Posts Tagged ‘Customs and Border Protection’

Second Monday in October: Lots to Celebrate

Monday, October 24th, 2016 by Abtin Bahador

The second Monday in October means many things to many people.

In Canada, it is a day for turkey, and explaining to your American friends on social media that Canada has its own Thanksgiving. In America, it depends on what part of the country you reside. Some places continue to celebrate Columbus Day, while other parts of the U.S., including Washington State, are increasingly celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In 2015, the Bellingham city council officially declared the second Monday in October as Coast Salish Day. The Coast Salish people are a grouping of many tribes with numerous distinct cultures and languages. Their traditional territories included metropolitan areas including Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle. Territory claimed by the Coast Salish peoples spanned from Vancouver Island, most of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula and as far south as Oregon.

With the colonization of the Americas, the British and American governments enacted arbitrary borders, and separated many indigenous people from their ancestral lands. The U.S. and British recognized that Native Americans had been separated by the newly created border, and negotiated the Jay Treaty in part to mitigate tensions with Native peoples whose lands were bisected by the recently established borders.

Article III of the Jay Treaty thus gave native peoples the right to freely access the United States. This provision of the Jay Treaty has been included in the U.S. and Immigration Nationality Act at §289:

“Nothing in this title shall be construed to affect the right of American Indians born in Canada to pass the borders of the United States, but such right shall extend only to persons who possess at least 50 per centum of blood of the American Indian race.”

Fundamentally, this passage in the complex maze of U.S. immigration law entitles Canadians, with at least 50% native bloodline, privileges to enter and remain in the United States, virtually unrestricted by U.S. immigration laws.

For a more in-depth review of this fascinating provision of immigration law, Please see “American Indians Born in Canada and the Right of Free Access to the United States” co-authored by Greg Boos of Cascadia Cross-Border Law. The article can be accessed at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2334394 andwww.jaytreaty.com.

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The Department of State’s 2018 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2018) registration is now open!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016 by Heather Fathali

Online registration for the DV-2018 Program begins on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and concludes on Monday, November 7, 2016 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-4).

The entry form must be submitted during this period, and entries may only be submitted online at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/.

Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” born in countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. A limited number of diversity visas (DVs) are available each fiscal year, which traditionally begins on Oct. 1. The DVs are distributed among six geographic regions (Africa; Asia; Europe; North America; Oceania; and South America, Central America, and the Caribbean) and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year. Entrants are “chargeable” according their country of birth, not their current country of residence or citizenship. For example, if a person was born in Iran but is a citizen of Canada and resides in Canada, they remain chargeable to Iran for DV purposes; and may apply for the program despite the fact that Canada is not a DV country.

The U.S. Department of State provides a helpful step-by-step guidance on the program and how to submit an entry at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOQlh2d2EbQ&feature=youtu.be. Instructions are also available at https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Diversity-Visa/DV-Instructions-Translations/DV-2018-Instructions-Translations/DV-2018%20Instructions%20English.pdf.

DV-2018 Entrants will begin to be able to check their entry status starting May 2, 2017. Entrants may only check their status by entering their confirmation information at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/; the U.S. government will not mail out a notice regarding an Entrant’s status, and embassies and consulates will not provide a list of selectees. DV-2018 Entrants should keep their confirmation number until at least September 30, 2018.

The list of DV-2018 countries is available in the official DV-2018 Program Instructions, and is also copied below:

 

LIST OF COUNTRIES/AREAS BY REGION WHOSE NATIVES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR DV-2018

The list below shows the countries whose natives are eligible for DV-2018, grouped by geographic region. Dependent areas overseas are included within the region of the governing country. USCIS identified the countries whose natives are not eligible for the DV-2018 program according to the formula in Section 203(c) of the INA. The countries whose natives are not eligible for the DV program (because they are the principal source countries of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration or “high-admission” countries) are noted after the respective regional lists.

 

AFRICA

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Djibouti, Egypt*, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, The Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

* Persons born in the areas administered prior to June 1967 by Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt are chargeable, respectively, to Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Persons born in the Gaza Strip are chargeable to Egypt; persons born in the West Bank are chargeable to Jordan; persons born in the Golan Heights are chargeable to Syria.

In Africa, natives of Nigeria are not eligible for this year’s Diversity Visa program.

 

ASIA

Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region**, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel*, Japan, Jordan*, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria*, Taiwan**, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United Arab Emirates, Yemen,

*Persons born in the areas administered prior to June 1967 by Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt are chargeable, respectively, to Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Persons born in the Gaza Strip are chargeable to Egypt; persons born in the West Bank are chargeable to Jordan; persons born in the Golan Heights are chargeable to Syria.

**Hong Kong S.A.R. (Asia region), Macau S.A.R. (Europe region, chargeable to Portugal), and Taiwan (Asia region) do qualify and are listed here. For the purposes of the diversity program only, persons born in Macau S.A.R. derive eligibility from Portugal, and must select Portugal as their country of eligibility.

Natives of the following Asia Region countries are not eligible for this year’s Diversity Visa program: Bangladesh, China (mainland-born), India, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines, and Vietnam.

 

EUROPE

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (including components and dependent areas overseas), Estonia, Finland, France (including components and dependent areas overseas), Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau Special Administrative Region**, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands (including components and dependent areas overseas), Northern Ireland***, Norway (including components and dependent areas overseas), Poland, Portugal (including components and dependent areas overseas), Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vatican City

**Macau S.A.R. does qualify and is listed above and for the purposes of the diversity program only; persons born in Macau S.A.R. derive eligibility from Portugal, and must select Portugal as their country of eligibility.

***For purposes of the diversity program only, Northern Ireland is treated separately. Northern Ireland does qualify and is listed among the qualifying areas.

Natives of the following European countries are not eligible for this year’s DV program: Great Britain (United Kingdom). Great Britain (United Kingdom) includes the following dependent areas: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, St. Helena, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

NORTH AMERICA

The Bahamas

In North America, natives of Canada and Mexico are not eligible for this year’s DV program.

 

OCEANIA

Australia (including components and dependent areas overseas), Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Federated States of Nauru, New Zealand (including components and dependent areas overseas), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

 

SOUTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela

Countries in this region whose natives are not eligible for this year’s DV program: Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and Peru.

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Don’t be Caught in the Backlog – Renew Your U.S. Passport Early!

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 by Heather Fathali

Have a U.S. passport expiring in 2016 or 2017? The State Department advises you start the renewal process ASAP to avoid backlogs in processing times. 2016-2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of WHTI, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which among other things required (for the first time) that U.S. citizens present a U.S. passport when departing or entering the U.S. for air travel within the Western Hemisphere. It also imposed restrictions on the acceptable documents for presentation at U.S. land and sea borders. WHTI resulted in a mad rush of U.S. passport applications, and, because U.S. passports are valid for 10 years, the Department of State now foresees a surge in upcoming renewals.

Depending on your circumstances, U.S. passports may be renewed by mail, in person, and from abroad. The Department of State offers a user-friendly website to assist in the process: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/renew.html.

The New York Times offers a great report on the matter here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/travel/passport-renewal.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

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CBP To Eliminate Paper I-94 Entry Documents

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 by W. Scott Railton

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that it will soon begin to not issue paper I-94 to persons arriving by land or sea. This is a big change in how the ports of entry operate. CBP says it already collects the information electronically, via the Advanced Passenger Information System and Department of State consular processing, making the I-94 redundant to the agency’s tracking purposes. CBP says the current system costs the agency over $1 million per month to operate.

For now, land port of entries will continue to operate as usual, and issue I-94s as need be. Most Canadian arrivals are not issued this card, unless they are entering in a category other than a Visitor for Business or Pleasure.

The agency has provided a website for persons who arrive to print I-94s, for presentation to other government agencies, as need be the case. The website is www.cbp.gov/I94. We would advise anyone who recently arrives to print their I-94, just to double check to make sure that the information entered by the CBP agent at time of entry is in fact accurate.

Here is the agency announcement:

CBP Announces Automation of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
Eliminates Paper Forms, Streamlines Admission Process

(Thursday, March 21, 2013)

Washington — U.S. Customs and Border Protection today announced that it has submitted to the Federal Register a rule that will automate Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to streamline the admissions process for individuals lawfully visiting the United States. Form I-94 provides international visitors evidence they have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. which is necessary to verify alien registration, immigration status, and employment authorization. The automation means that affected visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea, improving procedures and reducing costs. The change will go into effect 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

“Automation of the I-94 will increase efficiency and streamline the admission process,” said CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar. “Once fully implemented, the process will facilitate security and travel while saving CBP an estimated $15.5 million a year.”

Travelers wanting a hard copy or other evidence of admission will be directed to www.cbp.gov/I94* to print a copy of an I-94 based on the electronically submitted data, including the I-94 number from the form, to provide as necessary to benefits providers or as evidence of lawful admission. ( www.cbp.gov/I94 )

As part of CBP’s work to bring advances in technology and automation to the passenger processing environment, records of admission will now be generated using traveler information already transmitted through electronic means. This change should decrease paperwork for both the officer and the traveler and will allow CBP to better optimize its resources.

*The www.cbp.gov/i94 website will be live 30 days after the rule is published to the Federal Register. ( www.cbp.gov/I94 ) :

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CBP Says Sequestration Means Long Lines at the Border

Friday, March 8th, 2013 by W. Scott Railton

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently published a Frequently Asked Questions page on the impacts of sequestration on the agency. The agency predicts doubling of wait times at some land port of entries. We’ll have to wait and see, but we would suggest filing now for trusted traveler programs such as NEXUS and Global Entry.

Here’s the FAQ:

What is sequestration?

Sequestration is a fiscal policy procedure adopted by Congress as part of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. The procedure, designed to force Congress to come to an agreement to address the Federal budget deficit, represents a series of automatic government spending cuts, totaling about $1 trillion over the next decade. These spending cuts, which began March 1, 2013, are divided equally between defense and non-defense spending. Government departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), do not have input on how these cuts go into effect since they are required by law to be implemented across the board. Sequestration will end when Congress passes legislation that undoes the legal requirements in the BCA.

How will sequestration affect CBP Field Operations?

Under the automatic sequestration cuts, we anticipate reducing agency-wide expenditures significantly during the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013. CBP Field Operations, the office responsible for securing the U.S. border at ports of entry, will experience budget cuts equating to the loss of several thousand CBP officers at these ports of entry, in addition to significant cuts to operating budgets and programs. Stakeholders in the travel and trade industries will see service impacts and CBP employees will be furloughed.

How is CBP going to maintain its priorities under sequestration?

CBP Field Operations has issued clear guidance on maintaining priority operations during sequestration with the following key principles:

Our security efforts will remain our highest priority. We will not allow degradation of our primary anti-terrorism mission;
We will prioritize core processing and facilitation operations for both travelers and cargo;
We will continue to carry out border security operations consistent with all applicable legal requirements, including mandatory examinations of perishable commodities; and
All trusted traveler and trader programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and Nexus, C-TPAT and FAST will be maintained and emphasized, limiting the impact on CBP’s trusted partners.

Is it safe to travel to the United States during sequestration?

CBP’s priority mission is detecting and preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States. While the results of sequestration may, at times, cause inconvenience for travelers at our ports of entry, we will not compromise public safety due to budget concerns.

How will sequestration impact service at ports of entry?

CBP will operate in a way that is least disruptive to border security and the facilitation of lawful travel and trade, but CBP will face budget cuts and employee furloughs that will result in increased wait times and reduced hours of service. These impacts will likely increase during the summer peak travel season.

In the air environment, we expect increased wait times at major U.S. international airports of up to 50 percent or more, with peak waits of up to four hours at our busiest airports. Increased processing times at airports — including both CBP operations and Transportation Security Administration screening – may make it more difficult for travelers to make tight connecting flights.

There will also be greater wait times for personal vehicles and pedestrians at our land border ports, with the doubling of peak waits up to five hours or more at our largest land border crossings. Travelers should adjust their trip itineraries to account for unexpected delays.

Will any ports of entry be closed, or will hours be curtailed?

CBP may reduce hours of service at select airports, seaports and land ports of entry; these reductions will be made in a way that minimizes the impact to operations. Any changes to service hours will be port-specific and will be determined at the local level. Information will be shared publicly through various media outlets.

What will happen if I miss my connecting flight?

CBP advises travelers to anticipate longer processing lines at air, land and sea ports of entry during sequestration and to schedule connecting flights accordingly. If you encounter problems, please contact your carrier.

What will be the impact on cargo shipments?

Sequestration will reduce service levels in CBP’s cargo operations. There will be increased and potentially escalating delays for container examinations of up to 5 days or more at major seaports. We may also experience significant daily back-ups for truck shipments at land border ports. CBP will continue to carry out border security operations consistent with all applicable legal requirements, including mandatory examinations of perishable commodities. More detailed information is posted separately for trade community stakeholders.

Will sequestration curtail CBP’s trusted traveler and trader programs?

All trusted traveler and trusted trader programs will be maintained, including Global Entry, SENTRI, Nexus, and FAST. Membership in these programs allows for faster processing as a general rule and members will also receive these same benefits during sequestration. However, we do expect longer approval times on new trusted traveler applications because of increased demand.

How soon will I notice a change as a result of sequestration budget cuts?

You may notice some changes immediately, while many of the anticipated effects of sequestration are likely to increase over time. Over the past three years, CBP Field Operations has maximized its existing resources to accommodate a 12 percent increase in the volume of international air arrivals. This has been achieved through a strong focus on efficiencies, innovation, and expanded use of trusted traveler programs. As such, the resource reductions that CBP Field Operations will face under sequestration will result in significant, noticeable changes. There may also be significant economic impacts because CBP will not be able to accommodate requests for extended hours or new services. These effects will be compounded if the budget cuts are not reversed and employees need to be furloughed.

Do I need to be concerned about CBP employee furloughs?

Many U.S. government departments and agencies are planning for employee furloughs due to the automatic budget cuts. If sequestration continues through April, CBP would begin to furlough all employees. These unpaid furloughs will have a significant, negative impact on our own employees. In addition, the effects will also be noticed at our ports of entry in terms of longer wait times, delayed processing for travel and trade, and less flexibility to accommodate special circumstances.

How can I find out more about how sequestration as it relates to CBP and the Department of Homeland Security?

For general information about sequestration please visit the website. ( WhiteHouse.gov )

We will continue to keep the public informed as the effects of sequestration upon CBP become clearer and better understood.

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