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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Noncitizens Must Have Documents Verifying Their Status At All Times
by Cyrus D. Mehta and Parastou Hassouri

Since the events of September 11, 2001, we have heard of reported incidents of many nonimmigrant foreign nationals and even lawful permanent residents of the United States encountering difficulties when boarding domestic flights. They have been questioned and asked to present documentation establishing their status in the country. One client reported that he felt secure only if he carried a copy of the entire visa petition that was filed on his behalf, which has yet to be approved by the INS. There have even been incidents of individuals questioned at their workplace and requested to provide evidence of their legal status in the country. These individuals appear to have been singled out based on what one can only presume to be their "foreign" names or appearance. Individuals are being threatened with deportation for failure to carry immigration-related documentation, as well as a passport, on their person. The inconsistencies in what people are being told make it necessary to lay out the applicable sections of the law that form the basis of such queries.

There is a little-known provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") that states, "every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him . . . Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both." INA 264(e).

Section 264.1 of 8 Code of Federal Regulations, implementing INA 264, delineates what constitutes a registration document for different classes of individuals, including nonimmigrants.

Pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 264.1(a), the following forms are prescribed as registration forms:

Form No. and Class:

  • I - 67, Inspection Record -- Hungarian refugees (Act of July 25, 1958).
  • I - 94, Arrival-Departure Record -- Aliens admitted as nonimmigrants; aliens paroled into the United States under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; aliens whose claimed entry prior to July 1, 1924, cannot be verified, they having satisfactorily established residence in the United States since prior to July 1, 1924; aliens lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence who have not been registered previously; aliens who are granted permission to depart without the institution of deportation proceedings or against whom deportation proceedings are being instituted.
  • I - 95, Crewmen's Landing Permit -- Crewmen arriving by vessel or aircraft.
  • I - 175, Application for Nonresident Alien Canadian Border Crossing Card -- Citizens of Canada or British subjects residing in Canada.
  • I - 181, Memorandum of Creation of Record of Lawful Permanent Residence -- Aliens presumed to be lawfully admitted to the United States under 8 CFR 101.1.
  • I - 190, Application for Nonresident Alien Mexican Border Crossing Card -- Citizens of Mexico residing in Mexico.
  • I - 485, Application for Status as Permanent Resident -- Applicants under sections 245 and 249 of the Immigration and Nationality Act as amended, and section 13 of the Act of September 11, 1957. I - 485A, Application by Cuban Refugee for Permanent Residence -- Applicants under section 1 of the Act of November 2, 1966.
  • I - 590, Registration for Classification as Refugee -- Escapee -- Refugee-escapees paroled pursuant to section 1 of the Act of July 14, 1960.
  • I - 687, Application for Status as a Temporary Resident -- Applicants under section 245A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.
  • I - 691, Notice of Approval for Status as a Temporary Resident -- Aliens adjusted to lawful temporary residence under 8 CFR 245A.2.
  • I - 698, Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident -- Applicants under section 245A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.
  • I - 700, Application for Status as a Temporary Resident -- Applicants under section 210 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended.
  • I - 817, Application for Voluntary Departure under the Family Unity Program.
Pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 264.1(b), the following forms constitute evidence of registration:

Form No. and Class:

  • I - 94, Arrival-Departure Record -- Aliens admitted as nonimmigrants; aliens paroled into the United States under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; aliens whose claimed entry prior to July 1, 1924, cannot be verified, they having satisfactorily established residence in the United States since prior to July 1, 1924; and aliens granted permission to depart without the institution of deportation proceedings.
  • I - 95, Crewmen's Landing Permit -- Crewmen arriving by vessel or aircraft.
  • I - 151, (Removed effective 8/19/96; 61 FR 37673)
  • I - 184, Alien Crewman Landing Permit and Identification Card -- Crewmen arriving by vessel.
  • I - 185, Nonresident Alien Canadian Border Crossing Card -- Citizens of Canada or British subjects residing in Canada.
  • I - 186, Nonresident Alien Mexican Border Crossing Card -- Citizens of Mexico residing in Mexico.
  • I - 221, Order to Show Cause and Notice of Hearing -- Aliens against whom deportation proceedings are being instituted.
  • I - 221S, Order to Show Cause, Notice of Hearing, and Warrant for Arrest of Alien -- Aliens against whom deportation proceedings are being instituted.
  • I - 551, Permanent Resident Card -- Lawful permanent resident of the United States. (Amended effective 1/20/99; 63 FR 70313)
  • I - 688, Temporary Resident Card-Lawful temporary residents of the United States.
  • I - 688A, Employment Authorization Card.
  • I - 688B, Employment Authorization Document. (Added effective 10/4/96; 61 FR 46534)
  • I - 766, Employment Authorization Document. (Added effective 10/4/96; 61 FR 46534)
It is also important to note that INA 237, which outlines classes of "deportable aliens," contains a provision, which states "an alien who has failed to comply with the provisions of section 265 is deportable, unless the alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that such failure was reasonably excusable or was not willful." INA 237(a)(3)(A).

Section 265 of the INA, in turn, states "Each alien required to be registered under this title who is within the United States shall notify the Attorney General in writing of each change of address and new address within ten days from the date of such change and furnish with such notice such additional information as the Attorney General may require by regulation." INA 265(a). Subsection (b) states that the "Attorney General may in his discretion, upon ten days notice, require the natives of any one or more foreign states, or any class or group thereof, who are within the United States and who are required to be registered under this title, to notify the Attorney General of their current addresses and furnish such additional information as the Attorney General may require."

Although INA 237 renders the failure to comply with the above-mentioned provisions a deportable offense, it is silent as to violations of INA 264. Therefore, it is not clear whether the failure to carry evidence of registration is, strictly speaking, a deportable offense.

The provision in the INA that requires that all non-U.S. citizens carry evidence of registration and status has generally not been enforced. However, in wake of the events of September 11, and in light of the current atmosphere in the country, foreign nationals have come under increasing scrutiny. Therefore, we advise all foreign nationals, whether on nonimmigrant visas or lawful permanent residents, to carry documentation at all times, and especially when traveling.


About The Author

Cyrus D. Mehta, a graduate from Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, practices immigration law in New York City. He is a trustee of the American Immigration Law Foundation and recipient of the 1997 Joseph Minsky Young Lawyers Award. He is also Chair of the Immigration & Nationality Committee of the Association of the City Bar of New York. He frequently lectures on various immigration subjects at legal seminars, workshops and universities and may be contacted at 212-686-1581 or cm@cyrusmehta.com

Parastou Hassouri is an associate attorney at the Law Offices of Cyrus D. Mehta. She received her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1999. Prior to joining the firm, she served as a Judicial Law Clerk with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, New York City Immigration Court.



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