Visa Waiver Program (VWP) emergency or temporary passports must be electronic passports (e-Passports)
Effective July 1, 2009, all Visa Waiver Program (VWP) emergency or temporary passports must be electronic passports (e-Passports) to be eligible for travel to the United States without a visa, under the VWP. This includes VWP applicants who present emergency or temporary passports to transit the United States. See the VWP webpage on this site. Review the CBP Website notice.
Legal Rights and Protections for Certain Employment or Education-based Nonimmigrants– Notice: Informational Pamphlet is Now Available!
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (WWTVPRA) of 2008 was signed into law on December 23, 2008, by the President. The Act makes several changes to nonimmigrant visa classification criteria, visa processing requirements, and the grounds for inadmissibility under INA section 212(a)(2)(H).
The changes under this provision of this law, relate to the legal rights of certain employment or education-based nonimmigrants under Federal immigration, labor, and employment laws. Additionally, this law outlines the information to be provided to certain nonimmigrants about their rights, protections and available resources. When working or studying in the United States temporarily, we want to ensure each nonimmigrant is aware of his/her rights, as well as protections and resources available, To learn more, review the Nonimmigrant Rights, Protections and Resources pamphlet, Online version or Printer double-sided version. Information on this topic is also available to nonimmigrant visa applicants in the employment and education-based visa webpages on this site.
President Obama signs into law, an extension for “SR” nonminister special immigrant religious workers
On March 20, 2009, President Obama signed into law HR 1127, a bill to extend certain immigration programs. Section 1 extends the “SR” nonminister special immigrant religious worker visa classification by amending INA 101(a)(27)(C)(ii)(II) and (III)to authorize “SR” status for an eligible alien who “seeks to enter the United States before September 30, 2009.” “SR” visas may be issued until close of business on September 29, 2009. No “SR” visa may be issued with a validity that extends beyond September 29, 2009. Visit the Immigrant Visas - Employment webpage.
Nonminister Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program Expiration
United States law authorizing nonminister special immigrant religious worker program expired on March 6, 2009. Therefore until further notice, Immigrant Fourth Preference (E4) – Immigrant “SR” visas can no longer be issued. The minister of religion “SD” visa, a permanent visa classification, has not expired and “SD” visas can be issued to eligible visa applicants.
President Bush Announces Visa Waiver Program Expansion - VWP travel begins November 17
On October 17, President Bush announced the imminent expansion of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to include the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Republic of Korea and the Slovak Republic. However, the United States must still complete certain internal steps required by statute before we can complete VWP expansion. Nationals of these seven countries continue to require visas to travel to the United States during that period. Nationals of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Republic of Korea and the Slovak Republic will be able to travel without obtaining a visa for tourist and business travel of 90 days or less beginning November 17 provided they possess a biometric passport and register on-line through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). For the full text of the President's statement see the Press Release.
Department of State Announces Diversity Visa Lottery (DV-2010) Registration
Registration period ends December 1, 2008-- Applicants urged to apply early
Washington -- Entrants for the United States Diversity Visa Lottery (DV-2010) are encouraged to enter early in the two-month registration period because excessive demand might slow down the system as the deadline nears, according to the State Department. The Diversity Visa Lottery registration period will start at noon (Eastern Daylight Time) on October 2 until noon Eastern Standard Time on December 1, 2008, the State Department announced. See Learn More for the Press Release and the DV-2010 instructions below.
For the first time, entrants for the United States Diversity Visa 2010 Lottery will be able to check the status of their entry online starting July 1, 2009 and find out whether their entries were selected or not selected in the lottery. Successful Diversity Visa Lottery entrants will continue to receive notification letters by mail.
DHS Announces Implementation of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Travelers
WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today implementation of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which will begin to accept voluntary ESTA applications starting on August 1, 2008. ESTA is a new fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel to the United States, and VWP travelers are encouraged to apply for authorization as soon as they begin to plan a trip to the United States. It is anticipated that ESTA will become mandatory for VWP travelers on January 12, 2009.
USCIS Announces a Proposal to Increase Periods of Stay for TN Professional Workers From Canada or Mexico
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it is publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to increase the maximum amount of time a Trade-NAFTA (TN) professional worker from Canada or Mexico can remain in the United States before seeking readmission or obtaining an extension of stay. The proposal will extend the maximum period of admission for TN workers from one year to three years, the same term that USCIS currently may grant to H-1B specialty occupation worker
USCIS' Role in the Visa Process
Chairwoman Lofgren, Ranking Member King, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the role of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the visa process, particularly USCIS and Department of State (DOS) efforts to maximize visa issuance in accordance with the law. I am accompanied today by Don Neufeld, Acting Associate Director for Domestic Operations.
In recent years, over 1 million people became Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States (LPRs). Under the law there are a variety of different categories and means through which a person may become eligible for permanent residence. A substantial number of these categories have numerical limitations – annual caps on how many people can immigrate. There are other aspects to these caps as well, such as limitations per country.
New York Business Group Seeks Fewer Restrictions on Foreign Worker Visas
By Nathan King
29 April 2008
New York City business leaders say the U.S. visa system has become so restrictive that the city is losing out to other cities in the search for global talent. The business group Partnership for New York City says security fears and the political debate over immigration have resulted in added restrictions on the number of visas available for skilled foreign workers. Nathan King has more.
New Yorkers like to say their city is the world's melting pot. But when it comes to attracting global talent to work here, New York business leaders say the Big Apple is losing its global standing.
They blame current U.S. immigration policy, especially the limited number of H-1B visas granted each year to companies that want to bring highly talented individuals to the U.S. to work.
Overseas Education More Attainable for Chinese Students
By Jenifer Pak
28 April 2008
A record number of Chinese students are expected to study abroad this year, as more and more apply for visas to attend universities in the United States, Europe and Australia. Many students say they want an overseas degree to help them compete in China's tough job market. Jennifer Pak reports from Beijing.
Not long ago, people are jammed into the Beijing office of New Oriental, a company that helps students apply to study abroad.
Liu Hui is among the many hopefuls. She wants to get a master's degree in the United States.
Immigration Tops Agenda at North American Summit
By Greg Flakus
21 April 2008
President Bush is in New Orleans, playing host to his North American counterparts, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from New Orleans, immigration was a top issue with President Calderon.
President Bush accompanied President Calderon to the opening of Mexico's newest consulate here in New Orleans. The previous consulate located here had been Mexico's oldest one, opened in 1822, shortly after the country gained independence from Spain. It was closed in 2002, but thousands of Mexican laborers have come to New Orleans since the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 to work on reconstruction projects.
USCIS Modifies Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has revised Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. The revision was necessitated by changes to the Tuberculosis (TB) Component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons.
USCIS Modifies Application for Employment Authorization Previous Versions of Form I-765 Accepted until July 8, 2008
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has revised Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The form now includes additional eligibility codes.
These changes have been made in accordance with the Department of Homeland Security's recent interim final rule regarding Optional Practical Training (OPT), published on April 8, 2008 in the Federal Register. The rule modifies the conditions and duration of OPT for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students.
DHS Proposes Biometric Airport and Seaport Exit Procedures
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today a notice of proposed rulemaking that will establish biometric exit procedures at all U.S air and sea ports of departure. The majority of the Canadians are already required to submit digital fingerprints and a digital photograph for admission into the country.* The US-VISIT Exit proposal would require non-U.S. citizens who provide biometric identifiers for admission to also provide digital fingerprints when departing the country from any air or sea ports of departure.
DHS Signs Visa Waiver Program Agreement with Korea
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff signed today a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan. The security enhancements outlined in the agreement puts Korea on the path toward visa-free travel to the U.S., and potential designation as a VWP member as early as later this year.
USCIS Issues Guidance For Approved Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petitioners
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently provided guidance to USCIS adjudicators for adjudicating Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications filed by Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners who are present in the United States without having been inspected and admitted or paroled. The guidance memo was issued on April 11, 2008.
USCIS to Allow F-1 Students Opportunity to Request Change of Status
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it would allow F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of selected H-1B petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2009 to request a change of status in lieu of consular notification.
USCIS Runs Random Selection Process For H-1B Petitions
WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today conducted the computer-generated random selection processes on H-1B petitions, to select which H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2009 (FY 2009) would continue to full adjudication. If approved these H-1B petitions will be eligible to receive an H-1B visa number.
USCIS conducted two random selections, first on petitions qualifying for the 20,000 “master’s or higher degree” (advanced degree) exemption, and second on the remaining advance degree petitions together with the general H-1B pool of petitions, for the 65,000 cap.
USCIS Announces Update for Processing Petitions for Nonimmigrant Victims of Criminal Activity
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that, until further notice, it will not terminate interim relief for aliens who have not yet filed for U nonimmigrant status, except in those cases where USCIS is aware of adverse factors. USCIS will continue to accept petitions for U nonimmigrant status at any time.
USCIS Releases Preliminary Number Of FY 2009 H-1B Cap Filings
WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a preliminary number of nearly 163,000 H-1B petitions received during the filing period ending on April 7, 2008. More than 31,200 of those petitions were for the advanced degree category.
USCIS expects next week it will conduct the computer-generated random selection process, beginning with the selection of the 20,000 petitions under the advanced degree exemption. Those petitions not selected under the advanced degree category will join the random selection process for the cap-subject 65,000 limit.
USCIS Revises Filing Instructions for Petition for Alien Relative
WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated cap for fiscal year 2009. USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the “advanced degree” exemption. Before running the random selection process, USCIS will complete initial data entry for all filings received during the filing period ending on April 7, 2008. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the precise day on which it will conduct the random selection process.
USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions Sent to California or Vermont Service Centers Temporary Accommodation Made for FY 09 Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions
WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will not reject an H-1B petition that is subject to the fiscal year 2009 cap solely on the grounds that it was received at the wrong service center (e.g., the petition may have been inadvertently mailed to the California Service Center instead of the Vermont Service Center or vice versa).
17-Month Extension of Optional Practical Training for Certain Highly Skilled Foreign Students
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released today an interim final rule extending the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students. The extension will be available to F-1 students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics who are employed by businesses enrolled in the E-Verify program.
Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption Enters into Force
Today, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption enters into force in the United States. The provisions of the Hague Convention now govern both incoming and outgoing intercountry adoptions between the United States and other Convention countries.
The Hague Convention establishes international norms and procedures for processing intercountry adoption cases involving more than 70 Convention member countries. It mandates safeguards to protect the interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. It also provides that member nations recognize adoptions that take place within other Convention countries.
USCIS EXTENDS COMMENT PERIOD FOR PROPOSED CHANGE TO H-2A PROGRAM
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it is extending the public comment period until April 14, 2008 for a proposed rule that would encourage and facilitate the lawful employment of H-2A foreign temporary agricultural workers. The notice extending the comment period will be published in the March 31, 2008 Federal Register.
USCIS Revises Filing Instructions for Petition for Alien Relative
Form I-130s to be filed with the Chicago Lockbox
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised the filing instructions for the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130). Effective immediately, all petitioners filing stand-alone Form I-130s must file their petitions with the Chicago Lockbox instead of a USCIS Service Center. A USCIS Update was issued on Nov. 30, 2007, encouraging petitioners to file with the Chicago Lockbox while the form was being revised.
Questions and Answers: USCIS Announces Interim Rule on H-1B Visas
Rule Modifies Petition Selection Process and Prohibits Multiple Filings
What is the H-1B visa program?
The H-1B visa program is used by U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent), such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
Fact Sheet: Changes to the FY2009 H-1B Program
WASHINGTON _ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued an interim final rule today that prohibits employers from filing more than one petition for an H-1B visa for a single employee in a fiscal year. The change is intended to promote a fair and systematic process for H-1B petitioners. This rule ensures that companies filing H-1B petitions that are subject to numerical limits will have an equal chance to receive consideration for an H-1B worker.
USCIS Announces Interim Rule on H-1B Visas
Rule Modifies Selection Process and Prohibits Multiple Filings
WASHINGTON _ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) transmitted an interim final rule to the Federal Register today that prohibits employers from filing multiple H-1B petitions for the same employee. These changes will ensure that companies filing H-1B petitions subject to congressionally mandated numerical limits have an equal chance to employ an H-1B worker. To ensure a fair and orderly distribution of available H-1B visas, USCIS will deny or revoke multiple petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker and will not refund the filing fees submitted with multiple or duplicative petitions.
DHS Signs Visa Waiver Program Agreements with Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff signed today Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Slovak Minister of the Interior Robert Kali_ák, Hungarian Ambassador Ferenc Somogyi and Lithuanian Ambassador Audrius Br_zga. The security enhancements outlined in the agreements put all three countries on track for visa-free travel to the U.S., and potential designation as VWP members later this year.
Latvia, Estonia Sign Deals with US on Visa-Free Travel
By VOA News
12 March 2008
The United States has signed agreements with Latvia and Estonia that will allow the Baltic countries to join a U.S. visa waiver program later this year.
With All the Talk About Illegal Immigration, a Look at the Legal Kind Second of two programs on immigration issues in the US examines the rules for seeking permanent residency. Transcript of radio broadcast:
Update: Biometric Changes For Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents
WASHINGTON –U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued revised instructions for USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The instructions include changes, which will become effective March 5, 2008, that require applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents to provide biometrics (e.g., fingerprints and photographs) at a USCIS Application Support Centers (ASC) for background and security checks and requirements for secure travel and entry documents containing biometric identifiers. As indicated in the instructions, when the biometrics requirement becomes effective, USCIS will notify applicants of their appointment at the designated ASC after submission of the I-131 application.
Testimony of Stephen A. “Tony” Edson on U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, House Committee on Science and Technology
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Science and Technology
Subcommittee on Research and Science Education,
House Committee on Science and Technology
Testimony of Stephen A. “Tony” Edson
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Service
February 7, 2008
"Thank you very much, Chairman Baird and members of the Committee, for allowing me the opportunity to give you an update on the status of the State Department’s visa policy and procedures for foreign students and scholars. My colleague, the Consular Bureau’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Janice Jacobs, has presented testimony in 2003 and 2004 on this same subject. I am happy to report that, while our commitment to security has not diminished, we have worked diligently to streamline the process to attract and bring the best and brightest foreign students and scholars to the United States. The Department is aware of the particular interest this Committee has with regard to these students, and we appreciate your support of our efforts to improve and expand visa services for students."
DHS Proposes Changes to Improve H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program
Release Date: February 6, 2008
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Fact Sheet: H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today a series of proposed rule modifications to provide employers with a streamlined hiring process for temporary and seasonal agricultural workers under the H-2A program.
“These proposed changes are designed to provide an efficient and secure program for farmers to legally fulfill their need for agricultural workers within the law rather than outside the law,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “This common-sense simplification of H-2A will provide farm employers with a more orderly and timely flow of legal workers, while continuing to protect the rights of laborers and promoting legal and secure methods for determining who is coming into the country.”
Briefing on Developments in the Iraqi Refugee and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Admissions Programs
February 4, 2008
Senior Coordinator on Iraqi Refugee Issues Ambassador James Foley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Tony Edson, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Iraqi Refugee Issues Lori Scialabba
Senior Advisors to Brief Press on the Latest Developments in Iraqi Refugee and Special Immigrant Visa Issues
Senior Coordinator on Iraqi Refugee Issues Ambassador James Foley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Tony Edson, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Stewart Baker will brief the press on developments in the Iraqi refugee and special immigrant visa (SIV) admissions programs. The briefing will take place on Monday, February 4 at 2:00 p.m. in the Public Affairs Conference Room 2208 at the Department of State. This briefing is ON-THE-RECORD / OFF CAMERA.
DHS Begins Collecting 10 Fingerprints From International Visitors at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it has begun collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Hartsfield). The change is part of the department’s upgrade from two- to 10-fingerprint collection to enhance security and facilitate legitimate travel by more accurately and efficiently establishing and verifying visitors’ identities.
USCIS Extends Suspension of Premium Processing Service for Religious Workers (R-1) Nonimmigrant Visa Classification
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that suspension of premium processing services for religious worker (R-1) visa petitions will be extended until July 8, 2008. A previous six-month suspension was announced on June 18, 2007.
The Premium Processing Service provides faster processing of certain employment-based petitions and guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. USCIS needs additional time to assess whether it is possible to provide this level of service for nonimmigrant religious worker petitions. Due to the complexities with adjudicating R-1 visa petitions, USCIS cannot reasonably ensure a level of processing service within 15 calendar days.
USCIS Field Office Adopts Teletech Call Appointment System
For Filing Waiver of Inadmissibility Applications WASHINGTON – As of December 17, 2007, immigrant visa applicants seeking to file an application for waiver of inadmissibility (Form I-601) with the USCIS field office in Ciudad Juarez can now use the Teletech Call Center to make an appointment. The changeover from the pilot InfoPass program is a result of USCIS and the Department of State teaming together to improve customer service through more timely appointment scheduling.
Application Fees for Non-Immigrant Visas to Increase On January 1, 2008
Effective January 1, 2008, the application fee for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa will increase from $100 to $131. This increase allows the Department to recover the costs of security and other enhancements to the non-immigrant visa application process. This increase applies both to non-immigrant visas issued on machine-readable foils in passports and to border crossing cards issued to certain applicants in Mexico.
Electronic Submission of Diversity Visa Lottery Applications
Office of the Spokesman
November 30, 2007
Taken Question at November 30, 2007 Daily Press Briefing
Question: Comment on the requirement that DV applicants submit applications electronically, in light of the fact that Internet access is limited in many parts of the world. Is there is a wide enough representation of citizens from eligible countries applying considering the electronic submission requirement?
Answer: The Department of State implemented the electronic registration system for the Diversity Visa Lottery to improve efficiency and make the process less prone to fraud and less vulnerable to use by persons who may pose a threat to the security interests of the United States.
The electronic submission requirement has not affected the representation of citizens from eligible countries. Since implementation of the electronic registration system in 2005, applications for the DV Lottery have increased every year. Applications for the 2009 DV Lottery are 45 percent higher than for 2008 DV Lottery.
U.S. security officials will begin scanning all 10 fingerprints of most non-Americans traveling to the United States
Man demonstrates the new 10-fingerprint scanner and its output on the computer at the American Embassy in Brussels
The new 10-finger scanners will replace the current two-finger machines currently in use. The Department of Homeland Security says the program will begin Thursday at Washington Dulles International airport. It plans to have the new scanners at all U.S. ports of entry by the end of next year.
The U.S. State Department currently uses 10-fingerprint scanners when it issues visas for travel to America.
16 November 2007
U.S. Student Visas Reach Record Numbers in 2007
The best way to know America is to study here, State's Harty says
Washington -- In 2007, the Department of State issued a record number of student and exchange visitor visas -- more than 600,000 -- greater than 10 percent more than last year. The numbers are proof of the success of the U.S. government's effort to reverse the drop in student and other visa applications after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Maura Harty told USINFO.
3 November 2007
Record Numbers of U.S. Students Are Studying Abroad
Middle East, Asia and Africa growing in popularity as student destinations
Washington -- The number of Americans studying abroad -- which has risen 150 percent in the past decade -- continues to set records, rising 8.5 percent in 2005-2006, according to the Institute of International Education's (IIE) 2007 report on international education exchange.
"The opportunity for more young Americans to study abroad is a goal shared by the president, the secretary of state, and leaders in Congress, industry and academia," IIE President Allan E. Goodman said in issuing the report, Open Doors 2007
USCIS CENTRALIZES FILING FOR H-2A PETITIONS
Streamlines Process and Improves Services for Agricultural Employers WASHINGTON--In a Federal Register notice published today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, effective December 10, 2007, it will only accept H-2A (temporary/seasonal agricultural worker) petitions mailed or delivered to its California Service Center.