Volume Eight, Number Two
SHUSTERMAN’S IMMIGRATION UPDATE is the Web’s most popular e-mail newsletter regarding U.S. immigration laws and procedures with over 40,000 subscribers located in more than 150 countries. It is written by a former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) with over 30 years of experience practicing immigration law.
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Newsletter US Immigration Update February 2003
This month’s issue contains the following topics:
1. March 2003 State Department Visa Bulletin
2. Immigration Government Processing Times
3. Immigration Make-Over: Legislative & Executive Branches
4. How to Avoid the Dreaded Request for Evidence: H-1B’s
5. Immigration Trivia Quiz: Calling All Legal Eagles
6. How to Obtain Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records
7. Special Registration: It’s Time to Contact Congress!
8. Schedule of Upcoming Immigration Law Seminars
9. Chat Schedule, Transcripts, Audios & Videos
10. Answers to the January 2003 Immigration Trivia Quiz
- Job Opportunities at the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman- We are expanding again! If you are either an experienced immigration business paralegal or are just out of college, take a look at our “Career Opportunities” page at
https://www.shusterman.com/careers.html (Link no longer operational)
- Canada– Both the INS and the State Department issued regulations on January 31 (effective March 17, 2003) which end visa waivers for permanent residents (aka “Landed Immigrants”) of Canada and Bermuda who are citizens of British Commonwealth countries.British Commonwealth countries include: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji Islands, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, The Bahamas, The Gambia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
- Child Status Protection Act – New State Department CableIn January 2003, the State Department issued a cable which revises its previous cable issued in September 2002 regarding the operation of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). The new cable is long and complex. However, our readers should note that it liberalizes the earlier cable in a number of respects.For example, where CSPA requires, in certain cases, that a child to apply for permanent residence within one year after a visa number becomes available, the new cable provides that the submission of DS-230, Part I or, if the principal applicant adjusted status in the U.S, the submission of form I-824 will suffice to satisfy this requirement.The cable also allows applicants to opt out of eligibility for immediate relative status where retaining their F1 (unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) preference status would allow them to immigrate together with their children who would be apply to immigrate as derivative beneficiaries.
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Web Site– The DHS has established its own web site. Thus far, all of the information concerning immigration benefits and enforcement are simply links to the INS web site.As we have reported in the past, on March 1, 2003, the INS will be divided into the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Bureau of Transportation and Border Security, both of which will be in the Department of Homeland Security.
- Deportation:On January 13, the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) issued a new Practice Advisory entitled “Arrest, Detention and Bond Procedures for Noncitizens without Criminal Convictions”.
- File Shredding– In April 2002, employees at INS’s California Service Center discovered evidence that thousands of documents and applications had been shredded by contractors. On January 30, 2003, two contract employees were formally indicted for shredding documents. It is estimated that up to 90,000 documents may have been destroyed.The INS has established a hotline for persons who believe that they may be victims of file shredding: 1 (949) 831-8427. The INS response to the indictments may be accessed at
http://uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/statements/shredding013103.htm (link no longer operational)
- Health Care Workers & the VisaScreen– The CGFNS, in a letter dated January 23, 2003, to the INS, the HHS and the State Department proposed to accept the English language exams offered by the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) and the Test of English in International Communications (TOEIC) to satisfy the VisaScreen requirement. The CGFNS will start accepting the new examinations, both of which have been approved by the HHS, by February 24, unless any of the three government agencies object.The CGFNS will accept the following English test scores for nurses:TOEFL: paper-based: 540; computer-based: 207; TWE: 4.0; TSE: 50TOEIC: 725; plus TWE: 4.0 and TSE: 50 orIELTS: 6.5 overall with a spoken band score of 7.0 On January 31, the CGFNS announced the opening of a new test center in Beijing, China.
- INS Filing Fees Decrease– On January 24, 2003, the INS announced that it was decreasing its filing fees in accordance with a section of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 which provides that programs relating to refugees and asylees may no longer be funded from INS filing fees. Persons who applied for immigration benefits using the higher filing fee will receive a refund check in the mail. See the INS announcement which contains the new filing fee schedule on our “Fingerprinting and Filing Fee Requirements” page at
- LIFE Legalization– On January 27, the INS announced a public outreach campaign to encourage thousands of eligible individuals to file applications that could adjust their status in the US to that of permanent residents. The deadline for such applications is June 4, 2003. We link to the INS News Release at
http://uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/newsrels/lifebenefits-NR.htm (link no longer operational)
- Office of The Inspector General (OIG), Department of Justice – In January 2003, the OIF issued a follow-up of its 1999 audit report regarding the adequacy of the INS’s inspection facilities at airports across the U.S. INS inspected over 43 million immigrants and nonimmigrants at 159 airports in fiscal year 2001. The INS and other federal agencies approve the design of inspection areas. The OIG report’s findings were as follows:
Our audit found deficiencies at all 42 airports reviewed. Inspection areas were poorly designed and had numerous monitoring, surveillance and communication deficiencies. Hold rooms were too small and did not permit separate confinement of male, females, and juvenile detainees. As a result, airports were vulnerable to illegal entry, escapes, injuries, and the hiding or disposing of contraband and documents. We recommended that the INS take steps to correct the deficiencies and improve the condition of its inspection facilities.
The INS responded to the report on January 8, 2003, agreeing to most of the recommendations contained in the report and agreeing to take appropriate corrective action.
- Poverty Income Guidelines– The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published its new poverty income guidelines. Persons filing Affidavits of Support (Form I-864) must show that their household income is at least 125% of the current poverty income guidelines according to the number of persons in their household. For Affidavit of Support purposes, the new guidelines are effective as of April 1, 2003. Our site lists the annual HHS Poverty Income Guidelines from 1996 to 2003. See our “Affidavit of Support” page at
- SEVIS Grace Period– On January 29, the INS extended the deadline for program sponsors and educational institutions to start using SEVIS from January 30 to February 15, 2003. See
http://uscis.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/sevisextension.pdf (link no longer operational)
- Temporary Protection Status (Angola)– On January 24, the Attorney General announced that he was terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Angola, effective March 29, 2003. This action may affect over 300 persons. See the Justice Department’s press release at
On February 12, we posted the March 2003 Visa Bulletin, the same day that the State Department posted the dates on their web site.
There was little forward movement in the worldwide family categories.
The worldwide 1st preference category (unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) and the 4th preference category (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) each advanced four weeks. The 2A preference category (spouses and children of permanent residents) moved ahead just three weeks.
The 2B category (unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents) moved ahead five weeks while the 3rd preference category (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) advanced an anemic two weeks.
The Mexican categories advanced one to five weeks.
Once again, the Philippine categories were a disaster area. Except for the 2A and the 2B dates which are the same as the worldwide dates, the other Philippine categories remained as frozen as Lot’s wife.
The March Visa Bulletin warns that “continued heavy applicant demand for numbers in the PHILIPPINES Family First, Third, and Fourth preference categories could require the retrogression of those cut-off dates later in the year. This action would be necessary to hold visa issuance within the annual numerical limits.”
The Visa Bulletin creates false expectations. As long as a category advances less four weeks each month, the waiting period listed on the bulletin cannot be relied upon. Unless Congress acts to reform the family-based system, the 3.5 million persons waiting to immigrate to the U.S. based on approved family-based petitions should consider other options for immigrating.
All of the employment-based numbers remain current. The time to apply for your labor certification or visa petition is now.
The March 2003 Visa Numbers can be found at
For an explanation of what the categories, dates and symbols listed below mean, see
Check the State Department’s official version to see complete information about the movement of family, employment and lottery numbers, at
http://travel.state.gov/visa_bulletin.html (Link is no longer operational.)
We link to the most recent immigration waiting times for each of the four USCIS Service Centers, the National Benefits Center and the Administrative Appeals Office. We also link to the processing times of all of the 83 USCIS District Offices and Sub-offices. We link to the Labor Department’s page entitled “Processing dates for labor certification applications”. Finally, we link to the State Department’s “Visa Wait Times” page.
In January, the new Congress convened. New chairmen were appointed to head both the immigration subcommittees in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In the Senate, the Subcommittee on Immigration is now headed by freshman Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). Immigration restrictionist groups give him an A- on his career immigration votes.
In the House of Representatives, the new Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims is John N. Hostettler (R-Ind). The restrictionist group “Americans for Better Immigration” gives Mr. Hostettler an A- for his career votes on immigration and a B- for more recent votes.
Both men are on record as opposing an extension of §245(i). Rep. Hostettler voted against raising the cap on H-1B visas in 2000. Since the H-1B cap is scheduled to be reduced from 195,000 to 65,000 on October 1, 2003, this could be significant issue this year.
On March 1, the INS will cease to exist. President Bush’s appointments to the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will affect immigration policies and practices.
On January 22, the Senate confirmed Tom Ridge as the new DHS Secretary. Since 22 agencies are included in the new Department, it is unknown how much time and energy Secretary Ridge will spend making policy decisions for DHS. Mr. Ridge served in the House of Representatives between 1985 and 1993 where he compiled a record that was not particularly friendly to either legal immigration or to undocumented immigrants. He did, however, co-sponsor a bill to create a separate nonimmigrant category for registered nurses.
Asa Hutchinson was confirmed by the Senate a day later to be Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security. Mr. Hutchinson previously served as a member of Congress from Arkansas, and more recently as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Michael Garcia has been appointed to be head of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mr. Garcia served briefly as acting INS Commissioner. Prior to that, he served briefly as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement, and prior to that he served as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice’s Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Robert Bonner was named to be head of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. Prior to that, he was Customs Commissioner.
On February 6, President Bush appointed Eduardo Aguirre, Jr. to head the new Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security. Aguirre immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba as a child. He is a newcomer to the world of immigration laws and procedures. Mr. Aguirre presently serves as a top official in the U.S. Export-Import Bank. He worked for the Bank of America for 24 years. See Mr. Aguirre’s biography at
http://www.exim.gov/aguirre.html (link no longer operational)
The BCIS will assume the service functions of the INS starting on March 1.
The Bush Administration has requested a substantial increase for immigration benefits in the fiscal year which begins on October 1, 2003 (FY 2004).
The Administration has requested $1.8 billion for Citizen and Immigration Services, an increase of $143 million (8.6 percent) over the current fiscal year, to support further improvements in application processing as well as the projected application volume.
In addition, the Administration has requested $500 million earmarked to reduce backlogs for citizenship and green card applications to six months or less. $100 million of this total would be allocated for FY 2004 as part of a $235 million budget for the BCIS.
A Request for Evidence (RFE) from the INS cannot always be avoided, but by following the suggestions outlined in this article (although some may appear obvious), you should be able to at least minimize those “dreaded RFEs”.
- Ensure all the forms are completely filled out.
- Ensure that the Labor Condition Application is certified by the Department of Labor and approved prior to filing.
- If you are using a blanket Labor Condition Application, be sure to list the names of all the other people included by the LCA.
- Make sure you include a detailed letter from Petitioner which describes the activities of the corporation, the nature of the position offered and why the alien is qualified for the position.
- Include a detailed job description demonstrating that the position is a “Specialty Occupation” and requires a Bachelors degree. Clearly indicate the following information:
- Number of hours/week;
- To whom does the person report;
- Job duties;
- Percentage of time spent on each duty; and
- Minimum requirements for the position.
- Provide evidence from alternate sources to show that this is a “Specialty Occupation”. This can be done in a number of ways, however, we suggest the following:
- Print out advertisements to show that a Bachelors degree is the industry standard for this or similar positions;
- Reference the “Job Zone” from the OES
or the SVP from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
Ensure that it is a Zone 4 or 5 occupation or that the SVP in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles is 7 or higher. A Zone 3 occupation does not always require a Bachelors degree so be careful using this as evidence; or
- Demonstrate that the Petitioner usually requires a Bachelors degree for this position by showing that other people currently in the position also have a relevant Bachelors degree.
- Clearly demonstrate that the Beneficiary has a Bachelors degree or foreign equivalent in a relevant occupation by providing a credential evaluation from a reliable credential evaluation service or a College Professor who is authorized to grant an evaluation by his or her university.
- If the Beneficiary has no degree and you are basing her eligibility for his/her H-1B on his/her experience, include all the materials used by the Evaluator to carry out the evaluation, such as detailed resume, reference and work experience letters, and memberships in professional organizations.
- If the Beneficiary requires a license for the position as offered be sure to provide a copy of their current license or proof of their eligibility for licensure. If the Beneficiary does not have a license, but will be working under the licensure of another professional include a copy of that person’s license.
- Demonstrate the viability of the Petitioner. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Copies of Articles of Incorporation;
- Brochures from the Company describing products and services;
- Print outs from the Company’s web site describing products and services;
- Copies of Financial Statements; or
- Copies of Tax Returns.
One important step in the preparation of applications for immigration benefits is obtaining certified birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates.
Let’s suppose that a native-born male U.S. citizen marries a woman, present in the United States as a student, who was formerly married. They have a child born in the U.S.
In order for the wife to adjust her status, she will need certified copies of her husband’s birth certificate, their marriage certificate, the divorce decree from her first marriage and their child’s birth certificate.
If her husband was born in Maine, they were married in Arizona, she was divorced in Nevada and their child was born in California, she will have the unenviable task of obtaining records from four different states.
Where should she write to obtain certified copies of these records? What is the fee for each? Can she pay by check? What a nightmare! Furthermore, she is in a rush to get her work card (EAD) and her travel permit (advance parole).
Fortunately, there is a web site which greatly simplifies the task of obtaining these documents. The National Center for Health Statistics maintains a web page entitled “Where to Write for Vital Records”. We link to this page from our “Features” menu in our red navigation bar which is located near the top of most of our pages. Click on “Obtaining Vital Records” or access the web site directly at
To return to our example, the wife would click on “Maine” to obtain a certified copy of her husband’s birth certificate. The site gives her the address to request this document and the fee ($10) which she can pay by check or money order to “Treasurer, State of Maine”. There is even a link to a page which allows her to complete this transaction via the internet.
She would then click on “Arizona”, “Nevada” and “California” to obtain the other three required documents.
What about her own birth certificate? Since she was born abroad, the above web site will not assist her in obtaining her birth certificate. However, we link to another helpful resource at
This is the State Department’s “Visa Reciprocity and Country Documents Finder”. At the top of this page is an alphabetical index. Suppose she was born in the Philippines in 1974. She clicks on the letter “P” and again on the word “Philippines”. She scrolls down the page until she reaches a section entitled “Documents”.
Under the subtitle “Birth Certificates”, she learns that persons born in the Philippines after 1946 may obtain their birth certificates by writing to the National Census and Statistics Office (NCSO), Office of the Civil Registrar-General, Magsaysay Blvd., Santa Mesa, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Using the above tools takes some effort, but can you imagine trying to accomplish the same tasks without the internet?
A Message from the American Immigration Lawyers Association
On January 22, 2003, an amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, House Joint Resolution 2, was passed through the Senate by unanimous consent. This Kyl-Kennedy-Feinstein-McCain-Feingold amendment, SA 54, cuts funding to the Special Call-In Registration program, also called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). It also calls on the Attorney General to report to Congress on the NSEERS program.
House Joint Resolution 2 was passed on January 24, 2003 and will soon be sent to conference to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions. The House version of the legislation does not contain the provision cutting funding for Special Registration. Therefore, the provision will be debated and could be eliminated during the conference. It is essential that SA 54 remain intact in the bill. Contact your Congressmen and Senators, to encourage them to push for its passage.
If your member is on the conferee list below, it is particularly important that you contact them to encourage them to keep SA 54 intact. (See
http://www.congress.org )–Link is no longer operational.
These are the Senate and House conferees:
Stevens (AK), Cochran (MS), Specter (PA), Domenici (NM), Bond (MO), McConnell (KY), Burns (MT), Shelby (AL), Gregg (NH), Bennett (UT), Campbell (CO), Craig (ID), Hutchison (TX), DeWine (OH), and Brownback (NH)
Byrd (WV), Inouye (HI), Hollings (SC), Leahy (VT), Harkin (IA), Mikulski (MD), Reid (NV), Kohl (WI), Murray (WA), Dorgan (ND), Feinstein (CA), Durbin (IL), Johnson (SD), and Landrieu (LA).
Young (FL), Regula (OH), Rogers (KY), Wolf (VA), Kolbe (AZ), Walsh (NY), Taylor (NC), Hobson (OH), Istook (OH), Bonilla (TX), Knollenberg (MI) and Kingston (GA).
Obey (WI), Murtha (PA), Dicks (WA), Sabo (MN), Mollohan (WV), Kaptur (OH), Visclosky (IN), Lowey (NY), Serrano (NY), and Moran (VA).
Other Special Registration News
On January 16, the INS added five more countries to the call-in Special Registration Program: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan and Kuwait.
Nonimmigrant males who are at least 16 years of age who are nationals or citizens of these countries and who entered the U.S. on or before September 30, 2002 must register with the INS between February 24 and March 28, 2003.
The INS regulations for “Group IV” Special Registrants are posted on our “September 11th” page at
On the same day, the INS also extended the deadline for persons in Group I who failed to register by December 16 and persons in Group II who failed to register by January 10.
These persons were able to register between January 27 and February 7, 2003.
There are a great many sources of information for Special Registration:
- The INS has a Special Registration page on their web site which contains a FAQ on the subject;
- The American Immigration Law Foundation has established a September 11th page with a Q&A regarding Special Registration;
- immigration.knowitallmall.com asked us to answer questions in a free, online chat held on January 6 entitled “How to Cope with Special Registration”;
- A myriad of links to laws, regulations, INS office-by-office procedures, real-life experiences and more is listed on our “September 11th” page.
Links to all of the above sources of information may be found at
The following is a partial list of Immigration Seminars in which I am scheduled to participate during the next few months:
- March 20, 2003 Phoenix, Arizona
Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association
Arizona Nurses Association
Arizona Organization of Nurse Executives, and the
Arizona Healthcare Human Resources Association
“Building the Healthcare Workforce through Immigration of Foreign Workers”
I will speak on “The ABCs of Employing Foreign Workers” from 9:45am to noon.
- May 22, 2003 San Francisco, CA
American Psychiatric Association – 156th Annual Meeting
I will be participating in a 90-minute workshop and speaking about immigration solutions for foreign-born physicians.
- June 29 – July 2, 2003 San Antonio, Texas
American Health Lawyers Association – Annual Conference
- August 17-20, 2003 Denver, Colorado
American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) – “Cultivating Our Human Capital”
My presentation will be entitled “Immigration & Foreign Health Professionals – Is the Door Half Open, or Half Shut?
Certified Specialist in Immigration Law, State Bar of California
Former U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Trial Attorney (1976-82)
Board of Governors, American Immigration Lawyers Association (1988-97)
Phone: (213) 623-4592 Fax: (213) 623-3720
Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1550
Los Angeles, California 90017
“So, short of a major increase in immigration, economic growth cannot be safely counted upon to eliminate deficits and the difficult choices that will be required to restore fiscal discipline.”
– Alan Greenspan (February 2003)
Newsletter US Immigration Update February 2003 – Quick Links
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Disclaimer: This newsletter is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. All information contained in this newsletter is generalized. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.
February 12, 2003