Chile Designated Into the Visa Waiver Program

The Department of Homeland Security has announced the designation of Chile into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP permits visa-free travel to the United States for eligible travelers visiting the United States for 90 days or fewer for business or tourism. Starting May 1, 2014, eligible Chilean passport holders with both an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and an e-passport will be able to visit the United States without nonimmigrant visitor visas. Like other VWP travelers, eligible Chilean passport holders will be required to apply for advanced authorization through ESTA. Thomas Joy

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DHS Issues FAQs on Immigrant Visa Petitions for Same-Sex Couples

Following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring a key part of DOMA as unconstitutional, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has directed USCIS to begin accepting and reviewing immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. DHS has also issued an initial FAQ. It is expected that more FAQ’s and guidance will follow as more questions on how to handle cases involving same-sex couples arise. The initial DHS FAQ contained the following two questions: Q1:  I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national.  Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa? A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. Q2:  My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not.  Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse? A2: Yes, you can file the petition.  In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. Contact VisaPro to learn more about the immigration options that are now available to same-sex couples and their family members. Thomas Joy

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US Supreme Court DOMA Ruling: Same-Sex Couples May Now be Eligible for Immigration Benefits

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court of the United States has declared that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, is unconstitutional. This section of DOMA prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage thereby preventing these couples from gaining critical federal benefits, including in the context of immigration benefits.  Background DOMA allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. Section 3 DOMA had amended the Dictionary Act to define “marriage” and “spouse” as excluding same-sex partners, thereby barring same-sex partners, who were otherwise lawfully married under relevant state laws, from seeking numerous federal benefits available to married couples. The Supreme Court of United States has now held that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, as it is a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. The court has observed that by history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States, and DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. Immigration Consequences As a consequence of this ruling, same-sex partners should now be able to avail immigration benefits on par with other married couples, including the ability to file immigrant petitions and seek status as immediate relatives and dependents of U.S. citizens. Welcoming the decision, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced that DHS will immediately begin to work with other federal departments including the Department of Justice to implement the decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of immigration laws. We at VisaPro are closely monitoring the developments and will keep our readers informed as more information becomes available in this matter. Thomas Joy

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I-94 Automation Now Effective

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that the automation of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record is now effective. The change will be implemented at air and sea ports beginning April 30 and will include Charlotte- Douglas International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Las Vegas Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Miami International Airport and Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport that week. To view the detailed implementation schedule, please click here. With I-94 automation, visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea, where applicable. Instead, records of admission will now be generated using traveler information already transmitted through electronic means. Travelers wanting a hard copy or other evidence of admission can access this information online and print a copy of an I-94. Thomas Joy

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Form I-94 Automation: Implementation Schedule

As our readers would be aware, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had earlier announced that it will automate Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. The change will become effective on April 26 and will be implemented at air and sea ports of entry in a phased approach beginning April 30. CBP has now informed that it will phase-in the Form I-94 automation at air and sea ports of entry through April and May. Implementation will begin on April 30 at five pilot ports of entry and will continue to the remaining ports of entry over a total of four weeks as below: Week 1 4/30/13 Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Las Vegas Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Miami International Airport and Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport Week 2 5/7/13 Major Air and Sea Ports within the following field offices: New York, Boston, Buffalo, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Tampa, Puerto Rico, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston Week 3 5/14/13 Major Air and Sea ports within the following field offices: Pre-Clearance, San Francisco (includes Hawaii and Guam), Tucson, El Paso, Seattle, Portland (includes Alaska), Los Angeles, San Diego and Laredo Week 4 5/21/13 All remaining airports and seaports Foreign visitors will continue to receive the paper Form I-94 until the automated process arrives at their port of entry. Further, CBP will still issue a paper form I-94 at land border ports of entry as advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers. The New Process CBP has informed that when the electronic rollout begins April 30, it will no longer require international non-immigrant visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. CBP will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. Under the new process, a CBP officer will stamp the travel document of each arriving non-immigrant traveler, which will show the date of admission, class of admission, and the date that the traveler is admitted until. Foreign visitors will be able to access their CBP arrival/departure record information online. If travelers need the information from their Form I-94 admission record to verify immigration status or employment authorization, the record number and other admission information will be available at CBP.gov/I94. However, CBP.gov/I94 will not be live until the end of April, 2013. Thomas Joy

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CBP Announces Automation of Form I-94

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced the publication of an Interim Final Rule that will automate Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. The change will become effective on April 26 and will be implemented at air and sea ports of entry in a phased approach beginning April 30. The automation means that foreign visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea. Records of admission will now be generated using traveler information already transmitted through electronic means. However, individuals who go through secondary inspection, such as asylees, refugees, and parolees, will be provided a paper copy of Form I-94 by a CBP officer. Paper Copy of Form I-94 While the CBP is undertaking automation of Form I-94, a USCIS press release has stated that USCIS will continue to require applicants to submit a paper copy of Form I-94 when requesting certain benefits.  Other government agencies, such as State Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs), also require a paper copy of Form I-94. Further, nonimmigrants who are authorized to work may present a paper copy of Form I-94 to their employers during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. CBP has announced that travelers wanting a hard copy or other evidence of admission will be directed to CBP.gov/I94 to print a copy of an I-94 based on the electronically submitted data, including the I-94 number from the form, to provide as necessary to benefits providers or as evidence of lawful admission. CBP.gov/I94 will however not be a live website until the end of April. Thomas Joy

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ICE Fines 17 Massachusetts Employers for Violations Following I-9 Audits

In a recent News Release, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that 17 Massachusetts employers were fined a total of $349,619.54 in fiscal year (FY) 2012 for various employment violations, following an investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It further reported that during FY 2012, HSI conducted 35 inspections of employers' I-9 documents in Massachusetts. In previous years, HSI had conducted 30 inspections in FY 2011 [issued fines for worksite violations against 11 companies totaling $175,420.25]; 20 inspections in FY 2010 [issued fines for worksite violations against three companies totaling $67,440]; and 17 inspections in FY 2009 [issued fines for worksite violations against one company totaling $9,753]. The increase in both the number of inspections conducted and fines levied over the years is notable. Under the law, employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire in the U.S. The Form I-9 requires employers to review and record the individual's identity and employment eligibility documents and determine whether the documents reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual. Additionally, an employer must ensure that the employee provides certain information regarding his or her eligibility to work, on the Form I-9. Ensuring I-9 Compliance is a key responsibility of U.S. employers. Click here to know more about Form I-9 Compliance. If you have any queries on Form I-9 or its compliance, feel free to Contact us.  Thomas Joy

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Taiwan Designated into the Visa Waiver Program

Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has announced the designation of Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP permits visa-free travel to the United States for eligible travelers visiting the United States for up to 90 days for business or tourism. Like other VWP travelers, eligible Taiwan passport holders will be required to apply for advanced authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Eligible Taiwan passport holders with an approved ESTA will be able to visit the United States under VWP as of November 1, 2012. Taiwan will now join 36 countries which are already participants in the VWP. Thomas Joy

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Global Entry Kiosks Deployed at Preclearance Airports in Ireland

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that Global Entry (GE) kiosks have been made available at the Preclearance locations in Shannon and Dublin, Ireland. The Shannon’s program went live on July 18 and Dublin’s program went live on July 20. Each location has two kiosks and they are the first and only locations outside of the U.S.  and Canada. The kiosks are designed to segregate prescreened, low-risk trusted travelers from other passengers, and speed the process for GE members, who bypass the traditional passenger inspections queues. However, there is no enrollment center in Ireland, meaning eligible travelers must have enrolled before traveling to Ireland to take advantage of the program. Global Entry kiosks are also available at each of the eight Canadian airport Preclearance locations. The Global Entry program allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. To know more about the Global Entry program, please click here. Thomas Joy

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DHS announces process to grant temporary relief from removal for certain Young People

The President and Department of Homeland Security have finally announced that through the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, eligible young people who are currently undocumented, were brought to the U.S. as young children and do not pose a national security or public safety risk (commonly referred to as “DREAMERS”) will be eligible to receive “deferred action” for two years, while being able to apply for a Employment Authorization Document (allowing these young people to work and obtain social security numbers) and possibly even travel. The deferred action will offer relief from removal from the U.S. or from entering removal proceedings for a period of two years and will be subject to renewal.  Under the new DHS directive, an individual must prove through verifiable documentation that he or she meets the following criteria in order to be eligible for deferred action: Came to the U.S. under the age of sixteen; Has continuously resided in the U.S. for a least five years and is currently present in the United States; Is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development (“GED”) certificate, and/or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; Has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety; and Is not above the age of thirty.  In addition to the above, the individual must also complete a background check. Individuals, who make a request to USCIS and are not subject to a final order of removal, must be 15 years old or older. ‘Deferred Action’ is a general term which means that a discretionary determination is being made to defer the decision of whether or not to remove an individual from the U.S. under DHS’s use of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action stops the clock on the accrual of unlawful presences but does not absolve an individual’s previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence. Also, those in removal proceedings but subject to deferred action are eligible to apply for the EAD card.  Individuals who are not in already in removal proceedings or who are subject to a final order of removal will need to submit a request for a review of their case and supporting evidence to USCIS. Details of this process are still being developed. DO NOT SUBMIT ANY REQUESTS AT THIS TIME. USCIS and ICE are expected to announce the procedures in the coming weeks and are expected to fully implement the program within 60 days. For those in removal procedures and those who have already been ordered removed, ICE will also announce their procedures to request a review of their case. For individuals who are in removal proceedings and have already been identified as meeting the eligibility criteria as part of ICE’s case-by-case review, ICE will immediately begin to offer deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.It is important to note that deferred action DOES NOT CONFER LEGAL STATUS AND IS NOT A PATH TO LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENCE. Deferred Action is part of an Executive Order to help young people who are believed to be productive members of our society and consider themselves American in every sense of the word. It is hoped that while the Executive Order does allow these individuals to remain in the U.S., Congress will follow suit and finally pass the DREAM Act or enact comprehensive immigration reform. Thomas Joy

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OPT STEM Extension: DHS Expands List of STEM Degree Programs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension [OPT STEM extension]. The expanded list of designated STEM degree programs includes fields such as Pharmaceutical Sciences; Health/Medical Physics; Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology; Educational Evaluation and Research; Air Science/Airpower Studies; Archeology; and many other fields. The OPT program allows qualified international students, who graduate from colleges and universities in the United States, to remain in US and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program can remain for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension. Generally, international students may be eligible for the 17 month OPT STEM extension if: the degree for their current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program; the employer from whom they are seeking work uses the E-Verify Program; and they have not already received a 17-month extension of OPT. Thomas Joy

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DHS announces re-designation of Somalia for TPS

Department of Homeland Security has announced the re-designation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and has extended the existing TPS designation for Somalia from September 18, 2012 through March 17, 2014. Re-registration: Somali nationals with TPS who are seeking to re-register for TPS must file their application packages during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from May 1, 2012, through July 2, 2012. A Somali national may be eligible under the re-designation if she or he has continuously resided in the United States since May 1, 2012, and has been continuously physically present in the United States since September 18, 2012. Individuals re-registering for TPS must submit: A Form I-821; A Form I-765,  regardless of whether they want an Employment Authorization Document (EAD); The biometric services fee if they are age 14 or older; and The Form I-765 application fee, but only if they want an EAD. All individuals re-registering for TPS, who want an EAD, must pay the I-765 fee, regardless of age. First time Registration: Somalis, or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia, in the United States who do not currently have TPS may apply under the re-designation during the six-month period that runs from May 1, 2012 through October 29, 2012. Individuals applying for TPS for the first time must submit: A Form I-821; A Form I-765, regardless of whether they want an Employment Authorization Document (EAD); The Form I-821 application fee; The biometrics services fee if they are age 14 or older; and The Form I-765 application fee, but only if they want an EAD and are 14 to 65 years old. Those under 14 or over 65 do not need to pay the I-765 fee with their initial TPS application. Note: TPS applicants who are registering for the first time and applicants re-registering for TPS may request that USCIS waive any or all fees by filing a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by submitting a written request. Failure to submit the required filing fees or a properly documented fee-waiver request will result in the rejection of the TPS application. Thomas Joy

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DHS Announces Publication of Final Rule For Permanent Global Entry Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently announced the publication of a final rule that would establish as a permanent program, the ‘Global Entry’, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) voluntary initiative that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. The final rule establishes Global Entry as an ongoing voluntary regulatory program that is aimed at streamlining the international arrivals and admission process at Global Entry airports for trusted travelers through biometric identification. The final rule becomes effective on March 7, 2012. The CBP Global Entry program offers quicker processing at select U.S. Ports of Entry for pre-approved, low-risk air travelers by providing an expedited inspection and examination process that allows them to proceed directly to automated Global Entry kiosks upon their arrival in the United States at Global Entry-equipped Ports of Entry. For an overview of the Global Entry program, please click here. Thomas Joy

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DHS Proposes Reforms to Attract and Retain Highly Skilled Immigrants

As part of ongoing efforts to attract and retain immigrants who create jobs and boost competitiveness in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a series of administrative reforms that are aimed to make the United States more attractive to highly-skilled foreign students and workers, thereby improving the competitiveness of U.S. companies in the world market and stimulating U.S. job creation. A few of the notable initiatives announced are: Expanding the eligibility for 17-month extension of OPT for F-1 International Students to include students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Presently, an F-1 student may only engage in OPT for 12 months. F-1 students who graduate in programs of study classified as STEM can obtain a 17-month extension of OPT as part of their F-1 status if the degree they were conferred is included on the DHS list of eligible STEM degree programs. The proposed change would expand eligibility for extension of OPT to include students with a STEM degree that is not the most recent degree the student has received. Providing work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B holders. The proposed change would allow certain spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally work while their visa holder spouse waits for his or her Adjustment of Status application to be adjudicated. Specifically, employment will be authorized for H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B visa holders who have begun the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment after meeting a minimum period of H-1B status in the U.S. Harmonizing rules to allow E-3 visa holders from Australia and H-1B1 visa holders from Singapore and Chile to continue working with their current employer for up to 240 days while their petitions for extension of status are pending. The proposed regulation would treat E-3 and H-1B1 visa holders the same as other employment-based H-1B and L-1 visa holders by allowing them to continue employment with their current employer for up to 240 days from the expiration of their authorized period of stay, if a petition to extend their status has been timely filed. Allowing outstanding Professors and Researchers to present a broader scope of evidence of academic achievement. The proposed change would increase the types of evidence that employers can submit to demonstrate that a Professor or Researcher is among the very best in their field and allow "comparable evidence" beyond the specifically articulated regulatory list. DHS has only indicated that these administrative reforms will be completed in the future, but has not given clear timelines as to when these reforms would become effective. Hence, more details are awaited from the Department in this regard, before one can fully appreciate the impact of these initiatives.  Thomas Joy

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DHS extends TPS for Sudan, Designates South Sudan for TPS

Department of Homeland Security has extended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Sudan for 18 months, even while designating the new Republic of South Sudan for TPS for 18 months. Both the extension and the new designation are effective Nov. 3, 2011, and will continue through May 2, 2013. DHS is also automatically extending the validity of employment authorization documents (EADs) issued under the last extension of Sudan TPS for an additional six months, through May 2, 2012. Any individual who has a valid TPS Sudan EAD is covered by this automatic extension, even though USCIS may ultimately register the individual under the South Sudan TPS designation and issue a new EAD reflecting his or her new nationality. All affected individuals seeking to obtain or maintain their TPS must file their application package no later than April 10, 2012. Individuals registering for TPS under the new designation for the Republic of South Sudan or re-registering for TPS under the extension for Sudan must file a Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with the required fees or a fee waiver request. Failure to submit the required application and biometric fees or a properly documented fee waiver request will result in the rejection of the TPS application package. Thomas Joy

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DHS Publishes Business Transformation Regulation

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently published a Business Transformation Regulation, Immigration Benefits Business Transformation, Increment I. The new regulation revises more than 50 parts of DHS regulations. Apart from eliminating references to outdated USCIS forms and descriptions of paper-based procedures, the changes made by this rule include removing obsolete and expired regulatory provisions; correcting and updating provisions affected by statutory changes; and revising or reorganizing sections or paragraphs for clarity and consistency, and to remove duplicative information. The new regulation is said to be the first in a series of regulations intended to promote the migration of USCIS filings from a paper-based environment to an electronic one. USCIS has informed that over the next several years, it will roll out a secure, customer-friendly online account system that will enable and encourage customers to submit benefit requests and supporting documents electronically. While the new regulation will become effective on Nov. 28, 2011, comments and suggestions, if any, could be sent to USCIS till October 28, 2011. Thomas Joy

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EAD Processing Delays Cause Hardship, Says Ombudsman

On July 11, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security's Ombudsman noted that in some cases the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fails to meet its regulatory requirement to process applications for employment authorization in 90 days, and USCIS generally does not issue interim employment authorization documents (EADs). These processing delays have adverse consequences for employers and foreign national employees—applicants experience financial hardship from job interruption and termination, families face suspension of health benefits and individuals have difficulty renewing driver's licenses, while business operations stall from loss of employee services. The lack of immediate resolution through USCIS' designated venues exacerbates the situation. The Ombudsman recommended that USCIS take the following actions to improve EAD processing: establish methods at local offices to facilitate immediate resolution; establish a uniform processing time goal of 45 days for adjudication and 60 days for EAD issuance; improve monitoring and ensure real-time visibility through an automated system for tracking processing times; follow established internal procedures for issuing interim EADs in cases where background checks are pending; and issue replacement EADs with validity dates beginning on the date the old EAD expires. USCIS currently directs applicants with EAD delays to contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) or the local district office; however, neither venue has the ability to provide direct assistance. The Ombudsman noted that USCIS is reviewing the procedures and may provide field offices with updated guidance on how to assist individuals with EAD applications pending beyond 90 days. Currently, USCIS representatives or officers assist individuals with delayed I-765s by submitting service requests or sending e-mails to the National Benefits Center or service centers. While both service requests and emails alert the applicable office of a delay, I-765 adjudication and EAD delivery may take 10 or more days. According to the Ombudsman, even though customers receive responses to service requests in five days for expedite requests and 15 days for all other requests, these responses are often "generic and unhelpful." The responses are often that an applicant's case is "under review" but do not provide a timeline for issuance of the EAD. Other responses merely state that a decision will be issued in 30 or 60 days, when the application has already been pending more than 90 days. The Ombudsman said "such responses fail to address the problem because they do not assist the customer in rapidly obtaining an interim or final EAD. The failure to communicate useful information to customers often results in repeated telephone and in-person inquiries, causing inefficiencies for USCIS." The Ombudsman also said USCIS' website lists alternative contact information, such as email addresses, for service centers and the USCIS Headquarters Office of Service Center Operations. However, before people email those addresses, USCIS advises them to wait 30 days for a response from NCSC and 21 days for a response from the service centers, "when even one day of delay may lead to financial loss for EAD applicants and business disruption for employers." The Ombudsman termed the Vermont Service Center's five-day processing goal for background checks conducted in connection with adjudication of an I-765 a "best practice." Adjudicators email cases to the Background Check Unit (BCU), identifying the form type and marking it as an expedite request in the subject line. BCU monitors the inbox to ensure that cases are promptly referred to adjudicators and resolved within the specified timeline. This process allows USCIS to resolve minor concerns immediately, while carefully reviewing cases that involve national security, egregious public safety issues, criminal convictions or immigration fraud. Thomas Joy

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Employers Perceive E-Verify as Not Beneficial

A report titled "The Practices and Opinion of Employers Who Do Not Participate in E-Verify" by Westat has been concluded and submitted to DHS in December 2010. The report studies why employers are not participating in E-Verify, what employers want from it, and what employers thoughts are on a mandatory program. The report details that while past users have been highly satisfied with E-Verify, as of 2009, only less than 3% of employers participated in E-Verify. The report presents the results of a nationwide survey of 511 employers who were non-users. Due to the low number of survey respondents, the study was supplemented by a focus group discussion by non-users. Employers became aware of E-Verify through nongovernmental sources. However, 63% of employers were not aware of the program, which was the leading cause for their not participating in it. Of those who answered questions about their future plans, 23% said they planned to participate in E-Verify while 32% said they would not do so unless mandated. The other primary reason for not participating in E-Verify was that employers did not perceive any benefits from doing so. In addition, those employers felt it would be too costly or too time-consuming to participate. Case study participants wanted to see changes such as the ability for technology to assist in identifying fraudulent documents and identity verification. They would also like the system to allow formal appeals by employers and employees and that it should allow verification of job applicants before a job decision is made. Most participants did not want E-Verify to become a mandatory program. Westat made recommendations in the study to increase awareness building of E-Verify through various sources and acknowledged that in order to get employers to use E-Verify it would most likely have to be mandated. If not, the government would need to address some of the priorities of employers, ensuring such a system would not pose a burden to employers and that it is cost effective. The Westat report concludes that in order to get all employers to participate, E-Verify would need to be made mandatory, however, that would be burdensome for employers, especially small businesses. Thomas Joy

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Secretary Napolitano Announces Record-breaking Immigration Enforcement Statistics Achieved under the Obama Administration

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton announced record-breaking immigration enforcement statistics achieved under the Obama administration—including unprecedented numbers of convicted criminal alien removals and overall alien removals in fiscal year 2010. "This administration has focused on enforcing our immigration laws in a smart, effective manner that prioritizes public safety and national security and holds employers accountable who knowingly and repeatedly break the law," said Secretary Napolitano. "Our approach has yielded historic results, removing more convicted criminal aliens than ever before and issuing more financial sanctions on employers who knowingly and repeatedly violate immigration laws than during the entire previous administration." "ICE is committed to tough law enforcement that protects the safety and security of the American people," said ICE Director John Morton. "These record-setting numbers are the result of strong, sensible enforcement programs and priorities, and the dedication of thousands of ICE agents and officers who work tirelessly every day to keep our communities safe." In fiscal year 2010, ICE set a record for overall removals of illegal aliens, with more than 392,000 removals nationwide. Half of those removed—more than 195,000—were convicted criminals. The fiscal year 2010 statistics represent increases of more than 23,000 removals overall and 81,000 criminal removals compared to fiscal year 2008—a more than 70 percent increase in removal of criminal aliens from the previous administration. DHS has also expanded the Secure Communities initiative—which uses biometric information and services to identify and remove criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails—from 14 jurisdictions in 2008 to more than 660 today, including all jurisdictions along the Southwest border. DHS is on track to expand this program to all law enforcement jurisdictions nationwide by 2013. This year alone, Secure Communities has resulted in the arrest of more than 59,000 convicted criminal aliens, including more than 21,000 convicted of major violent offenses like murder, rape, and the sexual abuse of children. Since January 2009, ICE has audited more than 3,200 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor, debarred 225 companies and individuals, and imposed approximately $50 million in financial sanctions—more than the total amount of audits and debarments than during the entire previous administration. Thomas Joy

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CBP Notice to Postpone H-2A and H-2B Temporary Worker Visa Exit Pilot Program

[Federal Register: August 25, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 163)] [Notices] [Page 42909-42910] From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:fr25au09-91] --------------------------------------- DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP Dec. 09-34] Notice of Postponement of H-2A and H-2B Temporary Worker Visa Exit Program Pilot AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security. ACTION: General notice; postponement of commencement date. --------------------------------------- SUMMARY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announces the postponement of the commencement date of the H-2A and H-2B Temporary Worker Visa Exit Program Pilot, originally set for August 1, 2009. The pilot program will require temporary workers within H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant classifications that enter the United States at either the port of San Luis, Arizona or the port of Douglas, Arizona, to depart from one of those ports and to submit certain biographical and biometric information at one of the kiosks established for this [[Page 42910]] purpose. A delay of the commencement date is necessary to ensure that the kiosks are fully operational. DATES: The pilot program will commence December 8, 2009. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Erin M. Martin via e-mail at ERIN.Martin@dhs.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 18, 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a Notice in the Federal Register (73 FR 77049), announcing that CBP is establishing a new land-border exit system for H-2A temporary workers, starting on a pilot basis, at certain designated ports of entry.\1\ This notice was published concurrently and is in accordance with a Final Rule published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the Federal Register (73 FR 76891). The Final Rule implements the pilot program by adding 8 CFR 215.9, which provides that an alien admitted on an H-2A visa at a port of entry participating in the Temporary Worker Visa Exit Program must also depart at the end of his or her authorized period of stay through a port of entry participating in the program and present designated biographic and/or biometric information upon departure. As required by 8 CFR 215.9, CBP published a Notice in the Federal Register (73 FR 77049) designating H-2A workers that enter the United States at either the port of San Luis, Arizona or the port of Douglas, Arizona, as participants in the Temporary Worker Visa Exit Program, who must depart from one of those ports and submit certain biographical and biometric information at one of the kiosks established for this purpose. --------------------------------------- \1\ The H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to aliens seeking to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States. Immigration and Nationality Act (Act or INA) sec. 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(a), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(a); see 8 CFR 214.1(a)(2) (designation for H-2A classification). --------------------------------------- On December 19, 2008, CBP published a Notice of Expansion of Temporary Worker Visa Exit Program Pilot To Include H-2B Temporary Workers in the Federal Register (73 FR 77817), in line with the Final Rule published concurrently by DHS in the Federal Register (73 FR 78104).\2\ The Final Rule expands the pilot program by amending 8 CFR 215.9, to provide that aliens admitted on an H-2B visa at a port of entry participating in the Temporary Worker Visa Exit Program must also depart at the end of his or her authorized period of stay through a port of entry participating in the program and present designated biographic and/or biometric information upon departure. As required by 8 CFR 215.9, as amended, CBP published a Notice in the Federal Register (73 FR 77817) to include H-2B workers in the Temporary Worker Visa Exit Program at the ports of San Luis, Arizona and Douglas, Arizona. --------------------------------------- \2\ The H-2B nonimmigrant classification applies to foreign workers coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform temporary, non- agricultural labor or services. Immigration and Nationality Act (Act or INA) sec. 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b); see 8 CFR 214.1(a)(2) (designation for H-2B classification). --------------------------------------- Pursuant to the Notices in the Federal Register (73 FR 77049 and 73 FR 77817) published by CBP containing all the required elements referenced in 8 CFR 215.9, as amended, any alien that is admitted on an H-2A or H-2B visa into the United States at a designated port on or after August 1, 2009, is subject to the pilot program. However, in order to ensure that the facilities necessary to implement the pilot program are fully operational and meet the needs of the agency and the public, this notice postpones the start date of the pilot program. Accordingly, this notice postpones the start of the pilot program from August 1, 2009 to December 8, 2009. Dated: August 20, 2009. Jayson P. Ahern, Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. [FR Doc. E9-20424 Filed 8-24-09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-14-P Thomas Joy

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DHS Establishes Interim Relief for Widows of U.S. Citizens

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today granted deferred action for two years to widows and widowers of U.S. citizens—as well as their unmarried children under 18 years old—who reside in the United States and who were married for less than two years prior to their spouse’s death. “Smart immigration policy balances strong enforcement practices with common-sense, practical solutions to complicated issues,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Granting deferred action to the widows and widowers of U.S. citizens who otherwise would have been denied the right to remain in the United States allows these individuals and their children an opportunity to stay in the country that has become their home while their legal status is resolved.” Secretary Napolitano also directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to suspend adjudication of visa petitions and adjustment applications filed for widow(er)s where the sole reason for reassessment of immigration status was the death of a U.S. citizen spouse prior to the second anniversary of the marriage. Additionally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will defer initiating or continuing removal proceedings, or executing final orders of removal against qualified widow(er)s and their eligible children. USCIS will also consider favorably requests for humanitarian reinstatement where previously approved petitions for widow(er)s had been revoked because of the law. DHS will soon issue guidance instructing the public on how to apply for this relief. These directives apply regardless of whether the citizen filed a petition for the alien spouse before death. Deferred action is generally an act of prosecutorial discretion to suspend removal proceedings against a particular individual or group of individuals for a specific timeframe; it cannot resolve an individual’s underlying immigration status. Individuals granted deferred action may apply for work authorization if they can demonstrate economic necessity. While Secretary Napolitano’s directive provides a short-term arrangement for widow(er)s of deceased U.S. citizens, legislation is required to amend the definition of “immediate relatives” in the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit surviving spouses to remain indefinitely after the U.S. citizen spouse dies, enabling them to seek permanent resident status. Thomas Joy

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DHS Stops Sending All Asylum Applications to DOS

[Federal Register: April 6, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 64)] [Rules and Regulations] [Page 15367-15369] From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:fr06ap09-2] DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 8 CFR Part 208 [CIS No. 2440-08; DHS Docket No. USCIS 2008-0022] Forwarding of Affirmative Asylum Applications to the Department of State AGENCY: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS. ACTION: Final rule. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations to alter the process by which it forwards Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, for asylum applications filed affirmatively with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the Department of State (DOS). The affirmative asylum process allows individuals, who are physically present in the United States, regardless of their manner of arrival and regardless of their current immigration status, to apply for asylum. The current regulation requires USCIS (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)) to forward to DOS a copy of each completed asylum application it receives. This rule provides that USCIS will no longer forward all affirmative asylum applications to DOS. Instead, USCIS will send affirmative asylum applications to DOS only when USCIS believes DOS may have country conditions information relevant to the case. This change will increase the efficiency of DOS' review of asylum applications. Additionally, in accordance with the Homeland Security Act, this rule revises references to legacy INS in 8 CFR 208.11. DATES: Effective date: This final rule is effective April 6, 2009. COMMENT DATE: Written comments must be submitted on or before June 5, 2009 in order to be assured of consideration. ADDRESSES: The public may submit comments, identified by DHS Docket No. USCIS-2008-0022, by any of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Mail: Chief, Regulatory Management Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security,111 [[Page 15368]] Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20529. To ensure proper handling, please reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2008-0022 on the correspondence. This mailing address may be used for paper, disk, or CD-ROM submissions. HAND DELIVERY/COURIER: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20529. Contact Telephone Number (202) 272-8377. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jedidah M. Hussey, Deputy Chief, Asylum Division, Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., Third Floor, Washington, DC 20529; Telephone (202) 272-1614. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Public Participation Interested persons are invited to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of this final rule. USCIS also invites comments that relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this final rule. Comments that will provide the most assistance to USCIS in developing these procedures will reference a specific portion of the final rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include data, information, or authority that support such recommended change. Instructions: All submissions received should include the agency name and DHS Docket No. USCIS-2008-0022 for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Submitted comments may also be inspected at the Regulatory Management Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., Suite 3008, Washington, DC 20529. II. Background DHS regulations, at 8 CFR 208.11(a), currently state, ``The Service shall forward to the Department of State a copy of each completed application it receives. At its option, the department of State may provide detailed country conditions information relevant to eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal.'' Under the affirmative asylum application process, USCIS receives asylum applications filed by applicants who are not in removal proceedings at its service centers. Upon receipt of an asylum application, service center personnel review the asylum application to confirm that the application is properly filed and complete, after which the service center forwards the application to one of the Asylum Division's eight field asylum offices for adjudication by an asylum officer. Simultaneously, the service center forwards a copy of the asylum application to DOS's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). However, when an asylum applicant is permitted to file an asylum application directly with an Asylum Office, the Asylum Office is responsible for forwarding a copy of the application to DRL. In fiscal year 2007, USCIS received 25,680 affirmative asylum applications and forwarded a copy of each to DOS. DOS and USCIS have determined that the current forwarding process is not an efficient method for the agencies to identify and review cases for which DOS review would yield the most value. To address this problem, this rule permits USCIS, in its discretion, to send affirmative asylum applications to DOS in those cases where USCIS believes DOS would be likely to have information relevant to the applicant's eligibility for asylum and withholding of removal. Generally, this would be information that is not otherwise available or confirmation of publicly available information, where such validation would be helpful to the adjudication. Additionally, USCIS and DOS have already implemented an arrangement in which USCIS's Asylum Division headquarters (HQASM) forwards certain applications to DRL for review and comment. USCIS requires all Asylum Offices to send specific categories of cases to HQASM for further review after the Asylum Office completes its initial interview and preliminary assessment of eligibility. HQASM reviews these cases for quality assurance purposes to ensure that eligibility standards are properly applied. In conducting the quality assurance review, an asylum officer at HQASM seeks DRL comments if the asylum officer believes that DRL could provide information specific to the applicant or the applicant's situation. This process has proven to be a productive system by which USCIS obtains country conditions information on specific cases. USCIS and DOS intend to maintain this system, which has been in place for several years. DRL applies its country conditions expertise to asylum matters in a variety of ways, which as a whole are referred to as DRL's asylum function. Consistent with the regulation currently at 8 CFR 208.11(c), and as will be retained in the amended regulation, DRL responds to requests for comments on cases specifically brought to its attention by USCIS's Asylum Division and by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) immigration judges. DRL also produces updated issue papers or ``country profiles'' for use in asylum adjudications, and it responds to certain DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's requests for document verification in asylum cases before EOIR. Additionally, DRL is required to provide to Congress annually Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and International Religious Freedom Reports which provide country conditions information that will continue to be useful to the adjudication of asylum applications. This rule will not alter these DRL functions. This rule also does not affect how USCIS reviews and considers these DRL published reports in asylum adjudications. USCIS will continue to review the aforementioned reports, which provide country conditions information useful to the adjudication of asylum applications. Finally, this rule is limited to 8 CFR 208.11. This rule only addresses submissions of affirmative asylum applications from USCIS to DOS. It does not make any amendments to 8 CFR 1208.11, which governs the defensive application procedure for asylum applications filed by individuals in removal proceedings before EOIR. III. Regulatory Requirements A. Administrative Procedures Act This rule addresses requirements that are procedural in nature and does not alter the substantive rights of applicants or petitioners for immigration benefits. Accordingly, this rule is exempt from the notice and comment requirements under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A). This rule does not change the eligibility rules governing any immigration benefit and it will not confer rights or obligations upon any party. Accordingly, USCIS is implementing these amendments effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Nonetheless, DHS believes that public comments may be valuable and is providing the public the opportunity to make comments on this change as a matter of discretion. Comments are welcome about the relationship between the USCIS and DOS, DHS and DOS, and the role of foreign policy considerations in asylum adjudications. B. Regulatory Flexibility Act Because USCIS is not required by the APA to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to make the changes promulgated in this rule, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) is not applicable. C. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 This rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 251 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. 5 U.S.C. 804. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of the United States-based companies to compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets. E. Executive Order 12866 This rule has been designated as not significant under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review. Thus it has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. F. Executive Order 13132: Federalism This rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 of Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. D. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 G. Executive Order 12988: Civil Justice Reform This rule meets the applicable standards set forth in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988. H. Paperwork Reduction Act The information collection requirement (Form I-589) contained in this rule has been previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The OMB control numbers for these collections are contained in 8 CFR 299.5, Display of control numbers. This rule does not contain a new or revised information collection. List of Subjects in 8 CFR Part 208 Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements Accordingly, chapter I of title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows: PART 208--PROCEDURES FOR ASYLUM AND WITHHOLDING OF REMOVAL The authority citation for part 208 continues to read: Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1103, 1158, 1226, 1252, 1282; 8 CFR part 2. Section 208.11 is revised to read as follows: Sec.208.11 Comments from the Department of State. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may request, at its discretion, specific comments from the Department of State regarding individual cases or types of claims under consideration, or such other information as USCIS deems appropriate. With respect to any asylum application, the Department of State may provide, at its discretion, to USCIS: Detailed country conditions information relevant to eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal; An assessment of the accuracy of the applicant's assertions about conditions in his or her country of nationality or habitual residence and his or her particular situation; Information about whether persons who are similarly situated to the applicant are persecuted or tortured in the applicant's country of nationality or habitual residence and the frequency of such persecution or torture; or Such other information as it deems relevant. Thomas Joy

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CBP Reminds Travelers to Obtain I-94 Permit Early for Easter Travel

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in San Diego are anticipating an increase in applications by Mexican travelers for the required I-94 permit during holy week and the Easter holiday. Mexican border crossing card (or “laser visa”) holders who plan to make an extended visit to the United States during the upcoming holiday season are urged to obtain the essential document early instead of waiting until the day of travel, CBP officials announced today. “We urge travelers to obtain the required document as much as a week early to avoid congestion and potential delays, if they apply now they will obtain the essential document faster and more conveniently,” said Oscar Preciado, port director of the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa passenger border stations. “Travelers may obtain the permit 24 hours a day at both the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports.” Permit seekers are reminded that at the San Ysidro facility they must leave their vehicles in Mexico and travel on-foot to the old port building on the pedestrian walkway just across the border. Because the building is located in front of the pedestrian entrance to the port, travelers will not need to make formal entry into the U.S. and can conveniently walk back to Mexico. At the Otay Mesa border crossing, permit seekers must also travel on foot to obtain the I-94 at the pedestrian facility. As the busiest land border port in the nation with 35,000 - 40,000 vehicles and 20,000 pedestrians daily entering the U.S. through its gates, the San Ysidro facility is one of the Southwest border stations most affected by heavy holiday I-94 processing. All traveling family members need to be present during the I-94 application process. Those requesting the permits also must be able to establish financial solvency and proof of residency outside the U.S. Thomas Joy

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Presidential Memo on Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians

Since 1991, the United States has provided safe haven for Liberians who were forced to flee their country as a result of armed conflict and widespread civil strife, in part through granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The armed conflict ended in 2003 and conditions improved such that TPS ended effective October 1, 2007. President Bush then deferred the enforced departure of the Liberians originally granted TPS. That grant of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) expires on March 31, 2009. I have determined that there are compelling foreign policy reasons to extend DED to those Liberians presently residing in the United States under the existing grant of DED. Pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States, I have determined that it is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to defer for 12 months the removal of any Liberian national, or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia, who is present in the United States and who is under a grant of DED as of March 31, 2009. The grant of DED only applies to an individual who has continuously resided in the United States since October 1, 2002, except for Liberian nationals, or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia: who are ineligible for TPS for the reasons provided in section 244(c)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(c)(2)(B); whose removal you determine is in the interest of the United States; whose presence or activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States; who have voluntarily returned to Liberia or his or her country of last habitual residence outside the United States; who were deported, excluded, or removed prior to the date of this memorandum; or who are subject to extradition. Accordingly, I direct you to take the necessary steps to implement for eligible Liberians: A deferral of enforced departure from the United States for 12 months from March 31, 2009; and Authorization for employment for 12 months from March 31, 2009. BARACK OBAMA Thomas Joy

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DHS Published Notice of Designating Countries Eligible for H-2B Program

On December 19, 2008, DHS published in the Federal Register a final rule ‘Changes to Requirements Affecting H-2B Nonimmigrants,’ which provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security will publish a list of designated countries whose nationals can be the beneficiaries of an approved H-2B petition and are eligible for H-2B visas. This initial list will be composed of countries that are important for the operation of the H-2B program and are cooperative in repatriation of its citizens, subjects, nationals or residents who are subject to a final order of removal from the United States. Publication of such notice is made by the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State. Under the final rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will only approve petitions for H-2B nonimmigrant status for nationals of countries designated by means of this list or by means of the special procedure allowing petitioners to request approval for particular beneficiaries if the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that it is in the U.S. interest. Pursuant to the final rule, this notice designates those countries the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, has found to be eligible to participate in the H-2B program. This notice is effective January 18, 2009, and shall be without effect at the end of one year after January 18, 2009. Designation of Countries Whose Nationals Are Eligible to Participate in the H-2B Visa Program: Pursuant to the authority provided to the Secretary of Homeland Security under sections 241, 214(a)(1), and 215(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1231, 1184(a)(1), and 1185(a)(1)), I have designated, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, that nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2B visa program: Argentina; Australia; Belize; Brazil; Bulgaria; Canada; Chile; Costa Rica; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Indonesia; Israel; Jamaica; Japan; Mexico; Moldova; New Zealand; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Romania; South Africa; South Korea; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom. This notice does not affect the status of aliens who currently hold H-2B nonimmigrant status. Thomas Joy

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