California Senate and Assembly Pass Illegal Immigrant Driver License Bill

The California Senate and the Assembly narrowly passed a measure to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who pass a criminal background check. The bill will now go to Gov. Schwarzenegger for final approval. “This bill meets every expectation, every concern that the governor raised,” stated Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles). “We’ve met it, and we expect that he’s going to be honorable and honor his word.”

However, aides to the Governor have stated that he intends to veto the measure despite its added provisions that Democratic supporters of the bill state will ensure criminals and potential terrorists do not utilize the service. According to Margita Thompson, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s press secretary: “The only option is to have a distinguishing characteristic to make sure a license can’t be used as identification but can be used as a document to drive … and therefore the governor can’t support this legislation, because national security is of paramount concern.”

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USCIS Announces H-1B Numbers for FY 2004 and FY 2005

USCIS has announced the amount of H-1B petitions adjudicated for FY 2004 and FY 2005. According to USCIS, it has adjudicated 56,100 approvals toward the FY 2004 cap of 65,000 H-1B visas (minus the 6,800 reserved for individuals from Chile and Singapore).

As of August 4, 2004, USCIS has received 40,000 H-1B filings for FY 2005. Of these petitions, 21,000 have so far been approved; the rest are currently or will soon be reviewed.

DHS Adds To and Amends Its List of US-VISIT Ports of Entry

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has added six new ports of entry to its list of ports of entry designated under the US-VISIT program. These six new ports of entry are: Albany International Airport (New York), St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport (Florida), Port Everglades Seaport (Florida), Andrews Air Force Base (Maryland), New York City Seaport (New York), and Port Canaveral, Terminal 10 (Florida).

In addition, DHS has removed the following ports of entry from its list of intended US-VISIT locations due to error: Agana International Airport (Agana, Guam) and McCarren International Airport (Las Vegas, Nevada). In place of these two ports of entry, DHS intends to implement US-VISIT at Seattle/Tacoma International Airport (Washington) and Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport (Florida).

The US-VISIT program is an automated entry-exit system that records both the arrival and departure of aliens; verifies their identities; and authenticates their travel documents by comparing biometric identifiers.

InfoPass Opens in Boston

USCIS formally opened the doors of its InfoPass service for Boston, MA applicants this week. This launch is another milestone toward USCIS’s goal to implement this internet-based appointment system in 34 cities by early September.

InfoPass enables individuals to go online to schedule a date and time to meet with an immigration officer. This service gets rid of the hassle of having to wait in long lines to meet with an official.

“This is another important stride for USCIS in our commitment to offer customers world class service,” said USCIS Director, Eduardo Aguirre. “We are using updated technology to improve the experience for our customers by enabling them to schedule an appointment on their own time.”

InfoPass is currently available in 12 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Creole, English, French, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Russian and Vietnamese. USCIS intends to add additional languages in the near future.

Customs To Provide Parole for Some First Time VWP Overstays

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced that it has provided its officers with the ability to use discretion to provide no-risk travelers who overstayed their time in the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on a prior visit to the U.S. a one-time parole. This use of discretion, according to CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner, will avoid instances of detention and handcuffing that the CBP considers “inappropriate” for this minor offense.

“A number of situations have come to my attention where CBP officers have denied entry to travelers from Visa Waiver Countries, on their arrival at U.S. airports, because of brief, prior overstays, sometimes just a few days, of the Visa Waiver Program, although these travelers posed no threat whatsoever to the U.S,” said Commissioner Bonner. “The consequence of the decision has been that the person has been detained, often overnight, until a flight back to the country from whence they came and handcuffed while transported to and from the detention facility. This treatment is grossly disproportionate to the inadvertent prior overstays. By my action today, I have directed CBP port directors and supervisors to see that parole is granted to permit entry, except where the person poses a threat for terrorism, criminality or is likely to become an economic migrant.”

With this new discretionary power, port directors and supervisors at ports of entry can now grant certain no-risk travelers a one-time parole into the U.S. This parole is granted per individual and those provided with this parole will be informed of their official status as a Visa Waiver Overstay.

DOS Reminds Posts of Student Visa Policies

The Department of State has issued a reminder to Consular Posts of important visa processing policies regarding student and exchange visitor visas.

  1. U.S.  under the J visa for the first time must not enter until 30 days prior to the program start date.
  2. While students may apply for F visas at any time, they can not be issued by consular officers until at least 90 days prior to the program start date.
  3. First-time students interested in traveling to the U.S. prior to the 30 day point may wish to obtain a B visa to do so. Individuals may have both a B and an F, J or M visa in their passport at the same time.
  4. Consular posts have been advised to give priority scheduling to individuals applying for F, J or M visas due to the fact that these applicants are often subject to specific deadlines.

USCIS ANNOUNCES CHANGE IN PHOTO STANDARD TO TAKE EFFECT AUGUST 2ND, 2004

Washington, DC – In accordance with language specified in the Border Security Act of 2003, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a change in the photo requirements for all applicants from a three-quarter face position to a standard, full frontal face position to take effectAugust 2, 2004.

USCIS will accept both three-quarter and full color frontal photographs until September 1, 2004 after which only full frontal color will be accepted.

The application process of customers who have already submitted materials that include color photos with the three-quarter standard will not be affected by this change.

All photos must be of just the applicant. Where more than one photo is required, all photos of the person must be identical. All photos must meet the specifications for full frontal/passport photos and must be no more than 30 days old when an application is filed.

three-quarter/passport full frontal/passport For more information on photo standards visit the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/passport/pptphotos/index.html or contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.