Bender’s Immigration Bulletin – August 1, 2010

Bender’s Immigration Bulletin – August 1, 2010

USCIS Publishes Draft Individual Fee Waiver, Form I-912

On July 15, 2010, Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the agency was actively seeking comments to the newly developed form I-912, Request for an Individual Fee Waiver. This form, developed in conjunction with community-based organizations and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, seeks to standardize the criteria to be met and adjudication standards. According to the Supporting Statement [I-912, Supporting Statement 7-8-10, Document ID: USCIS-2010-0008-0004], the sensitive data collected will enable USCIS to verify the applicant’s inability to pay for the requested immigration benefit, as the form requires that the applicant provide income, expense and asset information, and depending on circumstances, the applicant may be required to furnish information concerning household status and medical conditions.

USCIS anticipates that the form will be used by approximately 85,000 applicants in a given year and that the form will take seventy minutes to complete.

The notice of the new information collection was published at 75 Fed. Reg. 40846 (Jul. 14, 2010). The draft form and draft instructions are reprinted at Appendix A and B, respectively, of this issue. In addition, click to review the Request for Individual Fee Waiver documents and the Supporting Statement.

Comments must be received by September 13, 2010, and may be submitted at www.regulations.gov or by writing to:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

USCIS

Chief, Regulatory Products Division

111 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Washington, DC 20529–2210

Comments may also be submitted to DHS via facsimile to 202–272–8352 or via e-mail at rfs.regs@dhs.gov. When submitting comments by email, please make sure to add OMB Control No. 1615-New in the subject box.

USCIS Reaches U Visa Statutory Maximum

 

 

USCIS announced on July 15, 2010, that it has approved 10,000 U visa petitions in FY 2010. USCIS began issuing U visas in 2008 and, following extensive outreach and collaboration, reached this statutory maximum milestone for the first time in 2010.

According to the “Questions and Answers” issued with the announcement, USCIS will continue to accept and process new petitions for U nonimmigrant status and will issue a Notice of Conditional Approval to petitioners found eligible but unable to receive a U visa in FY 2010. These conditionally approved petitioners will be placed on a waiting list for the next available U visa. USCIS will resume issuing U visas (for FY 2011) on October 1, 2010. After U visas have been issued to qualifying principal petitioners on the waiting list, any remaining U visas for fiscal year 2011 will be issued to new qualifying principal petitioners in the order in which petitions are filed. Conditional approval allows the petitioner and qualifying family members to remain in the United States under deferred action. The conditional approval also allows the petitioner and qualifying family members to request work authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Conditionally approved petitioners must remain admissible and eligible for U nonimmigrant status while on the waiting list. If the petitioner or a qualifying family member is in removal proceedings or has a final order of removal, USCIS will issue a Notice of Conditional Approval of U nonimmigrant status and will also issue deferred action.

 

Puerto Rico Birth Certificate Invalidation

In Puerto Rico, all birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010, have been invalidated and the Vital Statistics Record Office is issuing new, more secure certified copies of birth certificates to all Puerto Ricans, including those living in the United States. Consequently, on September 30, 2010, USCIS will stop accepting certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010, for the purpose of establishing eligibility for immigration benefits.

Petitioners and applicants may continue to submit Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010, to establish United States citizenship or a familial relationship through September 30, 2010. USCIS will honor pre-July 1, 2010, birth certificates in support of immigration filings if received on or before September 30, 2010, even if the adjudication takes place after the certificate becomes invalid.

Individuals born in Puerto Rico and now living elsewhere can apply for a new Puerto Rico birth certificate online or via mail. Instructions on how to apply online can be found at Puerto Rico’s New Birth Certificate Law (Law 191 of 2009 – As Amended) and in Spanish.

For further information on the background for the invalidation, see Puerto Rico to Reissue All Birth Certificates, 15 Bender’s Immigr. Bull. 467 (Apr.1, 2010).

DID YOU KNOW?

LexisNexis® VitalChek Network Inc., America's leading source for government-issued birth certificates and other vital records, has been selected by the Demographic Registry of Puerto Rico to be an officially authorized processor of Puerto Rican birth certificate requests.

"We are happy to engage VitalChek to provide safe, convenient access for ordering official Puerto Rico birth certificates," explains Wanda del C. Llovet Díaz, director of the Demographic Registry of Puerto Rico. "Their expertise in secure online birth certificate ordering directly ties to our initiative of issuing new, more secure certificates." 15 Bender’s Immigration Bulletin August 1072.

The Demographic Registry of Puerto Rico formed this arrangement with VitalChek in response to Law 191 of 2009, which was enacted to address the fraudulent use of Puerto Rico-issued birth certificates to unlawfully obtain U.S. passports, Social Security benefits and other federal services. Under this new law, certificates started being issued July 1, 2010; current Puerto Rico birth certificates will remain valid until Sept. 30, 2010, to give those who need the new birth certificate a three-month window to apply. The law affects all people born in Puerto Rico, regardless of their location on the island, stateside, or abroad.

Beginning July 1, 2010, Puerto Rican-born citizens can order their new, official birth certificates through VitalChek online. VitalChek's secure remote ordering processes incorporate security safeguards designed to protect the privacy of consumers and help prevent document fraud and identity theft. "VitalChek has always placed the utmost importance on our consumers' privacy," says Jeff Piefke, general manager for VitalChek. "We continually emphasize security and safety in every aspect of our ordering process for all vital records."

 

TPS Updates for Haitians, Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans

USCIS announced that eligible Haitian nationals will have an additional six months to apply for Temporary Protected Status granted in response to the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti earlier this year. The new registration deadline is January 18, 2011. Since the earthquake, USCIS has been in constant contact with Haitian community leaders and advocates, and heard that many Haitians needed more time to apply for TPS, according to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. The eighteen-month TPS designation of Haiti was announced on January 21, 2010, to run from January 21, 2010, through July 22, 2011. The designation can be granted only to Haitians who first entered the United States after January 12, 2010.

For further information on the original designation and the extension of the registration period see DHS Initiatives for Haitian Relief: TPS, Adoption, Removal, Other Relief Efforts Outlined, 15 Bender’s Immigr. Bull. 189 (Feb. 1, 2010) and Appendix D of this issue. See also www.uscis.gov on the TPS page under Haiti’s designation.

USCIS also announced that Temporary Protected Status for eligible nationals of El Salvador will be extended from the current expiration of September 9, 2010, through March 9, 2012. Under the extension, Salvadorans who have been granted TPS are eligible to re-register and maintain their status for an additional eighteen months. There are approximately 217,000 Salvadorans who may be eligible for re-registration. TPS does not apply to Salvadoran nationals who first entered the United States after February 13, 2001. To maintain TPS status, TPS beneficiaries must re-register during the period from July 9 until September 7, 2010. USCIS will issue new Employment Authorization Documents to eligible beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. However, USCIS will automatically extend the validity of existing EADs held by Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries for six months, through March 9, 2011. Details on the extension of TPS for El Salvador, including the application requirements and procedures, are available in the Federal Register notice at Appendix E.

On July 16th, USCIS also issued a reminder to Hondurans and Nicaraguans who are eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) but who have not filed for re-registration to follow the late reregistration guidance. While USCIS may accept a late re-registration application if the applicant has good cause, the applicant must submit a letter explaining the reason for the late filing along with the re-registration application. The re-registration period for Honduras and Nicaragua closed July 6, 2010. Please refer to 15 Bender’s Immigr. Bull 793, 814 (Jun. 1, 2010) relative to the announcement and Appendix F (page 840) of that issue for the late registration guidance.

 

DOJ Sues for Alleged Discrimination by Rug Merchant

On July 8, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Garland Sales Inc., a rug manufacturer and seller located in Dalton, Georgia, alleging it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to employment for work-authorized individuals. According to DOJ, Garland required all non-U.S.-citizen applicants to present certain work-authorization documents, imposing different and greater requirements than for applicants who were U.S. citizens. The lawsuit charging Garland was filed in the Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review—Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO). Download the complaint in United States of America v. Garland Sales, Inc.

 

[This is an excerpt from the August 1, 2010, issue of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin.]