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EIG Week in Review (July 3, 2014)

July 8, 2014

Highlights

• Holiday Weekend Travel Advisory

• Malaysia Implements Advanced Immigration System

• H-1B Workers Targeted in Phone Scam

• Russia Imposes Language Requirements for Visa Applicants

• India Offers New Visa for Afghan Nationals

Holiday Weekend Travel Advisory

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has issued a travel warning, reminding travelers who plan to travel across the U.S./Canadian border to ensure that they have all proper documentation and plan ahead in anticipation of a busy travel weekend. Border traffic volume is expected to increase significantly through Monday, July 7th in light of the observance of both Canada Day and U.S. Independence Day.

CBP encourages travelers to obtain a valid, acceptable travel document, such as a passport, a U.S. passport card, a trusted traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry or FAST/EXPRES), a permanent resident card, or an enhanced driver’s license. Presenting these documents will help to expedite entry into the United States and make future border crossings more efficient.

In addition, CBP has recommended the following tips to increase travel efficiency:
1. Visit the new CBP informational website.

2. Beat the border rush by crossing during off-peak times, such as before 6:00 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m.

3. Ensure travel documents are readily available.

4. Know the contents of your vehicles and be prepared to declare all items, including firearms.

5. Be aware of which foods are allowed to be imported.
For more information on international traveling into the United States, visit CBP’s Travel site at http://www.cbp.gov/travel.

Malaysia Implements Advanced Immigration System

The Malaysian Immigration Department will soon implement the Iris Recognition Immigration System, which utilizes eye scanners that can link the scan of your eye to the data in your passport. The Malaysian Immigration Department hopes to implement this and other security systems by the end of the year.

Other systems that will be combined and implemented in an effort to establish a more secure border include the Immigration Department’s Mylmms system integration with Interpol’s database of Stolen and Lost Travel Documents, I-Check, upgraded passport scanners, high definition surveillance closed-circuit television and security camera system, and the Advanced Passenger Screening System. Malaysian authorities are hopeful that implementing an iris recognition system, along with the thumbprint system, will increase border security and help to detect fraudulent travel documents.

H-1B Workers Targeted in Phone Scam

A new scam targeting H-1B visa holders and other temporary foreign workers in the U.S. has been occurring, and Indian nationals in particular have been the reported focus of the scam. Victims have been receiving calls from scammers claiming to be U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) agents who demand thousands of dollars for alleged issues with visa applications.

Recipients often believe the call is legitimate because the incoming number appears with either “911” or the “1-800” number associated with the USCIS “contact us” number on their caller ID. Authorities believe the scammers are using a mobile application that allows the scammer to change the number from which they are calling. The scammers also aim to deceive potential victims by presenting personal information about the foreign national, such as their visa expiration date or Alien number.

A spokeswoman for USCIS said that USCIS will never ask for money over the phone and does not make threatening calls. USCIS is aware of the scam and recommends that victims of these calls hang up immediately and never provide personal or payment information.

Russia Imposes Language Requirements for Visa Applicants

Effective January 1, 2015, foreign nationals applying for residence permits or work permits in Russia must prove knowledge of Russian language, history, and laws. This new requirement stems from the new Russian Federal Law 74-FZ, “On Amending Federal Law on Legal Status of Foreign Nationals in the Russian Federation” and applies to temporary and permanent residence permits as well as new and renewed work permits.

Foreign nationals from visa-waiver countries will be required to produce documentation of knowledge at the time of filing their application, while foreign nationals subject to visas will have 30 days from the time of filing their application to do so.

In order to prove such knowledge, foreign nationals may provide a certificate of proficiency, a diploma issued by an educational institution that was in a state that was part of the USSR prior to September 1, 1991, or a certificate of education and/or qualification issued after September 1, 1991 for successful passage of the final state exam in Russia. However, highly qualified professionals and their relatives, as well as full-time foreign students enrolled in accredited Russian institutions, will be exempted from this new regulation.

The new law may create some delays in placing assignees in Russia. Therefore, both employers and assignees should plan for the additional time and cost for obtaining certificates of proficiency from qualified centers. Specific procedures for receiving such certificates are expected to be announced by September 2014.

India Offers New Visa for Afghan Nationals

In an effort to facilitate greater country-to-country exchange in accordance with the Strategic Partnership Agreement between India and Afghanistan, the Indian government recently introduced a liberalized visa for Afghan nationals. Beginning this week, Afghans can obtain a visa to reside in India for up to two years. The new visa policy further streamlines procedures being implemented in the current visa policy for citizens of Afghanistan in India.

Pursuant to this new policy, the Indian government has also exempted the following categories of Afghan visitors from police reporting and registration requirements: businessmen, scholars, seniors over sixty-five years, children under twelve years, university students, medical patients, and eminent persons.