Work Authorization Granted For Spouses of L and E Visa Holders

President George W. Bush signed two bills (H.R. 2277 and H.R.2278) on 16, January 2002 granting work authorization for spouses of international transferees, treaty traders, and treaty investors.

H.R. 2278 addresses the problems related to relocation of foreign nationals. It lifts the prohibition for spouses of intra-company transferees from working.

Prior to H.R. 2278, spouses of L visa holders could not work unless they had their own employment-based visas. They could also be removed if found working without authorization. Dual-income housholds are currently more a rule than exception. Under the hitherto restrictive laws for spousal work issues, multinational companies could not easily transfer foreign nationals. An overseas assignment could involve sacrifice of spouses career or a second income. H.R. 2278 resolves these difficulties.

Another related issue is the requirement for L-1 nonimmigrant to have been employed continuously by a parent, subsidiary or other affiliate of the petitioning company for one of the past three years. H.R. 2278 lowers this one-year employment requirement to six months only for L-1s coming in under blanket petitions.

H.R. 2277 grants work authorization for spouses of E nonimmigrants.

Though the Congress has taken a step in the right direction to ensure spousal equity and reduce the hurdles to deploying L and E Visa personnel, there are other visas like H-1B to be included.

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Canada and United States for ‘Smart Border Declaration’

Canada and the United States signed the “Smart Border Declaration” which outlines a 30-point action plan through which both countries would collaborate in identifying and addressing security risks while efficiently and effectively addressing the legitimate flow of people and goods back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border.

The new objectives contained in the Secure and Smart Border Action Plan is as follows:

Secure Flow of People:

· To develop and deploy a secure card for permanent residents

· To resume, evaluate and expand the NEXUS pilot project at the Sarnia-Port Huron border point and discuss its expansion to air travel

· To review practices and procedures for the screening of refugee/asylum claimants

· To implement the Canada-U.S. Pre-clearance Agreement, resume in-transit pre-clearance at Vancouver and expand it to other airports

· To share Advance Passenger Information and agreed-to Passenger Name Records for flights in transit and between Canada and the U.S.

· To review customs and immigration presence and practices at international ferry terminals;

· To develop jointly an automated immigration database; and

· To provide international technical assistance.

Secure Flow of Goods:

· To establish complementary systems for commercial processing, including audit-based programs

· To develop an integrated approach for processing truck, rail and marine cargo away from the border

· To establish criteria for the creation of small, remote joint border facilities

· To share customs data and

· To exchange information and analysts to target marine in-transit containers.

Secure Infrastructure:

· Work to secure resources for joint and coordinated physical and technological improvements to border and trade corridor infrastructure

· To deploy interoperable technologies for the secure movement of goods and people

· To assess threats and protect transborder transportation and other critical infrastructure

· To finalize agreement on comparable/equivalent aviation security and training standards.

Coordination and Information Sharing:

· To address legal and operational challenges to joint removals of deportees

· To bring into force legislation on terrorism

· To exchange advance information on individuals and organizations designated as engaging in terrorist fundraising

· To increase dialogue and commitment to joint counter-terrorism training and exercises.

Immigration attorneys have expressed concern about the impact of this agreement on people seeking asylum. Asylum seekers on the U.S. side of the border-seeking asylum in Canada could be forced to apply for asylum in the U.S. (where they are more likely to be detained and denied). Currently, about 40% of asylum seekers in Canada arrive from the U.S. In addition, asylum seekers who lose in the U.S. may be unable to apply in Canada.

U.S. Consulate General announces new security and financial measures

With effect from January 1, 2002, all immigrant visa applicants above 16 years of age must submit two Indian Police Certificates – a certificate from the local police station and another certificate from the regional passport office.

Sealed envelopes are not permitted inside the Consulate except for the medical report from the Panel Physician. Applicants must bring all the required documents uncovered when appearing for the interview.

All the necessary documents from the petitioner and joint sponsor must be presented on the first visit. Complete evidence of financial support in the U.S. must be shown.

AVOID THE EXPENSE AND INCONVENIENCE OF A SECOND TRIP TO THE CONSULATE. NO EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE REGARDING SPONSORS’ MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENTS.

INS Announces Immediate Suspension of Cambodian Adoptions and Review of Adoption Cases in Vietnam.

WASHINGTON D.C. – Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Commissioner James Ziglar announced an immediate suspension of the processing of adoption petitions in Cambodia and a review of the adoption process in Vietnam. This suspension does not affect the thirty-two families that the Department of State (DOS) has scheduled for visa appointments in January in Cambodia.

Expressing particular concern about the adoption process in two countries. The Commissioner said, that a child is truly an orphan must never be tainted by any action that results in the exploitation of innocent children by separating them from their biological families as a result of fraud, trafficking in human beings or other criminal activity.

Based on that commitment, the Commissioner announced a series of initiatives to improve and strengthen the integrity of the adoption program, as follows:

· In conjunction with the DOS, the INS will enter into discussions with the Cambodian government to establish an adoption process that will protect the interests of the Cambodian people and prospective adoptive parents.

· Initiate a general review of international adoption procedures

· Continue to work with the DOS to identify weaknesses in the process and implement the principles of the Hague Convention on foreign adoptions which regulates foreign country adoption procedures and international adoption agencies.

· Host a summit with adoption agencies and advocacy groups to discuss international adoption issues and methods by which the INS and such agencies can give prospective parents a clear and realistic understanding of the international adoption process.

Thirteen families are currently involved in disputes over the validity of their orphan petitions with respect to children in Cambodia and Vietnam. These concerns were first identified by the U.S. embassy in Cambodia. The Commissioner announced that these families would be given the opportunity for parole into the United States of their prospective adoptive children, provided that they agree to certain conditions. The conditions offered are:

1. Subject to applicable state law, within two years these families must obtain legal U.S. adoptions in the state of their choice and they must report to INS quarterly on their progress in the adoption process.

2. If at anytime during the adoption process the child is proven not to be an orphan or that the family will be unable to secure a legal adoption within the applicable period, the family must return the child to its country of birth.

The Commissioner expressed hope that this suspension and review will bring order to a troublesome situation. He reminded families considering adoption that there are many deserving children who are U.S. citizens and are in need of loving homes.