USCIS Updates Employers and Refugees on Automated I-94 Processing for Refugees

USCIS has updated employers and refugees that Customs and Border Protection has automated Form I-94 processing for refugees. A refugee will no longer receive a stamped paper form upon arrival, with the exception of limited circumstances. Refugees may obtain copies of their I-94 forms from Get I-94 Information, online at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html.

Refugees are authorized to work because of their immigration status. A refugee may choose to present any applicable document from the federal Lists of Acceptable Documents. The new electronic Form I-94 for refugees does not include an admission stamp but provides the class of admission as “RE” and an admit until date as “D\S”. If a refugee presents a Form I-94 computer-generated printout for Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, the employer must accept it as a receipt establishing both employment authorization and identity for 90 days. No later than at the end of the 90-day receipt period, the refugee is required to present an Employment Authorization Document or a combination of a List B document and an unrestricted Social Security card.

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Department of State to No Longer Add Visa Pages to U.S. Passports

The Department of State will no longer add visa pages into U.S. passports, beginning January 1, 2016. U.S. passport holders have had the option to pay for the insertion of additional 24-page visa inserts when their valid passports did not have enough space for entry or exit visa stamps.

This option is being discontinued to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards. To help limit impact on frequent travelers, the Department of State began issuing 52-page passports to applicants outside the United States for no additional cost on October 1, 2014.

USCIS Releases Spanish Language Version of Civics Practice Test

USCIS has launched an online Spanish-language version of its civics practice test. Questions in the practice test are presented in English with Spanish subtitles and focus on basic U.S. government and history topics. The goal of this practice test is to help Spanish-speaking lawful permanent residents prepare for the naturalization test and gain a firmer grasp on the English language.

The civics test is normally conducted in English. There are, however, certain instances in which an applicant may take the civics test in his or her native language. Reasons for exception may be age, time as a permanent resident or a disability.

Mexican Border-Crossing Card Holders Urged to Apply Early for Holiday Travel to U.S.

Travelers with a Mexican border-crossing card (the laser visa) who plan to make a extended visit to the United States during the upcoming holiday season are urged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to apply early for their I-94 card to avoid expected delays at ports of entry in Arizona.

“With the holiday season just around the corner, we expect November and December to be very busy months at all ports of entry,” said Director of Field Operations William K. Brooks. “With that in mind, we suggest travelers needing permits to apply early and possibly avoid delays.”

Travelers seeking I-94 documents at ports of entry may apply at any time. This permit allows visitors crossing through Arizona borders to travel up to 75 miles from the U.S./Mexico border.

CBP to Expand Camera Review to Include Testing of Body-worn Cameras

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be expanding the agency’s camera review to include testing of new body-worn cameras in operations such as checkpoints, vessel boarding and interdictions, training academies and outbound operations at ports of entry.

“While CBP already makes extensive use of cameras in the border environment, technology is constantly evolving and we are committed to testing durable new cameras that may work with CBP’s operational requirements,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “We will develop sound policies to reflect technology requirements, privacy concerns, training implications, union negotiations, and funding.”

H-2B Forms Are Extended

OFLC has temporarily extended the forms for the H-2B visa program until November 30, 2015. This form is being extended while OFLC awaits approval of its request for a three-year extension which is currently under review with the Office of Management and Budget.

OFLC will continue to extend the forms in one-month increments until they receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget. A second comment period will end on November 30.

Updated Instruction for Using the DOS Visa Bulletin

USCIS has posted a series of updated instructions for using the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. According to USCIS, if it determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants, it will state at http://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Unless otherwise noted, the Application Final Action Date chart will be used to determine when individuals may file their adjustment of status applications.

USCIS anticipates it will make this determination each month and post the relevant chart on its website within a week of the Department of State’s publication of the Visa Bulletin.