New Ad Campaign Supporting Citizenship Begins this Weekend

The U.S. federal government will soon start an advertising campaign to encourage immigrants to become American citizens. This effort, which will reach nearly 8 million immigrants who are currently eligible to request citizenship, will run in print, radio and other forms of media in New York, Florida, Texas and California throughout the long holiday weekend. The federal government wants to remind immigrants of the importance and advantages of citizenship through this media campaign.

“You’ve got to create that sense of urgency, and until they’ve reached that sense of urgency, they’ll just coast,” said Nathan Stiefel, Division Chief of Policy and Programs, Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

This is the first medial campaign by the federal government to support citizenship. According to data, a number of immigrants do not apply to become U.S. citizens because they feel they do not speak English well enough or do not see the specific advantages of citizenship.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Posts Reminders to Foreign Travelers about Immigration Requirements

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reminding foreign travelers and people with Mexican border crossing cards (also known as the laser visa) about key requirements to enter the U.S., including how to get an I-94 permit and when an I-94 permit is required to enter the U.S. CBP is publicizing this information in time for the upcoming summer travel season.

As a reminder, U.S. immigration law requires any foreign traveler wishing to temporarily enter the U.S. for business or pleasure to establish that his or her period of travel is temporary in nature. Unless it is specifically stated otherwise, every foreign traveler is given an I-94 permit (the Arrival/Departure Record) upon entry; this provides proof of the person’s admission into the U.S. Mexicans entering the U.S. with a border crossing card do not need an I-94 permit, unless their intended period of stay is greater than 30 days and/or they are traveling more than 25 miles from the U.S./Mexico border. Please note that border crossing cards do not give people the right to work in the U.S.

It is U.S. law that all foreign travelers should possess their entry documents and, potentially, the I-94 permit, with them at all times while in the U.S. Entry documents and I-94 permits are reviewed at border checkpoints and travelers who do not have the correct documentation may have their visa cancelled and be deported.

Haiti’s Temporary Protected States Re-designated and Extended for 18 Months

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, announced this week that Haiti has been re-designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and its current designation has been extended for an additional 18 months. USCIS is strongly urging Haitian nationals who are affected by their nation’s TPS status to carefully review the federal notice regarding re-designation and to follow the instructions in that notice for initial applications for TPS. Any person who does not have TPS or pending TPS may begin applying right away, says USCIS. Requests for TPS status must be filed on or before November 15, 2011. Any Haitian national who currently has TPS status should wait to file for re-registration until a notice describing re-registration steps has been published by USCIS.

Haiti was first designated for TPS on January 15, 2010, just after the country was devastated by major earthquakes. In the original designation, applicants were required to show that they had continuously resided in the U.S. since January 12, 2010. Under this new re-designation, qualified Haitian nationals who arrived in the U.S. up to one year after the earthquakes may now apply for TPS. Please note, however, that any person who entered the U.S. illegally will not be granted TPS.

USCIS Centralizes Filing Location for Form I-130, the Petition for an Alien Relative

USCIS announced this week that, effective August 15, 2011, all petitioners who live in countries without USCIS offices will be able to file Form I-130, the Petition for an Alien Relative, with the USCIS lockbox in Chicago. This new workflow process will improve efficiency for the processing of this petition request and will give USCIS more flexibility to manage its workload. Previous to this new process centralization, such petitioners were able to file Form I-130 with USCIS or the Department of State at their regional US Embassy or Consulate.

Petitioners who live in countries without a USCIS office may file Form I-130 at the following address:

U.S. Postal Service:
USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Attn. CSC/I-130/OS
Chicago, IL 60680-4107

Express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn. CSC/I-130/OS
131 South Dearborn – 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

If a petitioner lives in a country with a USCIS office, that person can either send their Form I-130 to the Chicago Lockbox or file their Form I-130 at the international USCIS office with jurisdiction over the area where they live.

Petitioners should continue to file Forms I-130 at their location U.S. Embassy/Consulate through August 14. On August 15, the above addresses should be used.

New I-9 Central Website Aggregates Information about I-9 Process

USCIS has launched a new website to provide resources, information and updates regarding the management of employee eligibility verification. The new website, called I-9 Central, is available online at http://1.usa.gov/kJB5Rh. On the site, visitors can access information about completing the I-9 form, what documents are acceptable as proof of identity, how to retain and store I-9 forms, employee rights and discrimination and other key resource materials.

In addition, the new website includes a ‘What’s New’ section, with the latest updates about the I-9 form and employee eligibility verification.

Departments of Justice and Education Remind Local Agencies that All Children, Regardless of Immigration Status, Are Eligible for Public Education

Late last week the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued a notice reminding state and local agencies that all children, regardless of their parents’ real or perceived immigration status, are given the right to equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. The two federal departments noted that they had received information that there have been recent incidences in the U.S. in which student enrollment was hindered based on a child’s family’s immigration status. The agencies remind all stakeholders that such practices go against federal law and that all children residing in the U.S. must be given equal educational opportunities.

As stated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and supported by mandates from the Supreme Court, state and local educational agencies cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin and students cannot be barred from enrolling in elementary or secondary-level public school on the basis of their citizenship or immigration status of that of their parents. Any such infringement is a form of unlawful discrimination.

Read the full message at: http://1.usa.gov/jsRUJX

Napolitano Announces New Immigration Index to Measure Effects of Border Security on US Residents Living at the US/Mexico Border

Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has announced a new immigration index to measure border security at the Southwestern border of the United States in a more pertinent fashion than such data are currently recorded and analyzed. This new index, Napolitano says, will look beyond simple statistics of crime and will look more deeply into environmental damage, levels of personal security and the economic impact to U.S. residents living near the border with Mexico.

To describe the intricacy of information that will be in the immigration index, Napolitano described examples of data that would be collected, including data such as “calls from hospitals to report suspected illegal aliens, traffic accidents involving illegal aliens or narcotics smugglers, rates of vehicle theft and numbers of abandoned vehicles, impacts on property values, and other measures of economic activity and environmental impacts.”