Changes at INS

Q Is the INS going to be abolished? What will happen to my application? A On Mar. 1, 2003, the INS will be split into two agencies: (1) the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration, and (2) the Bureau of Transportation and Border Enforcement. Both of these agencies will be located within the new Department of Homeland Security. At this point, it is unknown how this will affect new and pending applications for immigration benefits. For more information regarding these two bureaus, see Q I have heard that the INS has reduced its fees for applications for immigration benefits and naturalization. Is this true, and if so, what are the new fees? A This is true. On Jan. 24, the new INS fees went into effect. All fees were decreased by approximately 25 percent. For example, the cost of applying for adjustment of status to permanent resident is now $186, down from $255. The fee for naturalization has been reduced to $188. The old, higher fees still appear on the instructions to the forms. If you pay the higher fee, the INS will mail a refund check to you. For a list of the new, lower fees, see Q I am a registered nurse who wishes to become a permanent resident. I understand that it takes over four months just to schedule the required test of spoken English. Are there any alternatives to this long wait? A The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) has announced that, absent any objections from the INS, HHS or the state department, on Feb. 24, they will accept English language test results from two newly-recognized organizations, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English in International Communication (TOEIC). Q I am a physician who is finishing my residency in J-1 status. I would like to work in California. What are my chances? A Very good. If you are a primary care physician (i.e., general medicine, family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, or OB/GYN), both the State of California and the Federal Department of Health and Human Services are sponsoring physicians for J waivers in medically underserved areas all across the state. Most other states also sponsor physicians with sub-specialty training for J waivers. For more information, see Q I am about to marry a U.S. citizen. I have overstayed my visa. Will this hurt my chances to become a permanent resident? A Not at all. In fact, as soon as you marry, you may immediately apply for adjustment of status. You can obtain a work permit within a few weeks, and a green card without having to leave the U.S. Carl Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney and a specialist in immigration and naturalization law. You can reach him at (213)

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