Immigration FY 2009 changes

By: Robert Brown, Partner, Robert Brown LLC

The US government has its own calendar. The US government uses a Fiscal Year (FY) calendar with the New Year starting on October 1 and ending on September 30 each year. To mark the New Year the Department of Homeland Security and the related agencies always seem to start the New Year with significant developments or changes. This year is no different. So to get fiscal year 2009 off to a fast start DHA has three announcements.

First on the DHS New Year list is the announcement of the Diversity Visa (DV-2010) Lottery online entry. For those unfamiliar with the DV program the Congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

DV-2010 begins at Noon EDT on October 2, 2008, and ends at Noon EST on December 1, 2008. Information and instructions for the DV-2009 lottery will appear on the US Department of State website http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/immigrants_1340.html, as soon as available. Please check this web page at a later time for Diversity Visa information updates. Also the results for DV-2008 Lottery can be viewed at this website.

DV-2009 lottery winners were notified by mail between May and July 2008 and will be provided further instructions, including information on fees connected with immigration to the U.S. Those selected in the random drawing are NOT notified by email. Those individuals NOT selected will NOT receive any notification.

For DV-2010, Russia has been added back to the list of eligible countries. Kosovo was also added to the list of eligible countries. No countries have been removed from the list of eligible countries for DV-2010 program.

Second starting with the New Year the USCIS will begin administering a redesigned (new) naturalization test on October 1, 2008. The following guidelines will determine whether you will take the current test or the redesigned (new) test. If you:

  • File the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, BEFORE October 1, 2008, and are scheduled for your naturalization interview BEFORE October 1, 2008, you will take the current test.
  • File the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, BEFORE October 1, 2008, and are scheduled for your naturalization interview ON or AFTER October 1, 2008 up until October 1, 2009, you can choose to take the current test or the redesigned (new) test.
  • File the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, ON or AFTER October 1, 2008, you will take the redesigned (new) test.
  • Are scheduled for your naturalization interview ON or AFTER October 1, 2009, regardless of when you filed the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, you will take the redesigned (new) test.

The Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, is properly filed with USCIS on the date it is received by the appropriate USCIS Office with signature, correct fee, and the form is completed according to instructions. NOTE: If you fail the English and/or civics test during the first exam, you will be required to take the same version of the test, current or redesigned (new), when you are retested, even if the retest is scheduled on or after October 1, 2009. For additional information about the current and redesigned (new) test, please see http://www.uscis.gov.

Third for those priority visa applicants October 1 of US Government FY New Year also marks the first month of release the new yearly allocation of immigrant visa from the annual numerical. The progression of visa availability may be viewed monthly through the Visa Bulletin at http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html. The visa bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during each month. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status. Allocations were made, to the extent possible under the numerical limitations, for the demand received on or about the 9th of the preceding month in the chronological order of the reported priority dates. If the demand could not be satisfied within the statutory or regulatory limits, the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who could not be reached within the numerical limits. Only applicants who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may be allotted a number. Immediately that it becomes necessary during the monthly allocation process to retrogress a cut-off date, supplemental requests for numbers will be honored only if the priority date falls within the new cut-off date.

Happy New Year!

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