State Department Ends the 20-Day Holding Procedure for Some Nonimmigrant Visas

The State Department is ending the interim 20-day holding period for certain nonimmigrant visa applications. This termination, effective immediately, will affect all future applicants, along with all applicants presently in the 20-day spectrum. As long as an application does not need any other clearance procedure, it may be immediately processed. This waiting period termination applies to all visas described in Ref A (01 State 196355).

This holding period was a temporary solution implemented after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. However, new clearance procedures, including data sharing between agencies, have effectively made the holding period no longer necessary. These new clearance and security procedures are being continually reviewed by the State Department in order to ensure their continued relevance and effectiveness.

While the 20-day holding period, as noted in Ref A, has been abolished, it is important to note that no changes are being made to clearance procedures described in Ref B (01 State 109933) or Ref C (State 15702).

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New Interim Rule Regarding Visa Waiver Program Passenger Data Elements

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has implemented an interim rule to require that carriers transporting Visa Waiver Program (VWP) passengers into and out of the United States provide Data Element information about all passengers to the INS. This rule will make sure that legitimate VWP travel is not hindered, and will also ensure that VWP aliens are efficiently identified and monitored.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens from participating nations to enter the United States for up to 90 days, as nonimmigrant visitors for business or pleasure, without first having to obtain nonimmigrant visas, as long as the visitors meet all other statutory and regulatory requirements. Participants must travel on carriers that have signed a contract stipulating that they will transport VWP travelers deemed inadmissable or deportable out of the United States at no charge to this country.

It was mandated by Congress that, by 2005, the Department of Justice complete and fully implement an entry-exit system at all ports-of-entry to integrate and share all alien arrival and departure data between the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State.

This interim rule went into effect October 11, 2002. Written comments should be submitted on or before November 11, 2002.

All written comments should be mailed to: Director, Regulations and Forms Services Division, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street NW, Room 4034, Washington, DC 20536. Please reference INS No. 2219-02 on your correspondence.

Two New Rules Proposed by Department of State/INS

1. The Department of State plans to amend the fees charged for Consular Services. The $65 fee charged for the processing of applications for nonimmigrant visas or the combined nonimmigrant visa and border crossing card is being raised to $100. This fee is being raised to ensure that the Department of State has enough funds to cover the costs of processing nonimmigrant visas. After September 11, 2001 the demand for nonimmigrant visas has dropped, causing less funding for Consular Services. Further, heightened security screening processes for nonimmigrant visas have made application processing more labor intensive.

This rule also includes a correction: the reference to a five-year validity period for border crossing cards for minors under the age of fifteen has been deleted.

This interim rules goes into effect November 1, 2002.

2. The Immigration and Naturalization Service proposes a rule to set up procedures for the issuance of certificates to health care workers. The rule states the organizations presently authorized to issue health care worker certificates, and sets up procedures by which additional organizations may issue these certificates, including the appeals process for denial of requests for authorization. The rule also proposes that nonimmigrant aliens entering the U.S. to work as health care workers, including individuals wishing to change status, must be required to submit a health care worker certification.

This rule expands upon the present interim rules for certification implementation. The INS is also proposing amendments to an already created form so that organizations can seek authorization to issue health care worker certificates in a more structured fashion. This proposed rule will enable a more uniform process for alien health care workers seeking to enter the United States.

INS Releases Notice of Ports of Departure for Nonimmigrants Aliens Subject to Special Registration

In August 2002, the Attorney General revised the special registration requirements for nonimmigrant aliens “subject to special registration”. One of these revisions, as published in the Federal Register, requires that nonimmigrant aliens subject to this close monitorship, when finally departing the US, must report this departure to an inspecting officer of the INS at any port of entry. The only exception to this rule applies to specific ports that nonimmigrant aliens subject to special registration are not allowed to depart from. This requirement became effective October 1, 2002.

Because of critical national security concerns and limited resources, the INS has limited the ports of departure allowed for nonimmigrant aliens subject to special registration. The INS will post updates as the list expands on its website, http://www.ins.usdoj.gov.

Currently, the following ports of entry are specially designated for final registration and departure by nonimmigrant aliens subject to special registration. No other port of entry may be used for departure by these nonimmigrant aliens:

Amistad Dam POE, Texas;
Anchorage International Airport, Alaska;
Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, Georgia;
Bell Harbor Pier 66 Cruise Ship Terminal, Washington;
Bridge of the Americas POE, Texas;
Brownsville/Matamoras POE, Texas;
Buffalo Peace Bridge POE, New York;
Cape Vincent POE, New York;
Calexico POE, California;
Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois;
Champlain POE, New York;
Chateaugay POE, New York;
Columbus POE, New Mexico;
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas;
Del Rio International Bridge POE, Texas;
Denver International Airport, Colorado;
Detroit Canada Tunnel, Michigan;
Detroit Metro Airport, Michigan;
Douglas POE, Arizona;
Dulles International Airport, Virginia;
Eagle Pass POE, Texas;
Fort Covington POE, New York;
Galveston POE, Texas;
Guam International Airport;
Heart Island POE, New York; H
idalgo POE, Texas;
Highgate Springs POE, Vermont;
Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii;
Honolulu Seaport, Hawaii;
Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Texas;
Houston Seaport, Texas;
International Falls POE, Minnesota;
John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York;

Gateway to the Americas Bridge POE, Laredo, Texas;
Lewiston Bridge POE, New York;
Logan International Airport, Massachusetts;
Long Beach Seaport, California;
Los Angeles International Airport, California;
Miami International Airport, Florida;
Miami Marine Unit, Florida;
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Minnesota;
Mooers POE, New York;
Niagara Falls, Rainbow Bridge, New York;
Newark International Airport, New Jersey;
Nogales POE, Arizona;
Ogdensburg POE, New York;
Orlando, Florida;
Oroville POE, Washington;
Otay Mesa POE, California;
Pacific Highway POE, Washington;
Pembina POE, North Dakota;
Piegan POE, Montana;
Portal POE, North Dakota;
Port Arthur POE, Texas;
Progreso Bridge POE, Texas;
Raymond POE, Montana;
Roosville POE, Montana;
Rouses Point POE, New York;
San Antonio International Airport, Texas;
San Diego Seaport, California;
San Francisco International Airport, California;
Seattle Seaport, Washington;
Seaway International Bridge/Massena POE, New York;
Seattle Tacoma International Airport, Washington;
Sweetgrass POE, Montana;
Thousand Islands POE, New York;
Trout River POE, New York;
and Ysleta POE, Texas.

For more information please contact
Stephen M. Dearborn, Assistant Chief Inspector,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 4064,
Washington, DC 20536,
202) 305-2970.