CBP Discontinues Stamping I-20s and DS-2019s at POEs
As of August 10, Customs and Border Protection no longer provides admission stamps on Forms I-20/DS-2019 for prospective and returning international students and scholars traveling with F, M, or J visas and seeking admission to the United States. This change makes CBP processes consistent with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recent change to stop stamping these forms. USCIS implemented this change as part of its launch of the online immigration benefits system ELIS.
Although placing admission stamps on Forms I-20/DS-2019 had long been a practice at CBP, it is not required. The stamps do not indicate lawful status or academic program duration, but some States and federal benefit-granting agencies have required international students and scholars to present stamped versions. If an agency rejects an unstamped Form I-20/DS-2019, the applicant may make an appointment with USCIS online through InfoPass and take the Form I-20/DS-2019 to the local USCIS office to be stamped. This is a transitional step that will be discontinued on November 21, 2012.
The CBP memo explaining the change is reprinted at Appendix A. More information is on the LexisNexis Immigration Law Community page at http://www.lexisnexis.com/community/immigration-law/blogs/inside/archive/2012/08/19/cbp-discontinues-stamping-form-i-20-at-ports-of-entry-nafsa.aspx and at http://www.nafsa.org/resourcelibrary/Default.aspx?id=34155.
USCIS Approves 10,000 U Visas for Third Straight Year
USCIS approved the statutory maximum of 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status by August 21, 2012, marking the third straight year it has reached the statutory maximum. The U nonimmigrant status provides relief to victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute those crimes.
"The U-visa is an important tool aiding law enforcement to bring criminals to justice," said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. "At the same time, we are able to provide immigration protection to victims of crime and their families. Both benefits are in the interest of the public we serve."
The program was created by Congress to strengthen the law enforcement community's ability to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes while at the same time offering protection to victims. More than 61,000 victims and their family members have received U visas since the implementation of this program in 2008.
United States-Russia B-Visa Changes Announced
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced that the United States-Russia visa agreement entered into effect on September 9, 2012. Going forward, Russian and U.S. travelers for business (B-1) or tourism (B-2) will be eligible to receive visas valid for multiple entries within thirty-six months. The agreement also outlines other simplifications and eases visa processing times for travelers from both countries.
The United States will reduce the issuance or reciprocity fee charged to Russians issued visas for business or tourism from $100 to $20. The $160 application fee will still apply. Fees for other visa types will not change.
Further information is available http//moscow.usembassy.gov/pr_visas-082912.html.
Lawsuit Against ICE Claims Chief of Staff
CE Director John Morton's Chief of Staff, Suzanne Barr, resigned September 1 in light of a lawsuit alleging "sexually offensive behavior" by her, among other things. James T. Hayes, Jr., former head of ICE Detention and Removal Operations, filed the case in May in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Hayes also contends that he was unfairly removed from his responsibilities in favor of Dora Schriro, briefly Special Advisor to Janet Napolitano. Secretary Napolitano is the only defendant in the lawsuit. Barr denied the allegations, but multiple investigations - and the lawsuit - continue.
[This is an excerpt from the Sept. 15, 2012, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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