Law Offices of Janet J. Greathouse
Immigration and Nationality Law
News Developments – January 27, 2003 to January 31, 2003

INS Announces Fee ChangesThe Immigration and Naturalization Service has reduced filing fees to comport with requirements of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.  All applications and petitions filed with the INS as of January 24, must comply with the new fee schedule, which is available at the INS web site at www.ins.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/index.htm.  The fee change was mandated by the Homeland Security Act, which required the INS to reduce immigration benefit application and petition fees by the amount of surcharges used for asylum and refugee services, fee exemptions and waivers.  According to the INS, applications which included the old fees will be accepted and overpayment will be refunded.  Some of the new fees include $96 for I-129 Petitions for a Nonimmigrant Worker (plus $1000 additional for H-1B petitions), $99 for I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, and $186 (14 years and older), $160 (under 14 years of age) for I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Department of Homeland SecurityThe new Department of Homeland Security has established a web site, which can be found at www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/index.jsp.  On January 30, President Bush submitted to Congress a modification to the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan which establishes the organizational framework for the Department's Border and Transportation Security mission. The modification submitted presents a structural change, but does not consolidate, discontinue, or diminish transferred agencies’ current operations in the field.  Border security and inspections are performed by three separate agencies: The INS (Department of Justice) including the Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service (Department of Treasury) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (Department of Agriculture).  The DHS will bring together the various border agencies into the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and rename the Bureau of Border Security (as indicated in the Homeland Security Act of 2002) the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to refocus homeland security inspection and investigation functions.  The bureaus will be organized in the Department’s Border and Transportation Directorate.  These two new bureaus will break down barriers to communication and provide a direct line of authority to the Department's headquarters and give homeland security employees a clear mission.  It will join the investigators with the investigators and the inspectors with the inspectors to capitalize on expertise and resources.  For a detailed discussion of the Border Reorganization Plan, go to the DHS web site.
U.S. Consulate Nuevo Laredo Temporarily ClosesOn January 29, the State Department closed the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in order to conduct an investigation and comprehensive examination of consulate visa operations.  The Diplomatic Security Service, in coordination with the Department of Justice and with the close cooperation of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, is investigating allegations that a number of individuals received visas illegally from this consulate.  According to Richard Boucher, Spokesman with the State Department, “In order to protect the integrity of the U.S. visa and the visa issuance process, we have temporarily closed the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo.”  Although the consulate is expected to reopen in a few days, Mr. Boucher stated, visa operations will remain suspended “until we are completely satisfied that all visas are being issued in full accordance of the law.”   Meanwhile, the consulate will continue to provide emergency citizen services.
INS Announces Campaign to Seek Out Applicants for LIFE Legalization BenefitsOn January 27, INS announced a public outreach campaign to encourage eligible individuals to file applications to adjust their status to that of permanent residents.  The nationwide outreach program, which will feature television and radio spots in Spanish, aims to reach more than 200,000 long term U.S. residents who are believed to be eligible to apply for legal status under a provision of the Legal Immigration and Family Equity (“LIFE”) Act.  The LIFE Act provides eligible applicants with work authorization, and even a stay of removal or deportation proceedings or orders, while their adjustment applications are pending.  It also protects from removal and provides employment authorization for certain spouses and minor children of eligible applicants for the period of time in which they are afforded Family Unity protection.  The program is expected to concentrate in four metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and New York City.  Additional information about the LIFE Legalization is available through the INS website (www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/services/residency/LIFE.htm), or through its toll-free National Customer Service Line, (1-800-375-5283). The necessary forms can be obtained at INS district offices or downloaded from the INS website.
Final Rule Regarding Waiver Goes into EffectThe Final Rule on waiver of criminal grounds of inadmissibility involving violent or dangerous crimes became effective on January 27, 2003.  The Final Rule, which was issued on December 26, 2002, provides that the Attorney General will not favorably exercise discretion under §212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to consent to a visa application, admission to the U.S. or adjust status for an individual who is inadmissible based on criminal grounds as defined under §212(a)(2) of the Act in cases involving violent or dangerous crimes.  Under this Rule, exception to this provision may be made “in extraordinary circumstances, such as those involving national security or foreign policy considerations, or cases in which an alien clearly demonstrates that the denial of the application for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa or admission as an immigrant would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.”  Furthermore, “depending on the gravity of the alien’s underlying criminal offenses, a showing of extraordinary circumstances might still be insufficient to warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.” 
Interim Rule on Department of Homeland Security FOIA Requests is ReleasedOn January 27, 2003, the Interim Final Rule establishing procedures for the public to obtain information from the Department of Homeland Security has been issued.  The Interim Rule, effective January 27, 2003, lays out the rules that the DHS will follow in processing requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  Written comments may be submitted by February 26, 2003.  To review the text of the Interim Final Rule, you may go to www.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html.
Back to New Developments
Back to Home Page
Copyright © 2003 Law Offices of Janet J. Greathouse
Legal Notice