Houses passes bill to breakup INS

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported a bill that essentially breaks up the INS and creates two separate agencies: one to handle enforcement and another to deal with immigration services. The April 25 vote passed by a 405-9 vote. The INS breakup bill, introduced by house Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), had been endorsed only hours before by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who made a special trip to the Capital for that purpose.

The Bush administration had not originally supported the bill. Rather, it wanted to divide functionality within the agency, while keeping it intact. And, while Ashcroft officially backed the bill Thursday, statements made to the press implied that Ashcroft envisions a slightly different plan of action. “I think all the parties here understand that the way you get laws done in the United States is that we all work together,” Ashcroft said. “This is an important first step essential to the journey’s end, but not sufficient to get us there.”

The proposed bill will create one agency that focuses solely on enforcement and another that deals with legal immigration issues. The enormous House support is due in large part to perceived notions of ineptitude in INS. Notices of approved visa extensions were mailed to two of the 19 September 11 hijackers a few months after the World Trade Center attack, and one hijacker continued to receive a government aviation newsletter after 9/11.
Described as tough love by Sensenbrenner, the bill’s proposed two agencies will stay under Ashcroft’s jurisdiction at the Justice Department. The majority of the House is obviously dedicated to massive restructuring. Said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), “I think this is an issue in which reform is expected and needed.” And Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), stated that, “The common goal of ridding our system of an incompetent agency that costs people their lives is a worthy one.”

But the nine representatives that voted against the bill appeared concerned that the two new agencies would remain as unproductive as the INS. “You’ve got one inefficient unproductive INS now,” said Rep. Melvin Watt, D-NC. “It seems to me what you’re going to end up with is two inefficient agencies.” Similarly, the American Immigration Lawyers Associates (AILA), who supports INS reorganization, expressed concern in a recent press release over two bureaus that could end-up working at cross-purposes. “AILA supports the separation of enforcement and adjudications functions, but for such separation to succeed also supports the creation of one strong central authority in control and effective coordination between the two functions.”

Commissioner James Ziglar Speaks About the Next Steps in INS Reform

At an April 17 press conference held at INS Headquarters, Commissioner James Ziglar laid out the future of INS in a post-September 11 America. Ziglar’s conference was in response to President Bush’s outspoken wishes for INS reform. “The Attorney General and I are committed to carrying out the President’s wishes,” Ziglar said. “We will deliver on the President’s vision of an INS that provides high-quality service on a consistent basis nationwide, while protecting our borders and defending Americans from terrorism and other national security threats.”

The ‘Next Steps’ in INS reform are much more than “merely moving boxes around an organizational chart,” Ziglar said. They are key changes which will result in fundamental reforms in the way INS functions and operates.

Part One of the reform plan is a new Border Patrol chain-of-command. The new hierarchical structure gives the Border Patrol Chief direct responsibility for every aspect of border operations; the 21 sector chiefs will now directly report to the Border Patrol Chief. Previous to this reform, sector chiefs reported to regional directors who then reported to Headquarters.

This new streamlined hierarchical structure clarifies the chain-of-command in the Border Patrol and gives the Border Patrol Chief real and direct authority over all 21 sector chiefs.

Part Two of the reform plan, aimed at creating a better-defined chain-of-command in Detention and Removals, will again transfer control of functions from district and regional directors to INS Headquarters. After completion of this power transition, a timeline proposed to be reached by August, the head of Detention and Removals will have complete control, responsibility and accountability for all actions at the eight Service Processing Centers.

These changes at the Service Processing Centers are the first steps toward a general restructuring plan across INS, aimed at centralizing control and functions. “This consolidation of management will help ensure that our detention policies and procedures aimed at creating a safe, secure, and human environment for all detainees are executed uniformly and consistently throughout the agency,” Ziglar said.

Ziglar also announced the creation of the new Office of Juvenile Affairs, temporarily headed by Boston District Director Steve Farquharson. INS is also creating other key positions, including a Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Information Officer.

The final shift in INS structure is a field advisory board made up of 11 senior officers. The advisory board will act as a liaison between the Headquarters Office of Restructuring and field operations.

In closing the press conference, Ziglar voiced his support for the future success of INS: “I am confident that with their guidance, and with the help and support of the Congress and the Administration, we can quickly complete construction of the new INS – an INS that will successfully meet the demands and challenges of the 21st century.”

INS Clarifies New Non-Immigrant Visitor Rules and Provides Internal Guidance to Agency Officers

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) issued a Statement clarifying its proposed regulations for non-immigrant visitors in the United States. The Statement – issued just one day after the initial announcement – came in the wake of requests seeking clarification on the rules, particularly as they relate to the period of stay for B-2 visitors, as well as B non-immigrants’ ability to change visa classifications.

The INS first explains that its proposed rule will not automatically limit B-2 visitors for pleasure to a 30-day admission. Instead, the burden is on the visitor to explain to the INS Immigration Inspector the nature and purpose of the visit so that the Inspector can determine a “period of time that is fair and reasonable for the completion of the purpose of the visit.” When the Inspector cannot make such a determination, he or she will then only grant a 30-day admission.

Additionally, the proposed rule does not completely bar B non-immigrants from changing status to that of a student. Recognizing that some students might seek admission to the United States as B-2 visitors for pleasure so that they can tour an educational institution’s campus or interview for admission, the INS explains that it will permit the change of status so long as the non-immigrant clearly states their intent to study in the U.S. when initially applying for admission. When such intent to study is provided at the port of entry, the INS Immigration Inspector will note that the alien is a prospective student on the I-94 form (Arrival/Departure Record).

The INS has also provided internal guidance to its April 12, 2002 interim rule that eliminates the ability of a B nonimmigrant from beginning a course of study at a U.S. school without first obtaining INS approval for the new F-1 or M-1 student visa. In an internal memorandum to Regional Directors, the Agency explains that officers should look for the following evidence to confirm that the alien has not already begun an impermissible course of study:

· A copy of the alien’s Form I-20 that indicates the date the alien’s course of study will begin.
· A letter or other documentation from the school, confirming the alien’s acceptance into a course of study, and confirming that the alien has not begun a course of study.

Where there is doubt about the veracity of an alien’s statements, officers are instructed to issue a Request for Evidence seeking clarification. Officers may also contact the school’s registrar to determine whether the alien has started a course of study.

U.S. passports issued overseas will incorporate new security features.

Washington, April 8– Effective immediately, American citizens who require issuance of a U.S. Passport while residing or traveling abroad will be issued the latest, state-of-the-art passport, incorporating a `Digitized Image’ and other enhanced security features. Since this latest technology is not currently available at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, passport issuance outside the U.S. will handled by the National Passport Processing Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Travel documents have gained increased importance after the incidents of September 11, and the new U.S. passport has many features that make it one of the most secure travel documents produced anywhere in the world. Getting these more secure passports into circulation will help minimize the misuse of American passports by criminals, terrorists, and others.

While the new procedure will increase the processing times for passport issuance overseas, the Department of State stresses it is committed to ensuring that American citizens received secure documents in a timely manner. American citizens overseas are also encouraged to apply early for renewal of expiring passports. U.S. embassies and consulates will continue to issue passports that are needed for urgent travel, however, such passports will be for a limited validity period and cannot be extended. Bearers will be required to exchange their limited-validity passports for a full-validity digitized passports upon completion of their urgent travel at no additional cost.

Schedule of Fees for Consular Services at Overseas Embassies and Consulates

Washington, April 1: The Department of State has introduced new “Schedule of Fees for Consular Services” fees for Consular Services.

The rule will make appropriate implementing and other related changes in affected portions set forth in these regulations.Specifically, the rule will make changes in the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services (”Schedule of Fees” or ”Schedule”) and will also make technical changes concerning passport fees.

The primary objective of the adjustments to the Schedule of Fees was to ensure that the costs of Consular Services were recovered through User Fees to the maximum extent appropriate and also at the same time, permitted by the Law. As a result of the new data on the Cost of Services, there will be an increase, in most of the fees.

The proposed Schedule will lower the notarial fee by shifting some of the costs of this service to appropriations. In addition, the Schedule of Fees will be restructured and streamlined, making the Schedule easier to read and understand.

As a part of these reformations some services have been removed from the Schedule, while, some have been consolidated.

Meanwhile, certain Consular Services performed for no-fee are also included in the Schedule, so that the public will be aware of significant Consular Services provided by the Department, that they may request and for which they will not be charged.

It has been found out that Codes will be added to the Schedule, in order to facilitate Consular Officers’ Use of the Department’s Consular Accounting Codes, when the fees will be actually collected.

Majority of the Department of State’s Consular Fees are established pursuant to the General User Charges Statute, 31 U.S.C. 9701, and/or U.S.C. 4219, which, as implemented through Executive Order 10718 of June 27, 1957, which authorizes the Secretary of State to establish fees will be charged for Official Services provided by the Embassies and Consulates.

Fees established under these authorities will include fees for Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa Processing, for Fingerprints and for Overseas Citizens’ Services.

In addition to these, a number of Statutes, for Address Specific Fees, Passport Application Fees (including the cost of passport issuance and use) will be authorized by 22 U.S.C. 214, as fees for the execution of passport applications.

It can be recalled that this provision was amended on November 29, 1999, by the Public Law 106-113, to permit collection of a Non-Refundable Application Fee, subject to promulgation of implementing regulations, which are at 22 CFR parts 51 and 53.

Section 636 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Public Law 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009- 703-704(Sept. 30, 1996), authorizes the establishment of a Diversity Visa Application Fee, to recover the full costs of the visa lottery conducted pursuant to Sections 203 and 222 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (”INA”), 8 U.S.C. 1153, 1202.

Non-Immigrant Visa Reciprocity Fees have also been authorized and in fact, generally required, pursuant to Section 281 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1351.

However, it has also stated that written comments in this regard, must be received on or before April 29, 2002.

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments to the following Address:

Office of the Executive Director,
Bureau of Consular Affairs,
Department of State,
Suite H1004, 2401 E Street NW,
Washington, DC 20520.


Susan Abeyta,
Office of the Executive
Director, Bureau of Consular Affairs,
Tele Fax: (202) 663-2499