U.S. Ambassador Announces Reorganization of Consulates General in India

The U.S. is implementing a new visa application process for Indians that will make obtaining visas more convenient, says the U.S. ambassador to India. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates General in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad are now accepting visa applications at all visa facilities in India, regardless of the applicant’s home address or city of residence.

After the opening of the new Consulate General in Hyderabad, the U.S. mission in India has been looking for other ways to best manage the changing population dynamics of that country. Part of this response has been to reorganize U.S. consular districts in India. The consular districts have been reorganized as follows:

Embassy Delhi: Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bhutan

Consulate Mumbai: Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Diu and Daman, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Consulate Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh, Orissa

Consulate Chennai: Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Consulate Kolkata: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal??

“With these changes, we believe our Consulates General and our Embassy in New Delhi will be even better positioned to support and serve Indian visa applicants, as well as American citizens and businesses throughout India,” said U.S. Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer.

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New Immigration Fees and Forms Take Effect November 23

USCIS has reminded the public that new fees will take effect on November 23, 2010. Applications or petitions that are postmarked on or after this date that do not include the new fee will be rejected by the federal agency.

In addition to updated fees, USCIS has published several revised forms reflecting these fee changes, all of which will be published November 23 as well. These forms include Form I-129, the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker; Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition; Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal; and many others. Instructions on the forms will provide greater detail regarding who should file the form, where the form should be filed and what the specific fee increase is.

House of Representatives Approves Proxy Marriage in Immigration Matters

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would recognize proxy marriages involving US military service members in immigration cases. The bill, which would create an exception to the standard regulation that a marriage that has not been consummated by a couple living together after the marriage is not valid for immigration cases.

The new law is called the Marine Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr. Memorial Act, named after the sergeant who found out his Japanese girlfriend was pregnant just after he was deployed to Iraq. Ferschke and his girlfriend were married over the telephone soon after he received the news; one month later, he was killed.

The new law would enable Ferschke’s wife to come to the U.S. and raise their child and would do the same for other widows of military servicepersons.

USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-129

USCIS has revised Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, which will be published the same day that the new fee increase takes place – November 23, 2010. On that day, USCIS will accept previous versions of Form I-129 for 30 days (until December 21, 2010).

USCIS will reject all petitions filed on forms that do not have November 23, 2010 as the revised date after December 21.

E-Verify Enhances Security; Now Checks Passports and Passport Cards

The E-Verify program’s security system has just been enhanced, says USCIS and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) representatives. The new enhancements include enabling E-Verify to automatically check the validity and authenticity of all US passports and passport cards used as employment verification documents. As of November 10, E-Verify employers can verify the identity of new employees who present US passports or passport cards by comparing data on the documents with federal records.

“U.S. passport photo matching is another in the long line of enhancements we have made to improve the integrity of the E-Verify system,” said DHS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “Adding U.S. passport photos expands our current photo matching efforts and will play a significant role in preventing and detecting the use of fraudulent documents—all part of major anti-fraud initiatives undertaken by the Department.”

New Application and Petition Fees for Immigrants/Nonimmigrants Will Be in Effect on November 23

USCIS has posted a reminder to immigration applicants and petitioners that its new fee schedule will go into effect on November 23, 2010. All applications and petitions that are postmarked/filed on or after that date must include the new fee. If they do not include the new fee, they will be rejected by USCIS.

The new fee schedule was published in the Federal Register on September 24, after a review of public comments. Application and petition fees in the new schedule have risen about 10 percent on average; the naturalization application fee was not raised.

For a full list of the new schedule of fees, please visit: http://bit.ly/aBFapM.

ETA Extends Comment Period for Proposed H-2B Rule

In early October, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to change the process by which nonimmigrant workers in temporary or seasonal non-agricultural employment are authorized to work in the U.S. In addition, this proposed rule would change the ways that regulations are enforced to employers of such workers.

As part of this proposed rule, ETA has allowed for a comment period for the text of the rule up to November 4, 2010. However, the agency received a number of requests to extend this comment period and has fulfilled these requests. The comment period for this proposed rule will now be open an additional 8 days, to November 12, 2010