January 7, 2003
INS Reminds Certain Temporary Foreign Visitors
Of Thirteen Countries of Registration Requirement
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) reminds certain temporary foreign visitors of thirteen countries of a requirement to register with INS. This registration is part of the second phase of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), being implemented by the INS to fulfill a Congressional mandate to implement a comprehensive entry-exit program by 2005.
The NSEERS program helps ensure our nation's security by protecting the rights of individuals coming to this country as well as the safety of the American people. While America is an open and generous society that welcomes visitors from foreign countries, it is essential that the government know who is entering and exiting our borders. NSEERS promotes several important national security objectives by helping the U.S. to identify wanted criminals and known terrorists entering our borders, enable the INS to determine instantly when temporary foreign visitors have overstayed their visa, and verify that temporary foreign visitors are doing what they said they would be doing and living where they said they would live.
Under this program, temporary foreign visitors (non-immigrant aliens) coming from certain countries or who meet a combination of intelligence-based criteria are identified as presenting elevated national security concerns. As a result, they are required to be registered under NSEERS, providing detailed information about their background and the purpose of their visit to the United States. Such individuals are also required to verify periodically their location and activities, as well as to confirm their departure from the United States.
The process at the ports of entry has operated effectively with participation of temporary foreign visitors from 135 countries. INS officers have made every effort to minimize any delay or inconvenience to those individuals required to register under this program.
Temporary foreign visitors who are citizens or nationals of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen who were present in the United States as non-immigrants before October 1, 2002, and who plan to stay in the United States until at least January 10, 2003, must register with their local INS office by January 10, 2003.
The group of affected non-immigrants is estimated to be about 7,200 foreign visitors. Most are students, individuals in the U.S. on extended business travel, or individuals visiting family members for lengthy periods. The requirement to register with INS does NOT apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, asylum applicants, asylum grantees, and diplomats or others admitted under "A" or "G" visas.
Willful failure to register constitutes a criminal violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This is one of several notices to protect the national security of the United States by enrolling additional temporary foreign visitors in NSEERS.
For a list of local offices or sub-offices in respective states, please visit the INS website at www.ins.gov/graphics/fieldoffices/alphaa.htm. Individuals may also call the INS Service Center at 800-375-5283.
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