Visitor Visa

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in June 2002 published proposed rules limiting visitor entry into the United States. There have been over 10,000 comments to the proposed rule, which has been interpreted with a lot of skepticism and misconceptions.

For many years immigration regulations have included entry for business (B-1) and pleasure seeking (B-2) visitors. INS inspectors limit the length of stay and provide conditions of the visit at the port of entry. Typically, visitors entering for pleasure receive authorization to remain in the U.S. for six months, while business visitors are admitted for a time reasonable to complete their intended purpose.

The newly proposed regulations would modify longstanding INS regulations in the following areas:

? Adjust the one-year maximum stay provision to six months for all visitors;
? Change minimum periods of admission from six-months to an amount of time required to accomplish the purpose of the visit;
? If the purpose of the trip cannot be established then 30 extension days will be issued;
? More rigorous requirements for extending visitor status including minimizing the duration of extensions; and
? Require visitors to disclose their intent to change to student status at the port-of-entry.

INS commissioner, James Ziglar commented at the latest National conference in June 2002 about common misperceptions of the proposed changes. He denied allegations that the INS intends to limit visits to the U.S. to 30 days. He stated “Instances where there is ambiguity over the exact nature of the visit, INS proposes a default admission period of 30 days. The proposed 30-day period is neither a minimum nor a maximum and is clearly not a new standard admission period. The inspecting INS officer will be authorized to admit visitors for a shorter or longer period (up to 6 months) depending on the circumstances.”

The commissioner went on to assure that “individuals planning extended holidays or seeking medical attention… should not alter their travel plans on the assumption the INS will restrict their visit to only 30 days. Rather, they should be educated about the need to state their travel plans to the immigration officer in order to ensure a period of admission that is consistent with their plans.” Incoming visitors should thoroughly prepare themselves to answer questions and provide documentation about their visit.

The INS claims the proposed regulations will not necessarily restrict entry to 30 days. But the full impact of the rules will not be felt until it becomes law and is completely implemented. The commissioner assured that all public comments submitted will be analyzed, taking into account possible impact on tourism and commerce.

The INS should realize that terrorists and individuals who plan to stay illegally in this country only need a single day of admission to forward their objective, not 30 days or six months. The purpose of terrorists is to devastate our system and restrict our freedoms. To a lesser degree, the implementation of the proposed visitor visa rules will in some ways accomplish their objectives and hurt the U.S. economy.