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AILA/AILF Comment on Documentation of Nonimmigrants

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 98051859 (posted May. 18, 1998)"

May 18, 1998

Edward Odom
Chief, Legislation & Regulations Division
Visa Services
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520-0106

Re: Proposed Rule on Documentation of Nonimmigrants Under the INA – Filing An Application, 63 Federal Register, 13026 (March 17, 1998) [Public Notice 2763]

Dear Mr. Odom:

These comments are submitted on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association [and The American immigration Law Foundation] in response to the publication of a proposed rule to institute a requirement of nonadjudication of “re-applications” of an alien whose prior nonimmigrant visa application has been refused under the provisions of INA § 214(b).

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a voluntary bar association of approximately 5,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach in the field of immigration and nationality law. AILA’s objectives include the advancement of law pertaining to immigration, nationality and naturalization, promote reasonable policy reforms and facilitate justice in this field.

[The American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF)] is a non-profit entity whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of legal immigration, promote public service and professional excellence in the field of immigration law, and advance fundamental fairness in its administration.

Together, AILA and AILF have a unique perspective on the administration of U.S. immigration law and policy. In particular, we are uniquely qualified to evaluate the impact of this proposed rule on the individuals, families, and businesses who will be affected by its changes.

In general, AILA and AILF believe that a time period during which a consulate will not entertain a visa application from an applicant who has already been denied as an intending immigrant addresses a valid resource issue at consulates.

We are appreciative of the increased workloads at consulates which have not been met with increased resources. We also believe that consistency in processing visa applications is desired by the public. However, we have concerns that an inflexible system of automatic non- acceptance of applications will chill applicants from having legitimate concerns addressed, either in a re-application process or in the reconsideration process.

Accordingly, we present the following concerns:

1. The prohibition on refiling an application is too inflexible. Persons whose nonimmigrant visa applications are denied under INA §214(b) fail to demonstrate their eligibility for many reasons. Most are first-time applicants for tourist or business visitor visas, unsure of the level of proof necessary to demonstrate their nonimmigrant intent. Many are nervous, unsure of the bureaucracy they face in obtaining a visa. They may present merely inadequate proof that may be supplemented. The issue is not merely one of changed circumstances relevant to the intending immigrant condition, as is discussed in the supplementary information, but also can be additional information that supplements (rather than changes) information currently available to the consular officer.

Hence, we suggest that some accommodation be given to these circumstances. In other words, if an applicant can provide additional consistent information relevant to whatever condition for which the applicant has been denied, reconsideration should be granted.

2. The six-month period is too long. Applicants for nonimmigrant visas have established plans for travel to the United States that is disrupted by their inability to obtain the visa. The six-month prohibition on accepting a “re-application” is too lengthy a time period to place these plans on hold, especially where the applicant is successful in the re-application process. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the time period for reconsideration of visas, which is four months. We therefore suggest that the same four-month period be used, both for consistency and for less disruption of the applicant’s plans and itineraries.

Conclusion

AILA and AILF thank the department for this opportunity to voice these concerns. We remain available to elaborate on this issue at the Department’s convenience.

Sincerely,

American Immigration Lawyers Association
Elissa McGovern
Associate Director for Liaison

American Immigration Law Foundation
Roy Petty
Executive Director

 
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