Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘United States Customs and Border Protection’

29th January 2017

For those who have been following the news in recent days it is not new information that President Donald Trump has signed new executive orders with respect to US immigration and travelers from various countries. Effectively, these orders ban certain foreign nationals from obtaining a visa to the USA or entering the USA for at least 90-120 days. Although at present it appears that these orders will only directly impact nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen there are certain aspects of the order which may impact the US immigration process in a broad sense. For example so-called “extreme vetting” protocols which these orders call for may conceivably be implemented by State Department personnel worldwide in connection with the US visa process. Furthermore, it now appears that those who already hold green cards, but are outside of the USA may be turned away by United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) or be required to undergo further screening which was not required for reentry to the USA in the past.

Many following this story may be asking themselves: by what authority is the President able to impose these recent restrictions? Pursuant to 8 U.S. Code § 1182:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

It should further be noted that the same statute goes on to mention that the Attorney General has specific powers with regard to the aforementioned issue:

Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.

Clearly, the President has statutory authority to impose restrictions like those recently created by Trump. The section regarding the power of the Attorney General in this regard is mentioned because in many cases individuals affected by these new rules will be denied the ability to board an airline bound for the USA as airlines and airline personnel do not wish to be the subject of fines and sanctions associated with transporting someone to the USA who has a strong chance of being refused entry.

As of the time of this writing, it remains to be fully seen exactly how these recent executive orders will play out. This is especially true in light of the fact that certain legal actions have resulted in court orders against implementation of these initiatives. Notwithstanding these developments it is very likely that many of the recently enacted restrictions will remain, at least for practical purposes, in place in the foreseeable future.

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28th May 2011

There are many different visa categories statutorily designed for those wishing to work and/or invest in the United States of America. The very plethora of visa categories can make researching immigration issues somewhat confusing for the layman. One visa category that relatively few prospective visa seekers seem to understand is the Employment Based First Preference Visa Category, or to put it more succinctly: the EB-1 visa. The eligibility criteria for this visa category are somewhat stringent compared to other visa categories. To elucidate this fact it may be best to quote directly from and eligibility chart found by this blogger on the official website of United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) at USCIS.gov:

Categories Description Evidence
Extraordinary Ability You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required. You must meet 3 of 10 criteria* below, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal) 

 

Outstanding professors and researchers You must demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. You must have at least 3 years experience in teaching or research in that academic area. You must be entering the United States in order to pursue tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. You must include documentation of at least two listed below** and an offer of employment from the prospective U.S. employer.
Multinational manager or executive You must have been employed outside the United States in the 3 years preceding the petition for at least 1 year by a firm or corporation and you must be seeking to enter the United States to continue service to that firm or organization. Your employment must have been outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity and with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employer. Your petitioning employer must be a U.S. employer. Your employer must have been doing business for at least 1 year, as an affiliate, a subsidiary, or as the same corporation or other legal entity that employed you abroad.

Readers should be aware that the above citation is not intended to be utilized as an exhaustive tool for determining EB-1 visa eligibility, but the chart above does shed light upon some of the overall eligibility criteria which will likely be scrutinized during adjudication of a petition.

There are many factors which must be taken into consideration during the adjudication of an Employment Based visa petition. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that there is another visa category classified as EB that is sometimes discussed within these pages. That specific visa is the EB-5 visa which was designed for prospective immigrants wishing to come to the United States to make a substantial investment in the American economy. In the case of the EB-1 visa, the prospective visa holder would be asked to make an investment of sorts in that their extraordinary abilities would be invested in the United States as a likely consequence of issuance of a United States travel document which grants lawful permanent residence to the bearer upon lawful admission to the US by officers of the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP).

Readers should be aware that often USCIS adjudication is not the only phase of the EB visa process as Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad may also be required depending upon the unique circumstances of a given case.

For Information Related To Family Based Visa Petitions Please See: US Visa Thailand.

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27th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security may soon be utilizing a portable DNA screener which can establish kinship via DNA comparison in a relatively quick span of time. To quote directly from the website Nextgov.com (a site dedicated to providing information about the confluence of technology and government):

[P]lans to begin testing a DNA analyzer that’s small enough to be easily portable and fast enough to return results in less than an hour.

The analyzer, about the size of a laser printer, initially will be used to determine kinship among refugees and asylum seekers. It also could help establish whether foreigners giving children up for adoption are their parents or other relatives, and help combat child smuggling and human trafficking, said Christopher Miles, biometrics program manager in the DHS Office of Science and Technology.

The administration of this web log highly recommends that readers click on the links above to read this interesting article in its entirety.

This technology could have some remarkably positive implications. For example, as noted above, the ability to quickly determine a genetic link between two individuals could expedite the processing of requests for American immigration benefits such as asylum or conferral of refugee status. Moreover, such technology could be tremendously useful in adjudications pertaining to issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship or Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Also, technology such as this could truly be useful in combating problems such as human trafficking (hopefully with particular emphasis upon trafficking in children). This being said, There are some eerily Orwellian aspects to technology such as this. To continue quoting from the above cited article on Nextgov.com:

Eventually, the analyzer also could be used to positively identify criminals, illegal immigrants, missing persons and mass casualty victims, he said.

The implications for so-called “criminals,” (a term often applied loosely by law enforcement personnel) could be serious. Usage of technology such as that noted above, when utilized against American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents in matters which could have an impact upon individual civil liberties, needs to comport with the protections guaranteed to individuals under the United States Constitution and enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Some may ponder: “Why does this blogger take issue with technology such as that noted above when utilized against US Citizens, while being less concerned for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers?” The short answer: prospective immigrants outside of the United States have virtually no “rights”. Those seeking immigration benefits are seeking just that: BENEFITS. While American Citizens and those already admitted to the United States in Lawful Permanent Resident status (or another lawful visa status) are guaranteed certain protections from governmental intrusion.

Widespread usage of this technology has yet to be implemented, but one thing is clear: technology is revolutionizing all aspects of the US Immigration process.

For related information please see: DHS Iris Scanners.

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16th December 2010

This blogger recently cam across an interesting report from the Department of Homeland Security. As discussed in previous postings on this blog, the Southwestern border of the USA has been the scene of increasing efforts by American State, Federal, and local authorities to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants to the USA. To quote directly from the report:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today held a quarterly conference call with sheriffs and police chiefs from 30 jurisdictions along the Southwest border to discuss the Department’s ongoing support for state and local law enforcement in their efforts to keep their communities safe from violence and other threats.

It would appear the the Department of Homeland Security is working more closely with local authorities in order to increase security along the United States-Mexican border. The aforementioned report went on to further note:

Since January 2009, DHS has committed unprecedented resources along the Southwest border. The Border Patrol is better staffed today than at any time in its 86-year history, having doubled the number of agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 20,500 today. In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has doubled the number of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces; increased the number of intelligence analysts working along the U.S.-Mexico border; quintupled deployments of Border Liaison Officers; and begun screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash—for the first time ever.

Secretary Napolitano also highlighted critical programs that assist state and local law enforcement in making their communities safer. In July, DHS announced more than $47 million in fiscal year 2010 Operation Stonegarden grants for Southwest border states. Based on risk, cross-border traffic and border-related threat intelligence, 82 percent of 2009 and 2010 Operation Stonegarden funds went to Southwest border states—up from 59 percent in 2008.

DHS has also expanded the Secure Communities initiative—which uses biometric information and services to identify and remove criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails—from 14 jurisdictions in 2008 to more than 800 today, including all jurisdictions along the Southwest border.

The Department of Homeland Security’s role has increased dramatically along the Southern border of the USA. In a previous blog post this author noted that the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) has been using sophisticated technology such as iris scanners in an effort to bio-metrically monitor travelers crossing the border between the USA and Mexico. Pursuant to legislation passed in the 1990s Customs and Border Protection has the authority to place foreign individuals into expedited removal proceedings which can result in a bar to admission for the foreign national for 5 years after the proceedings have concluded.

The situation along the Southern US border may become more tense as inflows of undocumented immigrants are likely to continue necessitating further action by authorities such as USCBP and local law enforcement. It is hoped that this problem can be dealt with in such a way that it does the least amount of harm to all concerned.

Fore related information please see: I-601 waiver or US Visa Denial.

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20th September 2010

The United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) is tasked with maintaining the security of America’s ports and overseeing the execution of customs regulations. In previous posts on this blog, it has been noted that there is a great deal of economic opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region. Some Americans are unfamiliar with a body known colloquially as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation). This body has become an increasingly important platform for discussion of various subjects pertaining to inter-jurisdictional matters arising in the Asia-Pacific region. To quote the APEC website directly:

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region .

APEC is the only inter governmental grouping in the world operating on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and equal respect for the views of all participants. Unlike the WTO or other multilateral trade bodies, APEC has no treaty obligations required of its participants. Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.

This consensus driven initiative has proven effective in facilitating international trade, cooperation, and dialogue. In a recent press release it was announced that the USCBP will likely be taking on a more hand-on role within the APEC framework. To quote the press release as distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that it will host the Subcommittee on Customs Procedures as part of the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings that will be chaired by the United States. The Sub-committee on Customs Procedures coordinates CBP’s efforts in customs, immigration and counter-terrorism with partner agencies throughout APEC member countries. The yearlong chairmanship will be handed over to CBP from the Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau today.

“CBP is proud to be hosting the distinguished members of the Sub-committee on Customs procedures for the 2011 APEC meetings,” said Commissioner Alan Bersin. “It is of vital importance to the security of our global economy for the members to coordinate and share
customs best practices.”

The subcommittee is a working level group within APEC. It brings Customs administrations of APEC Member Economies together to simplify and harmonize customs procedures and to ensure trade moves efficiently and safely across the Asia-Pacific region. APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The APEC region is home to more than 2.7 billion
people and represents approximately 60 percent of the world GDP and 44 percent of world trade.

Japan officially turns over the Chair of APEC to President Barack Obama at the November 13-14, 2010 Leader’s Meeting in Yokohama, Japan.

This is a very interesting development from an economic perspective as it would appear that the United States is taking a keener interest in Asia-Pacific affairs. This may be due to the recent downturn in the US economy as well as the rise of The Peoples’ Republic of China as a major player in global economic relations. Whatever the reason for this increasing interest in the region, this author welcomes further streamlining of Customs procedures in an effort to stimulate new transnational trade and facilitate preexisting trading relationships in an effort to increase the volume trade between the United States and the members of APEC.

Hopefully, through voluntary cooperation trade can be increased and the security of the USA and the other APEC member nations will be increased. To further quote the aforementioned press release distributed by AILA:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Hopefully, this new multilateral initiative will be beneficial for all concerned as US officials and Customs authorities from other participating nations can pool some resources in an effort to combat international crime and facilitate the execution of relevant immigration laws.

Many Americans and foreign nationals are under the mistaken impression that Customs and Border Protection simply “rubber stamps” entrants to the United states who are either from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program or have a US Tourist Visa. Nothing could be further from the truth as even those entering the USA with a valid visa could be turned away or placed in Expedited removal proceedings depending upon their travel history. Those interested in traveling to the USA from a country abroad may find the assistance of an American attorney beneficial as such an individual may be able to provide insight into the Immigration process and streamline the processing of visa applications and petitions.

For related information please see: US Visa China.

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14th August 2010

This author recently came across the following information regarding petitions submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The following is a direct quotation from a press release from the Organization of American States distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

On December 27, 2002 and July 17, 2003, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Inter-American Commission” or the “IACHR”) received petitions from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the law firm of Gibbs Houston Pauw, and the Center for Human Rights and Justice (“the petitioners”) against the Government of the United States (“the State” or “United States”) on behalf of Wayne Smith and his children and Hugo Armendariz and his children, respectively, (hereinafter collectively the “alleged victims”) in relation to Mr. Smith and Mr. Armendariz’s deportation from the United States. According to the petitions, the State violated the alleged victims’ rights protected under Articles I (right to life, liberty and personal security), V (right  to private and family life), VI (right to family), VII (right to protection for mothers and children), IX (right to inviolability of the home), XVIII (right to fair trial) and XXVI (right to due process of law) of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (the “American Declaration”).

Deportation, also referred to as removal, is the process whereby foreign national(s) residing or remaining temporarily in the United States, either lawfully or unlawfully, are sent back to their home country (or another country outside of the United states) usually following proceedings in which a tribunal adjudicates the legality of a foreign national’s presence in the United States. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

Regarding the merits of the case, the petitioners allege that Messrs. Smith and Armendariz, both of whom were legal permanent residents in the United States, were subjected to deportation without permitting them to present a meaningful defense in administrative and judicial courts, including the following alleged internationally-required consideration of humanitarian equities to deportation: the alleged victims’ length of legal residency in the United States; the alleged victims’ family ties in the United States; the potential hardship on the family members left behind in the United States; the alleged victims’ links with their countries of origin; the extent of the alleged victims’ rehabilitation and social contribution to the United States; any medical or psychological considerations; and the gravity of the alleged victims’ offense and the age when it was committed.

Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) is a legal status in the United States also referred to as “Green Card” status. Those American Citizens married to a foreign national often seek a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa in order to obtain the benefits of lawful permanent residence for their foreign loved one(s). Under certain circumstances an alien present in the United States in lawful permanent resident status can be stripped of said status if they have committed certain “aggravated” criminal offenses or other acts which are deemed to be grounds for removal from the USA, or grounds of inadmissibility to the United States (if the LPR has been abroad and is seeking readmission to the USA or if State law allows activity which Federal law deems to be a legal grounds of inadmissibility) . To further quote the aforementioned press release:

In its response on the merits, the State asserts that under international law each sovereign nation has the right to establish reasonable, objective immigration laws that govern the circumstances under which non-citizens may reside in its country. From this principle, the State argues that the statutory scheme established by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (hereinafter “IIRIRA”) and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (hereinafter “AEDPA”) is a reasonable exercise of sovereign authority to protect U.S. citizens and other non-citizens alike who reside in the United States. Under IIRIRA and AEDPA, a legal permanent resident who has been convicted of an “aggravated felony,” is deportable without the opportunity of receiving a waiver of deportation from an immigration or federal judge. In addition, the State asserts that the petitioners interpret the relevant articles under the American Declaration too expansively and that they fail to recognize the proviso in Article XXVIII of the American Declaration, which permits Member States under certain circumstances to curtail a person’s individual rights in order to preserve the rights and security of others. The State asserts that the mandatory deportation of a non-citizen convicted of an “aggravated felony” is such a circumstance.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) is a significant piece of Immigration legislation in that it changed some of the procedures relevant to removal. Specifically, expedited removal, a comparatively quick removal proceeding often conducted by Officers of the Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP), was essentially created by the  provisions of the IIRAIRA. In recent years, some believe that deportation of “aggravated felons” in LPR status has increased, but that some of those removed from the USA have had certain due process rights violated in the course of their removal. The case in question seems to rely upon arguments based upon this supposition. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

After having reviewed the positions of the parties and their accompanying evidence, the IACHR concludes that the United States is responsible for violations of Wayne Smith and Hugo Armendariz’s rights protected under Articles V, VI, VII, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration. The Inter-American Commission further concludes that it is well-recognized under international law that a Member State must provide non-citizen residents an opportunity to present a defense against deportation based on humanitarian and other considerations, such as the rights protected under Articles V, VI, and VII of the American Declaration. Each Member State’s administrative or judicial bodies, charged with reviewing deportation orders, must be permitted to give meaningful
consideration to a non-citizen resident’s defense, balance it against the State’s sovereign right to enforce reasonable, objective immigration policy, and provided effective relief from deportation if merited. The United States did not follow these international norms in the present case. The IACHR presents its recommendations to the State regarding these violations of the American Declaration.

One can speculate as to the ultimate result of the above decision by the IACHR as the above finding could have implications  in future removal proceedings as agents of the United States government as well as Immigration adjudicators may be required to provide future prospective deportees with an opportunity to form a defense strategy based upon humanitarian considerations. The exact nature of future defenses based upon humanitarian grounds remains to be seen, but this finding may place more rights in the hands of those foreign nationals in American removal proceedings.

For related information please see: I-601 waiver.

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18th April 2010

Traveling to the United States of America, for any purpose, can be a costly and arduous endeavor. Recently the American Immigration Lawyers Association distributed a a memorandum that was promulgated by the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Service. In this memorandum the Foreign Affairs Manual was referenced. The following is a direct quotation from that memorandum:

“The Department of State (DOS) recently revised 9 FAM 41.104 Exhibit I, entitled, “Countries that Extend Passport Validity for an Additional Six Months after Expiration.” The Inspector’s Field Manual (IFM) Appendix 15.2 will be amended to reflect the new DOS 6-month list.”

The Inspectors Field Manual is important because it notes the countries that will extend passport validity by six months past the date of passport expiration. The memorandum goes further and discusses specific countries that will no longer be recognized as allowing this type of extension past the underlying passport’s validity:

“Among the countries that have been removed from the 6-month list since the last revision of the IFM are the following: Bangladesh, Cuba, Ecuador, Holy See, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Oman, Russia, Senegal, Sudan, Syria, and Togo.

We have posted this information in order to better inform those travelers from the aforementioned countries who are accustomed to traveling to the USA on a passport with little, or no, official validity left. It would be unfortunate for an individual from one of the countries listed above to travel to the USA only to find that they are inadmissible due to the fact that they no longer have a travel document that is recognized as valid by United States Customs and Border Protection.

Thai Authorities generally require that those applying for a Thai visa have at least 6 months of stated validity on their passport. This is due to the fact that Thai officials do not like to issue visas with a validity that stretches substantially past the the date of the underlying passport’s validity period. In some cases, a Thai tourist visa can be obtained when there is little validity left on the passport, but these cases are rare. In cases involving the multiple entry one year Thai business visa or the one year Thai O visa, it has become practically a hard and fast rule that the validity of the passport be more than 6 months before a visa will be issued.

For further information about passports and travel to the USA please see: US Visa Thailand. For further insight into Thai Immigration matters please see: Thailand visa.

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