Did Water Damage your Passport and/or Visa? Here is what you should do

damaged_passport_bookIn the wake of the hurricanes that have brought massive flooding to parts of Texas, Indiana, Florida and many islands in the Caribbean, many foreign nationals in the US planning foreign travel (or those outside the US planning on coming back) have passports and visas that have been water damaged.  According to the Department of Homeland Security, you should replace such documents before attempting to enter the US.  The primary reason for this is that the ink that is used in the documents does not hold up to water, and if the damage is apparent by looking at the document, there is a high likelihood that the visa/ passport will not be machine readable. People who seek reentry to the United States by air will not be permitted to board an airplane if their passports cannot be scanned. There is very little room for discretion for those entering by air, as the airlines will likely deny boarding before CBP (Customs and Border Protection) ever sees the applicant.

Those who seek reentry by land may receive greater favorable discretion, as they may be granted a waiver of the required entry document (on Form I-193, pursuant to INA 212(d)(4)). Such waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the port, and there is no guarantee that it will be done in any particular case. In cases that merit favorable discretion (e.g., emergency travel due to hardship), you should call your attorney as soon as you can so that they can facilitate your return at a border port of entry by contacting them and explaining why you warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.   While ports will never pre-adjudicate admissibility, your entry may be facilitated by having your attorney make this type of inquiry in advance. The I-193 waives only the lack of a travel document and does not waive any other grounds of inadmissibility which would require a waiver under INA 212(d)(3).

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

New Rules Regarding Visa Waiver Travelers Go into Affect Today!

We recently blogged about the change in rule being implemented by USCIS regarding the Visa Waiver Program.  Basically, those who have visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria or who are nationals of those countries (even if they are nationals of another country as well) cannot use the visa waiver program.  The DOS has now put this rule into effect starting today with one change.

Those who are not nationals of the above listed countries but have visited them as diplomats or on most military matters, are exempted from this prohibition (although even if you fit in one of these exceptions, or think you do, you need to check the exact wording to ensure that you actually do fit in the exception).

If you have any questions leave a comment below or send me an email.  Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

February 2016 Visa Bulletin -Not Much Movement

imagesThe Department of State just came out with the Visa Bulletin for February 2016.  Unfortunately there was not much movement on either the family or employment front.  Below we summarize what movement there was.

Family Based Immigrant Visas:

Final Action Dates:  Most categories moved forward between 1-2 months.

Dates For Filing:  Again, they moved 1-2 months forward across the board.

 

Employment Based Immigrant Visas:

Final Action Dates:  EB-2 – China moved forward slightly from February 1, 2012 to March 1, 2012.  India moved forward a good bit from February 1, 2008 to August 1, 2008. a jump of 6 months.  EB-3 – Worldwide and Mexico did not move and are still at October 15, 2015.  China moved from July 1, 2012 to October 1, 2012.  India moved from May 15, 2004 to June 15, 2004 and the Philippines moved from November 1, 2007  to January 8, 2008.

DatesFor Filing:  There was no movement on these dates.

 

Dates Used by USCIS:

As you know, USICS has stated that they will inform the public each month as to whether the Final Action Dates or the Dates for Filing can be used by the public in terms of determining when you can file the I-485.

Last month (for January, 2016), USCIS stated the following:

Family Based Cases:               Dates for Filing
Employment Based Cases:   Final Action Dates

For this month, USCIS has not yet stated what they will be following.  Hopefully this information will be released shortly.  As soon as it is we will update you.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

 

Department of State Passport and Visa System Off Line

dealing-with-computer-problems-at-work-can-be-frustrating-_16000623_800533407_0_0_7030738_300As of June 15, 2015 the Department of State has been experiencing severe issues with its computer system, which is preventing them from issues visas and passports.  According to the DOS:

This is a global issue, and we are working around the clock to fix it. More than 100 computer experts from both the private and public sectors across the United States are working on this problem 24/7. That said, we do not expect the system will be online before next week. The problems stem from a hardware failure in a State Department facility in the United States on June 9. That failure is preventing the Department from processing and transmitting biometric data checks at visa-issuing embassies and consulates. We cannot bypass the legal requirements to screen visa applicants before we issue visas for travel. Each visa decision is a national security decision, and we take our obligation to protect the United States seriously.

You can read more about it at the DOS website here.

We will update you as soon as this changes.