Couresty of Diana Tafur and Peter F. Asaad, Esq.
During the Intergovernmental Affairs Quarterly Meeting on November 27, 2012, the following updates were announced.
Since September 30, 2012, the National Information and Referral Line for Asylees has no longer been in operation. For asylees to learn about benefits and services available to them, they should consult the refugee resettlement website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/. The website contains an interactive map which allows asylees to contact refugee coordinators who will refer them information on services available to them. Additionally, all USCIS asylum approval letters will now include an insert informing asylees about the website.
Since the last engagement, the Office of Citizenship has awarded grants designed to promote immigrant civic integration and citizenship preparation to cities and public school with a demonstrated commitment to naturalization preparation. The Office of Citizenships encourages public organizations to keep applying for grants with them. The Office of Citizenship has also updated their website to include training and technical materials to assist instructors of naturalization classes. To obtain these materials or find out more information about their grant program visit www.uscis.gov/citizenship.
The Office of Transportation confirmed the launching of USCIS ELIS, the electronic immigration benefits system. Now, individuals may electronically file to extend or change their nonimmigrant status for certain visa types. This process targets visitors who came to the United States of America and need to extend their stay and students who need to change their status. This past year about 9000 accounts were opened and 7000 applications were accepted. The system is allows for the receipt of electronic notifications if the applicant so chooses to receive them. If not, the applicant will continue to receive mail notifications.
In regards to reregistering Temporary Protective Status (TPS), a re-registration will be considered timely if it is postmarked by the date of the re-registration period. Because TPS is a humanitarian program, the USCIS is lenient with deadline requirements when good cause for the delay is shown. Good cause has been found when the reason for the delay was due to an applicant’s need to obtain funds to pay fees, when an applicant was sick, or when the applicant previously submitted a timely re-registration containing and error but which the applicant was then late in correcting and resubmitting. Also, UCSIS is aware of the possible delays hurricane Sandy may cause in relation to Haitian re-registrations and will accept late filing if the delay is due to the effects of the storm.
When an individual reregisters for TPS, certain countries qualify for automatic re-registration of Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To find out which countries qualify visit www.uscis.gov/tps. The automatic EAD is usually for an additional 6 months.
USCIS explained beneficiaries may have two valid immigration statuses a one time. For example, an individual may have a TPS and F-1 status or TPS and asylum. To be under the protection of both statuses the individual must comply with the requirements of both, even if the latter protection requires more stringent compliance.
E-Verify now supports internet explorer, Firefox, Crome, Safari, and mobil web browsing. To better assist the public in navigating through the new E-Verify system, the USCIS has included electronic manuals available on their website. USCIS also announced there is a new Form I-9 currently under review. Once the Office of Management and Budge approves the form, USCIS will finalize and release it. There is currently no timeline for the finalizing of Form I-9.
Finally, the USCIS has launched the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program pilot web-based portal Wednesday, November 28, 2012. SAVE is an online based program created to help government agencies determine the immigration status of benefit applicants. So far it is serving 1005 agencies and processed over 12 million inquiries. Currently there are only 28 agencies signed up for the pilot program. If an agency is interested in participating in the pilot program should visit www.uscis.gov/SAVE.
Since its inception there have been several improvements to the system like the development of a memoranda agreement, the institution of a new invoice process, the translation of applicant materials into 18 languages which are available for print on the website, and other improvements that incorporate various mandates. Currently, SAVE is looking to implement scan and upload capabilities in the Spring of 2013 which will allow agencies to match authorization cards. Agencies using this program should be aware that individuals who become United States Citizens through the derivative process are not going to show up on the SAFE database as United States Citizens. Also, there may be issues when individuals are issued new passport numbers. USCIS is working with CBP for guidance on this issue.