Special Registration is a requirement imposed by the Attorney General of the United States. Only non-immigrant MALES above 16 years of age from certain countries must register with the INS by specified dates. The technical name for the special registration program is “NSEERS” for “National Security Entry Exit Registration System.”
WHO MUST REGISTER?
- Males born on or before November 15, 1986, who are nationals or citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, or Syria, who will remain in the USA after December 16, 2002 must register by December 16, 2002 (but this registration has been reopened – please see below);
- Males born on or before December 2, 1986, who are nationals or citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen, who will remain in the USA after January 10, 2003 must register by January 10, 2003 (but this registration has been reopened – please see below); and
- Males born on or before January 13, 1987, who are nationals or citizens of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, who will remain in the USA until at least February 21, 2003. (Armenia was on the list but later removed due to intense protests from the Armenian government and Armenians in the USA).
- Males born on or before February 24, 1987, who are nationals or citizens of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, or Kuwait, who will remain in the USA after March 28, 2003 must register between February 24, 2003 and March 28, 2003.
The Cleveland District Office of the INS has compiled a helpful chart of the Special Registration Requirements upto Group IV, above. This file is an Adobe PDF file and can be read if you have the free, downloadable Adobe Reader software. To review the Cleveland INS chart, click here.
On January 16, 2003, the INS also extended the registration deadline for citizens of the countries in Groups 1 and 2 above. Citizens of these countries who failed to register due to lack of adequate notice can now register between the dates January 27, 2003 and February 7, 2003. By giving the affected nationals what amounts to a “second chance” to register, the INS is attempting to deflect constitutional and due process challenges due to the improper notification of special registration. It is possible that the INS will be on much stronger legal ground now that the registration process has been reopened to the affected groups who were previously foreclosed from registering.
The INS will continue to add countries to this list. This list is NOT intended to be exhaustive. To check if your country is on the list, you must contact the INS or an immigration attorney for updated information. There are different deadlines by which individuals belonging to one of the above countries must register. These deadlines are NOT extended by the INS. Therefore an affected non-immigrant male from one of the countries listed for Special Registration must contact the INS and be interviewed by the appropriate deadline.
Note: DUAL CITIZENS holding any one of the above nationalities must still register.
* Please visit the INS website where there is a page devoted to Special Registration matters. There you should be able to find appropriate updates and information. That page can be accessed by clicking here.
WHAT MUST THESE INDIVIDUALS DO?
1. APPEAR FOR IN-PERSON INTERVIEW AT INS OFFICE
They must report to the specified office of the INS nearest to their place of residence to be interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted. The INS has given local offices the discretion to devise their own questionnaires, and each office’s questionnaire may therefore be different. Under the rules, individuals who intend to remain in the USA for more than one year must register each year within 10 days of the anniversary of the first time that they registered. The INS has been using a software program developed for the Border Patrol to enter information about the call-in registrants. Photos and fingerprints are taken electronically and saved to a nationally accessible database. Registrants are given a “FIN” Number, or a Fingerprint ID Number, and this unique number is assigned by the INS NSEERS system. Upon the input of this number by the INS, that registrant’s photo and other information will appear on the INS users’ computer screen.
Generally, the INS can ask any pertinent question to verify the individuals’ identity and bonafides, their contact information in the USA, what that person is doing in the USA, plans for departure, ability to support oneself, employment in the USA, valid ongoing student status, plans for touring the USA, etc. As of the time of this writing, two sample immigration questionnaires were available, the INS questionnaires used at Chicago-O’Hare Airport (for arriving non-immigrants) and the Cleveland, Ohio District Office. These two attachments can be downloaded and read using Adobe Acrobat software.
Chicago – Special Registration Worksheet
Cleveland – Special Registration Worksheet
CAUTION: The INS has been placing individuals who are out of status into proceedings when they appear for Registration. If you are out-of -status, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel prior to appearing at the INS for Special Registration.
2. FILE A CHANGE OF ADDRESS WITH THE INS
This filing is required any time an alien moves his temporary residence from one location to another within the USA. The INS must be notified of the change of address within 10 (ten) days of such change. Any individual from the above countries who DOES NOT file a change of address form AR-11 SR with the INS at their London, Kentucky address may be subject to removal from the USA.
3. LEAVE THE USA THROUGH A DESIGNATED PORT OF DEPARTURE
A non-immigrant subject to NSEERS must also leave the USA through a specified port of departure so that such non-immigrant can be properly identified and checked off in the NSEERS system as having departed the USA.
WHO IS EXEMPT:
- a. Ambassadors/consuls or employees of their respective governments in the USA
- b. Individuals who are already US Permanent Residents (“Green Cards”)
- c. Applicants for asylum or individuals already granted asylum
WHAT IF YOU MISS A SPECIAL REGISTRATION DEADLINE?
If you miss a special registration deadline, the INS is likely to be very strict with you. The INS has already issued a memo that states that no extension is going to be provided to any registrant for failure to meet a registration deadline. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the INS can, in limited situations, determine to excuse you for your failure to register in a timely fashion. I would venture to suggest that individuals who are in status and have always been in status will probably not face severe consequences. However, I will also guess that they will be subject to severe consequences, including detention, an expanded ‘interview’ and thorough examination of their explanation for having missed the deadline. More on this will become clearer as time progresses and the INS’ handling of such cases becomes known.
Caution: This is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. Every person’s case is different. If you want information and advice specific to your situation, please contact me. Copyright Farhad Sethna, 2002