US Embassy in India to End Drop Box Procedure

According to reliable sources, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi plans to issue a press release that will announce the end of its Drop Box procedure for nonimmigrant visa applications at all consular posts in India. According to Embassy representatives, the last day to utilize the drop box in Chennai will be June 30, 2004. However, members of the Chennai Business Executive Program will be given an extension of use until July 15, 2004.

As of July 16, 2004, all nonimmigrant visa applicants in Chennai will need to set up an appointment for a personal interview with a consular officer. Any applications received after July 15 will be returned to the applicant with instructions to set up a physical appointment.

This change in procedure will be in effect in July 2004 when U.S. consular offices in India start electronically collecting biometric identifiers from all visa applicants (with the exception of applicants traveling on official government business and individuals under age 14 or over age 79). These scanned biometric identifiers (fingerprints) will be compared at a U.S. port of entry with the applicant’s fingerprint to prevent the abuse of visa privileges by imposters/criminals.

The collection of biometric identifiers is a global change in U.S. immigration procedures and has already been implemented in over 150 U.S. consular posts worldwide.

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Department of State Will No Longer Accept Visa Revalidations

Department of State Will No Longer Accept Visa Revalidations A representative of the Department of State (DOS) announced last week that all applications for visa revalidations will no longer be accepted by the DOS as of mid-July. An official report stipulating this new regulation is expected to be published in the coming days. One exception is being made to this proposed regulation: applications for which additional information has been requested by DOS that are pending at the date of cancellation will still be accepted.

Visa revalidations are currently applicable for the following visas:

· C Visas;
· E Visas;
· H Visas;
· I Visas;
· L Visas;
· O Visas; and
· P Visas.

DOS is cancelling visa revalidations for these visa categories because they do not have the ability to acquire biometric identifiers that will be required of all visas by October 2004. DOS does not plan to bring visa revalidations back at a later point.

While visa revalidations did cause a significant increase in processing tiems, rejections and denials, this program was lauded by immigrants and immigration service organizations, who are currently developing strategies to convince DOS to revive the visa revalidation program.

USCIS Issues New Versions of Employment Authorization Documents

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now issuing a new version of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), on Form I-765. The EAD provides proof that individuals are authorized to work in the U.S. This new version of the EAD, available today, contain new, enhanced security features, including a magnetic strip, a two-dimensional barcode and several other features that can be forensic examination.

Update on Delta Regional Authority Three-Year Waiver for J-1 Visa Holders

According to Pete Johnson, Federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), more physicians will soon be practicing in the DRA area. The implementation of the DRA Physician Visa Waiver Program will, according to Johnson, enable more people in the region to have better access to affordable healthcare.

The DRA Physician Visa Waiver Program will enable foreign medical graduates, currently in the U.S. under J-1 status to remain in the U.S. for a period of three additional needs. Current J-1 regulations require J-1 trainees to return to their native land after completion of their training. The new DRA program would enable these graduates to receive a waiver, as long as they agree to serve in a medically underserved area of the DRA region for a period of three years. These regions include urban and rural areas of the Delta Region.

These physicians must also agree to provide primary care service for 40 h/week and must treat all categories of patients (including Medicare, Medicaid and indigents).

According to Johnson, the program’s outcomes include the following two key goals:

Reduction in health care costs and the physical and mental anguish of diseases; and An improvement in the prevention efforts of unhealthy lifestyles in children and adults.

A federal-state partnership, the DRA was established by Congress in December of 2000 with the specific purpose of providing a conduit for resources and aid in the economic development of the Mississippi Delta region. The DRA includes 240 counties in the following eight states:

Alabama
Arkansas
Illinois
Mississippi
Missouri
Kentucky
Louisiana
Tennessee

USCIS LAUNCHES I-90 PILOT PROJECT IN LOS ANGELES

In early June 2004, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched its new I-90 pilot project in Los Angeles, CA. The goal of this new project is to reduce the wait time to renew or replace permanent resident/green cards from a period of one year to a week or less. The new I-90 pilot project utilizes electronic applications filed on the USCIS website to provide a convenient method to renew or replace these cards; customers can file for a renewal/replacement card by visiting the E-filing section of the USCIS website at http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/efiling.htm.

After E-filing, applicants will receive a receipt that provides a toll-free number that applicants may call to make an appointment at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) near their location. At the ASC, a permanent resident card will be ordered, and provided to the applicant within one week.

“We are offering our customers a quicker and more convenient way of doing business,” said Jane Arellano, Los Angeles District Director. “This new pilot will allow us to offer the kind of service that our customers need and deserve.”

This latest pilot project in Los Angeles is just one of many USCIS internet-based initiatives. More than 100,000 applicants have used the USCIS e-filing processes since they were first implemented in 2003. For more information, visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.