• House Passes DREAM Act; Uphill Battle in Senate.

Dec 09, 2010: The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass

the DREAM Act on Wednesday night, sending the immigration reform

bill to the Senate. The DREAM Act would provide a path to

citizenship for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who

entered the United States when they were children.

“This is about a commitment to our future,” said Nancy

Pelosi, D-Calif., Speaker of the House. “It's about a

recognition of what these young people can mean for our

country.”

The DREAM Act proposes to give “conditional” green cards

to undocumented immigrants if they graduate high school and enter

college or military service. After ten years, these individuals

would be eligible to receive permanent residency and, eventually,

citizenshp, as long as they meet all other requirements.

While the House vote is good news for supporters of the DREAM Act,

there will be a tough fight in the senate. While many Republican

senators originally supported the bill, the majority of Republican

senators now oppose it, considering the bill a mass amnesty for

illegal immigrants. For the bill to pass the Senate, it will need

the support of the majority of Democrats and a few Republicans.

  • U.S. Makes Changes to Visa Application Process in Mexico.

Dec 07, 2010: Starting January 10, 2011, the U.S. Embassy and

Consulates in Mexico will make changes to the way visas are

processed. Under new procedures, the majority of applicants will

visit an Applicant Service Center (ASC) before their consular

section interview. Staff at the ASC will collect biometric

information that will be reviewed prior to the applicants'

interviews with the consular section. These service centers will be

located in buildings not connected to the U.S. Embassy or

Consulates.

Please note that the total cost for visa applications will go down.

Instead of paying separate fees for obtaining information and

scheduling an appointment, the visa application and courier

services, applicants will now pay just one fee that covers all

three above-stated fees. The application fee will remain the same:

$140 for a tourist application, $150 for a petition-based case and

$390 for a treaty-trader or investor visa.

Please additionally note that applicants at the U.S. Consulates in

Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo will no longer be

required to pay a $26 surcharge.

  • New Pilot Program Will Ease Travel for Frequent Fliers.

Dec 03, 2010: A new program will ease the process for frequent

fliers to pass through immigration and customs between the United

States and Mexico. The pilot program will be an expansion of the

Global Entry program.

Applicants for the new pilot program will be required to pass

robust background checks and will additionally be required to

provide biometrical data. If approved for participation, the

applicants will be able to use Global Entry kiosks at U.S. airports

to receive travel approval, after providing their passports or

resident cards, providing digital fingerprints and answering

customs declaration questions on the kiosk.

  • USCIS Publishes Interim Memo Regarding Fee Waivers.

Dec 01, 2010: USCIS has published an interim memo regarding fee

waiver processes in relation to the new application and petition

fee increases that went into effect on November 23, 2010. USCIS has

now developed a new Form I-912, the Request for Fee Waiver, to

support the fee-waiver request process. The form became available

for public use on November 23. The form is the standard means to

request a fee waiver and is intended, USCIS says, “to bring

clarity and consistency to the fee-waiver process.” Learn more

about the fee waiver guidelines at http://bit.ly/frcQfS.

  • U.S. Ambassador Announces Reorganization of Consulates General

    in India.

Nov 23, 2010: The U.S. is implementing a new visa application

process for Indians that will make obtaining visas more convenient,

says the U.S. ambassador to India. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi

and Consulates General in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad

are now accepting visa applications at all visa facilities in

India, regardless of the applicant's home address or city of

residence. After the opening of the new Consulate General in

Hyderabad, the U.S. mission in India has been looking for other

ways to best manage the changing population dynamics of that

country. Part of this response has been to reorganize U.S. consular

districts in India. The consular districts have been reorganized as

follows: Embassy Delhi: Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh,

Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh,

Bhutan Consulate Mumbai: Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,

Diu and Daman, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Consulate Hyderabad:

Andhra Pradesh, Orissa Consulate Chennai: Karnataka, Kerala,

Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Consulate Kolkata: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh,

Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura,

West Bengal?? “With these changes, we believe our Consulates

General and our Embassy in New Delhi will be even better positioned

to support and serve Indian visa applicants, as well as American

citizens and businesses throughout India,” said U.S.

Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer.

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