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EIG Week in Review (Oct 31, 2014)

October 31, 2014

 Highlights

  • USCIS Definition of “Mother” and “Parent” Expanded
  • Russians Applying for Schengen Visas Now Required to Submit Biometrics
  • UPDATE: Ireland Employment Permits Section Now Allowing Scanned Signatures
  • Australia Halts all Immigration Proceedings for Visa Holders Originating from Ebola-affected Countries in West Africa

 USCIS Definition of “Mother and “Parent” Expanded 

On Tuesday, October 28, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State announced a new policy, broadening the definition of “mother” and “parent” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  “Mother” and “parent” now include gestational mothers using assisted reproductive technology regardless of whether they are genetic mothers.  Pursuant to this new policy, the term “mother” and “parent” means any person who:

  • Gave birth to the child; and
  • Was the child’s legal mother at the time of birth under the law of the relevant jurisdiction.

What does this mean?

A mother who meets this definition but does not have a genetic relationship with her child and became pregnant through assisted reproductive technology will:

  • Be able to petition for her child based on their relationship
  • Be eligible to have her child petition for her based on their relationship
  • Be able to transmit U.S. citizenship to her child, if she is a U.S. citizen and all other pertinent citizenship requirements are met.

USCIS has updated the Adjudicator’s Field Manual and website to reflect this change in policy and provide instruction.

For further information on this new policy, please see click here.

Russians Applying for Schengen Visas Now Required to Submit Biometrics

Beginning in April 2015, Russian nationals applying for visas to Schengen-member countries will be required to make in-person appointments to provide biometrics information. Embassies and consulates of Schengen-member countries located in the Russian Federation will collect digital facial image and fingerprint scans. The uniform procedure is expected to make visa issuance more efficient.  The collection of biometrics data has also been implemented in other visa information systems in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

UPDATE: Ireland Employment Permits Section Now Allowing Scanned Signatures 

As Ireland continues to implement changes associated with the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act, Ireland’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will now be accepting scanned signatures in its Employment Permits Section.  However, the department states that the Minister can still ask for an original signature in specific cases.  This change went into effect on October 23, 2014 and began immediately.

This change will allow employers to more quickly apply for and submit employment permits on behalf of its employees as they can scan in signatures to the department rather than mailing in original documents.  The move to scanned signatures is one of many changes deriving from Ireland’s reformed scheme to streamline immigration procedures.

Australia Halts all Immigration Proceedings for Visa Holders Originating from Ebola-affected Countries in West Africa

On October 27, 2014, Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will be cancelling all non-immigrant visas held by foreign nationals departing to Australia from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia—three of the countries most severely impacted by the Ebola outbreak.  In addition to the cancellation of these visas, Morrison added that new visa applications will not be processed.  In addition, permanent Australian visa holders departing from these countries will be subject to a mandatory, three-week quarantine prior to their departure to Australia.

This announcement has come under criticism, both in Australia and internationally, from organizations such as Amnesty International, the United Nations, and the Australian Medical Association, who argue that the chance Ebola would enter Australia through a visa holder from West Africa was “very low.”  The Australian government has not yet announced when visa processing for the three West African nations will resume.

EIG wishes everyone a happy Halloween!