New Final Rule: HIV Infection No Longer Sole Grounds for Inadmissibility to U.S.

In the Federal Register, dated Monday, November 2, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will officially remove HIV infection from the definition of “communicable disease of public health significance” and will additionally remove any reference to HIV from the scope of examinations for aliens wishing to enter the U.S.

Prior to this final rule, HIV infection was considered a communicable disease of public health significance by CDC; individuals that tested positive for the infection during the required medical examination for U.S. immigration were inadmissible to the United States. However, effective January 4, 2010, as stated in this final rule, such individuals will no longer be inadmissible to the United States solely on the ground that they are infected.

CBP Launches FOIA Electronic Reading Room

A newly upgraded web-based reading room has just been launched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CBP Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room will feature a range of documents and records that, prior to the launch of this upgraded service, were only available via an FOIA request. Documents included in the FOIA Electronic Reading Room include final opinions and orders related to the adjudication of administrative cases, certain agency policy statements, specific administrative staff manuals and other records that have been disclosed in response to an FOIA request.

“CBP is striving to boost agency transparency and accountability, while promoting efficiency and effectiveness through the use of technology,” said Jayson P. Ahern, Acting Commissioner of CBP. “We hope the public will visit the Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room for the most direct access to information and to avoid the need to go through the FOIA request process.”

Visit the FOIA Electronic Reading Room online at

USCIS Revises Form I-601, the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility

USCIS has just revised Form I-601, the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility in order to make the form easier for applicants to complete. In the new form, applicants can select from a list of grounds of inadmissibility presented on the form itself, and can mark all grounds that apply in order to request a waiver. Additionally, the form also includes a section where applicants can describe in their own narrative the reasons why they believe they are inadmissible. Previously, information about grounds of inaccessibility could only be found in the form’s accompanying instructions.

The new Form I-601, and its instructions, are available at the USCIS website. USCIS additionally notes that filing fees may be waived in individual cases when an individual is unable to pay, only in instances where the individual is either an alien in valid T or U nonimmigrant status, an approved VAWA self-petitioner, or an alien seeking adjustment of status to whom section 212(a)(4) does not apply (this alien is not required to prove that he or she is not likely to become a public charge).

Roxana Bacon, a Well-Respected Immigration Attorney, Is the New Chief Counsel for USCIS

Roxana Bacon, a well-respected immigration attorney, has just been named Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. Bacon was formerly based in Arizona and is widely respected in the immigration legal community. She was the first woman to serve as president of the State Bar of Arizona and was formerly General Counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Bacon received the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award in 2009 and is an endowed professor of immigration law and policy at Arizona Law School.

In her new post, Bacon will manage more than 150 attorneys and their staff and will play a key role in the development of immigration policies and major immigration reform initiatives in the coming years.

USCIS Posts Filing Location Changes for Orphan/Adoption Petitions

Last week, USCIS announced a change in filing locations for two sets of forms. The first set, Form I-600, the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and Form I-600A, the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, should now be sent to the following addresses:

Regular Mail: USCIS, P.O. Box 299027, Lewisville, TX 75029

Express Mail/Courier Service: USCIS, ATTN: Adoption, 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067

This change of filing location was published on October 6; applicants will have a 30-day transition period. After that period, USCIS will return all of these forms that are incorrectly filed.

The second set of forms, Form I-800, the Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and Form I-800A, the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, both related to the Hague Adoption Convention, should now be filed to the following addresses:

Regular Mail: USCIS, P.O. Box 299008, Lewisville, TX 75029

Express Mail/Courier Service: USCIS, ATTN: Hague, 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067

This address change also went effective on October 6; applicants are given a 30-day transition period to correctly file these petitions before they will be returned as incorrectly filed.

President Obama Publishes FY 2010 Refugee Numbers

In a Presidential Document, written on the last day of September of this year and published in the Federal Register yesterday, the President provided guidance to the Secretary of State to provide for the admission of up to 80,000 refugees to the U.S. during Fiscal Year 2010. The President’s publication allocated certain amounts of refugee numbers to each region of the world, as stated below:

Africa: 15,500
East Asia: 17,000
Europe and Central Asia: 2,500
Latin America/Caribbean: 5,000
Near East/South Asia: 35,000
Unallocated Reserve: 5,000

The unallocated refugee numbers are to be “allocated to regional ceilings, as needed,” wrote the President, and are to be used in regions where the need for additional refugee admissions occurs. Further, refugee numbers can be moved from one region to one or more other regions, when greater numbers for admission are needed in those other regions.

Finally, the President specified that, for Fiscal Year 2010, individuals from the following countries, if otherwise qualified, can “be considered refugees for the purpose of admission to the United States within their countries of nationality or habitual residence:”

(1)People in Cuba
(2)People in the former Soviet Union
(3)People in Iraq

In exceptional cases, people identified by a U.S. Embassy in any location may also be considered a refugee within their country of nationality/habitual residence.

USCIS Introduces E-Notification of Application Acceptance

On June 25, 2009, President Obama announced that in the next 9 days, USCIS intended to launch an improved USCIS website (at that would better assist customers in managing their immigration needs and maintaining up-to-date information on the status of their cases.

As part of this larger initiative, USCIS has now launched an online, E-Notification initiative for immigration applications/petitions filed at one of three Lockbox locations (Chicago, Phoenix and Lewisville [TX]). Individuals that file their applications/petitions at one of these locations will now have the option of receiving an email and/or text message providing verification that the application or petition has been accepted by USCIS.

Individuals wishing to receive E-Notification should complete Form G-1145, the E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance form, and attach it to the top of their application or petition. Information you share in this form will be used by USCIS to contact you via email and/or text message.

Nebraska Now Requires Public Employers to Use E-Verify to Determine Employee Eligibility

Earlier this year, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed into law a bill that would require public employers, including state agencies, and contractors working for public employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify program to determine the employment eligibility of all new hires. This law went into effect October 1. As of October 1, all public employers must include in their contract with a contractor the provision that the contractor use the E-Verify system to determine all new hires’ employment eligibility. Additionally, for two years, Nebraska’s Department of Labor will have available information about E-Verify for private employers and will encourage the use of the program by private employers.

Nebraska is the latest state to require the use of the E-Verify system for public employers and their contractors. E-Verify is also required in some form in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Utah.

USCIS Posts Update of the Amount of H-1B Petitions Received

USCIS has posted an update of the amount of H-1B petitions the federal agency has received. As of September 25, 2009, roughly 46,700 H-1B cap-subject petitions and 20,000 H-1B petitions that qualify for the advanced degree cap exemption have been received by USCIS. A total of 65,000 H-1B visas are available for this fiscal year.

In previous years, USCIS received large amounts of H-1B petitions. In many cases the agency stopped accepting these petitions days or weeks after the initial acceptance date. This year, however, due to the economic recession, the amount of filed petitions is much lower. On April 17, 2009, in their first public notification about this year’s H-1B program, USCIS announced they had received roughly 43,000 H-1B petitions and 20,000 that qualified for the advanced degree cap exemption.