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Immigration News - August 15, 2006

August 15, 2006

By Immigration Practice Group

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US-VISIT Requirements Extended

* Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

* SAVE THE DATE - Important Immigration Seminar on September 27 & 28
US-VISIT Requirements Extended

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a proposed regulation to expand the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Technology (US-VISIT) program to require participation from lawful permanent residents; individuals seeking admission as immigrants, refugees and asylees; and Canadian nationals. The proposed regulation was published in the Federal Register on July 27, 2006, and comments are due on or before August 28, 2006. The expansion will require these foreign nationals to provide biometrics (digital finger scans and photographs) at air, sea and land ports-of-entry. The main exception will be for Canadian citizens who seek to enter the U.S. for short business or pleasure trips in B-1 or B-2 status. (All other Canadians, including lawful permanent residents and those with temporary work authorization, including H, TN, L, and O, will have to participate in the US-VISIT program at secondary inspection.)

Applicants for U.S. permanent residence must already provide biometrics information to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when obtaining permanent residence. With the proposed regulation, U.S. permanent residents will again provide biometrics information when applying for admission to the U.S. at a port-of-entry following international travel, including travel to Canada. The biometrics information provided through the US-VISIT program will be compared with the information the permanent residents provided to USCIS when obtaining permanent residence to confirm identity. (Permanent residents applying for U.S. admission at land ports-of-entry may not be referred to secondary inspection and, therefore, may not have to participate in the US-VISIT program. Those with temporary work authorization, however, will have to submit biometrics for the US-VISIT program even at land ports-of-entry.) With respect to Canadian citizens who hold U.S. permanent residence and commute daily to work in the U.S. while residing in Canada, immigration officers at the ports-of-entry have existing protocols in place and should not refer these commuters to secondary inspection for biometric verification against the US-VISIT system.

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State have also announced a proposal for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The proposed regulation requires all U.S. citizens, citizens of Bermuda, and citizens of Canada and Mexico to have a passport or other accepted secure document that establishes the bearer's identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the U.S. by January 1, 2008. The first phase of this initiative will apply the document requirement by December 31, 2006, to all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The next phase will apply the document requirement by December 31, 2007, to all air, sea and land border crossings. The document requirement will apply across the board, no matter the length of the citizen's or foreign national's stay in the U.S. Other identification documents, including Border Crossing Cards and documents issued under international frequent traveler plans (SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST program cards), may be acceptable, but this has not yet been finalized.

The press releases from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State are attached.

SAVE THE DATE - Important Immigration Seminar on September 27 & 28

The Global Personnel Alliance (GPA) and Paul Hastings will sponsor a seminar on Global Immigration and Employment Issues, to be held in Washington, D.C. on September 27 & 28.  The seminar will focus on the major developments over the past year and will feature speakers from Capitol Hill, the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security.  Registration information will be distributed shortly.

Immigration News is published solely for the interests of friends and clients of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP and should in no way be relied upon or construed as legal advice. For specific information on recent developments or particular factual situations, the opinion of legal counsel should be sought. Paul Hastings is a limited liability partnership. Copyright © 2006 Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.