Visa Processing Re-Entry Issues
NONIMMIGRANT VISA PROCESSING & RE-ENTRY PROBLEMS
Individuals who plan to apply for nonimmigrant visas at US consulates or Embassies overseas should be aware of the potential delays caused by visa appointment scheduling, visa processing time and administrative background checks. Thus, it is important to thoroughly review all information on the specific Embassy’s consular section website for local procedures and instructions. Websites of U.S. Embassy and consulates are available at http://www.usembassy.gov
Applicants can estimate how long they will have to wait to get an interview appointment to apply for a visa and how long it will take the particular Embassy or consulate to process a visa by checking for “Visa Wait Times” at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/tempvisitors_wait.php
For those individuals who have pending I-485 applications and have obtained advance parole (AP) documents, they can utilize their AP to re-enter the US. Currently, USCIS takes approximately 90 days to process applications for AP. Thus, applicants should plan ahead and apply for AP sufficiently in advance.
NEW BIOMETRICS PROCEDURE FOR RE-ENTRY PERMIT APPLICATIONS
Reentry permits are travel documents used by US permanent residents who anticipate remaining outside of the US for more than one year. The Nebraska Service Center (NSC), which processes all re-entry permit applications for permanent residents (green-card holders) has advised that all applications for reentry permits will be denied if the biometrics is not completed within 120 days of filing.
Applicants must appear for biometrics by their appointment date or request rescheduling prior to their appointment date. The request for rescheduling must be accompanied by a reasonable excuse for failure to appear for the routinely scheduled biometrics appointment.
Permanent residents planning extended travel should make all efforts to request reentry permits sufficiently in advance of their departure, so that fingerprinting can be scheduled prior to travel. If this is not possible, then the individual needs to plan to return to the United States in time for the appointment.
DHS ISSUES DIRECTIVES ON BORDER SEARCHES OF
On August 27, 2009, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced new directives to enhance and clarify oversight of computer and other electron media searches at US ports of entry. The new directives address the circumstances under which US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can conduct border searches of electronic media consistent with the Department’s authority to search other sensitive non-electronic materials, such as briefcases, backpacks and notebooks, at U.S. borders.
The new directives would allow DHS "to develop automated, comprehensive data collection and analytic tools to facilitate accurate, thorough reporting on electronic media searched at the border, the outcomes of those searches and the nature of the data searched."
Between October 1, 2008, and August 11, 2009, CBP encountered more than 221 million travelers at U.S. ports of entry. Approximately 1,000 laptop searches were performed during that time - of those, just 46 were "in-depth."
The DHS notice is available at http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1251393255852.shtm