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[Federal Register: March 17, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 53)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 14768-14771]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr17mr00-21]                         
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
22 CFR Part 41

[Public Notice 3259]

Visas: Nonimmigrant Classes; Irish Peace Process Cultural and 
Training Program Visitors, Q Classification
AGENCY: Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State.
ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
SUMMARY: This rule establishes procedures and requirements for the 
issuance of visas in a new nonimmigrant visa category, ``Q-2''. The 
rule also makes certain changes to existing provisions of the Code of 
Federal Regulations to conform to relevant ``plain language'' 
requirements. Visas in the new category will be issued pursuant to a 
program, the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program 
(IPPCTP), established by Congress to permit young people from 
designated areas of Ireland and Northern Ireland to temporarily enter 
the United States in order to develop their job skills and conflict 
resolution abilities so they will be better able to contribute to the 
Irish peace process and the economic regeneration of their homelands. 
The rule will result in the issuance of up to 4,000 visas in each of 
three program years to qualified applicants and their dependents, 
beginning in FY 2000.

DATES: This interim rule is effective March 17, 2000. Written comments 
must be received no later than May 16, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted, in duplicate, to H. 
Edward Odom, Chief, Legislation and Regulations Division, Visa Office, 
Room L603-C, SA-1, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-0106.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: H. Edward Odom, Chief, Legislation and 
Regulations Division, Visa Office, Room L603-C, SA-1, Department of 
State, Washington, D.C. 20520-0106, (202) 663-1204; or e-mail: 
odomhe@state.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

What does the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act Do?

    The Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998 
(``IPPCTPA''), Public Law 105-319, amended the Immigration and 
Nationality Act (``INA'') by creating a new nonimmigrant visa sub-
category. Under the Act, section 101(a)(15)(Q) of the INA was amended 
by inserting ``(i)'' after the (Q) and adding the language of the Act 
as subpart (ii) in that section. Under this new provision, aliens 35 
years or younger having a residence in Northern Ireland or in the 
counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo, or Donegal within 
the Republic of Ireland may be issued a visa in order to apply for 
entry into the United States for a period not to exceed 36 months. The 
purpose of this new nonimmigrant sub-category is to provide such aliens 
with practical training, employment, and the experience of coexistence 
and conflict resolution in a diverse society so that they may return to 
Ireland or Northern Ireland to bolster that region's economy and 
support the peace process.
    The program envisioned in the legislation contains numerical and 
time limitations. The Immigration and Naturalization Service may only 
admit 4,000 aliens per year under this program, for a maximum of 36 
months each, and only during fiscal years 2000, 2001 and 2002, as the 
Act provides that it is repealed on October 1, 2005. The numerical 
limitation includes a principal alien's spouse and minor children who 
may be accompanying or following to join the principal alien. As 
required in the IPPCTPA, for every alien admitted under the IPPCTP, the 
numerical limit for the H-2B category, described at INA section 
214(g)(1)(B), shall be reduced by one for that fiscal year.

How Does the New Q Visa Program Differ From the Existing Q Visa 
Program?

    Although part of the Q visa category, the new Q visa sub-category, 
designated Q-2 by the Department of State and INS, has important 
differences from the existing Q visa (which will now be referred to as 
the Q-1 visa). There are several obvious differences. First, only 
aliens aged 35 or younger may participate. Further, in order that the 
IPPCTP not conflict with the labor laws of any state, the Department of 
State and INS have determined the minimum age for participation in the 
program to be 18. Second, participants must have been physically 
resident in the designated areas for at least three months immediately 
preceding application to the program. Finally, the entire program is 
short term in nature in that participants may be initially admitted 
into the United States only through FY 2002.
    In addition, there are other less apparent, but significant 
differences, some of which have been established by the Department of 
State and INS for the purpose of the efficient administration of the 
IPPCTP. First, the IPPCTPA contains no provision for a petition to INS. 
Therefore, none will be required. Second, much of the visa application 
and employment placement process will be coordinated through a program 
administrator selected by the Department of State in consultation with 
the INS. Third, the program administrator will be required to work with 
the Training and Employment Authority of the Republic of Ireland (FAS) 
and the Training and Employment Agency of Northern Ireland (T&EA) to 
identify and train candidates for the program.

Why Are the Participation of a Program Administrator and the Training 
and Employment Agencies Necessary?

    The use of the program administrator is designed to make the 
program cohesive and efficient and to permit it to be carried out with 
a minimum of bureaucratic delay. The program administrator will also 
have the capacity to work directly with U.S. employers to identify 
suitable jobs for the program and to fill those jobs with eligible 
program candidates. In this regard, the program administrator will have 
the responsibility not only to work with FAS and T&EA to identify 
eligible candidates for participation in the program, but will also be 
responsible for identifying employers in the United States who can 
offer employment and training consistent with the goals of the program 
and for placing the candidates with those employers. The program 
administrator will also have the responsibility to monitor and assist 
program participants throughout their stay in the United States. The 
involvement of the training and employment agencies of Ireland and 
Northern Ireland will insure that the program meets the needs of those 
countries and thus, best fulfills Congressional intent.

[[Page 14769]]

Who Will Be the Program Administrator?

    The Department of State, after consultation with INS, has selected 
Logicon, Inc. to be the program administrator through September 30, 
2000. Logicon's Irish Peace Process Training and Cultural Program 
project office may be reached toll free at 1-877-(WALSHVISA) 925-7484. 
Logicon's mailing address is 1831 Wiehle Avenue, Suite 100, Reston, 
Virginia 20190-5241. Logicon has established a web site for this 
program. Its internet address is: www.walshvisa.net. is its internet 
address. Employers wishing to participate in the IPPCTP should contact 
the project office.

Program Requirements and Offerings

Who May Qualify as a Candidate for the IPPCTP?

    Candidates for the IPPCTP will be selected from two categories. The 
first includes those who have been unemployed for at least three 
months, or who have completed or are currently participating in a T&EA- 
or FAS-sponsored training program, or other publicly funded employment/
training program, or who have been made redundant (lost their job 
through a reduction in force) or have received a notice of redundancy. 
The second category includes those persons already employed and whose 
current employer has nominated them to participate in the program for 
additional training/job experience that will benefit both the employer 
and the employee upon that person's return to employment in Northern 
Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. FAS and T&EA will be responsible 
for the initial selection of candidates from the first category. 
Employers of employees in the second category may nominate the employee 
directly to the program administrator.

What Types of Employment and Training Will the IPPCTP Offer?

    The program will focus on employment and training in occupations 
that will be the most beneficial to the economies of the relevant 
areas, as determined by the Department of State in consultation with 
T&EA, FAS, and the program administrator. Initially, the following 
sectors have been identified: hospitality and tourism; customer 
service; information and communications technology; pharmaceuticals; 
engineering; sales, marketing and promotion; agriculture/horticulture 
diversification; food processing, and furniture.

Obtaining a Q-2 or Q-3 Visa

Must All IPPCTP Participants Obtain a Q-2 Visa?

    Every IPPCTP participant must obtain a Q-2 visa and his or her 
spouse and children must obtain Q-3 visas. Program participants will 
not be allowed to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Pilot 
Program in order to participate in the IPPCTP. Except as otherwise 
provided in this rule, the procedures for application for a 
nonimmigrant visa found in Subpart J of Part 41 of 22 CFR are 
applicable to applications for the Q-2 and Q-3 visas.

What Are the Requirements To Obtain a Q-2 Visa?

    Generally, as part of the process to gain the new Q-2 visa, after 
selection by FAS or T&EA or nomination by his or her current employer, 
an alien must be able to show to the consular officer's satisfaction 
that he or she meets the statutory age and residence requirements for 
this category, has no intention of abandoning his or her foreign 
residence, is qualified for the position in question, will be employed 
while in the United States and is not otherwise ineligible for a 
nonimmigrant visa. The alien must provide the information concerning 
selection for the program, position qualifications and employment to 
the consular officer in the form of a certification letter provided and 
approved by the program administrator. While this certification letter 
will be considered prima facie evidence that the alien has met the 
requirements for participation in the IPPCTP, before issuing a visa the 
consular officer still will have the responsibility to evaluate all 
aspects of the alien's application and the information gained at the 
visa interview.

What Will Be the Period of Validity of the Q-2 and Q-3 Visas?

    In most cases, the visas for the principal alien and for the spouse 
and children will be issued for 36 months, the maximum possible period 
of work and training permitted under the IPPCTPA. If, however, the job 
to which the alien has been contracted and the planned period of 
training is of a duration less than 36 months, for example, or if the 
consular officer, at his or her discretion, determines that the visa 
should be issued for a shorter period of time, then the consular 
officer may issue the visa for the period most suitable to that 
particular applicant.

Where May Q-2 and Q-3 Visas Be Obtained?

    Generally, according to 22 CFR 41.101(a), a nonimmigrant visa 
applicant may apply for a visa at either: (1) the consular office with 
jurisdiction over the alien's place of residence (22 CFR 41.101(a)(1)); 
or (2) the consular office with jurisdiction over the area of the 
alien's physical presence (at the consular officer's or the 
Department's discretion) (22 CFR 41.101(a)(1)(ii)). In the case of the 
Q-2 and Q-3 visa, since according to the IPPCTPA principal applicants 
must be resident in either Northern Ireland or one of the six 
designated counties of the Republic of Ireland, an alien residing in 
Northern Ireland or one of the six counties of the Republic of Ireland 
may apply at the American Consulate General at Belfast or the American 
Embassy at Dublin respectively. Consular officers at the Consulate 
General and at the Embassy also will retain the discretion to accept an 
application for a Q-2 visa from an applicant who is physically present 
in their consular district, but who is a resident of the Q-2 geographic 
area over which the other post has jurisdiction. However, consular 
officers at other consular posts will not have the discretion to accept 
applications from an applicant for a Q-2 or Q-3 visa who is a resident 
of a Q-2 geographic area, but who is physically present in their 
respective consular district. Amendatory language has been added to 22 
CFR 41.101 to reflect this.

Interim Rule

How Is the Department of State Amending Its Regulations?

    This rule amends 22 CFR 41.57 by making the existing section 
paragraph (a) and by adding a new paragraph (b). This change is 
necessary to make that section conform to the requirements of the 
IPPCTPA. There are also stylistic changes made to 22 CFR 41.57 that are 
intended solely to make it conform to the President's plain writing 
initiative.
    The new paragraph (b) contains the visa processing aspects of the 
IPPCTPA. It establishes the requirements in order for a consular 
officer to issue a nonimmigrant visa under INA Sec. 101(a)(15)(Q)(ii). 
These changes, published in conjunction with the publication of a 
similar rule by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, establish 
the procedures for an alien to obtain a visa and enter the United 
States in order to participate in the IPPCTP.
    Paragraph (1) of the new subsection (b) states the requirements of 
the Q-2 visa classification, with the main focus being the 
certification letter received

[[Page 14770]]

from the designated program administrator responsible for the operation 
of the IPPCTP.
    Paragraph (2) of new subsection (b) provides for the issuance of a 
letter of certification by the program administrator to the consular 
officer in order to verify the selection of an individual visa 
applicant for the IPPCTP.
    Paragraph (3) of new subsection (b) allows the consular officer to 
suspend processing of the application in those cases where the consular 
officer, at the consular officer's discretion, believes or has reason 
to believe that the applicant is not qualified under paragraph (1) or 
(2).

Administrative Procedure Act

    The Department's implementation of this regulation as an interim 
rule, with a provision for public comments, is based upon the ``good 
cause'' exceptions found at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and (d)(3). The 
Department decided that there was not enough time to issue a proposed 
rule with request for comments as the Irish Peace Process Cultural and 
Training Program is limited by law to a period that has already begun 
(FY 2000 through FY 2005, i.e., October 1, 1999 through September 30, 
2005). Publication of this regulation as an interim rule will expedite 
implementation of Public Law 105-319 that is already in effect and 
allow eligible aliens to apply for and participate in this program as 
soon as possible in light of the statutory expiration of the program on 
October 1, 2005.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of State, in accordance with the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), has reviewed this regulation and, by 
approving it, certifies that this rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Participation in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program 
Act of 1998 is limited to 4,000 individuals annually for three 
consecutive years. The activities of the participants in the United 
States will take place in various locations and in a number of sectors 
of the economy so that no significant economic impact should occur.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not result in the expenditure by State, local and 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more in any year and it will not significantly or uniquely 
affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary 
under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 1996. This rule will not 
result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a 
major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on 
the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign-
based companies in domestic and export markets.

Executive Order 12866

    The Department of State does not consider this rule, to be a 
``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, section 
3(f), Regulatory Planning and Review, and the Office of Management and 
Budget has waived its review process under section 6(a)(3)(A).

Executive Order 13132

    This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 
of Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have 
sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
federalism summary impact statement.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not impose any new reporting or record-keeping 
requirements. The information collection requirement (Form OF-156) 
contained by reference in this rule was previously approved for use by 
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction 
Act.

List of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 41

    Aliens, Applications, Nonimmigrants, Passports and visas.

    Accordingly, amend 22 CFR part 41 as follows:

PART 41--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for Part 41 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1104; Pub. L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681 et 
seq.


    2. Amend Sec. 41.12 in the table as follows:
    a. Revise the section of law ``101(a)(15)(Q)'' for category ``Q-1'' 
to read ``101(a)(15)(Q)(i)'';
    b. Add two new entries in alpha-numeric order to read as follows:


Sec. 41.12  Classification symbols.

* * * * *

                                                  Nonimmigrants
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Symbol                                         Class                               Section of law
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          *         *         *         *         *         *         *
Q-2...........................  Irish Peace Process Program Participant...................     101(a)(15)(Q)(ii)
Q-3...........................  Spouse or child of Q-2....................................     101(a)(15)(Q)(ii)
                          *         *         *         *         *         *         *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    3. Revise Sec. 41.57 to read as follows:


Sec. 41.57  International cultural exchange visitors and visitors under 
the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act (IPPCTPA).

    (a) International cultural exchange visitors. (1) Requirements for 
classification under INA section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i). A consular officer 
may classify an alien under the provisions of INA 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) if:
    (i) The consular officer is satisfied that the alien qualifies 
under the provisions of that section, and
    (ii) The consular officer has received official evidence of the 
approval by INS of a petition or the extension by INS of the period of 
authorized stay in such classification.
    (2) Approval of petition. INS approval of a petition does not 
establish that the alien is eligible to receive a nonimmigrant visa.

[[Page 14771]]

    (3) Validity of visa. The period of validity of a visa issued on 
the basis of this paragraph (a) must not exceed the period indicated in 
the petition, notification, or confirmation required in paragraph 
(a)(2) of this section.
    (4) Alien not entitled to Q classification. The consular officer 
must suspend action on the alien's application and submit a report to 
the approving INS office if the consular officer knows or has reason to 
believe that an alien does not qualify under INA section 
101(a)(15)(Q)(i).
    (b) Trainees under INA section 101(a)(15)(Q)(ii). (1) Requirements 
for classification under INA section 101(a)(15)(Q)(ii). A consular 
officer may classify an alien under the provisions of INA section 
101(a)(15)(Q)(ii) if:
    (i) The consular officer is satisfied that the alien qualifies 
under the provisions of that section;
    (ii) The consular officer has received a certification letter 
prepared by a program administrator charged by the Department of State 
in consultation with the Department of Justice with the operation of 
the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program which states at a 
minimum:
    (A) The name of the alien's employer in the United States;
    (B) That the employment is in an occupation designated by the 
employment and training administration of the alien's place of 
residence as being most beneficial to the local economy;
    (C) That the program administrator has registered the alien in the 
program;
    (D) That the alien has been physically resident in Northern Ireland 
or in the counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo, and 
Donegal in the Republic of Ireland and the length of time immediately 
prior to the application that the alien has claimed such place as his 
or her residence;
    (E) The alien's date and place of birth;
    (iii) If applicable, the consular officer is satisfied the alien is 
the spouse or child of an alien classified under INA section 
101(a)(15)(Q)(ii), and is accompanying or following to join the 
principal alien.
    (2) Requirements for certification letter. Before the program 
administrator (or its agent) may properly issue the certification 
letter required under paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, the program 
administrator (or agent) must establish:
    (i) Either that the alien:
    (A) Has been unable to maintain regular employment for the three 
months prior to the date of application for participation in the 
program; or
    (B) Has completed or is currently participating in a T&EA or FAS or 
other publicly funded training/employment program; or
    (C) Has received a redundancy notice (notice of loss of employment 
by reduction in force); or
    (D) If the alien is regularly employed, the alien's employer has 
nominated the alien to leave such employer temporarily in order to 
participate in the program;
    (ii) That the position selected for the alien by the program 
administrator reasonably fits within the alien's background and 
experience; and
    (iii) That the alien understands both the requirements for 
maintenance of lawful nonimmigrant status in the United States and that 
to qualify for visa issuance the alien must have a residence abroad 
that the alien has no intention of abandoning.
    (3) Aliens not entitled to such classification. The consular 
officer must suspend action on the alien's application and notify the 
alien and the designated program administrator described in paragraph 
(b)(1)(ii) of this section if the consular officer knows or has reason 
to believe that an alien does not qualify under INA section 
101(a)(15)(Q)(ii).
    4. Amend Sec. 41.101 by adding new paragraph (f) to read as 
follows:


Sec. 41.101  Place of application.

* * * * *
    (f) Q-2 nonimmigrant visas. The American Consulate General at 
Belfast is designated to accept applications for the Q-2 visa from 
residents of the geographic area of Northern Ireland. The American 
Embassy at Dublin is designated to accept applications for Q-2 visas 
from residents of the geographic area of the counties of Louth, 
Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo, and Donegal in the Republic of 
Ireland. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, an 
applicant for a Q-2 visa may not apply at any other consular post. 
Consular officers at the Consulate General at Belfast and at the 
Embassy at Dublin have discretion to accept applications for Q-2 visas 
from aliens who are resident in a qualifying geographic area outside of 
their respective consular districts, but who are physically present in 
their consular district.

    Dated: March 2, 2000.
Mary A. Ryan,
Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
[FR Doc. 00-6833 Filed 3-16-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-06-P



							  
							  


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