DOS Implements Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act

January 25th, 2007

The Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) has implemented the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Adam Walsh Act), Public Law 109-248.  Both the DOS’s Bureau of CA and the USCIS now mandate that consular posts can no longer accept or adjudicate any Form I-130 petitions for family-based immigrant status that were not adjudicated by USCIS. Rather, the sponsor must file the I-130 with the USCIS office. The new processing guidelines are now in effect.  Previously, certain consular posts accepted Form I-130s directly from the petitioner as opposed to requiring the petitioner to file with a USCIS Service Center in the U.S.

Section 402 of the Adam Walsh Act amends INA Section 204(a)(1) to disqualify any petitioner who has been convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” from filing an I-130 immigrant visa petition on behalf of a family member. The Bureau of Consular Affairs and USCIS decided that consular officers do not have access to information about a petitioner’s criminal history, which is a prerequisite to determining whether the petitioner is eligible to file an immigrant visa petition for a family member. 

Reauthorization of the Nursing Relief Program

January 9th, 2007

The USCIS has reauthorized the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act (NRDAA) of 1999 for three years.  This allows hospitals to employ temporary foreign registered nurses to serve in health professional shortage areas in H-1C status for up to three years after filing the Form I-129.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Introduced in Congress

January 9th, 2007

Senator Reid (D-NV) of the 110th Congress introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 9) on January 4, 2007.  However, this is merely a “placeholder” bill containing only a “Sense of the Congress” statement.  It will soon be amended to include a comprehensive immigration reform proposal concerning more effective border and employment enforcement, the prevention of illegal immigration and the reform of avenues for legal immigration. 

Asylees Traveling Abroad

January 2nd, 2007

On December 27, 2006, the USCIS has issued a fact sheet discussing requirements for travel abroad for applicants for asylum, asylees and legal permanent residents whose cases were based on asylee status.  The fact sheet states that applicants for asylum should have the advance parole travel document before they depart the US, asylees should have the refugee travel document and that legal permanent residents may use a refugee travel document.  The fact sheet also states that an applicant for asylum, an asylee or an LPR based on asylum may lose their asylee status if they travel to the country from which they are claiming asylum.  The USCIS will review the circumstances for their return to such country.

Disabled Asylees Lose Their Benefits

January 2nd, 2007

The New York Times reports that a severe backlog in the processing background checks in support of applications to adjust status has had a significant adverse impact on disabled asylees.  According to the article, 6,000 handicapped asylees, including amputees and the blind, have lost their disability benefits.  Congress enacted legislation to permit $630 in monthly disability benefits to handicapped asylees until they became US citizens, but such payments were to last only seven years.  Congress had not anticipated the severe delays in obtaining citizenship.  Lawyers for the handicapped are suing the government.  US officials report that unless a solution is found, another 46,000 could lose their benefits by 2012.