Happy Holidays and Related Travel Issues
Regarding holiday travel issues, many foreign workers have made plans to visit friends and family abroad during the year-end holidays. Workers who plan to obtain a new visa stamp while outside of the U.S. should plan in advance. U.S. consulates abroad observe both U.S. holidays and local holidays and many of their staff also take vacations at this time. These circumstances can extend processing times by a factor of 2-3 weeks or even longer. To accommodate any unforeseen delay, it is recommended that the foreign worker coordinate with his or her work supervisor to have a back-up plan in place so that work in the U.S. can continue without meaningful interruption in the event the foreign worker’s return from abroad is delayed. Information regarding visa application procedures at specific U.S. consulates abroad can be found at: www.usembassy.gov
The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will split its “Transformation” project to update its online systems among multiple vendors. To date, the $792.6 million invested has resulted in only one usable online form. Estimates to complete the project and update all forms to an on-line format range from $1.3 to $3.0 billion, with an implementation timetable that may stretch on for an additional 8-10 years. Additional information can be found at: www.nextgov.com
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will modify its current ITIN procedures to limit ITIN issuance only to support legitimate tax purposes. One key change is that the numbers will expire after 5 years. Also, in lieu of forward passports and related immigration documents to the centralized ITIN processing cite, applicants may be allowed to present the documents to Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAAs) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) centers. This last chance should be helpful in greatly reducing the amount of time that applicants may be without immigration papers for extended periods of time. Additional details can be found at: www.irs.gov
SENTRI applicants who receive application denials can request an interview with a supervisor to review the decision in-person to confirm whether or not the denial was warranted. An appointment can be scheduled by calling: 619-690-7600. It is important to note that persons denied a SENTRI pass due to a prior criminal conviction are ineligible to participate in the SENTRI program and should not request a supervisory interview, as the supervisor would have no authority to override the applicable program rules.