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

An Immigration Roundup

by Jose Latour

Following are select highlights of immigration events in June, July, and August 2004.

1. New EAD Cards: What is the Difference? (June 16, 2004)
On June 1, 2004 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Press Release regarding the new Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), Form I-766.

The purpose of the EAD, one of the most widely used immigration documents, is to provide "proof to employers that an individual is authorized to work in the United States." The new card is designed with added security features to prevent fraud and counterfeiting, including a magnetic strip, a two-dimensional barcode, and several other features to determine the card's authenticity.

An EAD is typically valid for up to one year, although in some cases a longer period of time is authorized. The Press Release states that there are currently "about 24,000" EAD cards produced each week!

Will your existing "old" EAD card still be considered valid? Unless/until further notice from the USCIS, it would appear that your EAD card issued prior to the implementation of the security features will be considered valid until its expiration date.

2. SSI Benefits and Immigration (July 14, 2004)
On July 7, 2004, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Fact Sheet: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits for Non-Citizens. SSI is a monthly benefit, paid through the Social Security Administration (SSA), to individuals who are blind, disabled or elderly AND who qualify as low-income. Typically, only U.S. citizens are eligible to receive SSI. There are certain special conditions which may allow non-citizens to qualify to receive SSI benefits:

An adult who is elderly, blind or has a disability who entered the U.S. as a refugee or was granted asylum may be able to receive SSI for up to 7 years - beginning on the date he/she entered the U.S. or was granted asylum.

The individual may continue to receive SSI benefits AFTER the seven year period (without a time limit) if:

  • He/she becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen; OR
  • Meets one of the other SSI rules for aliens under the Welfare Reform law:
  • Had been receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996;
  • Was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996 and are now disabled or blind at any age;
  • Now a U.S. Permanent Resident who has 40 qualifying quarters of work. (Certain restrictions may apply).

To learn more about Social Security and SSI benefits, see the SSA website at:

3. State Department's Consular Affairs Website Upgraded (July 26, 2004)
The Department of State (DOS) has recently upgraded the website for the Bureau of Consular Affairs (, including improved information and services as well as more ease of use and navigation throughout the site.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is also introducing the Internet-Based Registration System (IBRS). This service for U.S. citizens may be used to register themselves and fellow travelers, itineraries, and emergency contact information through the Internet, as well as country-specific listservs to receive e-mail updates with information, announcements, and travel warnings. U.S. citizens may register under short-term registration for temporary visits outside the U.S. Long-term registration is available for U.S. citizens who reside in or make extended trips to a foreign country. This information is only used by the DOS to assist Americans abroad with routine information and emergency services. More information regarding the IBRS can be found at:

4. Official Photo Standards Change August 2, 2004 (August 5, 2004)

On Monday, August 2nd, 2004, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Press Release announcing the change in photograph standards to take effect immediately (August 2, 2004). The previous standard (three-quarter face position) will also be accepted by USCIS until September 1, 2004. After September 1, 2004, only photographs with the new full color frontal face position will be accepted.

The following are the USCIS applications and petitions which require photos:

I-90 - Renew or replace Permanent Resident Card (green card): 2 photos
I-129F - Fiancé(e) petition: 1 photo of petitioner, 1 photo of fiancé(e)
I-130 - Relative Petition for husband or wife: 1 photo of petitioner, 1 photo of spouse
I-131 - Re-entry permit, refugee travel document, advance parole: 2 photos
I-485 - Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident while in the U.S.: 2 photos
I-589 - Asylum: 1 photo of petitioner and 1 photo of each family member listed in Part A. II included in application
I-698 - Temporary Resident Application under 1987 Legalization Program: 3 photos (1 mailed, 2 to interview)
I-730 - Relative petition filed by a person granted Asylum or Refugee status: 1 photo of family member for whom the petition is being filed
I-765 - Employment Authorization: 2 photos
I-777 - Replace Northern Mariana Card: 2 photos
I-817 - Application for Family Unity Benefits: 4 photos
I-821 - Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program: 2 photos
I-881 - NACARA suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation: 4 photos
I-914 - 'T' nonimmigrant status: 3 photos of applicant and 3 photos of each immediate family for which an I-914A supplement is filed
N-300 - Declaration of Intent to apply for U.S. citizenship: 2 photos
N-400 - Naturalization (to become a U.S. citizen): 2 photos
N-565 - Replace Naturalization/Citizenship Certificate: 2 photos
N-600K - Application for U.S. citizenship for foreign-born child residing abroad with U.S. citizen parent: 3 photos

Additional Important Photo Information

  • Materials already submitted with photos meeting the previous standard will not be affected by the change.
  • All photos must be of just the applicant.
  • When more than one photo is required, all photos of the person must be identical.
  • All photos must meet the specifications for full frontal/passport photos and must be no more than 30 days old when the application is file.

USCIS has also published a flyer regarding the new photograph specifications.

Additional information regarding photo standards can be found on the Department of State website at:

About The Author

Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice representing corporations nationwide in visa management, compliance, and HR training. The above represents Mr. Latour's Editorial opinion. The A/V rated firm and its web site,, were named a winner of the 2002 Inc. Magazine Web Award, receiving recognition along with 14 other companies as the best Web companies in America. In 1999, the firm was named "One of America’s Top Ten Internet/Virtual Companies" in the Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems "Growing with Technology Awards." The site is one of the most visited and widely read resource on the Internet on U.S. immigration law, attracting subscribers from all over the world, the media and from within the U.S. government. Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.

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