Hello Everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week’s edition of immigration matters. There have been several developments since our last segment. In this week’s segment, we will talk about a possible extension of Section 245(i), and proposals for further visa restrictions in light of the September 11 attacks.
On March 12, 2002, the House narrowly passed a bill that would extend Section 245(i). This provision would allow undocumented aliens to adjust status in the US instead of proceeding to a US consulate for the green card. The bill only becomes law after the Senate also passes the bill, and the President signs it.
Section 245(i) was last extended until April 30, 2001. Many were critical about the short window of opportunity - December 21, 2000 to April 30, 2001 - leaving little room for people to file applications before the deadline.
The House’s current measure is severely flawed, but sends an important signal that America can still be pro-immigrant despite the September 11 terrorist attacks. While the measure appears to extend Section 245(i) until November 30, 2002 (or four months after the INS issues regulations implementing this law, whichever is earliest) many will not qualify because of the additional requirement that eligibility for Section 245(i) be established prior to August 15, 2001. For people who are submitting a family-based application, the new provision would require that the “familial relationship that is the basis of the application” existed before August 15, 2001.
People who are submitting an employment-based application would have to prove that a labor certification was submitted prior to August 15, 2001. The requirement that an application had been previously filed will render this extension meaningless for employment-based applications.
Section 245(i) previously expired on April 30, 2001. It made little sense for an employer to submit a labor certification application on behalf of an employee who needed Section 245(i) after April 30 as there was no program in place. Even ethical and cautious immigration attorneys advised their clients to wait until Congress passed a definitive measure. Unfortunately, the measure that the House passed on March 12 betrayed this justified caution.
On Tuesday, March 19, INS Commissioner James Ziglar appeared before Congress to respond to questions about the recent approval notices issued in the cases of the two men who flew the planes into the World Trade Center on September 11. In his testimony, Mr. Ziglar stated that INS is considering regulatory changes that would result in most holders of visitors’ visas being admitted for a period of 30 days, rather than the current practice of admitting visitors for 180 days. According to the Commissioner, INS is also considering changes to regulations that would prevent a person who has entered under some other status from beginning a course of study before their request for a change of status to student is approved.
The State Department is also going to alter the long-standing automatic visa revalidation rule of travelling to contiguous countries, such as Mexico and Canada, for less than 30 days. Presently, a noncitizen who is in valid nonimmigrant status can travel to Mexico or Canada for less than 30 days and be able to reenter even on an expired visa. On April 1, 2002, this rule will be modified. Nationals of the following countries - Iran Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba – will not be able to reenter even if they travel for even one day to Mexico or Canada. They will have to apply for a new visa.
The same restrictions would apply for all other noncitizens who travel to Mexico or Canada to apply for a visa and are refused. Such people would not automatically be admitted back into the US unless they obtain a new visa or the INS exercise discretion to admit them back.
A person not from one of these seven countries or who has not applied for a visa and been refused would be able to travel to Mexico and Canada and back if the trip is less than 30 days and the person has valid nonimmigrant status.
I hope you found this segment helpful and informative. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Cyrus D. Mehta & Associates, PLLC at 212-425-0555. The number once again is 212-425-0555. You can also email us at email@example.com
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This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in two weeks.