of the U.S. and the U.K. to verify travel documents, detect false identities, determine admissibility, carry out customs purposes and identify persons traveling between the countries who may pose a security risk. The exchange of information between NTC and the JBOC will serve both enforcement and facilitation interests of both nations. The agreement also will improve communication between the two agencies when a person is denied entry and returned to the traveler’s country of origin.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Now for the regulars – this month’s Immigration Article is a must read if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) in US or are intending to apply for one. The article reveals you the importance of being a Permanents Resident of US and also explains you why and how important it is to maintain your Permanent Resident Status in the US. You can’t afford to miss this article, friend. And also check out our In Focus section for this month which gives you a detailed analysis for becoming a Naturalized US Citizen.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that approximately 56.41 % of the respondents believe that the New Passport Card issued by DOL cannot be used for international travel by air. We appreciate that people take interest in the opinion question and cast their vote to give us their feedback. Keep it up! And continue to cast your vote to express Your Opinion.
We congratulate Lee Kyle for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. Again, we received a significant number of responses from our readers who talked about various solutions to support their position, but Lee Kyle gave the correct answer and won a free online consultation to discuss her Immigration issues. So it’s time to get ready for this month’s quiz. If you know the correct answer your name might be featured in next month’s newsletter. All the Best!!!
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!