USCIS Reminds Petitioners to Complete Part 6 of Form I-129

In November 2010, USCIS published a new, revised Form I-129, the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. That revised form became effective on December 23, 2010. Because there were a number of questions and inquiries regarding Part 6 of the form (“Certification Regarding the Release of Controlled Technology or Technical Data to Foreign Persons in the United States”), USCIS advised individuals that they would not be required to complete that section until February 20, 2011.

USCIS is now reminding petitioners that all petitions postmarked on or after February 20 must include a completed Part 6 of the Form I-129.

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Final Rule Increases Fees for Exchange Visitor Program Services

The Department of State just published in the Federal Register the final rule regarding fees and charges for the Exchange Visitor visa program. This new rule solidifies increased user fees charged for Exchange Visitor program services so that the federal agency can recoup the full cost of such services. These new fees will take effect 30 days after February 25, 2011.

For more information visit the Department of State website at http://bit.ly/eFX3Fz.

Federal Government Asks for No Major Increases in Border Spending for FY 2012

While increasing security at U.S. border crossings is still a hot topic, the new federal budget asks for no major increases in border spending. This lack of border security requests comes in the wake of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent’s death in Mexico, which supports the widespread belief that Mexico’s drug war is getting worse.

The Obama administration is asking for $10.4 billion for Customs and Border Protection in FY 2012. In FY 2010, they requested $10.1 billion. This funding will support just over 21,000 border patrol agents and will enable DHS to hire an additional 300 officers at U.S. ports of entry. Reductions in funding requests were made for the SBInet program and the State Criminal Alien Assistance program.

New E-Verify Self-Check System Starts March 18

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed to establish a new system of records entitled “Department of Homeland Security/United States Citizenship and Immigration Services—SORN DHS/ USCIS—013 E-Verify Self Check System of Records.” This new system the USCIS E-Verify Self Check, will be voluntary and available to any individual wishing to check his or her work authorization status prior to employment. This should help individuals correct potential errors that may exist in the federal databases that power the E-Verify system.

A person who use the E-Verify Self Check system will be notified that either (a) his/her information matched the information in the federal databases and he or she is work authorized; or (b) his/her information did not match information in the federal databases. If there is a mismatch of data, instructions will be provided as to how the person can correct his/her record.

This new system will be effective starting March 18, 2011.

Arizona Sues Federal Government For Weak Immigration Enforcement

Arizona is seeking $760 million from the federal government to pay for costs accrued by the state to jail illegal immigrants. According to a filing in a U.S. District Court by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Tom Horne, the federal government has failed in its duty to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the Arizona border in vast numbers, which has left the burden of enforcement on the state.

In the lawsuit, it is claimed that Arizona is being invaded by illegal Mexican immigrants and the federal government is not doing its part to help the state manage this influx of illegal immigrants.

“While control of the border is a federal responsibility, illegal aliens who successfully cross the border and commit crime in Arizona become an Arizona responsibility,” Horne said in a recent television interview.

DHS and DOS Issue Annotated B-1 Visa for Foreign Maritime Workers Applying for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential

The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State (DOS) announced today that they have created an annotated version of the B-1 visa, the visa that is issued to foreign citizens who wish to enter the U.S. for business purposes. This annotated version will now enable foreign maritime workers to be eligible to apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), which is a tamper-resistant biometric identifier card maritime workers must have to enter secure areas of maritime facilities.

“Strengthening the security of our maritime global supply chain is critical to protecting our nation from evolving threats,” said Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security. “This new TWIC process is a critical step toward ensuring that foreign maritime workers can quickly and efficiently obtain the necessary credentials to do their jobs and help grow the American economy.”

Under the new process, foreign maritime workers who must have a TWIC to perform their official duties must notify DOS of this need when they apply for a B-1 visa. Additionally, they must provide a letter from their employer that indicates they will be required to perform services in secure port areas.

USCIS Offices Closed Due to Severe Weather; Agency to Make Adjustments Accordingly

Because of the recent winter storms, a number of USCIS offices, including the Texas and Nebraska Service Centers, were closed during the week of January 31. USCIS has commented that it will make adjustments to recognize those that filed petitions in a timely manner or responded to requests for additional information by the specified deadline.

For more information about the effects of the recent closings on immigration applications and petitions, please contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.