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Latest Immigration News

April 2003
Latest Immigration News

Atlanta Processing Times

In a meeting with area Immigration Lawyers in February, the Atlanta District INS Office (now the BCIS) confimed that it is currently processing Adjustment of Status cases from May 2001, and Naturalization cases from July 2002. As for the Georgia Department of Labor, it is currently processing RIR cases received in August 2001, and traditional labor certifications (submitted without advertisements) received in April 2001.

INS Withdraws Proposed B Nonimmigrant Rule

On February 28, the Department of Justice withdrew from further consideration a rule finalizing a controversial regulation proposed on April 12, 2002, that would restructure the admission period and extension procedures for B nonimmigrant visa holders. The B visa is that governing temporary admissions for those arriving to the US as visitors, or for temporary business. At this time, sources indicate that the rule was withdrawn for the March 1 transition of the INS into to the Department of Homeland Security. It is unclear whether or not the new department will reconsider the rule; however, the groups opposed to the changes introduced by this rule will continue to voice their concerns with the new department.

The final rule, which was under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the time of its withdrawal, would eliminate the minimum admission period of B-2 visitors for pleasure, reduce the maximum admission period of B-1 and B-2 visitors from 1 year to 6 months, and establish greater control over a B visitor's ability to extend status or to change status to that of a nonimmigrant student. The rule was the subject of much criticism from the business community and immigration advocacy groups, as its impact on national security would be questionable and its negative affect on immigration, travel and tourism to the United States would be tangible and severe.

Canadian Landed Immigrants Need Visas

Starting March 17, 2003, most landed immigrants of Canada need a visa and valid passport to enter the U.S. This is a change from the previous rule allowing Canadian landed immigrants, who had a common nationality with Canadians, to enter the U.S. without passports and visas. This former rule was known as the 'Commonwealth Rule,' as it applied to nationals of Ireland and the British Commonwealth. Canadian landed immigrants who are nationals of such countries as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, among others, previously qualified under the Commonwealth Rule and did not need a visa to visit the U.S. as tourists. They will now need valid visas and passports to enter the U.S. for any reason. The complete list of subject countries is available on the www.usembassycanada.gov under their 'Traveling to the USA?' section.

New Immigration Website

INS has advised that, following the transfer of INS service or benefits functions to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) on March 1, 2003, the new website will be

In addition, INS has stated that the BCIS will accept filing fee checks made payable to either BCIS or INS for the foreseeable future. However, in practice many immigration lawyers have found that some INS offices are rejecting checks made out to 'BCIS', but are accepting those made out to either the INS or to DHS (Department of Homeland Security). Any changes to this or any other procedure will be announced on the BCIS WebSite and at the telephone number for the National Customer Service Center, 1-800-375-5283.

Department of State Launches Visa Education Campaign

The U.S. Department of State today unveiled a new effort to better communicate changes to U.S. visa procedures. The initiative, titled 'Secure Borders. Open Doors' will initially utilize a new web site (www.UnitedStatesVisas.gov) and a customizable brochure. Additional materials, to be developed in consultation with U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, will be produced and distributed as needed.

Secure Borders. Open Doors will help streamline the visa process for applicants at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.

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