New Act Would Set Deadlines for Naturalization Application Processing Times for Military Personnel

On September 28, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Military Personnel Citizenship Processing Act. This act, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Schumer (D-NY), will require that USCIS process and issue citizenship decisions within six months of the application receipt date for all current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their surviving dependants. If USCIS does not make a decision during that specified time frame, the act would require the organization to explain the reason for the delay and provide a new target date for a decision.

In addition, the act, if signed into law by the President, would establish an FBI liaison office inside USCIS and would establish processing deadlines for other naturalization applications. This act received approval by voice vote from the Senate on September 24; it is now en route to the President for final approval.

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Americans in Pakistan Urged to Be Cautious; U.S. Embassy Services Close Until Monday

The U.S. Department of State has notified U.S. citizens that they will suspend all routine consular services at their Embassy in Pakistan, which started yesterday and will continue through today.

According to the Department of State, U.S. government personnel are no longer permitted to stay at or visit any major hotels in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi or Peshawar.

The U.S. Embassy will continue to provide emergency services to Americans in Pakistan, however. Individuals needed emergency services should call the Embassy switchboard at 92 51 208 0000. Americans who need more routine support, such as passports, should wait until Monday, September 29 to request such services.

Interviews: Interviews for immigrant and non-immigrant visas will be rescheduled until a later time. Applicants for immigrant visas will be contacted by the Embassy with further information. Applicants seeking non-immigrant visas should contact their local American Express or Speedex office to reschedule their employment.

The Embassy states implicitly in its notice that Americans in Pakistan should take precautions wherever they can to ensure security and safety. These precautionary measures could include the following:

“[Americans should maintain] good situational awareness, [avoid] crowds and demonstrations and [keep] a low profile. Americans should avoid setting patterns by varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should ensure that their travel documents and visas are valid at all times.”

In addition, the Embassy strongly urges American citizens to register with the nearest Embassy or Consulate. Below, you will find contact information and particular information for each Embassy/Consulate in Pakistan, as provided by the Department of State:

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5; telephone (92-51) 208-0000 ; Consular Section telephone (92-51) 208-2700 ; fax (92-51) 282-2632, website http://islamabad.usembassy.gov

The U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, located at 8 Abdullah Haroon Road, closed its public operations indefinitely due to security concerns. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance should call the consular section in Karachi. Their telephone is (92-21) 520-4200 (after hours: 92-21-520-4400 ; fax 92-21-568-0496, website http://karachi.usconsulate.gov

The U.S. Consulate in Lahore is located at 50- Sharah-E-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Rotary, telephone (92-42) 603-4000 or 603-4250, fax (92-42) 603-4200, website http://lahore.usconsulate.gov Email address: acslahore@state.gov

The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar is located at 11 Hospital Road, Cantonment, Peshawar; telephone (92-91) 526-8000 ; fax (92-91) 527-6712, website http://peshawar.usconsulate.gov fax (92-42) 603-4200, website http://lahore.usconsulate.gov Email address: acslahore@state.gov

The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar is located at 11 Hospital Road, Cantonment, Peshawar; telephone (92-91) 526-8000 ; fax (92-91) 527-6712, website http://peshawar.usconsulate.gov

USCIS Posts Reminder of Flexible Visa Programs in Cases of Unexpected Events in Visitors’ Home Countries

USCIS has posted a reminder of the flexibility of certain nonimmigrant programs for international visitors who wish to extend their stay in the U.S. due to unexpected events in their home countries (for example, the recent severe weather in the Caribbean due to Hurricane Ike):

Nonimmigrant tourists and business visitors, when unexpected events occur in their home country, may request an extension of stay to extend their travel time. These visitors will need to explain in their request (on Form I-539, the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) how the event affected their ability to return home, how much longer they expect to remain in the U.S. and proof that they can support themselves while remaining in the U.S. during this extended period.

USCIS notes that it will also accept requests to change status for such individuals to that of a business or pleasure nonimmigrant visa (B1 or B2, respectively) when they are not able to simply extend their original visa. In addition, visitors paroled into the U.S. whose travel plans have been delayed due to inclement home country conditions may request an extension of parole by visiting a local USCIS office.

Foreign students, who are unable to continue to pay for their education due to an unexpected event in their home country, may request an off-campus employment visa (Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization).

Nonimmigrant individuals whose travel plans have been affected by unexpected events in their home country may request expedited processing of these applications.

2010 Diversity Visa Lottery Will Soon Accept Applications

The 2010 Diversity Visa Lottery’s online entry system will start at noon EST on October 2, 2008 and will end at noon EST on December 1, 2008. Persons seeking to enter the lottery program must register online through the designated Internet website during the registration period. Shortly, the Department of State will provide detailed information and instructions for the lottery. Please note that winners for the 2009 Diversity Visa Lottery were notified via mail between May and July of this year.

There is no fee charged for entering the Diversity Visa Lottery. The Department of State does not endorse, recommend or sponsor any information or material from outside entities. The Department is aware that websites and email have masqueraded as official Diversity Visa Lottery facilitators. Registration for the Diversity Visa Lottery through the official, U.S. government website, http://www.dvlottery.state.gov, is free of charge and notification of winning entries are sent by mail only.

USCIS Announces New Filing Location for Applications for Naturalization

On September 15, USCIS announced that it is expanding the Direct Mail program to include Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization. Individuals filing non-military N-400 applications should file their application with the applicable Lockbox. USCIS is implementing a 30-day transition period; during this time, Service Centers will forward N-400 forms received at the incorrect Service Center to the appropriate Lockbox location. Please note that military applicants should continue to file their N-400 applications at the Nebraska Service Center.

Starting October 14, 2008, applicants will be required to file Form N-400 and supplemental N-400 files to one of the following two Lockbox locations:

Residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Territory of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands:

File your application with:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
P.O. Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Private Courier

USCIS
Attn: N400
1820 E Skyharbor Circle
S. Floor 1, Phoenix, AZ 85036

Residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands:

File your application with:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
P.O. Box 299026
Lewisville, TX 75029

Private Courier

USCIS
Attn: N400
2501 S. State Hwy 121, Bldg. 4
Lewisville, TX 75067

Leading Corporate Heads Call for House and Senate to Pass a New Immigration Reform Bill

This week, more than 80 CEOs and presidents of U.S. companies signed and submitted a letter (with the Compete America coalition) that calls for the House and Senate to pass a bill that would recapture employment-based immigrant visas that were lost due to administrative delays. The bill, H.R. 5882, would also prevent losses of family- and employment-based immigrant visas in the coming years.

The letter, which was signed by 84 heads of U.S. corporations, calls for the measure to be passed this year by both houses.

“Failure to enact at least H.R. 5882 … will further hamper U.S. employers in the global competition for the world’s best talent, as more and more extremely valuable professionals from around the world take their education and abilities to other nations that strategically pursue policies to attract these individuals,” wrote the signatories. “The U.S. system sends the opposite message: Permanent resident status is extremely difficult to obtain, and even visas already authorized by law are not available.”

Signatories of the letter include Dan Burton, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, Salesforce.com; Safra Catz, President, Oracle; Jim Bidzos, Chairman & CEO, VeriSign; Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Lisa M. Mascolo, US Country Managing Director, Accenture; Brian Schipper, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Cisco Systems, Inc.; and Richard K. Templeton, Chairman, President, and CEO; Texas Instruments.