Question: I know that Congress has a ‘lame-duck’ session now. I was wondering if there were any new and recent developments in the immigration laws.
Answer: There has actually been quite a bit that has been recently signed into law by President Bush. Here is the summary of those recent laws.
On November 2, President Bush signed into law the “21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act.” It includes the following.
Waiver of Foreign Country Residence Requirement with Respect International Medical Graduates. Extends until 2004 the “Conrad State 20” program, which allows states to request waivers of the two-year home residence requirement of INA § 212(e) for certain J–1 physicians who agree to work in medically underserved areas for a period of at least three years, and raises the number of visas available per state from 20 to 30.
Posthumous Citizenship for Non-Citizen Veterans.: Extends the deadline for allowing family members to apply for honorary posthumous citizenship for noncitizen veterans who died while honorably serving the U.S. in past wars.
Extension of H-1B Status for Aliens with Lengthy Adjudications.: Recognizing that lengthy processing times by the Department of Labor have precluded some H-1B visa holders from being eligible to apply for a one-year extension of H status pursuant to the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act of 2000, this provision is intended to permit aliens who have labor certification applications caught in lengthy agency backlogs to extend status beyond the six-year limitation. As long as 365 days have elapsed since the filing of a labor certification application (that is filed on behalf of or used by the alien) or an immigrant visa petition, H-1B status can be extended in one-year increments. This will be true even if the alien has since changed his or her status or left the country. If an application for a labor certification or adjustment of status or a petition for an immigrant visa petition is denied, the extended H-1B status ends at that point.
Application for Naturalization by Alternative Applicant if Citizen Parent Has Died: Amends the INA to authorize a child’s grandparents or legal guardian to submit an application for naturalization on behalf of the child under section 322 of the INA where the child’s parent, who otherwise would be authorized to submit the petition, died during the preceding five years.
Also on November 2, the President signed the “Border Student Commuter Act of 2002”. The new law amends INA §§ 101(a)(15)(F) and (M) by creating a new border commuter nonimmigrant classification under the F and M visa categories for Canadian and Mexican nationals who maintain residence in their country of nationality and commute to the U.S. for full- or part-time academic or vocational studies. The legislation was triggered by a May 22, 2002, INS proclamation that commuter students residing in contiguous territory would no longer be allowed to enter the U.S. as visitors to attend school on a part-time basis.
President Bush, on October 29, signed the “Persian Gulf POW/MIA War Accountability Act” to provide refugee status to any alien (and his or her spouse or child) who: (1) is a national of Iraq or a nation of the Greater Middle East Region; and (2) personally delivers into the custody of the U.S. government a living American Persian Gulf War prisoner of war or individual missing in action. Excepted from the Act’s benefits are persons who are ineligible for asylum (including terrorists, persecutors, certain criminals, and individuals presenting a danger to the security of the U.S.).
On September 30, President Bush signed the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003” (H.R. 1646, Pub. L. No. 107–228). The Act contains numerous immigration-related provisions, including authorization for $4.97 billion in appropriations for the administration of foreign affairs in fiscal year 2003.