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2014 Diversity Visas
Online registration for the DV-2014 Program will begin on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at 12 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and conclude on Saturday, November 3, 2012, at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4). Please see http://travel.state.gov > Visas > Visa Types for Immigrants > Diversity Visa Program for instructions and program information.
The FAQs posted by USCIS in August (17 Bender's Immigr. Bull. 1572 (Appendix D) (Sept. 1, 2012)) were updated on September 5th and September 14th. The questions have been topically organized and numbered within topic. Some questions from the original FAQ were eliminated and others added. Notably there is now a question addressing ineligibility for premium tax credits and reduced cost sharing through Affordable Insurance Exchanges starting in 2014 ("About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," Q.8). Under the "Travel" subsection of "Guidelines for Requesting Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," additional guidance is offered with regard to requesting advance parole where deferred action has been granted after an order of deportation or removal (Q.3). Many additional issues are discussed under the topic "Decisions and Renewals." The revised FAQs are reprinted at Appendix A.
In further DACA activity, the Social Security Administration has issued a brochure that specifies eligibility, procedure, and evidence requirements for obtaining a Social Security number once DACA is granted. This brochure is reprinted at Appendix B.
USCIS Announces Citizenship and Integration Grant Program Recipients FY 2012
On Sept. 17, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the award of approximately $5 million in grants designed to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare permanent residents for citizenship. Thirty-one organizations from twenty-one different states and the District of Columbia will receive federal funding to support citizenship preparation services for permanent residents through September 2014.
Recipients are public or private nonprofit organizations with recent experience providing citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to permanent residents. They include public school systems, public libraries, community and faith-based groups, adult education organizations, and literacy organizations. The recipients will offer citizenship instruction to prepare permanent residents for the civics and English components of the naturalization test, and naturalization application services within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law. The period of performance for the grants is two years.
The USCIS Fact Sheet listing the organizations and their locations is reprinted at Appendix C.
Laptops at ICE Detention Facilities
The Public Advocate at ICE announced a policy change that now allows private attorneys or accredited representatives appearing before an immigration judge on behalf of a detainee to bring a laptop into EOIR courtrooms located within detention facilities. Private attorneys and accredited representatives will be required to complete a request form each time they intend to bring a laptop into a courtroom within a detention facility. This process is for laptop computers along with an air card only. It does NOT include iPADs, iPODs, smart phones, BlackBerrys or other electronic devices. The policy change also does not allow for attorneys to take laptops in to attorney-client visitation rooms.
Laptop request forms are available through the field office in which the EOIR proceeding and detention facility are located.
New USCIS Ombudsman: Maria Odom
Secretary Napolitano announced that Maria Odom has been appointed as the new Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman. Ms. Odom brings substantial knowledge of immigration law and valuable experience working with community partners to address challenges with immigration and citizenship services. As Ombudsman, Ms. Odom will lead the Ombudsman's Office as it continues to provide assistance to the public, while also recommending ways U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can improve the delivery of immigration services and benefits.
Ms. Odom most recently served as Executive Director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), since September 2009, where she led a national network of community-based immigration programs. Early in her career, she served in a number of roles in the U.S. Department of Justice, including positions at the Executive Office for Immigration Review and as counsel for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service. She also practiced immigration law in the private sector for many years. A native of Puerto Rico, Ms. Odom holds a bachelor's degree from Florida State University and a J.D. from Mercer University in Georgia.
Ms. Odom replaces January Contreras, who departed earlier this year. Debra Rogers, who has been serving as Acting Ombudsman, will serve again as Deputy Director of the Ombudsman's Office
On May 24, 2012, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 3245, which provides for a three-year extension of the following four programs:
On August 2, 2012, the Senate unanimously passed S. 3245. On September 13, 2012, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 412 to 3. According to govtrack.us, http://www.govtrack.us/ congress/bills/112/s3245, the bill status is "At President," awaiting signature.
DHS Publishes 2011 Annual Report on Immigration Enforcement Actions
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Report presents information on foreign nationals found inadmissible, apprehended, arrested, detained, returned, and removed during 2011. Key findings include:
The report is available at http://www.dhs.gov /immigration-statistics.
BITS AND PIECES
Arlington Immigration Court relocated
The EOIR announced the relocation of the Arlington Immigration Court. The court is as of September 18, at: 1901 South Bell Street, Suite 200, Arlington, VA 22202. It operates Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The telephone number is 703-603-1300.
Global Entry Kiosks in San Antonio Airport
CBP announced the unveiling of Global Entry kiosks at the international arrivals area of the San Antonio International Airport. It is the newest of twenty-eight airports nationwide with the Global Entry program.
New Procedures in India for Processing Visas
The U.S. Embassy in India announced the implementation of a new visa processing system throughout India that will further standardize procedures and simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at www.ustraveldocs.som/in. Beginning September 26, U.S. visa applicants are able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer or with their mobile phones, in addition to paying in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches. For the first time, applicants will be able to schedule their appointments online or by phone. Visa applicants will be able to have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat. Call center agents in Noida and Hyderabad will answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjab, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. An important change is that under the new system applicants must make two appointments. Prior to their visa interviews, an applicant must visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit fingerprints and a photo. The OFCs are located apart from the embassy and consulates in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. More information about the new system is available at the above-mentioned website.
MPI Paper on Value of Citizenship
The Migration Policy Institute Policy Institute has published a new paper written by Madeleine Sumption and Sarah Flamm, entitled "The Economic Value of Citizenship for Immigrants in the United States." It is available at http://www.migrationpolicy.org/.
[This is an excerpt from the Oct. 1, 2012, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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