USCIS To Make Travel Documents More Secure

Washington D.C. – Eduardo Aguirre, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), today announced the production of a new, re-designed travel document. Those documents, which allow permanent residents, refugees and asylees to re-enter the United States following travel abroad, incorporate increased security features aimed at eliminating a counterfeiter’s ability to duplicate them.

“We’re taking advantage of the latest state-of-the-art technology to produce new travel documents, ” said Director Aguirre. “In the process, USCIS is addressing two major priorities. First, we’re making America safer by adding security features that frustrate the illegal production of these documents. Second, we’re improving production techniques and processes allowing us to get these documents into the hands of our customers more quickly.”

Produced at the USCIS Nebraska Service Center, the new travel documents utilize the same patented personalization process as the current U.S. passport. This includes a digitized integrated photo, which has proven difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate. The redesigned document also features a number of covert or hidden features that require sophisticated forensic equipment to view.

The new travel document is light green in color and resembles the size and shape of the U.S. passport. It replaces the existing refugee travel document and the re-entry permit for permanent residents. Refugee travel documents and re-entry permits currently in circulation will remain valid until the expiration dates printed on those documents. Annually more than 200,000 people apply for travel documents. The use of new production equipment and techniques allows USCIS to increase by ten fold the daily production rate for these documents.

Advertisements

USCIS Reminds Immigrants Traveling Abroad To Apply For Advanced Parole

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the immigration and citizenship services subset of the Department of Homeland Security, has reminded immigrants to obtain Advanced Parole prior to traveling abroad. Advanced Parole, obtainable via Form I-131, the Application for Travel Document, enables immigrants to reenter the U.S. after traveling abroad; these individuals’ petitions for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency will also remain active.

It is important to note that travel outside the U.S. without Advanced Parole can lead to severe consequences for many immigrants. These immigrants may be barred from reentering the U.S. and their applications for adjustment of status may be denied.

It is also of prime importance to note that individuals unlawfully present in the U.S. who leave the country, even with Advanced Parole, may be ineligible to return to the U.S. Such individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for a period of 180 days to a year may be ineligible to return to the U.S. for three years; individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for a period of one year or more may be ineligible to return for ten years.

Homeland Security Announces Operation ICE Storm

Leading officials in law enforcement, government and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have announced a play to work together in a multi-agency initiative to combat human smuggling in Arizona and throughout the United States. Led by the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), this initiative, titled Operation ICE Storm, will include a task force consisting of federal, state and local agencies. Operation ICE Storm’s primary goal will be to dismantle organized crime outfits engaged in human smuggling.

“We’re dealing with ruthless individuals who view human life as nothing more than cargo for profit,” says ICE Acting Assistant Secretary, Michael J. Garcia. “We’re making a commitment to put an end to this violence. Never have agencies on so many levels come together and pooled their expertise to deal with this problem.”

Operation ICE Storm is born in the wake of recent violent activities related to human smuggling, including a deadly freeway shooting earlier this month. In the past year, there have been nearly 400 cases of extortion, kidnapping and human invasion related to human smuggling in the Phoenix area alone.

Operation ICE Storm agents will utilize immigration, smuggling and financial investigative abilities to track and capture the criminal organizations responsible for a majority of human smuggling incidents.

As part of this initiative, the task force has established the ICE Storm Most Wanted list, a toll-free public tip line. This number, 1 (800) DHS-2ICE, will be operated on a 24-hour basis, and will enable community citizens to report suspected cases of human smuggling.

“Smuggling-related violence in the Phoenix area has reached epidemic proportions,” said Garcia. “It affects virtually every segment of the community and we need the public’s help to locate these suspects and bring them to justice.”

Department of Homeland Security to Open Five New Offices to Scrutinize Some Visa Applications

The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that they will open law enforcement offices in five Muslim countries. These offices, to be opened early next year, will investigate visa applicants suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, and will be located in American embassies or consulates in Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. These five nations have a large amount of citizens who apply for visas to the United States, and have a heightened presence of terrorist groups within their borders.

These five offices will join offices already open in Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and Jedda, and will be an additional line of defense in the U.S.’s war on terrorism.

Initially, twelve investigators will be given diplomatic status and sent to open the offices, with the expressed intention of bringing in additional offices and investigators. These investigators will work closely with State Department Consular Officers, who will continue to process the majority of visa applications.

But, while Consular Officers will continue to review the majority of applications and interview applicants, Homeland Security Officers will have the final say on issuing visas and will decide which applicants should be investigated.

It is the expressed goal of the Department of Homeland Security to both strengthen the security of American borders and create a more smooth and efficient process for routine applicants to enter the United States. “We want to free up the consular officials to process legitimate visas,” said one official, “ending some of the delays that we have experienced overseas.”

American officials believe that host nations will support the new law enforcement offices and that, ultimately, these offices and investigators will assist in creating a secure and open system of immigration in the United States. “D.H.S. [Department of Homeland Security] is aware that among the millions of visa applications filed annually there will be cases that will not present clear-cut answers and that will require further scrutiny and vetting,” says Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. “[However,] we remain committed to open, secure borders and will continue to balance these interests while ensuring that homeland security requirements receive the priority they deserve in the visa process.”

State Department Web site for the Diversity Visa program (DV-2005) is now open

ENTRIES FOR THE DV-2005 DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY MUST BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY BETWEEN SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2003 AND TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2003. APPLICANTS MAY ACCESS THE ELECTRONIC DIVERSITY VISA ENTRY FORM AT ‘WWW.DVLOTTERY.STATE.GOV’ DURING THE 60 DAY REGISTRATION PERIOD BEGINNING NOVEMBER 1. PAPER ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 to provide for a new class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” (DV immigrants). The Act makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The annual DV program makes permanent residence visas available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. Applicants for Diversity Visas are chosen by a computer-generated random lottery drawing. The visas, however, are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to citizens of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the past five years. Within each region, no one country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.

For DV-2005, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because they sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years:

CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, EL SALVADOR, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, RUSSIA, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible.

For more inofrmation Please visit Electronic Diversity Visa Entry web site, which is accessible only at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov.