Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 03120441 (posted Dec. 4, 2003)"
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
Special Registration Has NOT Ended –Many
The reports that Special Registration has “ended” are NOT correct. The
ONLY significant change in Special Registration that the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) announced at the beginning of December, 2003 is that it is
“suspending” the requirement of (1) annual re-registration applicable to all
registrants and (2) 30/40-day follow-up interviews applicable to port-of-entry
registrants. All other requirements and the Special
Registration program itself are NOT changed and remain in effect. Anyone
who does not comply with all the continuing requirements of Special Registration
could be subjected to denial of admission to the U.S., denial of immigration
benefits, possible criminal prosecution, and/or removal proceedings.
What Did DHS’s New Interim Rule for Special Registration
The ONLY major changes in Special Registration requirements are the
- The annual re-registration requirement is suspended for all Special
Registrants, i.e., for both those who registered under the “Call-In” and those
who were registered at a port-of-entry (POE).
- The 30/40-day follow-up interview requirement (applicable only to POE
Registrants) is also suspended.
The new rule applies ONLY to registrants whose re-registration deadline or
30/40-day deadline is on or after December 2, 2003. Anyone who willfully
missed a deadline before that date is still considered to have violated Special
Registration. All other requirements for Special Registrants remain in effect.
Are Special Registrants Still Subject to Other Requirements?
YES. All Special Registrants continue to be subject to the following
- Departure Registration. Every person who was
specially registered at either Call-In or POE continues to be subject to
“departure registration.” This has NOT changed. Special Registrants must
(1) depart only from specially designated ports and (2) comply with special
departure processing, which involves an appearance before a Customs and Border
Protection (CBP) officer. Turning in the I-94 or being processed by
airline personnel does NOT satisfy this requirement. Processes for having
this requirement waived were added by the interim rule, but the standards for
the waivers are quite high.
- Reporting Changes of Address, Employment, or Educational
Institution. Persons who were or are registered and who remain in
the U.S. for 30 days or more must notify DHS of any change of address/residence,
employment, or educational institution within 10 days of the change. The
notification must be in writing on the form, AR-11, designated for reporting
these changes. The form is available at www.uscis.gov. The new rule provides that
F, J or M nonimmigrants entered into the SEVIS system no longer have to comply
with this requirement if the change of address/residence or educational
institution is reported through SEVIS within 10 days of such change. This
exception does NOT apply to changes of employment.
Does the Rule Affect Past or Existing Violations of Special
NO. The new Federal Register announcement specifically states that the
new rule does not excuse past failure to comply with the Call-In deadlines or
the 30-40 day follow-up interview or annual re-registration deadlines. In
addition, the new rule does nothing for the thousands of people who were placed
in removal proceedings when they appeared for Call-In.
Are Nonimmigrants Entering the Country Still Subject to Special
YES. Port-of-Entry (POE) Registration continues. Nonimmigrants
who are citizens or nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan will be
subject to Special Registration upon entry to the United States. Others can be
designated for Special Registration on a case-by-case basis.
What is the Effect of USVISIT on Special Registration?
It is unclear when, if or how the upcoming USVISIT program will affect
Special Registration and whether Special Registration will be subsumed into
USVISIT. People who were registered under Special Registration continue to
be governed by the Special Registration rules and must comply with those
requirements. Further announcements about USVISIT are likely and may clarify the
relationship between Special Registration and USVISIT.
Could Re-Registration Still Be Required for Some Special
YES. The interim rule says that DHS can require selected individuals to
re-register at any time, with notice of only 10 days. The interim
rule provides that notice of the re-registration requirement may be given by any
means, including regular mail, e-mail or publication of a notice in the Federal
Register. It is very important for anyone who has ever been registered
under Special Registration to be vigilant and watch for information about such a
The interim rule also says that DHS can announce another Call-In Registration
at any time.
Can There Be Further Changes in Special Registration?
YES. The interim rule was published on December 2, 2003, at 68 FR
67578. It goes into effect immediately but is subject to a 60-day public
comment period. After that, the DHS could publish a final rule or leave the
current interim rule in place. A final rule could include further
changes. In addition, DHS may issue new rules and regulations at any