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Special Registration for Persons Already Present in the United States

by Clarice F. Liao and Bernard P. Wolfsdorf

Effective November 15, 2002, nonimmigrant aliens who are nationals or citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, or Syria who were inspected and last admitted to the United States on or before September 10, 2002, and who will remain in the United States until at least December 16, 2002 must appear before, register with, and provide requested information to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on or before December 16, 2002. Failure to comply will make these aliens deportable.

Who does it apply to?
This Special Registration applies to all males who

  1. were born on or before November 15, 1986;
  2. are nationals or citizens of one of the five designated countries, notwithstanding any dual nationality or citizenship; and
  3. were inspected by the INS and were last admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant on or before September 10, 2002.

Who does it not apply to?
This Special Registration does not apply to any alien who
  1. holds A or G nonimmigrant classification, or
  2. is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or
  3. has applied for asylum on or before November 6, 2002, or (4) has been granted asylum.

What are the penalties?
A willful failure to comply with this Special Registration constitutes a failure to maintain nonimmigrant status and will render the alien deportable.

In addition, alien who fails to notify the INS of a change of address (by filing Form AR-11) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to exceed $200 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both. Irrespective of whether an alien is convicted and punished, any alien who fails to give written notice of his change of address shall be taken into custody and removed from the United States, unless the alien establishes that such failure was reasonably excusable or was not willful. If it becomes necessary to place the alien in removal proceedings, the INS may use the most recent address provided by the alien for service of the Notice to Appear.

Finally, if an alien fails, without good cause, to report to an inspecting officer of the INS when departing the United States, the alien shall thereafter be presumed to be inadmissible under, but not limited to, section 212(a)(3)(A)(ii) of the Act [security and related grounds].

What is the procedure?
All aliens subject to Special Registration must appear, on or before December 16, 2002, before an immigration officer at a designated INS office and:

  1. answer questions under oath, which shall be recorded;
  2. present: (a) his travel documents, including passport and the Form I-94 issued upon admission, and any other forms of government-issued identification; (b) proof of residence, such as, but not limited to, title to land or a lease or a rental agreement, proof of matriculation at an education institution, and proof of employment; and (c) such other information as is requested by the immigration officer; and
  3. be fingerprinted and photographed.

What are other requirements?
All aliens subject to Special Registration shall appear, within 10 days of each anniversary of the date on which they were registered, before an immigration officer and be re-registered.
These aliens shall also comply with all other provisions of Special Registration that became effective on September 11, 2002.

About The Author

Clarice F. Liao is a member of the California State Bar, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (IS-LACBA). She is the 2002-2003 Vice Chair of the Southern California Chapter of AILA and the 2002-2003 Second Vice Chair of IS-LACBA. She is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Liao is a graduate of Southwestern University School of Law (J.D. 1997) and UCLA (B.A 1989, M.A. 1991). At Southwestern she distinguished herself as an Articles Editor of Southwestern's Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas and as a judicial extern at the Argentine Supreme Court in the office of Justice Enrique Petracchi. Ms. Liao is fluent in Spanish and is conversant in Mandarin Chinese and French. Email address:

Bernard P. Wolfsdorf, a California State Bar-Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law, is one of the nation's most prominent immigration law practitioners. Mr. Wolfsdorf has been the subject of many articles in major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Daily Journal, USA Today and the Orange County Register, which have covered his frequently fascinating work, his victories in difficult cases and his expert opinions on immigration law matters.

Mr.Wolfsdorf currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Liaison Committee to the U.S. Department of State. He has held numerous leadership positions in the American immigration law field over the years, including Chair and Treasurer of AILA's Southern California Chapter, Co-Chair of AILA's State Department Liaison Committee, Co-Chair of the California Service Center Liaison Committee, Chair of AILA's Artist's and Entertainer's Visa Committee, and Vice-Chair of AILA's National Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.

Mr. Wolfsdorf has received the highest possible rating for competence and ethics from his peers. He holds Martindale Hubbell Pre-eminent certification. Email Address:

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.