US CIS Expands On-Line Filing
USCIS announced in late May 2004 that it has expanded its on-line filing system by adding Forms I-129, I-131, I-140, I-539, I-821, and I-907. Form I-129 is the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, used for the popular H1B1 and L1 visa categories; Form I-131 is the Application for Travel Document; The I-140 Form is the Petition for an Immigrant Worker; Form I-539 is for an Extension/Change of Nonimmigrant Status, and is popularly used for visitor visa extensions, as well as for dependents of nonimmigrant worker categories such as H1Bs and L1s; Form I-821 is the Application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS); and the I-907 is the Request for Premium Processing, currently allowed to be filed with the I-129 worker categories.
Integrating these forms into the system already including forms I-90 and I-765 allows the on-line system to now cover more than 50% of the total volume of benefits applications USCIS receives annually. Future additions to the on-line system are to include on-line accounts, ability to save draft forms, and secured payment capabilities.
US ICE Commences
with Re-Registration of NSEERS-Subject Individuals
Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association have reported that their clients have received notices from US ICE requesting that the client come to the closest immigration district office to undergo re-registration. The clients receive 10 days advance notice, and interviews last approximately 20 minutes. As a result of the re-institution of the registration process, it is absolutely imperative that those who previously attended Special Registration keep the Department of Homeland Security apprised of any change of address, as instructed in the Special Registration Packet received during their initial registration process.
US CIS Introduces New Employment Authorization Document With Additional Security Features
US CIS will soon begin issuing a new version of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as a work permit or I-766. The EAD serves as proof to employers that an individual is authorized to work in the United States. The new card is designed with numerous security features to prevent counterfeiting and fraud. The card includes a magnetic strip, a two-dimensional barcode, and several features that can be used in forensic examination to determine the card's authenticity.
The new EAD eliminates all references to the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and includes only markings that identify it as a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS document. USCIS expects to issue the new cards in early June 2004.
US Department of State To End Visa Revalidations
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Catherine Barry announced at the Annual Conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association that applications for visa revalidations (for classifications C, E, H, I, L, O and P) will no longer be accepted by the Department of State after July 6, 2004. The cut-off date, after which no new applications will be accepted, is July 16, 2004, but that an exception will be made for applications pending at that point for which additional information has been requested.
This should not be confused with the general US CIS process, which allows extensions of status through filings at the Service Centers. The visa revalidation process refers only to the stamping of the visas in the foreign national's passport. Practically speaking, the end of visa revalidation means that individuals will now have to go to a US consulate abroad to receive visa stamps in their passports.
H1-B Cap For Fiscal Year 2005 Remains Unreached
On June 11, 2004, Service Center Operations Director Fujie Ohata announced that, as of the end of May 2004, 16,100 H-1Bs countable against the fiscal 2005 cap have been approved. The cap for FY 2005 is at 65,000.
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