Department of Homeland Security Publishes Goals to Ensure Security at the Northern Border

On June 12, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a document titled the DHS Northern Border Strategy. This document published findings of the assessment DHS conducted in 2017 regarding security issues and concerns at the U.S. border with Canada.  While DHS concluded that the Northern Border faced more limited threats compared to the Southern Border, there nevertheless remain some concerns. This document presents DHS’s three main goals, along with additional objectives and instructions that will help accomplish these goals. DHS aims to implement this plan in fiscal year 2020 and reexamine it every five years for updates. The Northern Border Strategy aims to safeguard the Northern Border against terrorist and criminal threats, facilitate the flow of lawful cross-border trade and travel and strengthen cross-border resilience. These efforts will be coordinated between federal, state, local, tribal and Canadian entities. DHS notes that the main concern at the Canadian border is the bi-directional flow of drugs, although there are other issues present such as active transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). The first goal presented in this document is to enhance security operations at the Canadian border. DHS proposes to accomplish this goal in several ways. First. The U.S. and Canada must […]
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How to Calculate a Day for Immigration Purposes

Many immigrants and visitors to the United States are often unsure how USCIS defines a day. Although it may not seem like a major issue, miscalculating days either within or out of the United States can have major consequences for foreign nationals either immigrating to or visiting the U.S. It is helpful to divide this topic into two categories: nonimmigrant and immigrant purposes. Nonimmigrant purposes Nonimmigrants refer to people who do not wish to reside and work permanently within the United States. Some examples of this include foreign nationals visiting the United States as tourists or foreign nationals coming to the United States to work on a temporary visa. For nonimmigrant purposes, any traditional 24-hour period in which the foreign national spends even one hour in the United States is considered by USCIS to be one day.  This is something important to keep in mind, especially when making travel arrangements. For example, if a foreign national’s flight leaves early in the morning one day after the expiration of a visa, the foreign national is technically not authorized to be in the United States. In the same vein, foreign nationals run the risk of facing difficulties entering or traveling to the […]
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Top Tips for Surviving Summer Travel

Summer is almost here, and for many, that means vacation. Summer travel doesn’t have to be stressful. Be sure to follow these tips for hassle-free travel and an easy start to your vacation!  Prepare ahead of time, especially for international travel  Before you step out of the door, make sure you’ve done your research. Be sure to have all appropriate documents, such as passports and airplane tickets. Make sure you’re up to date on prohibited items before reaching the border or security at the airport. If you’re driving across the border, verify that your car insurance still covers you. Call your credit card companies ahead of time to let them know you’ll be traveling; the last thing you want to deal with on vacation is no access to your credit card.  Plan for delays Delays are usually inevitable, especially at major international airports. Incorporate this into your plan to make sure you have enough time for connecting flights. If you plan on driving, have alternate routes mapped out. You can check the crossing times at ports of entry at the Canadian and Mexican border online. Sometimes taking the scenic route can end up saving you time and a headache.  Stay […]
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Visa Validity and Waivers

A consular officer may recommend a waiver for most grounds of inadmissibility under INA § 212(a). Some grounds of inadmissibility, however, cannot be waived, including INA §§ 212(a)(3)(A)(i)(I), 212(a)(3)(A)(ii), 212(a)(3)(A)(iii), 212(a)(3)(C), 212(a)(3)(E)(i) and 212(a)(3)(E)(ii). Regardless, waivers are only available to applicants that otherwise qualify for the visa classification being sought, and, even then, there is no guarantee that a waiver will be granted. The issuing process is up to the discretion of the consular officer submitting a waiver recommendation and the CBP Admissibility Review Office (ARO) in reviewing it. In considering whether to recommend a waiver, a consular officer will consider a variety of factors, such as: The recency and seriousness of the activity or condition causing inadmissibility;  The reasons for the proposed travel to the U.S.; The positive or negative effect, if any, of the planned travel on U.S. public interests; Whether the incident in question is isolated or there is a pattern of misconduct; and Evidence of reformation or rehabilitation.  Generally, with the exception of C1 and D visas, a consular officer will recommend a five-year waiver. If granted, that waiver will be valid for multiple entries, but it will only be valid for the validity of the […]
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From the Desk of Rosanna Berardi: Have You Ever Smoked Marijuana? How Your Answer Can Determine Your Fate at the U.S./Canadian Border

The legalization of marijuana in Canada is scheduled for the summer of 2018. There is a lot of speculation surrounding how it will impact travel to the U.S. Experts are predicting that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will ask travelers if they have ever smoked marijuana in the past. Travelers must be very careful when answering this question. Our firm has seen CBP deny travelers entry to the U.S. if they answer “yes” even if the incident was 25 years ago. How is this possible? The current U.S. immigration law states that a person may be inadmissible to the U.S. if he or she has been convicted of a crime OR admits to having committed acts which constitute the essential elements of a crime. CBP has taken the last portion of this law and has denied entry to the U.S. for individuals who admit to smoking marijuana. Based on this logic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be denied admission to the U.S. So how should a traveler answer this loaded question? Travelers must always tell the truth.  However, it’s important for travelers to know their rights at the border. In order to be rendered inadmissible from the U.S. for a […]
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Chad Travel Restrictions Removed

On April 10, 2018, the President announced that travel restrictions against the nation of Chad will be removed. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has determined that Chad has raised its security standards to meet the baseline U.S. national security requirements.  According to DHS, Chad has made significant progress toward modernizing its passport documents, regularizing processes for routine sharing of criminal and terrorist threat information, and improving procedures for reporting lost and stolen passports. As a result, its nationals will once again be able to receive visas for travel to the U.S.  Specific travel restrictions were implemented through Presidential Proclamation back in September 2017. It was the first time in U.S. history that minimum requirements for international cooperation were established to support U.S. visa and immigration vetting and adjudication procedures. Since then, nationals from Iran, Chad, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen have faced heavy restrictions, minus a few exceptions, from traveling to the U.S. The following exceptions apply to nationals from the remaining seven countries, and individuals who qualify will not be subject to any travel restrictions listed in the Presidential Proclamation: Any national who was in the U.S. on the applicable effective date described in Section […]
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Waivers Under the Travel Ban

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued travel ban 3.0, via Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of certain nationals of eight designated countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela and Somalia. However, these entry restrictions may be waived on a case-by-case basis. To qualify for a waiver, a consular officer or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official must determine, in their discretion, that the applicant meets each of the following three criteria: (1) denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship; (2) entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the U.S.; and (3) entry would be in the national interest. So, how exactly does this waiver process work?  When adjudicating visa applications of individuals subject to the travel ban, consular officers will first determine whether the applicant is eligible for a visa under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If the applicant is determined to be eligible, the officer must then figure out whether that person falls into one of the exceptions to the Proclamation. If no exception applies, the applicant will be automatically considered for a waiver. There is no waiver form that needs […]
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