Tips and Suggestions
As many in the immigrant community are already aware, the INS began requiring ?Special Registration? for nationals of several countries. Men who are citizens and nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and Libya were required to register by December 16th; those from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen by January 10th. Persons subject to the 12/16/02 and 1/10/03 deadlines for special registration have an additional window period of 1/27/03 to 2/7/03 to register. Between January 13th and February 21st, men from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia must register. Men from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, or Kuwait must register between February 24, 2003, and March 28, 2003. Unfortunately, the INS is making little effort to publicize the requirement of registration, and they have been very unclear as to who must register and the consequences of registration.
Who Does Not Have to Register?
Females, U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders), ?A? and ?G? nonimmigrants, Asylum Holders, and those who applied for Asylum before a specified date (for Pakistanis and Saudi Arabians, December 18th). Those who entered the U.S. without inspection do not need to register. Only people who were inspected by the INS and last admitted into the U.S. as nonimmigrants (such as visitor, student, H1, L1, etc.) are required to register. Also, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) was informed that people who were admitted under ?advance parole? are considered ?parolees? and are not subject to Special Registration, although the INS has not confirmed this in an issued statement.
Where Do We Register?
Only specific INS offices have been designated; in Atlanta, you may go to the District Office at the corner of MLK and Forsyth Street, downtown.
What Will Happen During the Process?
Although the process seems to differ from one INS office to another, registrants will be asked questions under oath, fingerprinted, and photographed. The officer may ask to see travel documents, including the passport and I-94; any other government-issued identification; proof of residence, including leases or titles; proof of school matriculation; and proof of employment. The officer may also ask many other unrelated questions. Although there have been frightening stories coming from other states of men being detained and deported, we have not heard any such stories yet from the Atlanta office, from our clients who have undergone the process. We are hoping that the Atlanta INS is taking a reasonable, fair approach to the process.
Thus far, information coming out of the Atlanta district office indicates that all registrants, after an approximate waiting time of 4 hours, are asked to see Agents Thomas or Benton. In a brief interview, the officers have reviewed the individual?s passport, work authorization card and a copy of his lease. If the registrant is completely in status, the interview is handled by Examinations. If there is any status issue, including an adjustment applicant whose nonimmigrant status lapsed, the registrant is referred to Investigations. Many district offices are not acting on those cases referred to Investigations unless there is ?derogatory? information associated with the case, such as a criminal record.
What if I Filed Under 245(i)/the LIFE Act?
The INS has arrested or issued Notices to Appear (NTA) for removal proceedings to many people who have Adjustment of Status Applications pending, even if they filed under 245(i). The ultimate decision to register must be made by the individual person, after a review of their situation. Please note that Special Registration is a very new process, and we do not yet know the full risks of registering.
Some risks of registering, especially if you are out of status, are:
? The INS will ask many questions about
your immigrant status, job, etc.;
? The INS may arrest and detain you for
hours or days;
? The INS may issue an NTA and begin
? INA �266(c) provides criminal penalties for
knowingly providing false information
The risks of not registering:
? Failure to register may make you
deportable for failure to maintain status;
? Although the regulations do not say so,
there is concern that failure to register may
be used by the INS in the future to deny
Adjustment of Status applications;
? INA �266(a) provides for criminal penalties
for willful failure to register.
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