THE LATEST FROM SRW BORDER BLOG

Copy of USCIS changes filing instructions for Form I-407

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USCIS recently issued a new procedure for filing Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status. As of July 1, 2019, Form I-407 can only be submitted by mail at the USCIS Eastern Forms Center. 

Prior to this change in policy, if an individual decided to voluntarily abandon their status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR), the form could be submitted at an international field office in person or by mail. USCIS noted that processing time at the Eastern Forms Center is anticipated to be 60 days following receipt. In the event that someone needs immediate proof that they have abandoned LPR status, USCIS stressed that “in very rare circumstances” the form will be accepted in person at an international field office, U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate. In other words, be sure to plan ahead if you require proof that you have abandoned your status as an LPR.

As of July 1, 2019, Form I-407 must be sent to USCIS at the following address: USCIS Eastern Forms Center, Attn: I-407 unit, 124 Leroy Road, PO Box 567, Williston, VT 05495. Documents issued by USCIS—including green cards and reentry permits—should be submitted along with the form.  Form I-407 may also still be submitted in person to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry

More information about filing Form I-407 can be found on the USCIS website.

Updated DS-160 requires visa applicants’ social media information

Do you have a social media presence? If you’re applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, the Department of State wants to know—and they want details.

Completing the DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) is the first step for applying for a nonimmigrant visa through a U.S. consulate or embassy. Applicants are required to fill out the online form on the Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center website. If the DS-160 is not satisfactorily completed and submitted, it is not possible to move forward with any requisite next steps, such as making an appointment for an interview.

On May 31, 2019, a new subsection entitled “Social Media” appeared on the Department of State’s DS-160 online form. The question is, “Do you have a social media presence?” Instructions are provided:

Select from the list below each social media platform you have used within the last five years. In the space next to the platform’s name, enter the username or handle you have used on that platform. Please do not provide your passwords. If you have used more than one platform or more than one username or handle on a single platform, click the ‘Add Another’ button to list each one separately. If you have not used any of the listed social media platforms in the last five years, select ‘None.’”

The drop-down menu that follows includes 20 social media platforms, ranging from ubiquitous to relatively obscure: ASK.FM, Douban, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pinterest, Qzone (QQ), Reddit, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Tumblr, Twitter, Twoo, Vine, Vkontakte (VK), Youku, and YouTube.

A response is required and the user’s ability to complete and submit the form is disabled until one is provided; there is no way to opt out completely. Should an applicant falsely select “None,” the immigration consequences could be serious, depending on how the Consulate/Embassy classifies the omission.

Some of the social media platforms may sound unfamiliar but are popular with international audiences.  Five of the platforms are widely used in China, including Douban, Qzone (QQ), Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Youku. Vkontakte (VK) is an online social media and social networking service based in Russia.

A recent announcement was posted on the Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center website letting users know that the DS-160 page would be undergoing maintenance on Thursday, May 30, expected to be completed between 4 and 11pm. Apologies were offered to any visa applicants experiencing technical difficulties with their DS-160 during that time. The question regarding social media was not included on the online form prior to May 30.

Serotte Reich is continuing to monitor any new developments or changes to the nonimmigrant visa process. If you need assistance with your application, please contact our office.

Above is a screenshot of the DS-160 form’s new question about social media accounts.

Above is a screenshot of the DS-160 online form’s new question about social media accounts.

CBP announces e-SAFE pilot for electronic waiver submissions

In an effort to reduce processing time, CBP’s new pilot will give certain waiver applicants the option to apply electronically. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that the launch of the Electronic Secured Adjudication Forms Environment (e-SAFE) pilot is planned for mid-2019. The e-SAFE online system will allow nonimmigrant citizens from specified visa exempt countries to electronically submit and make payment for their waiver of inadmissibility applications. This will be applicable to submissions requiring Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, and Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal. Currently, eligible citizens of Canada, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands file their submissions by hand delivery to CBP at a port of entry.

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CBP reports that using e-SAFE will streamline and speed up the I-192 and I-212 adjudication process. According to an e-SAFE fact sheet provided on CBP’s website, “The processing time for waiver applications submitted online via e-SAFE are expected to be significantly less than paper form applications manually submitted at the port of entry.” Status updates and notification of the decision will be sent via email. Instead of receiving a hard copy sent by mail, applicants will be directed to log in to view and print the decision from the e-SAFE website. If approved, an electronically signed Form I-194 will be received through the website, which the applicant will need to print out and must have in their possession each time they travel to the U.S.

Although e-SAFE is presented as a more convenient option, there is a catch: even if filing online, biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) must be completed in person and only at limited ports of entry. At the biometrics appointment, applicants are also “required to bring the original documents to the port of entry for verification,” CBP advises. After receiving an electronic receipt confirming that the application has been received and paid for, CBP dictates the applicant will only have 45 days to report to one of the designated ports of entry to complete biometrics. If they fail to do so, their application will be considered abandoned.

Currently, CBP provides a list of seven ports of entry where the biometrics appointment can be attended. Three are included in Western New York: the Peace Bridge, Lewiston Bridge and Rainbow Bridge. Remaining options include the Toronto Pearson International Airport and three ports of entry in Washington state: Peace Arch, Pacific Highway and Point Roberts.

One aspect of the waiver application process that will not change with e-SAFE: the contents of the submission. The requirements regarding documents that must accompany Form I-192 and Form I-212 will remain the same. How exactly these documents may be transmitted and if there are any page limitations remains to be seen.

Paper applications will continue to be accepted at ports of entry by CBP, but it’s expected that fewer locations will allow in-person filing as e-SAFE expands. CBP plans to gradually add more ports of entry where biometrics can be completed and plans to publish updates on the e-SAFE public web page at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/e-safe.

SRW Border Lawyers will provide updates on the e-SAFE program as more information becomes available. If you believe you are inadmissible and would like to learn more about the e-SAFE program and how it may affect you, please feel free to reach out to our office to further discuss. The e-SAFE program is likely to be of great interest to inadmissible Canadian citizens in need of I-192 and/or I-212 waivers.

Serotte Reich Managing Attorney joins AILA's TN panel of experts

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Zabrina V. Reich, Managing Attorney at Serotte Reich, is included on AILA’s panel of experts for an upcoming seminar on TNs. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will present “TN Visas Under the Current Administration” on Tuesday, March 5 at 2 p.m. EST. During the web seminar, panelists will discuss NAFTA and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), tricky TN categories, trends they’re seeing at ports of entry and consulates, and how the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order has affected the way TNs are adjudicated. The experts will also advise on communicating with CBP and how to resolve common issues that arise when applying for TNs.

Also participating on the panel are AILA Past President Kathleen Campbell Walker of El Paso, TX and immigration attorney Lauren K. Ross of San Francisco, CA. To register for the seminar or order a recording of the conference, go to https://agora.aila.org/Conference/Detail/1534.