DHS Announces 12-MonthExtension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) For Somalia

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a 12-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia until September 17, 2006. Under this extension, those who have already been granted TPS are eligible to live and work in the United States for an additional year and continue to maintain their status.

Section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant TPS to aliens in the United States who are nationals of countries that are subject to ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. On September 16, 1991 and September 4, 2001, the Attorney General (who retained authority over TPS designations prior to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003) designated TPS for Somalia based on extraordinary and temporary conditions resulting from the armed conflict there. TPS for Somalia has been extended annually and the most recent extension expires on September 17, 2005. The U.S. Government has continued to examine conditions in Somalia and finds that an extension of TPS is warranted because the extraordinary and temporary conditions that prompted designation persist.

The extension of Somalia’s designation for TPS is effective September 17, 2005, and will remain in effect until September 17, 2006. Nationals of Somalia (or those with no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) who have been granted TPS must re-register for the 12-month extension during the 60- day re-registration period, which begins on July 29, 2005 and will remain in effect until September 27, 2005. To ensure timely scheduling for biometric collection at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Application Support Center (ASC) and to prevent a lapse in employment authorization, Somali TPS beneficiaries are encouraged to file their application materials as quickly as possible.

Instructions for re-registering for TPS have changed. Individuals re-registering for TPS under the Somalia designation must follow the new filing instructions or processing of the application may be delayed. Re-registration applications must be mailed to the USCIS Lockbox addresses noted below. Applicants should not submit applications to USCIS District Offices as they have done in the past.

To re-register for TPS under this extension, all TPS re-registrants must submit Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status) without filing fee, Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), and a $70 biometric services fee for each applicant age 14 and older. An applicant under age 14 who requests an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) must also submit the $70 biometric services fee. All applicants seeking a new EAD, valid through September 17, 2006, must submit a $175 filing fee with Form I-765. An applicant who only seeks to re-register for TPS and does not seek an EAD need not submit the $175 filing fee for the Form I-765. Applicants may request a fee waiver in accordance with the regulations; however, the biometric services fee will not be waived. Failure to properly complete and submit Forms I-821 and I-765 with all applicable fees will delay processing of the application or lead to the rejection of the re-registration application.

Unlike previous re-registration periods, applicants are not required to submit a photograph with their re-registration material, as both photographs and fingerprints will be collected at the ASC. Applicants will automatically receive an appointment at an ASC, and will be notified of the appointment by mail.

USCIS has published a revised Form I-821. Only Form I-821 with Revision Date 11/5/04 will be accepted. Earlier versions of this form will be rejected. The newly revised form, as well as other forms, are available on the USCIS web site at http://www.uscis.gov, at local USCIS offices, and via the USCIS Forms line, 1-800-870-3676.

The Form I-821, Form I-765, fees, and any required supporting documentation must be filed at the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attn: TPS Somalia
P.O. Box 87583
Chicago, IL 60680-0583

Or, for non-United States Postal Service deliveries:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attn: TPS Somalia
427 S. LaSalle – 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60605

Please note that these addresses are not the same as where TPS forms were submitted during previous re-registration periods for Somalia.

More information can be obtained from the USCIS National Customer Service Center toll-free number: 1- 800-375-5283.

Deportation Case Against Arizonan Students Thrown Out of Court

Earlier this week, an immigration judge in Phoenix threw out of court a deportation case against 4 Arizonan students due to the fact that they were illegally interrogated by immigration authorities during a school trip to Niagara Falls 3 years ago. The judge stated that immigration officials violated due process when they stopped the students solely because they were Hispanic. In addition, the judge said, the students were juveniles at the time and were questioned without the accompaniment of a parent or lawyer.

The four students, now in their early 20s, have lived in Arizona since they were young children. Three of the 4 students have finished or are currently enrolled in college. The students, who were part of an award-winning solar energy team, received national fame when they were accosted by immigration officials during a high school trip to Buffalo for an international science competition. They were stopped by immigration officials when their teacher tried to take them to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is currently considering an appeal to the judge’s decision.

Anti-Immigration Vigilante Group Has Opened Chapters Throughout the U.S.

The anti-immigration volunteer movement that started earlier this year at the Arizona-Mexico border is spreading throughout the U.S. At least 40 anti-immigration groups inspired by the Minuteman project have show up throughout the U.S. to “expose illegals.” The Minuteman project now has chapters in 18 states, from California ot Tennessee and even Maine.

The Minuteman project has been the recipient of much skepticism, especially from pro-immigration groups who compare the renegade movement as a throwback to Ku Klux Klan activities of the mid-20th century. The federal government, however, is a bit more guarded in its response to the anti-immigration vigilantes:

“Homeland security is a shared responsibility, and the department believes the American public plays a critical role in helping to defend the homeland,” agency spokesman Jarrod Agen said. “But as far doing an investigation or anything beyond giving us a heads-up, that should be handled by trained law enforcement.”

A California chapter of the project recently urged volunteers to bring baseball bats, mace, pepper spray and machetes to patrol the U.S. border. After being contacted by the U.S. Border patrol last week, the chapter pulled back from their original recommendation, but replaced it with an alternate suggestion to bring guns on patrol.

USCIS has received 8,000 H-1B Visas So Far for the New Exemption Cap

The USCIS announced this week that roughly 8,000 H-1B petitions it received will count against the exemption cap for fiscal year 2005, as established by Congress in the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004. The new regulations, which took effect in early May, changed the filing procedure for H-1B visas for FY 2005 and beyond. Based on the new regulations, 20,000 new H-1B visas were accessible for foreign workers with at least a master’s level degree from a U.S. academic institution. These visas are in addition to the standard cap of 65,000.

New 12 Month, Multiple Entry Visas for Chinese Students in U.S.

As of June 20 of this year, all eligible Chinese nationals who wish to study in the U.S. under the F-1 (student), J-1 (exchange visitor) or M-1 (vocational training) visas will be issued visas that are valid for up to 12 months and for multiple entries. Previously, these visas were only issued for a maximum period of 6 months. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed to reciprocal treatment of U.S. citizens studying in China. In addition, family members of F-1, J-1, or M-1 Chinese nationals will also be eligible for these multiple entry 12 month visas.

In 2003, the U.S. issued nearly 22,000 student and exchange visitor visas (F-1, J-1 and M-1 visas) to Chinese nationals. In 2004, the U.S. issued roughly 25,000 student and exchange visitor visas to Chinese nationals.

DHS Will Require Digital Photos in VWP Passports

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that all Visa Waiver Program (VWP) nations will be required to create passports with digital photographs byOctober 26, 2005. By late October, all VWP nations must also show to the U.S.an acceptable plan to create and issue passports with integrated circuit chips within one year. These e-passports will need to store biographical information form the data page, a digitized photo and other biometric information.

All valid passports issued by VWP nations prior to October 26, 2005 that do not contain a digital photograph will still be accepted, as long as they are machine-readable.

In addition to these two new requirements, DHS is also requiring VWP nations to undertake numerous measures in regards to lost or stolen passports, specifically VWP nations will be required to report all lost/stolen passports to both the INTERPOL and DHS and to report all intercepted lost/stolen passports to DHS’ Fraudulent Document Analysis Unit.

The 27 nations currently participating in the VWP include: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

As of June 26, 2005, any individual traveling from these 27 countries is required to have a machine-readable passport in order to enter the United States.

USCIS Announces 90-Day Extension of Work Permits for Hondurans and Nicaraguans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will announce in the Federal Register a 90-day auto-extension of employment authorization documents (EADs) for Hondurans and Nicaraguans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) valid until October 5, 2005. This Federal Register Notice will be published the week of July 5. The auto-extension applies to all TPS-related EADs (Form I-766 or Form I-688B) with an expiration date on the card of January 5, 2005 and a “category” of “A-12” or “C-19.” This notice contains guidance for affected employees and employers and will be posted online at www.uscis.gov.

Since this is an automatic extension of EADs, affected individuals do not need to report to a USCIS office or call USCIS to request additional documentation.

USCIS ANNOUNCES NEW “GREEN CARD” FILING PROCEDURE; Customers to File I-90 Applications at the Los Angeles Lockbox beginning May 31, 2005

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forwarded to the Federal Register today a notice announcing that starting May 31, 2005 aliens must mail applications to renew or replace Permanent Resident Cards, commonly known as “green cards,” directly to the Los Angeles Lockbox. The Lockbox is a processing facility used by USCIS to accelerate the collection of applications and petitions. This change allows USCIS to improve the processing of Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) by electronically capturing data and images and by performing fee receipting and depositing from one central location, rather than at the local District Office, Service Center, or Application Support Center (ASC).

Beginning on May 31st, aliens filing a Form I-90, regardless of their state of residence, must mail those applications with an application fee of $185 and a biometrics fee of $70.

For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov