State Dept. debuts new online visa process
NextGov.com is reporting that the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs is rolling out a new online application process for nonimmigrant visas aimed at reducing processing time.
Nonimmigrant visas generally are required for temporary visitors entering the country with a specific purpose, for instance, international students or tourists seeking medical treatment. The government issued more than 6.6 million nonimmigrant visas at Foreign Service posts in 2008, up 1.2 million from 2005. The number of temporary visitors in the
This is the bureau's first step to building the
The new nonimmigrant visa application, DS-160, combines three forms into one online platform. Once an applicant submits the document online, consular officers can screen it before the visa interview and ask the candidate to fill in any missing information. Applicants must complete the form in English, but they can view as pop-ups foreign translations of the questions.
The bureau expects that DS-160 will be used at every overseas visa-issuing post by the end of April. So far, DS-160 is available in 11 foreign languages, and five more translations are ready to be added and six translations are in the works.
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34,500 Haitians in
The New York Times reports that more than 34,500 Haitians living in the
The Obama administration suspended deportations of Haitians who had been in the U.S. by Jan. 12, when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake Haitians would be eligible to apply for an immigration benefit known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, which allows those who receive it to live and work here for up to 18 months.
TPS generally is granted to undocumented immigrants living in the
Key Homeland Security posts go unfilled
CNN is reporting that the Obama administration and Congress have not yet filled some key positions in the Department of Homeland Security -- notably the top jobs at the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection. Together, the two posts manage about half of all DHS employees. But for differing reasons, the posts are unfilled or occupied by placeholders.
In the case of the TSA, the person nominated in September withdrew from consideration in January after a contentious confirmation battle. The White House has yet to name a new nominee.
In the case of Customs and Border Protection, Obama nominated insider Alan Bersin in September. But the Senate Finance Committee has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing.
Officials inside and outside DHS said the top vacancy has hamstrung certain decisions. For instance, the department can't permanently assign border sector chiefs because that requires the commissioner's approval.
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AZ bill that would criminalize presence of undocumented immigrants tabled
Lawmakers in the Arizona State House have postponed a vote on a bill that would criminalize the presence of illegal immigrants. The bill had previously passed in the Senate.
The bill expands the rights of the state to prosecute people on the grounds of trespassing, and requires that police do their best to ascertain whether anyone they are responding to a call for is in the
Opponents cited the risk of immigrants fearing the authorities as a result of this bill, and being hesitant to report crimes as a result.
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Minority Births on Track to Outnumber White Births
The Associated Press reports that minorities make up nearly half the children born in the U.S., part of a historic trend in which minorities are expected to become the U.S. majority over the next 40 years. Minorities made up 48 percent of
The numbers are growing because immigration to the
The numbers highlight the nation's growing racial and age divide, seen in pockets of communities across the U.S., which could heighten tensions in current policy debates from immigration reform and education to health care and Social Security. Currently, roughly 1 in 10 of the nation's 3,142 counties already have minority populations greater than 50 percent. But 1 in 4 communities have more minority children than white children or are nearing that point, according to the study.
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The Associated Press reports that a ring allegedly fraudulently obtained and kept
Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have not suggested the
Six of the students have been charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Ten more have been placed in deportation proceedings, and immigration officials are searching for more than 30 more still believed to be in the
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