USCIS Creates Dedicated Email Addresses for International Adoption Questions

In an attempt to make easier the complicated process of adopting international children, the USCIS has created a set of email addresses that are solely devoted to issues related to international adoption. Each district office of the USCIS will have a dedicated email address that is reserved just for customer service issues related to international adoption.

USCIS notes that it is quite common for prospective adoptive parents to have frequent questions that are both complex and urgent and that are not easily answerable by using traditionally available channels of customer service. Interested individuals should call the USCIS National Customer Service Center’s information line at 1 (800) 375-5283 to obtain this dedicated email address for the USCIS district that covers their immigration needs.

Hopefully, this new email service can be of assistance to prospective adoptive parents.

Limited Visa Processing Now Active at the Beirut Consular Section

As of today, the Consular Section in Beirut will continue processing immigrant visas. According to the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, Lebanese civilians whose immigrant visa interviews were cancelled due to the conflict with Israel will have those interviews immediately re-scheduled. In addition, beginning Monday, August 28, the Consular Section will continue in a limited fashion processing of the following nonimmigrant visas: F, H, J, L, M, O and P. Processing for all other visitor visas will remain on temporary hold until a further notice is issued.

USCIS Adds Two New Categories to Premium Processing Category

The USCIS announced yesterday the addition of two new classifications to the Premium Processing Service, a special service that gives U.S. businesses the ability to speed up the processing of their clients’ or employees’ visa petitions. For a $1,000 Premium Processing Fee, their cases will be processed within 15 calendar days.

As of August 28, USCIS will accept requests for Premium Processing for petitions requesting two employment-based immigration categories within the third employment-based preference. These two categories include EB-3 professionals, the immigrant workers with bachelor degrees who are members of the professions, and EB-3 Skilled Workers, immigrant workers who perform skilled labor that requires at least two years of education, training or experience. Do note that this Premium Processing is not available to other workers in the EB-3 Category, those immigrant workers applying for jobs that do not require two years of education, training or experience.

Additionally, USCIS has revised the Request for Premium Processing Services, Form, I-907. This revised form must be used on or after August 28, 2006. Any request submitted on or after that date on the old form will be rejected. However, this revised form can not be submitted prior to that date.

Premium Processing Service has been available since 2001 for a range of classifications, within Form I-129, including the following: E treaty traders and investors under the E category; specialty occupation workers under the H-1B category: temporary workers engaged in agricultural services under the H-2B category; H-3 trainees; L intracompany transferres; foreign workers with extraordinary ability under the O category; performers, athletes and those performing essential support services for those individuals under the P category; R religious workers; and professionals from Canada and Mexico seeking to enter the U.S. under provisions included in NAFTA.

Foreign Born Population Increased Since 2000, Says Census Bureau

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of immigrants currently living in the U.S. has increased 16 percent over the last five years; the current total amount of immigrants in the U.S. is 35.7 million people, with many of these immigrants living in states that have not traditionally been sites of destination. The total amount of foreign born residents in the U.S. makes up 12.4 percent of the total U.S. population, up from 11.1 percent in 2000. The majority of new immigrants come to the U.S. from Mexico and other countries in Central and South America.

The increase in migrants to non-traditional areas will add to the stress of these regions in areas such as education, health and other public services and it is essential that the nation as a whole understand the importance of addressing the needs of this large population of American residents.

Over the past five years, South Carolina saw a 48 percent increase in immigrants, the largest noted increase. Delaware had a 40 percent increase; Massachusetts, 14.4 percent; and Rhode Island, 12.6 percent.

According to census data, California had the highest rate of foreign born residents; 27.2 percent of the state’s population were born outside the U.S.

Citizens and Nonimmigrant Aliens Will Soon Be Required to Show Passports when Entering the U.S.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that, by January 1, 2008, all U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens will only be able to enter the U.S. with passports or other documents designated as satisfactory by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security, this week, submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking as the first step toward implementing this new requirement.

According to Homeland security, as of January 8, 2007, all U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens from Canada, Bermuda and Mexico that enter the U.S. at air ports of entry and most sea ports of entry will be required, with a few exceptions, to show a valid passport.

Senators Durbin and Sununu Call for Temporary Protected Status for Lebanese Nationals

In response to recent devastation in Lebanon, in which nearly a million people have been displaced, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and John Sununu (R-NH) presented a new proposal to address immigration issues related to displaced Lebanese nationals. The Lebanese Temporary Protected Status Act of 2006 would provide temporary protected status for Lebanese citizens affected by the devastation caused by the hostilities with Israel. According to the proposed Act, nationals of Lebanon who have been continuously present in the U.S. since the enactment of this proposed act and who are otherwise admissible as immigrants to the U.S. would be provided with temporary protected status for one year.

Temporary Protected Status can be provided to nationals of other nations who are currently residing in the U.S. in cases where returning to their country would pose a serious threat to their personal safety due to ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Afghani and Iraqi Translators May Now Apply for U.S. Citizenship

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Afghan and Iraqi nationals who have worked with the U.S. military as translators are now eligible to submit requests for special immigrant status. This new category, created by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2006, allows these translators and their families to legally enter the U.S., apply for permanent residency and eventually become U.S. citizens. Translators should file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Form (Form I-360) with evidence showing that the applicants meet the following criteria:

 

    • Be a national of Iraq or Afghanistan,

 

    • Have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces as a translator for a period of at least 12 months,

 

    • Have obtained a favorable written recommendation from a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of the unit supported by the translator,

 

    • Have cleared a background check and screening as determined by a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of unit supported by the translator. The Department of Defense will determine the type of background check and screening required on a case-by-case basis, and

 

    • Be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and otherwise admissible to the United States for permanent residence. In determining such admissibility, the grounds for inadmissibility relating to “public charge” shall not apply.

 

Required evidence at time of filing include the following:

 

    • A copy of the passport or birth certificate showing the alien is a national of Iraq or Afghanistan,

 

    • Proof, issued by the U.S. Armed Forces, of working as a translator with the Armed Forces for at least 12 months,

 

    • Proof of background check and screening by the U.S. Armed Forces. The Department of Defense will determine the type of background check and screening required on a case-by-case basis,

 

    • A recommendation letter from General or Flag Officer, and

 

  • A copy of the front and back of the applicant’s Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) if filed in the United States.

Immigration Update for Lebanese Citizens

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut is temporarily closed for all visa applications, interviews and processing due to the current conflict in the region. The Department of State has informed us, however, that the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece will begin all visa processing for Lebanese citizens.

As of August 1, Lebanese citizens applying for F, H, J, L , M, O or P nonimmigrant visas should schedule interview appointments through the Athens embassy website (http://athens.usembassy.gov/) or, if they are in Greece, by using the user-pay call center at 90-11-230-730.

Also, as of that August 1 date, Lebanese citizens who have an immigrant petition approved for them and are waiting for an interview should contact the Athens Embassy via email at Athens-IV-Lebanon@state.gov.

Individuals who have already applied for their immigrant visas at the Beirut Embassy should inquire about whether their cases can be transferred to Athens for processing by emailing Athens-IV-Lebanon@state.gov.