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2014 DV Program Opens
The 2014 Diversity Visa Program registration opened at noon on October 2, 2012, and is scheduled to close at noon on Saturday, November 3, 2012. As in past years, applicants must submit entries electronically during this registration period using the electronic DV entry form (E-DV) available at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Fifty-five thousand immigrant visas are set aside for DV immigrants; however, since DV-1999, Congress has reserved 5,000 visas from the annual allocation to be made available for use under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act.
For DV-2014, natives of Guatemala are eligible to enter the program. Natives of the following countries are ineligible because the countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
The Department of State will once again use an online process to notify entrants of their selection and to provide information about the immigrant visa application and interview. Beginning May 1, 2013, DV-2014 entrants will be able to use their confirmation numbers provided at registration to check online through Entry Status Check at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov to see whether their entries were selected. Those selected will receive instructions for how to apply for immigrant visas for themselves and eligible family members. Confirmation of visa interview appointments will also be made through Entry Status Check.
Complete information about entry requirements, including frequently asked questions, is available at http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html. The Federal Register notice is reprinted at Appendix A.
TPS Extended for Haitians
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano extended Temporary Protected Status for Haiti for an additional eighteen months. Secretary Napolitano also extended the suspension of certain requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant Haitian students.
The extension of TPS for Haiti will begin January 23, 2013, and end July 22, 2014. Current Haitian TPS beneficiaries who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2011, and want to extend their TPS status must re-register during the re-registration period that runs through November 30, 2012.
The extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for new employment authorization documents. Those Haitian TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register will receive new EADs with an expiration date of July 22, 2014. In case re-registrants do not receive their new EADs until after their current EADs expire, USCIS is extending currently valid TPS Haiti EADs bearing a January 22, 2013, expiration date through July 22, 2013.
The suspension of certain requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant Haitian students enables the students to continue to obtain employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course loads, while maintaining their F-1 student status. The suspension will remain in effect through July 22, 2014.
The Federal Register notices, published on October 1, 2012, are reprinted at Appendices B and C.
BITS AND PIECES
Chief Mountain POE Closed for Winter
CBP announced the winter closing of the port of Chief Mountain, Montana. The port closed at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 30. The Canada Border Services Agency also closed its port of Chief Mountain, Alberta, at the same time. The port will re-open on May 15, 2013.
Use iCert for H-2 Filings with DOL Soon
The Employment and Training Administration announced the implementation of electronic filing in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through its iCERT Visa Portal System. Electronic filing in the H-2B program is slated to begin on October 15, 2012. Electronic filing in the H-2A program will begin on December 10, 2012. For further information, see the Federal Register notice reprinted at Appendix D.
EOIR Headquarters Immigration Court Moves
The Executive Office for Immigration Review moved its Headquarters Immigration Court to 1901 South Bell St., Suite 200, Arlington, VA 22202. It began hearings at the new location on October 3. Its hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 703-603-1350.
New ICE Community Hotline
ICE launched its new Community Hotline on September 27, 2012. Members of the public can call 1-888-351-4024 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. This effort, led by the ICE Public Advocate, will transition the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Hotline into a toll-free hotline for members of the public. In the coming months, ICE will expand the Hotline to all immigration detention facilities in a phased approach with full implementation expected by early 2013. During the current phase, detainees will be able to contact the Hotline with questions about DACA only. Members of the public can continue to contact ICE through the Public Advocate mailbox at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.
USCIS Awards Grants
USCIS announced the award of approximately $5 million in grants to thirty-one immigrant-serving organizations from twenty-one states and the District of Columbia to support citizenship preparation services for permanent residents through September 2014. USCIS granted the awards through a competitive funding opportunity to organizations that will provide both citizenship instruction for the civics and English components of the naturalization test and naturalization application services within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law.
Immigration Programs Extended - EB-5, E-Verify, Non-ministers, Conrad 30
On September 28, President Obama signed into law S.3245, which extends to September 30, 2015, expiration dates applying to four immigration programs administered by DHS: the EB-5 Regional Center Program; the E-Verify Program; the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program; and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program.
Padilla Conviction Vacated
The Kentucky Court of Appeals on September 28 ruled that Jose Padilla, of Padilla v. Kentucky fame, was prejudiced by his counsel's misadvice as to the immigration consequences (certain removability) of pleading guilty to marijuana offenses. The court remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to vacate his conviction and judgment. The opinion is available at 2012 Ky. App. LEXIS 193.
[This is an excerpt from the Oct. 15, 2012, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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