Volume Two, Number Five
SHUSTERMAN’S IMMIGRATION UPDATE is the Web’s most popular e-mail newsletter regarding U.S. immigration laws and procedures with over 60,000 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.
Published by the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 600 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1550, Los Angeles, California, 90017. Phone: (213) 623-4592 x0.
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“Very professional law firm. We had a difficult issue and Mr. Shusterman’s office got right onto the case and resolved the issue with USCIS. Because of their efforts, me and my family were able to get our Legal Permanent Residency card. My suggestion to those trying to obtain employment based card. Don’t look for money saving attorney. They will cost you lot more in long run. Go to a law firm which is professional and knowledgeable. It pays in the long term.”
- Nilesh Patel, Chicago, Illinois
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This month’s issue contains the following topics
- 1. May 1997 State Department Visa Bulletin
- 2. Latest Processing Times for INS and Labor Department
- 3. Free Immigration, Court and Labor Forms Online
- 4. New Vaccination Requirements Implemented
- 5. Immigration-Related Web Site: National Immigration Forum
- 6. Immigration Trivia Quiz: A Friend of Immigrants
- 7. Canada: Designated Fingerprinting Locations
- 8. Physicians: Will the HUD Program Be Resurrected?
- 9. The Brave New World of Credible Fear/Expedited Removal
- 10. Answer to the Immigration Trivia Quiz
All of the Family categories moved forward six weeks or less. The worldwide first preference category did not move forward at all. The only noteworthy movement was in the normally dormant Filipino 4th preference category (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) which moved forward five weeks instead of its usual few days.
Most of the Employment categories remained “current” (no backlogs) except for the unskilled category which failed to move at all. The India 3rd preference category advanced ten weeks to June 15, 1995.
For an explanation of what the categories, dates and symbols listed below mean, see https://www.shusterman.com/greencardsthroughrelatives.html and https://www.shusterman.com/greencardsthroughemployment/
Most immigration applications and petitions must be submitted to one of the following INS Regional Service Centers: (1) Laguna Niguel, California; (2) Lincoln, Nebraska; (3) Dallas, Texas; and (4) St. Albans, Vermont.
The lists containing the waiting times of each center include each state served by the center and any foreign offices within the center’s jurisdiction.
The service centers periodically issue lists of their processing times for various types of applications. Our web page contains the latest list issued by each service center.
Warning: Processing times may appear faster on the official lists than they are in reality.
To see how fast (or slow) your service center is processing a particular type of petition or application, see https://www.shusterman.com/waitingtimesusimmigration/
You can also click above to check the processing times of your local INS District Office, your Department of Labor Regional Office and your State Employment Service Agency. These waiting times are compiled by volunteer attorneys and are usually posted two to three months after the fact.
How do you get an immigration, citizenship, labor department or immigration court forms when you need them? For INS forms, the easiest way was to call 1 (800) INS-FORM 1 (800) INS-FORM . Another alternative was to go to the appropriate government agency, stand in line, and request the proper form.
Now there is a new and easier way to obtain commonly-used forms: Simply download the forms from my webpage on your computer and print them out. If you don’t have access to a double-sided printer, you can print each side of the form separately, then visit your local photocopy shop and make them into double-sided forms, suitable for submission to the government.
The IRS has had such a service for some time, and I expected the INS to follow suit. In December 1996, it became possible to download the I-9 form from the INS web site. Today, the INS web page allows you to download and print only ten forms. See the section of the INS web page entitled “Forms Available for Download” at http://www.uscis.gov/forms
It is important to observe the following INS guidelines for generating forms electronically:
Unless directed otherwise when downloading a specific form:
- Forms should be printed on a laser printer or other Near Letter Quality dot matrix printer.
- Forms must be indistinguishable from the originals (e.g. color must match original form).
- Paper size and print arrangement must match original.
- Observe special instructions for each form on its download page.
- Refer to Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 299.4, Subsection b, Requirements for electronic generation.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of problems with downloading forms from the INS web page (or forms copied from the INS page):
1. The ten forms selected by INS are neither comprehensive nor are they commonly-used. They don’t include such useful forms as the I-129, the I-130, the I-140 or the I-485, for example.
2. The forms are not properly compressed so expect longer than average download times. In mid-April, I decided to do it myself (with a little help from a computer-savvy friend). We have posted a few dozen of the most commonly-used forms at https://www.shusterman.com/formsusimmigration/
The new service is free and easy, and has quickly become one of the more popular sites on my web page. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to download the forms since they are all in “pdf” format (PDF stands for Portable Document Format.). I have tried to make things easy by allowing you to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader from my web site.
By now, you probably have a couple of questions:
QUESTION #1 – What if the form you need is not on my site?
ANSWER – I am adding forms all the time, but if don’t find what you need, simply call INS at 1 (800) INS-FORM 1 (800) INS-FORM and ask for the form you need.
QUESTION #2 – Mr. Shusterman, why are you so naive (I hope you didn’t use the word “stupid”!) that you wou give potential clients the means to dispense with your services?
ANSWER – Why not? Believe it or not, the practice of immigration law involves more than simply completing forms. I have spent the last 21 years of my professional life learning this, sometimes the hard way. However, if it turns out that you can do your own case without my assistance, why should you have to pay a lawyer? I am more than glad to provide you with the tools. After all, that’s what my web page is all about.
Section 341 of the new immigration law required that no green cards could be issued to persons who applied after September 30, 1996 (the day the law was enacted) without certain vaccination requirements being fulfilled.
However, as the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day”, and federal agencies can not be expected to implement new policies instantaneously.
During April 1997, both the INS and State Department issued policy memos implementing the new vaccination requirements.
To learn about these new requirements, and applicable waivers, see
https://www.shusterman.com/vacc.html (This link is no longer operational.)
Have you ever yearned to return to the past, when the word “immigrant” conjured up a positive image? When we were proud to call ourselves a “Nation of Immigrants”?
If this sounds attractive to you, surf over to Ellis Island, the Gateway to the New World, pictured on the homepage of the National Immigration Forum at http://www.immigrationforum.org
The National Immigration Forum is a pro-immigrant umbrella organization which “supports the reunification of families, the rescue and resettlement of refugees fleeing persecution, and the equal treatment of immigrants under the law.”
The Forum web page is smartly done with icons inviting you to explore the following areas: Race and Ethnic Relations, The Golden Door (Fall 1996), Current Immigration Issues, Immigration Facts, NIF Discussion Forum, Quote Sheet, NIF Resources, Meeting the NIF, Table of Contents and Search This Site.
The Forum is composed of over 35 organizations, everyone from Microsoft to the AFL-CIO, from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Join the Forum as an individual for $75 per year and you will receive regular faxes and/or e-mail about all things related to immigration.
The Golden Door is the Forum’s quarterly newsletter. The Forum’s Executive Director Frank Sharry regularly debates representatives of anti-immigrant groups, and stresses the contributions that immigrants make to our country.
The site includes an online discussion forum about immigration issues. My trivia quiz this month is taken from the Immigration Facts section of the Forum’s web page.
If you will be applying for a U.S. immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal or Vancouver (Beware, soon Vancouver will no longer issue immigrant visas.), you must obtain fingerprints at one of the locations listed below. Applicants fingerprinted at U.S. Consulates will be charged $25.00 (U.S.). FBI clearance processing fee at the time of fingerprinting. Applicants fingerprinted at IFS Canada offices will be charged the US$25.00 fee at the time of their immigrant visa interviews. (Please note, as discussed above, that IFS Canada charges an additional CN$30.00 fee to cover their operational costs, which must be paid at the time of fingerprinting.)
The following are the addresses of “International Fingerprinting Services Canada” for taking fingerprints for forwarding to the appropriate police department:
- Scarborough: 4002 Sheppard Ave.
East (N.E. Corner Sheppard/Kennedy), Suite 215-D
Office Hours: 9:00am – 3:00pm Monday – Friday
9:00am – 2:00pm Saturdays
Phone (416) 293-2030 (416) 293-2030(No Appointment Required)
- Etobicoke: 3300 Bloor Street West
(11th floor), Suite 3140
(Located at Islington Subway Station)
Office Hours: 9:00a.m. – 3:00pm Monday – Friday
Phone: (416) 207-2079 (416) 207-2079 (No Appointment Required)
- Mississauga: 215 Traders’s Blvd., East (Off Hwy 10)
Phone: (905) 501-0928 (905) 501-0928 (Appointment Required)
- 201 Eileen Stubbs Ave., Dartmouth, N.S.
Phone: (902) 499-2095 (902) 499-2095 for appointment
- Complex Guy-Favreau, 200 Rene Levesque Blvd.
West Montreal, Quebec
Office Hours: 9:00a.m. – 4:00p.m. Monday-Friday
Phone: (514) 285-2246 (514) 285-2246 (No Appointment Required)
- (Head Office)
100 Argyle Ave., Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1B6
Office Hours 9:00a.m.- 4:00p.m. Monday – Friday
Phone (613) 237-9061 (613) 237-9061 Fax: (613) 237-5265
- Suite 603, 615 McLeod Trail South (Rocky Mountain Plaza)
Calgary, Alberta T2G 4T8
Phone (403) 261-9880 (403) 261-9880 Appointment required)
- 2555 Commercial Drive
(Corner Commercial/East Broadway)
Phone (604) 420-5478 (604) 420-5478 . (Appointment required)
Once the fingerprints are taken, the Police Certificate/Clearance can be obtained by:
1) Forwarding the fingerprints, completed waiver and a $10.00 processing fee to the above Ottawa office of IFS Canada
2) Requesting the office of IFS Canada to forward the fingerprints on your behalf. The waiver must be completed and the $10.00 processing fee may be paid in cash at that time.
Once the fingerprints are received at the IFS Canada Head Office in Ottawa, they are logged into a databank and delivered to the RCMP for search. Upon completion of the search, IFS Canada will pick up the fingerprint results from the RCMP and return them to the address directed on the “waiver”. Unless a pre-paid self addressed courier envelope is enclosed, the fingerprint results will be returned by regular mail. Clients should allow 4-5 weeks from the time the prints are delivered by the RCMP.
Note: The RCMP will not automatically return the fingerprints directly to the client or his/her representative. Fingerprints received by the RCMP without a waiver attached will be returned to the post where the application is being processed.
The discontinuation of the HUD J Waiver Program for Physicians has left many inner city areas chronically medically underserved.
Now, there are stirrings of interest in restoring the HUD Program among some Members of Congress. For instance, Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago is attempting to put the Hispanic Caucus on record in favor of reopening the HUD Program.
Health care providers who would like to see HUD sponsor physicians for J waivers should make their views known by calling or faxing Congressman Gutierrez’s aide, Ms. Jennice Fuentes at (202)225-8203 (202)225-8203 or (202) 225-7810 (202) 225-7810 , respectively. Express support for the program and emphasize the positive impact that the waiver program has had on the community and the continuing need for J-1 physicians. This is especially true if your facility is within the district of one of the members of the Hispanic Caucus.
Advocates of a restored HUD J-1 Waiver program for physicians have an important ally in Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Interested physicians and health care facilities should write their own letters to Secretary Cuomo using Senator D’Amato’s letter as a guide.
Also, on April 16, 1997, new INS regulations relating to J-1 waivers for physicians became effective. These new regulations may be viewed at: https://www.shusterman.com/physicianjwaiverregulation1997.html
The following is a summary of the first two weeks of INS implementation of the credible fear interview process, based on reports from advocates in selected areas of the country and INS data.
I (Charles Wheeler, Esq. of San Francisco) was able to obtain some unofficial information from the INS. During the first two weeks, approximately 1,800 persons were placed in expedited removal proceedings, of which 1,400 were ordered removed. Ninety-five were screened-in for a credible fear interview. The INS asylum unit has interviewed approximately 30; of those, all but three were found to have a credible fear. Of the three who did not pass the interview, two appealed the decision to an immigration judge. The 65 who have been screened-in and detained are scheduled to have their interviews later this week. Ninety percent of those interviews are taking place in four locations: New York/New Jersey, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Several INS asylum officers have admitted off-the-record that implementation has been “a mess,” due to their office not being ready on April 1st (formal trainings were still being conducted during that first week), their violating the procedures and regulations in some places, and the whole nature of the system. The local reports echo some of these problems. The INS believes that, compared to the procedures in place pre-April 1st, the following has been borne out: (1) fewer people have been screened-in for credible fear interviews than were being previously paroled in for an exclusion hearing to apply for asylum; (2) more nationalities are being represented among those expressing a fear of persecution; and (3) the asylum claims are stronger and hence a high percentage are receiving a favorable determination on credible fear.
Attorneys and nonprofit agency staff cannot play an “advocacy” or “representation” role during the asylum interview or the appeal to the immigration judge, but rather are limited to “consultation.” The implementation problems for advocates include inadequate time to prepare the client for the interview and establish trust with the client, excessive “down” time waiting for the interview to take place, locating and paying for competent interpreters, difficulty in accessing the clients, and inability to access documents and sworn statements in the client’s administrative file. The problems faced by detainees are similar and include hostile questioning by INS inspectors at the airport, inadequate notice of rights (the M-444 form given to them is not translated into their native language, is often not orally interpreted to them, is inaccurate, and is too legalistic to be intelligible), limited or no access to pay phones, no access to a meaningful list of local agencies or attorneys that can provide assistance, and limited access to competent interpreters.
In some areas, asylum officers have provided the detainee with the appropriate name of the local organization that can provide assistance, or have notified the agency directly. In other places, they have refused to make such referrals.
The New York asylum office was notified that 15-18 new arrivals required a credible fear interview. Interviews take place at the newly-opened Wackenhut contract facility in Queens. Access by nonprofit agencies was a potential problem, but the INS has recently agreed to allow a consortium of local advocacy groups to conduct group presentations on a regular basis.
At least 6 people were referred for credible fear interviews. Of those, 2 were interviewed and found to have a credible fear; the others have yet to be interviewed. Interviews take place at the contract facility in Elizabeth. Although a similar consortium of local advocates has been able to access the facility and conduct group know-your-rights presentations to persons in deportation and exclusion proceedings, the list of programs given to persons screened-in for credible fear interviews does not include the names of key programs. The advocacy groups have had some success in circumventing this problem.
The Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center knows of at least 10 persons screened-in for interviews in Miami, of which 4 have had interviews. Some were held in the Krome facility, where the interviews take place, while others were held in local jails. All of the problems indicated above, and more, are manifested in Miami.
At least 30 persons have been screened-in for credible fear interviews on the west coast. In San Francisco, of the 8 persons screened-in, 6 were found to have credible fear. Persons are detained at local jails; some accompanying minors were held at an inappropriate facility. There have been approximately 10 persons screened in in Los Angeles; of those interviewed, all were found to have credible fear. They are held in the San Pedro facility in Terminal Island outside LA. Few nonprofit agencies provide assistance to persons in detention, and none has taken the lead in assisting in credible fear interviews.
Other cities reporting credible fear interviews include Boston, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Florence, AZ.
The following persons provided information for this report: Sara Campos, Susan Camernolle, Joan Friedland, Dan Kesselbrenner, Cheryl Little, Beth Lyons, Mary McClenahan, Jeff Weiss.
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May 12, 1997