Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Visa Bulletin for November 2009 issued

The US Department of State has released the new Visa Bulletin for November 2009. In family-based categories, there is very slight movement forward, but just by a few weeks or months in most categories.

Employment-based categories remain "Current" for all 1st preference applicants, and for 2nd preference from Mexico, Philippines, and countries other than India and China. 3rd preference and other categories are mostly unchanged from the October bulletin. Any change is just a month, at most.

Monday, October 12, 2009

US government cannot track overstays

The New York Times reports today (here) that the US government cannot track when people stay longer that they are authorized. This is no surprise to immigration lawyers and foreign nationals. US immigration officials estimate that 2.9 million people entered the US last year on temporary visas. The government has no way to know for sure, but estimates that "several hundred thousand" of those are still in the US, even though their status expired.

The NYT article focuses on Mr. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi. He is from Jordan, and is accused of plotting to bomb an office building in Dallas. Mr. Smadi entered the US as a tourist, and this status expired in April 2008. However, the article says that that
Mr. Smadi, like many tourists who overstay visas, was able to fade easily into society and encountered few barriers to starting a life here, according to court documents and people who know him. He enrolled in high school, obtained a California identification card, landed jobs in two states and rented a string of apartments and houses. He bought at least two used cars, and even procured a handgun and ammunition.
The article explains how difficult it is to keep track of whether people depart.
They have not yet found technology to support speedy exit inspections at land borders. And airlines balked at an effort last year by the Bush administration to make them responsible for taking fingerprints and photographs of departing foreigners.
At the moment, departing visitors hand over a document called an I-94, to show that they left the US. However, sometimes visitors forget to do this, especially if they depart via land borders. Further, even if they had the resources, immigration officials would have a very difficult time finding the people that intentionally overstay.