Hello and welcome to the September 2008 Immigration Newsletter!
What’s new in the immigration world? As usual there was a lot going on, both in the news and behind the scenes, ranging from the naturalization of over 39,000 people to new legislation.
With so many people migrating to the US on both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, the USCIS is placing a lot of emphasis on the fundamental concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of US Citizenship in the naturalization process. It is for this reason that USCIS revised the Naturalization test. The new test was designed keeping in view the elementary concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of US Citizenship. The test was redesigned by the USCIS under the belief that studying for it will encourage naturalization applicants to learn and identify with the basic values that all Americans share. It was for this reason and in the interest of creating a more standardized, fair, and meaningful naturalization process, that the USCIS undertook this multi-year redesign of the Naturalization test.
In September the USCIS hosted two special Naturalization ceremonies, one each in Iraq and Kuwait, in which 235 service members from 54 countries became citizens of the United States. The USCIS officials volunteer to travel to combat theaters to conduct naturalization interviews and hold citizenship ceremonies for members of the U.S. military. Their tireless work, in several cases up until the last possible moment, ensured that 192 service members recited the Oath of Allegiance during a ceremony at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. Later in the week, USCIS officials also naturalized 20 service members at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. We should give a hand to both the USCIS officers who put themselves at risk for this important work, and especially for these new citizens that are serving for our country.
The USCIS has more pleasant news on the naturalization front. More than 39,000 individuals became new citizens of the United States during special ceremonies hosted by USCIS to recognize Constitution Week. The naturalization ceremonies, held September 17 through September 23, commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The Naturalization ceremonies were scheduled for Citizenship Day, September 17, for as few as 20 citizenship applicants in St. Albans, Vermont, to as many as 3,000 applicants at Fenway Park in Boston.
USCIS posted a reminder for all its customers and constituents that the authorization for the non-minister special immigrant religious worker program (those in religious professions, occupations and vocations) are set to expire on Oct. 1, 2008. Individuals applying to serve in the two non-minister categories of the program must either adjust status to permanent residence or apply for, and be admitted with, an immigrant visa before Oct. 1, 2008. The two expiring categories are special immigrant religious workers in professional or non-professional capacities within a religious vocation or occupation. The expiration date will also apply to the accompanying or following to join spouses and children of these workers. Special immigrant religious workers entering the United States solely to carry on the vocation of a minister of a religious denomination are not impacted by the expiration date. There is hope that these categories will be extended as they have been in the past. The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on April 14, 2008, extending the expiration date and the Senate is currently considering similar legislation. If the bill to extend the expiration date passes both the House and Senate, and the President signs it, affected special immigrant religious workers with an approved Form I-360 may be eligible to file Form I-485.
We will continue to watch the legislative front and bring you news of progress of any bills pending before the House and Senate, and of any new bills that are of interest.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
Update on Pending FBI Name Checks and Projected Naturalization Processing Times
The DHS and the USCIS’ Ombudsman announced a significant decline in the number of pending FBI name checks for individuals seeking immigration benefits in the United States. FBI name checks, one of several security screening tools used by the USCIS, have delayed the adjudication of benefits for many thousands of applicants. The USCIS Ombudsman had identified FBI name check delays as one of the major hurdles to improved customer service at USCIS in his 2008 and 2007 Annual Reports to Congress.
CBP Launches New Phase of National Public Education Campaign – Reminded travelers to prepare for upcoming changes to cross-border document requirements
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today that it will launch the next phase of a national television, print and online advertising campaign during the National Football League © season kickoff game, to educate the public about new travel document requirements that will go into effect on June 1, 2009 under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
Two Categories of Special Immigrant Religious Workers to Expire on October 1
It’s like a reminder from the USCIS for all its customers that authorization for the non-minister special immigrant religious worker program will expire on Oct. 1, 2008. The USCIS even said that the individuals applying to serve in the two non-minister categories of the program must either adjust their Status to permanent residence or apply for, and be admitted with, an immigrant visa before Oct. 1, 2008. The two expiring categories are special immigrant religious workers in professional or non-professional capacities within a religious vocation or occupation. The expiration date also applies to the accompanying spouses and children of these workers. Special immigrant religious workers entering the United States solely to carry on the vocation of a minister of a religious denomination are not impacted by the expiration date.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Now for the regulars — this month’s Immigration Article provides an overview of one of the most predominant visa categories for spouses of US citizens: the K-3 visa. The K-3 is a marriage-based visa which came into effect in August 2001. It was designed with a view to side-step the long delays in USCIS processing for bringing a foreign spouse into the U.S. Also check out our In Focus section for this month which gives a perfect blend of knowledge and understanding about ‘Facing A Marriage-Based Immigrant Visa Interview’. The ten tips revealed in the article will help to ease the tension most of you face while preparing for and attending a marriage-based immigrant visa interview.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that approximately 52% of the respondents believe that a Conditional Green Card holder does not have to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before he or she may accept employment in the US. We appreciate that people take an 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 Patricia Martin 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 Patricia Martin Martin 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!