House and Senate Pass the Homeland Security Act of 2002

Recently approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 provides for widespread changes in procedures and regulations relating to domestic security and immigration issues. The Act creates the Department of Homeland Security and, at its head, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The Act also creates the position of Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. The Secretary, acting through the Undersecretary, will be responsible for a range of border and transportation security issues, including:

· preventing terrorists and the instruments of terror from entering the United States;
· securing all national borders;
· enforcing all immigration statutes currently performed by the Commissioner of the INS immediately before transfer of immigration functions;
· establishing rules and protocols related to the issuance of visas for non-citizens and non-permanent residents; and
· establishing policies for the enforcement of immigration laws.

The Secretary of Homeland Security (acting through the Secretary of State) will also be responsible for the administration and enforcement of all regulations related to the granting or refusal of visas at consular offices, including the training of consular officers. The Secretary of Homeland Security, however, will not be granted the ability to reverse any decision made by a consular officer regarding the issuance or refusal of a visa.

The Homeland Security Act empowers the Secretary of State to direct consular officers to refuse visas to particular aliens if the Secretary of State believes it will be in the best interests of U.S. domestic and/or foreign policy.

The Act empowers the Secretary of Homeland Security to assign Homeland Security employees to each diplomatic/consular post, unless, for some reason, such a posting would not promote homeland security.

These employees will have a range of duties and responsibilities, including:
· offering advice and training to consular officers in regards to possible security threats related to particular or groups of visa applications;
· reviewing visa applications, either at his/her own prerogative, or based on a request to do so by a consular officer;
· conducting investigations into some consular matters.

The following are descriptions of some of the Sections of the Homeland Security Act of 2002:

Section 429 of the Act calls for all information about visa denial to be entered into the interoperable electronic data system, as implemented by the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. All individuals denied visas will not be able to receive visas afterwards, unless particular processes are followed and all data are entered into the electronic data system.

Section 441 of the Act calls for a transfer of five functions to the Under Secretary for Border and Transporation Security from the Commissioner of the INS. These functions are as follows:
· border patrol;
· detention and removal;
· intelligence;
· investigations; and
· inspections.

Section 442 of the Act establishes the Bureau of Border Security and the position fo Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Border Security. Some of the duties relegated to the Assistant Secretary include adivsing the Under Secretary, establishing and overseeing some immigration policies and administering data retrieval programs such as SEVIS.

Section 446 of the Act calls for the completion of a 14-mile border fence near San Diego, California.

Section 451 of the Act establishes the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some of the responsiblities of this Director will be:
· the implementation of a managerial rotation program. Under this program, supervisors and managers will be positioned in all major functions of the Bureau and will work in at least one field office and one service center;
· the implementation a pilot program to deal with the backlog of immigration application processing;
· adjudications of naturalization petitions, asylum and refugee applications, and other adjudications currently performed by the INS.

Section 459 of the Act calls for the Secretary of Homeland Security to come up with and submit a plan to the House of Representatives and the Senate within one year that will describe how the Bureau plans to fairly and efficiently complete adjudications.

Section 460 of the Act calls for the Attorney General to submit a report to Congress detailing any suggestions for changes in immigration laws so that immigration services can be best met.

Section 461 of the Act calls for the establishment of an internet-based program to enable access to immigration services.

Section 462 of the Act calls for the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services to be responsible for all immigration laws related to alien children unaccompanied by adults.

Section 471 of the Act abolishes the INS.

Advertisements

INS Announces Special Call-In for Some Nonimmigrant Aliens

The INS has announced a special call-in for some nonimmigrant aliens. All male nonimmigrants age 16 or older who are nationals or citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria, were inspected by the INS and admitted into the US on or before September 10, 2002, and who will continue to remain in the US up to or after December 16, 2002 are required to register with the INS.

These individuals must come to an INS office between November 15 and December 16, 2002 to be photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed under oath. Individuals remaining in the US for more than one additional year must come back to an INS office within ten days of the anniversary of this first registration. Further, these individuals must notify the INS within ten days (on Form AR-11 SR) of any change in address, employment or educational institution. These nonimmigrant aliens must also appear in person before an INS inspecting officer at a designated port if leaving the US. Individuals must leave on the same day from that particular port.

Non-compliance to these regulations may lead to the loss of nonimmgrant status. Individuals who do not report for registration may be subject to arrest, detention, fines and, possibly, deportation.

While this particular notice relates only to men, 16 and older, from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Sudan, it is the ultimate goal of the INS to track all of the roughly 35 million foreign visitors to the US.

For more information about this special call-in, read the INS press release click here.

President Bush Signs Into Law New Provisions for H-1B Visa Extensions

In early November, the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act was signed into law by President Bush. Provisions of this new law increase state quotas for J-1 visa waivers from 20 to 30, and provide additional provisions for EB-5 Entrepreneur visa holders.

However, the most important facet of this new law is the provision enabling 7th year extensions for H-1B visa holders. While 7th year extensions were previously allowed, enacted in an October 2000 law, these extensions were hard to receive and extremely restrictive. In the October 2000 law, candidates were required to file I-140 petitions in addition to labor certification applications filed one year earlier.

This new law, however, enables H-1B visa holders to extend their status past the six year point in increments of one year, as long as one year or more has passed since the filing of any labor certification or I-140 petition. This new provision loosens the restrictive control of the previous law and enables a more realistic, and reachable, possibility for extension for H-1B visa holders.

INS posts further information about special registration requirements

Recently there has been much confusion regarding INS policies on special registration. Because of this confusion, the INS released a Foreign Student Advisory to clarify the matter.

Many foreign students were told that they were required to report to the nearest INS office on or before October 30, 2002 for special registration interviews. These students were being misled. All foreign students ARE NOT required to report for special interviews. Only nonimmigrant students/visitors registered at a US port of entry and informed at that same time that they are required to appear at an INS office for an interview are indeed required to follow these special registration procedures.

Special registration procedures only apply to nonimmigrant visitors from certain designated countries; at this time, these countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. In some instances, special registration also applies to individuals “of interest based on current national security or law enforcement concerns.” [INS] These nonimmigrant visitors are required to register and be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed at their port of entry into the US.

Nonimmigrant visitors who did not go through this procedure at the port of entry are not considered special registrants, and are not required to come to an INS office for an interview. Further, individuals not considered special registrants do not have any restrictions or requirements related to leaving the US. However, upon return to the US, if relevant, it is possible for these nonimmigrants to be classified as special registrants.

For more information about special registration procedures, visit the INS’s web site at http://www.ins.gov, or telephone the INS National Customer Service Center at 1.800.375.5283. [Hearing impaired individuals may telephone 1.800.767.1833]