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Permanent Resident (Green) Cards With No Expiration Date
In August 2007, USCIS published a proposed rule that, if implemented, will require all permanent residents who hold a Permanent Resident card (green card) that does not have an expiration date to get a new one. These cards were issued between 1977 and 1989. Cards issued prior to 1977 already have been revoked.

Once the rule is implemented, permanent residents will have only 120 days to apply for a replacement card. Therefore, they are recommending that holders of these cards file now to get them replaced to avoid delays in receiving the new card. The form I-90 must be filed, along with the $290 filing fee and the $80 biometrics fee for photographs and fingerprints, for a total of $370.

Additional information can be found at: http://www.uscis.gov/pressroom. Under August 2007, see:

NOTE: Conviction for seemingly minor violations of U.S. state or Federal laws can render a permanent resident inadmissible or removable from the United States. If you think this may apply to you, you should consult with a competent immigration attorney prior to filing form I-90.

Credentials Evaluations
USCIS now requests a credentials evaluation of any degree that was not obtained from a U.S. or Canadian college or university. In order to avoid unwanted delays, we recommend that any applicant who has obtained a degree from an institution outside the U.S. or Canada obtain an official credentials evaluation of the highest relevant degree. The National Association of Credentials Evaluation Services has a listing of their members at: http://www.naces.org/. It is up to the hiring department and the individual to decide who should pay the fee for the evaluation.

Local Offices No Longer Issue EAD Cards
All I-765 applications for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) must be filed with the appropriate Service Center, not with the local office. In the past, when the application had not been adjudicated within 90 days, the applicant could go to the local office (Milwaukee) and they would issue the interim EAD. Now, the applicant can still schedule an appointment through InfoPass and go to Milwaukee, but the card will not be issued there. Milwaukee will contact either the Service Center or the National Benefits Center to inquire about the card production and request issuance. There is no indication from USCIS about how long that will take. Therefore, it is even more important to file requests for either an initial or replacement EAD at least four months before the expiration date. Unlike a request for extension of an H-1B, the applicant may NOT continue working after the old EAD expires even though the request was filed before the expiration date. The applicant must have the new EAD to be able to continue working.

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
During the last half of 2008, the Department of Homeland Security began implementing a new online pre-approval system for travelers under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP permits citizens and nationals from designated countries to apply for admission to the U. S. for a stay of up to 90 days as a nonimmigrant visitor for business or tourism without first having to obtain a visa at a US consulate. For additional information on the VWP see:  http://www.ohr.wisc.edu/ifss/imminfo/visawaiver.pdf.

VWP travelers are now required to obtain advance approval for travel to the U.S. at least 72 hours prior to their travel. ESTA has been available for voluntary use since 1 August 2008, and became mandatory in mid-January 2009. All citizens or nationals of VWP countries are required to present an approved ESTA prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. under the VWP.

Travelers need to log on to the ESTA web site (http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta/) and complete an application online by providing the biographical and eligibility information currently required on the paper I-94W. Applications may be submitted any time prior to travel but no less than 72 hours before departure. Once submitted, the application will be checked against appropriate law enforcement databases.

Visa Re-Issuance Unavailable Within the United States
The State Department no longer re-issues H-1B and O-1 visas within the United States. All visas must be obtained at a U.S. consulate outside the country. The State Department encourages all visa applicants to apply in their home countries; Canada and Mexico have very limited capacity to accept visa applications from third country nationals.

For details on applying for a visa and other travel-related information, see “Travel” in the Immigration Information section of the IFSS web.

Automatic Visa Revalidation
Department of State (DOS) regulations permit certain non-immigrants to re-enter the United States after a 30-day or less visit to Canada or Mexico without having to obtain a new visa prior to re-entry. This is called automatic visa revalidation. F and J non-immigrants are the only ones who also benefit from automatic revalidation when re-entering from the adjacent islands, except Cuba. Individuals seeking to benefit from this provision must retain their I-94 when leaving the U.S. as it is essential for re-entry. In addition, all other travel documents relevant to the particular status (passport, DS-2019 for J-1s, I-797 for H-1Bs etc.) must be carried and properly endorsed, if an endorsement is required (on form DS-2019).

Some Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may not be aware of the Automatic Revalidation provisions. CBP has created a Fact Sheet, which travelers can download and take with them, in case there are any questions: 
http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/inspections_carriers_facilities/clp/bulletins/

Certain individuals may not benefit from this provision. First, citizens of “state sponsors of terrorism” as designated by the Department of State are not eligible for automatic revalidation. They need to have a valid visa in their passport in order to re-enter. Currently, the countries on the DOS list are: Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Cuba.

In addition, anyone who is visiting Canada or Mexico in order to apply for a new visa may no longer benefit from automatic revalidation. Many individuals schedule an appointment with a U.S. consulate in Canada or Mexico in order to obtain a new visa so as to facilitate future travel overseas. In the past, they could re-enter the U.S. with a valid I-94 even if the visa were denied. Now, those who choose to apply for a new visa in Canada or Mexico and are denied the visa may not return to the U.S. They would have to travel to their home country and apply for a visa there. The risk of denial is higher for those who must prove their ties to their home country in order to get a visa (such as those in F or J status) than it is for those who do not have to prove ties (such as those in H status), but there is always a risk of denial for any visa applicant. Those considering applying for a visa in Canada or Mexico should take this into account when making their plans.

Change of Address Notification
All non-U.S. citizens, including permanent residents, are under a legal obligation to notify the USCIS of a change of their U.S. address within 10 days of any such change. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in misdemeanor charges, fines, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or even deportation. It also can delay re-entry into the U.S. at a port of entry.

The change of address must be reported on the USCIS form AR-11. The form is available on the USCIS web site at:
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
under Immigration Forms. It should be completed and mailed to the address indicated on the form, or it can be submitted electronically.

Those who have a petition pending with USCIS also must notify that office of their change of address by calling the Help Line, 1-800-375-5283. The caller must provide the case number, such as the I-797 Receipt Notice number. Mailing the AR-11 to the address on the form does not notify the USCIS Service Center or District Office of the address change. However, electronic submission of the AR-11 does notify the office where an application is pending. USCIS has a “no forwarding” order with the U.S. Postal Service, so failure to notify the specific USCIS office of an address change could cause important documents to be returned to USCIS and benefits to be denied.

Individuals in F-1 and F-2, and J-1 and J-2 status should report any address change within 10 days to their international office instead. The international office will report the change to USCIS via SEVIS.

Possession of Appropriate Registration Documents
Immigration law requires all non-U.S. citizens to carry “at all times” the appropriate alien registration documents. All permanent residents should carry their I-551 Permanent Resident card, and non-immigrants (such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor or an H-1B employee) should carry their valid passport and valid I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. While it may not be essential while walking on campus, it is particularly important when traveling in the U.S., even by train or bus.

US-VISIT
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has established the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology Program (US-VISIT) in an effort to enhance the security of U.S. citizens and visitors to this country. Additional goals include: expediting legitimate travel and trade; ensuring the integrity of the immigration system; and safeguarding the personal privacy of visitors. The system records the entry and exit of non-US citizens into and out of the U.S. and provides government officials with information about individuals who are in the U.S. in violation of their immigration status.

Upon arrival in the U.S., a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will perform the usual entry procedures, including reviewing travel documents and asking questions about the visitor’s stay in the U.S. In addition, the officer will collect inkless digital fingerprints and take a digital photograph. This information will be used to verify the identity of the visitor and be compared against watch lists. The officer will then either admit the visitor or conduct additional inquiries based on the verification results.

Once the exit system is functioning, upon departure from the U.S., visitors will need to check out by scanning their travel documents and repeating the fingerprinting process on the inkless device. The exit information will be added to the visitor’s travel records to demonstrate compliance and record the person’s status for future visits to the U.S. Currently, they simply need to return their I-94 card to an airline or ship representative when departing the U.S., except for those who will be visiting either Canada or Mexico for less than 30 days and wish to benefit from Automatic Revalidation (see additional information on the IFSS web page). These individuals should retain their I-94. In the future, DHS plans to incorporate the exit procedures into the existing departure process.

Children under the age of 14 and adults over the age of 79 are exempt from the US-VISIT requirements, as well as a limited group of other individuals. 

All Visa Waiver Participants also have to comply with the entry and exit requirements of US-VISIT.

For complete information on US-VISIT, see: www.dhs.gov/us-visit.

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires all travelers to present a passport or other WHTI compliant document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. from within the Western Hemisphere. The goal of the initiative is to strengthen U.S. border security while facilitating entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.

Currently, all travelers by air must present a passport or other valid travel document that establishes the bearer's identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States.

Effective 1 June 2009, U.S., Canadian and Bermudian citizens will be required to present a passport or other WHTI compliant document when traveling by land or sea from within the Western Hemisphere. Until then, travelers may continue to enter the U.S. by presenting either a passport or a combination of a citizenship document, such as a birth certificate, and government-issued photo ID.

WHTI compliant documents include: NEXUS, SENTRY, and FAST cards issued by DHS for trusted travelers; the new U.S. Passport Card; or a special Enhanced Driver’s License issued by U.S. states or Canadian provinces through a partnership with DHS. Currently, Washington State is the only one with such a license. The Passport Card (also referred to as the PASS Card) is a limited-use passport in card format that is now available for use for travel only via land or sea (including ferries) between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Similar in size to a credit card, it fits easily into a wallet and contains a RFID chip.

All existing non-immigrant visa and passport requirements for citizens and nationals of other countries remain in effect and will not be changed by the WHTI.

Additional information about this initiative can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_2223.html.

For travel tips, see:  http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/06292009_5.xml.

Be Alert for Errors on I-94 Cards
Be sure to check your I-94 card, and those of your dependents, after every trip outside the U.S. Make sure that the expiration date of the I-94 is the same as that on your DS-2019 or I-797 approval notice. There have been several instances in which the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent at the port of entry endorsed the I-94 with the wrong date. In most instances, they endorsed it for the duration of the visa stamp in the passport rather than the date on the DS-2019 or I-797. If you do not notice the error and therefore do not get it corrected before the expiration date on the I-94, you will go out of status. If you stay in the U.S. for more than 180 days after the I-94 expires, you will not be able to return to the U.S. after your next departure for a period of three years. If you stay for more than one year after the expiration of the I-94, you will be barred from the U.S. for ten years. Therefore, it is very, very important to make sure that your I-94, and those of your family members, are correct.

Correcting Errors on I-94 Cards
Since the legacy INS was split into three different agencies, there are now two separate agencies that can issue I-94 cards. Customs and Border Protection issues the I-94 after inspecting arriving non-immigrants at U.S. ports of entry. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the cards when adjudicating petitions. The two agencies have indicated that they can only correct I-94 cards that their particular agency issued. Therefore, when an error is made by a USCIS Service Center, the card should be sent back to that Service Center. If a CBP agent makes an error upon admitting an individual, CBP must correct the error. There are CBP agents in the Milwaukee office and an appointment can be scheduled to get the card corrected by calling 414-486-7790.

DHS Trip
The Department of Homeland Security has established a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they may have experienced during their travel screening at U.S. Ports of Entry. This includes watch list misidentification issues, screening problems, and situations in which they believe they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed, denied boarding or identified for additional screening. For details, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/programs/gc_1169676919316.shtm.

CBP also has a Fact Sheet with additional information and assistance for travelers who encounter problems at:  http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/fact_sheets/travel/usarrivals_problems.xml.

Scheduling Appointments with Immigration in Milwaukee
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented an internet-based appointment scheduling system that enables the public to set an appointment with an immigration information officer online. It is designed to eliminate lengthy waits for assistance at immigration offices. Milwaukee participates in the system and anyone needing assistance must schedule an appointment ahead of time.

For complete information on InfoPass, see:  http://uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/factsheets/InfoPassFS020304.pdf.

To schedule an appointment, go to: http://infopass.uscis.gov/.

Global Entry Program for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents
The Global Entry Program was developed to implement a system that will expedite the movement of frequent international air travelers. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents may apply. Currently, it is a pilot program at a limited number of major airports. For complete information on the program, eligibility requirements and the application process, go to: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/publications/travel/globalentry_infoguide.xml

Applying for/Renewing a Driver’s License

While this Fact Sheet was written primarily for international students and Exchange Visitors, the information can be helpful for all non-immigrants who wish to apply for/renew a driver’s license in the U.S.:  http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/dmv_factsheet.pdf.

Non-immigrant Rights, Protections and Resources

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act made some changes relating to the legal rights of certain employment or education-based non-immigrants under Federal immigration, labor, and employment laws.  The U.S. Department of State has prepared a pamphlet which details the rights, protections and resources:  http://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/Pamphlet-Order.pdf.

Visa-Free Travel to the Philippines for Eligible Chinese Nationals
August 20, 2009
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration recently announced that nationals of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who hold valid visas issued by the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Schengen Area may travel to the Philippines visa-free and receive 9A (Temporary Visitor) status for seven days. 9A status is suitable for tourist and business activities, short-term work assignments with a Special Work Permit, and conversions from visitor status to a long-term employment or immigrant status in-country.

For additional information, contact the Philippine Embassy at: http://www.embassy.org/embassies/ph.html.