The Department of State (DOS) issued a cable to all U.S. consulates October 7, directing that security clearances related to technology transfer issues, also known as MANTIS clearances, be valid for up to twelve months as long as certain requirements are met. This cable, released publicly in December, is of special interest to individuals from China, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia wishing to enter the U.S. in positions noted in the Technology Alert List (TAL).
In an effort to avoid delays caused by repeat MANTIS clearances, the DOS has enabled the MANTIS clearance to be valid for up to twelve months, as long as the following conditions (the same conditions under which the initial clearance was issued) are met:
· The applicant must be returning to a U.S. Government-sponsored program;
· The applicant must be engaged in the same duties at the same facility originally used for the initial MANTIS clearance;
· There must either be evidence in the consular post’s records or a notation in the applicants visa that the DOS authorized the visa for the particular program or activity they are engaged in; and
· The consular post must send a cable to the DOS with all MANTIS information following the visa issuance.
Consular posts are reminded to make correct notations on the visa to ensure successful issuances of the visa in the future.
If all the above conditions are met, the MANTIS clearance will be valid for up to twelve additional months. In no instance will visas be issued for a period greater than twelve months. Visas for nationals of China and Russia, however, will be issued as single-entry visas and will not be valid for a period longer than three months.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is advising that all prospective immigrants who bought diversity visa (DV) lottery application services from “USA Immigration Services” and are natives of eligible countries will need to register on their own for the 2003 DV lottery. USA Immigration Services is no longer operating, and its principals are in jail. USA Immigration Services did not process your application and you will need to register on your own (if you have not already done so). USA Immigration Services is not affiliated with the United States government.
Entering the DV lottery is free. Individuals can enter on their own at the State Department’s Web site, http://www.dvlottery.state.gov. The State Department will continue to accept entries through December 30, 2003. There is a strict limit of one application per person. Application information sent to USA Immigration Services will not be filed with the State Department and will not count toward that limit. More information about the State Department’s diversity visa lottery is at http://www.travel.state.gov and at http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov.
The White House intends to review new immigration policies that may lead to amnesty for millions of illegal aliens currently residing in the United States. In a town hall meeting in Miami, Florida, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge stated that the U.S. government needed to “afford some kind of legal status” to the millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. While Ridge did not directly say that he would institute full citizenship to a percentage of the 8 to 12 million aliens currently living in the U.S., he did say that there is a need to legalize their presence.
Ridge’s statements were met by harsh criticism by some legislators and immigration specialists. Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO), chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, believes Ridge’s comments could lead to a floodgate of illegal aliens “trying to sneak into the United States in order to be first in line for amnesty.” And Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), questioned how granting legal status to illegal aliens who have shown no respect for the law would be advantageous to the United States.
An earlier amnesty program was approved by Congress in 1986 and granted legal status to nearly 3 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S. While the approved program increased border enforcement and penalties for future illegal aliens, it did not minimize their continued presence in the U.S. The illegal alien population in the U.S. today is over two times the total in 1986.
It is important to note, however, that Ridge’s comments simply reflect an ongoing debate, says Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for border and transportation security, Department of Homeland Security. “Secretary Ridge addressed it very honestly yesterday, engaged in that debate,” said Hutchinson, “but clearly this administration has not taken a firm policy position on that and the debate continues.”
The United States will launch a new security programme next year that will serve the dual purpose of speeding the entry of all legal foreign visitors into the country while keeping out potential security threats, a senior official in the US Department of Homeland Security has said.
The programme called US VISIT, to be launched on January 5 2004, will put in use the latest in high technology to increase security at US ports of entry, Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Borders and Transportation in the Department said in Miami yesterday.
Hutchinson said US VISIT will use a biometric (fingerprint) confirmation of those holding valid visas to enter the United States.
The programme will minimise the possibility of document fraud, and identify individuals who are on a terrorist watch list with the goal of preventing them from entering the country, he said.
As originally approved by the US Congress before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the programme “was designed to attack the problem of visa overstays in the United States,” said Hutchinson.
“But obviously it was accelerated after 9/11 and the security aspects of it have been dramatically increased,” Hutchinson said, adding that US Visit will initially be applied at US airports and seaports, and will later be expanded to other ports of entry.
The Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Eduardo Aguirre, recently announced the addition of two new services to the USCIS website. The USCIS website will now accept online credit card payments for electronically filed applications. The site will also provide processing date information to their already existing case status system.
Online filing of USCIS applications were first offered in May of this year and are one part of the USCIS’s commitment to modernize the application process. Since that time, over 50,000 applications have been received online; the majority of these were to renew or replace a green card or receive employment authorization. Now, credit cards, certain debit cards and electronic transfer will be accepted along with online applications.
The enhancements to the USCIS case status system will enable applicants to obtain current application processing dates, along with information on when they need to telephone the National Customer Service Center for further assistance. Applicants will continue to receive information on the last actions, location and decisions on pending applications.
USCIS is fully committed to offering world class customer service and to modernizing and creating a more efficient department. “We are leveraging the latest in technology for our customers,” said Director Aguirre. “Today’s innovations allow us to maximize service options for electronic applications and do so in a secure environment with real time payment confirmation…. [In addition,] customers also want to know information about when to expect a decision on an immigration benefit. It is sound business to inform on, and grant access to, case status from almost anywhere at any time, by way of the Internet.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Aguirre recently assured prospective adoptive parents of international children that the citizenship process for their adopted children has eased. The CCA Program, one of Aguirre’s eight strategic initiatives, will effectively eliminate the backlog of N-643 forms (the Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child) for many internationally adopted children. The program will also provide citizenship certificates to some adopted children within 45 days of their entry into the U.S. These certificates will not require an application or a fee.
This 45-day procedure will be utilized for children eligible for IR-3 (Immediate Relative) visa status. Children under this visa category account for nearly seventy percent of children adopted by U.S. citizens. The IR-3 status is utilized for children whose adoption process is finalized outside the U.S. These children will no longer require Permanent Resident Cards, as they will already be U.S. citizens.
CCA, initiated in the year 2000, amended the Immigration and Nationality act, allowing immediate and automatic citizenship for some children either upon entry into the U.S. or upon adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Resident. When this program was enacted, thousands of adopted children in the U.S. changed overnight from Lawful Permanent Residents to U.S. citizens.