Excerpts From the July 1, 2013, Bender's Immigration Bulletin

Ethiopian Adoptions: PAIR Requirement

Effective September 1, 2013, the government of Ethiopia will require that the prospective adoptive parents include evidence that the U.S. government completed a Pre-Adoption Immigration Review of the prospective adoptive child's immigration eligibility. Any dossier filed with the Federal First Instance Court for consideration by the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs must include evidence of PAIR. MOWCYA will review the dossier, including evidence of the U.S. government's PAIR, prior to issuing its recommendation to the FFIC in each individual adoption case. The PAIR letter requirement will not apply to adoption cases filed with Ethiopian courts prior to September 1, 2013.

In conjunction with this new requirement, USCIS issued a policy memorandum implementing the PAIR of Forms I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative ("Form I-600"), filed on behalf of children from, and physically located in, Ethiopia, PM-602-0084 (May 31, 2013). The PAIR program allows prospective adoptive parents to file a Form I-600 petition before they complete the adoption or obtain legal custody of a child for purposes of emigration and adoption. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will review the child's immigration eligibility and issue a preliminary determination of immigration eligibility before prospective adoptive parents complete the adoption or obtain legal custody of a child in Ethiopia. After the adoption has been completed, the U.S. Department of State or USCIS will issue a final decision on the Form I-600 petition.

PM-602-0084 revises 21.5(d) of the Adjudicator's Field Manual, AFM Update AD13-03. Per USCIS, the policy memorandum does not supersede any regulation or law and does not, nor is it intended to, change any state- or country-specific adoption laws or requirements. This policy memorandum is summarized in Government Documents and is reprinted at Appendix B.

Nevada Legislature Enacts Bill to Minimize Risk of Deportation

On May 29, 2013, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed state Senate Bill 169 to reduce the maximum penalty for a "gross misdemeanor" from one year to 364 days. The bill was drafted to prevent many lawfully present immigrants from being removed based on minor criminal convictions.

For example, under the Immigration and Nationality Act many misdemeanors can be classified "aggravated felonies" if a term of imprisonment of at least one year is imposed. A lawfully present nonimmigrant who is convicted of an aggravated felony may be deported without a hearing before an immigration judge, and a lawful permanent resident is ineligible to apply for cancellation of removal.

The bill applies to individuals sentenced on or after October 1, 2013. The bill also permits individuals previously convicted of gross misdemeanors to petition the sentencing court to modify the period of imprisonment from one year to 364 days.

USCIS Updates Policy Manual on Continuous Residence and Physical Presence

On June 10, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated a section of its policy manual concerning certain noncitizens who may count time abroad as residence and physical presence in the United States for purposes of naturalization.

Under its prior policy, USCIS allowed persons employed in Iraq or Afghanistan as interpreters or translators for the U.S. military to treat their period of employment abroad as U.S. residence for naturalization purposes. Under the new policy, the entire period such individuals spend abroad may count toward the continuous residence and physical presence requirements if they were engaged in qualifying employment for any period.

In addition, foreign nationals who hold security-related positions in an "executive or managerial capacity" may now qualify for the exemption for naturalization purposes.

Bender's Immigration Bulletin

[This is an excerpt from the July 1, 2013, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]

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