DHS Extends TPS for Honduras and Nicaragua
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano extended the Temporary Protected Status for Honduras and Nicaragua for eighteen months. The extension is effective, for nationals of both countries, January 6, 2012, and will continue through July 5, 2013.
The Department of Homeland Security is also automatically extending the validity of employment authorization documents issued under the last extension of TPS for an additional six months, through July 5, 2012.
All individuals seeking to maintain their TPS must re-register before January 5, 2012. For TPS and EAD filing procedures and fee requirements, please see the Federal Register notices at Appendices A and B.
USCIS Updating EB-5 Guidance
After reviewing its various EB-5 policy memoranda, USCIS determined that they should be consolidated into a "single overarching" agency policy memorandum, according to a message by USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. The policy review is part of the continuing effort to improve the administration of the EB-5 program.
USCIS released the draft consolidated policy memorandum addressing "foundational" issues in the program and has now requested that stakeholders offer their input on these issues before providing greater detail and addressing other issues. Director Mayorkas sees this as the first step in an iterative policy development process.
This draft guidance is a work in progress and is not operative guidance. Current policy memoranda will continue to guide adjudications until the consolidated guidance is published in complete and final form. Please refer to Government Documents for more information.
Summer Work Travel Program Capped at Current Level
The State Department will restrict the size of the J-1 Exchange Visitor category of Summer Work Travel to 2011 actual participant levels, nor will any new applications for prospective sponsors of SWT program designation be accepted until further notice.
Begun in 1963, the SWT program allows foreign post-secondary students to come to the United States for a maximum of four months to travel and work in largely unskilled positions. In 2011, about 103,000 students participated in the program, and over the past decade roughly one million students have come to the United States under the program.
Complaints about working conditions including housing and transportation problems and improper work hours motivated the State Department to tighten the regulations over the summer, but the number of complaints remained unacceptably high. Making the headlines in late summer were SWT participants assigned to a Hershey candy warehouse in Pennsylvania protesting the program. According to The Inquirer [Philadelphia], the student workers "said they were paid low wages for hard physical labor and that their pay was drained for rent." The AP reported that some participants earned as little as $1 an hour.
The Federal Register notice of the cap is reprinted at Appendix C.
BITS AND PIECES
Three Attorneys Disciplined
The Executive Office for Immigration Review took disciplinary action against three attorneys for violations of the rules of professional conduct for immigration practitioners. Jagjot Singh Khandpur was suspended based on his indefinite suspension in Maryland. Mahendra R. Mehta was expelled from practice, effective March 29, 2011, based on his disbarment in Illinois; and L. Tod Schlosser was also expelled from practice, effective September 15, 2011, based on his disbarment in Illinois.
New BIA Member
The Executive Office for Immigration Review announced the appointment of Ana Landazabal Mann to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Ms. Mann assumed her work as a board member on November 21, 2011. Ms. Mann has served as a senior legal advisor to the Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals since 1996, during which time she also served as a temporary board member. From 1986 through 1996, Ms. Mann was an attorney advisor for the BIA. Ms. Mann joined the Department of Justice through the Attorney General's Honors Program when she clerked at the Drug Enforcement Administration from 1985 through 1986. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University and a law degree from George Washington University. She is a member of the New Jersey State Bar.
U.S. Consulate Mumbai Opens in New Location
The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai reopened on November 21 at its new facility in the Bandra Kurla Complex. The new location features expanded space for consulate operations, including a total of forty-four interview windows for services to visa applicants and U.S. citizens. The prior location had room for only thirteen windows. The new consulate compound houses all United States government offices in Mumbai, including the Department of State, the Foreign Commercial Service the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Foreign Agricultural Service, as well as the Consul General's residence.
New IMAGE Participants
ICE announced that seven major employers, including Best Western International, Chick-fil-A, Inc., Hyatt, Kelly Services, Lexmark, Smoothie King, and Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, have agreed to partner with ICE by joining its employment compliance program IMAGE ("ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers"). IMAGE partners agree to (1) use "sound compliance practices" such as enrolling in E-Verify, (2) follow written hiring policies and engage in annual self-audits; and significantly, (3) submit to an ICE audit of the employment eligibility forms.
GAO Report on Arizona Border Technology
On November 7, 2011, the GAO released a report titled "Arizona Border Surveillance Technology: More Information on Plans and Costs is Needed before Proceeding" (available at http://gao.gov/products/GAO-12-22). Earlier in the year, GAO was requested to assess the extent to which Customs and Border Protection has the information needed to support and implement its Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan and estimated lifecycle costs for future investments. GAO concluded that "CBP does not have the information needed to fully support and implement its Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan in accordance with DHS and OMB guidance" and recommends that CBP "document the analysis justifying the technologies proposed in the Plan, determine its mission benefits, conduct a post-implementation review of SBInet [Secure Border Initiative Network, conceived to create a "virtual fence" along the U.S.- Mexico border that began in 2005 and scrapped in early 2011 after spending almost $1 billion] and determine a more robust life-cycle cost estimate for the Plan."
[This is an excerpt from the Dec. 1, 2011, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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