US VISIT, DREAM Act, and Special Immigrant Religious Workers
October 31, 2003

Below is a discussion of the status of some of the more significant immigration-related policies and legislative proposals.


The United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, or US VISIT, is a $350 million plus legislative mandate set to be put in motion at all land and sea ports by year’s end, at the 50 busiest land ports by the end of 2004 and at all ports of entry by the end of 2005. Department of Homeland Security Officials are working to meet these goals as training programs across the U.S. are now underway.

Simply put, as previously discussed in this column, US VISIT is designed to more efficiently and effectively keep track of visitors entering the U.S., by using cutting edge biometric technology in maintaining inkless fingerprints and digital photos of those entering on such visas. The process, according to Department of Homeland Security officials, is expected to add only seconds to the visitor visa holder’s inspection process.

Visitors departing the U.S. will be instructed to “check out” at airport kiosks by scanning their visa or passport and once again, providing an inkless fingerprint and posing for a digital photo. All data taken will be maintained electronically as part of the visa holder’s travel record, a record that will be accessible to immigration officials as well as other law enforcement agencies.


Also previously featured in this column is discussion of the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that would allow certain undocumented high school graduates to obtain U.S. lawful permanent resident status. By a 16 to 3 vote in favor, the proposal has made its way out of the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee, but with certain restrictions relating to an applicant’s eligibility to qualify for certain student aid and grants. Similar legislation is now pending in the House of Representatives, and the prospects for strong support there are also good. Those wanting to voice their support of either the DREAM Act, or Student Adjustment Act (the companion proposal now before the House of Representatives) should contact their U.S. Senator’s or Congressman’s office.

Immigration Options for Religious Workers

In recent weeks, President Bush signed into law a measure that extends for an additional 5 years the validity of U.S. permanent residence options for certain religious workers. Those who will continue to benefit from the law are those who have carried out formal religious functions for a particular denomination in the 2 year period prior to the submission of the immigrant petition. Ministers, clergymen, ministers, religious teachers, liturgical workers, religious counselors and other similar such religious workers are examples of the types of applicants who qualify under this law.

Copyright © 2003-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois