USCIS Transitions to Centralized Policy Manual
On January 7, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched its transition to an online policy manual that will ultimately replace the Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM). According to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, the change follows an agency-wide review and is intended to provide a centralized resource for USCIS policies.
The initial volume of the manual, which became effective January 22, relates to citizenship and naturalization. Subsequent volumes will address nonimmigrants, parole, adjustment of status, admissibility, refugees and asylum, waivers, and travel, employment, and identity documents.
To educate practitioners about the new policy manual, USCIS held a stakeholder engagement and series of webinars in mid-January. As material becomes available for each volume, USCIS will seek comment from the public on any new or substantially changed policies. The manual is available at http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual.html.
President Signs Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012
On January 14, President Obama signed the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (S. 1331, Pub. L. No. 112-276, 126 Stat. 2466). Sponsored by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), the bill ensures that all international adoptions are covered by the accreditation standards in the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000. At present, the standards in the 2000 Act apply only to adoptions of children from countries that are parties to the Hague Convention.
The bill also repeals a prohibition contained in the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 against the collection of fees by accreditation agencies. However, the bill requires accrediting agencies that receive federal funding to submit reports to both Houses of Congress within ninety days, describing how the funds were or will be used.
Information Exchanges with Canada
On December 14, the Department of State signed an agreement with Canada that will enable the two countries to exchange information about third-country nationals who apply for a visa or other entry document. According to the State Department, the agreement does not apply to information regarding U.S. or Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Biographic sharing will begin this year, and biometric sharing will begin in 2014.
Adkins-Blanch Becomes Vice Chairman of BIA
On January 14, the Executive Office for Immigration Review announced the appointment of Chuck Adkins-Blanch as Vice Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals. A member of the BIA since 2008, Adkins-Blanch previously served as an immigration judge and as EOIR's general counsel.
USCIS Will Not Approve Cambodian Adoptions
On January 2, USCIS announced that it would not approve Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, for any child from Cambodia. Although Cambodia joined the Hague Adoption Convention in 2007, the State Department determined that it does not have a functional Hague Adoption Convention system. USCIS said it will advise the public once DOS verifies that Cambodia can determine whether a child is an orphan for purposes of U.S. immigration laws.
[This is an excerpt from the Feb. 1, 2013, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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