[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 126 (Friday, July 1, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-16037]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: July 1, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

Immigration and Naturalization Service

8 CFR Parts 103, 245, 245a, 264, and 274a

[INS No. 1660-94]
RIN 1115-AD73

 

Expansion of the Direct Mail Program

AGENCY: Immigration and Naturalization Service, Justice.

ACTION: Interim rule with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Immigration and Naturalization Service (Service) is 
expanding its Direct Mail Program, under which certain applications or 
petitions for immigration benefits can be mailed directly to a service 
center for processing. This interim rule amends the regulations to 
allow those types of applications designated for Direct Mail to be 
filed with service center directors. This change will reduce processing 
time and in-person visits to local Service offices.

DATES: This interim rule is effective July 1, 1994. Written comments 
must be submitted on or before August 30, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Please submit written comments, in triplicate, to the 
Records Systems Division, Director, Policy Directives and Instructions 
Branch, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 
5307, Washington, DC 20536. To ensure proper handling, please reference 
INS No. 1660-94 on your correspondence.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Pearl Chang, Senior Examiner, Adjudications Division, Immigration and 
Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 3214, Washington, DC 
20536, telephone (202) 514-3240.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Immigration and Naturalization Service 
is amending Sec. 103.2 governing the filing of applications/petitions 
for benefits under 8 CFR parts 103, 245, 245a, 264, and 274a, by 
providing service center directors the authority to accept and process 
applications/petitions being designated for Direct Mail. The existing 
regulations provide that applications for certain benefits be filed 
with the district director having jurisdiction over the applicant's 
place of residence. This amendment will give the Service the 
flexibility to shift filings to the service centers as it continues to 
expand the Direct Mail Program.
    Most applications/petitions are filed by mail directly to a service 
center. The service centers receipt the cases, handle preliminary 
processing, and either issue a decision or forward the case to a local 
Service office for an interview, field review or investigation based on 
an analysis of individual facts and profiles. The Service's strategic 
plan is to have the service centers absorb additional workload by 
eventually adding more types of petitions/applications that can be 
accepted by service centers under the Direct Mail Program.

Background

    Traditionally, most Service customer had to make several trips to a 
Service office to obtain forms, information, and to actually file 
applications. To improve service to its customers, in 1985 the Service 
developed a three-phase strategic plan called the Direct Mail Program. 
The objective was to facilitate and improve service by gradually 
automating and streamlining the adjudication process.

Direct Mail Program--Phases I and II

    In the first two phases of the Direct Mail Program, the public 
began mailing a variety of applications/petitions directly to one of 
the four service centers instead of submitting these applications in 
person at the Service field offices. Currently, almost 60 percent of 
all applications and petitions filed with the Service are processed at 
one of these four service centers thereby alleviating the severe 
overcrowding that occurs in Service offices if the workload had to be 
processed locally. It has also improved consistency, productivity, and 
timeliness of application processing, and has provided more information 
about case status through receipt and other notices. As a result, the 
Direct Mail Program enjoys broad public support.
    An important reason the service centers have been able to absorb 
the additional workload can be attributed to the development and use of 
automated technology such as the Computer Linked Application 
Information Management System (CLAIMS). This system is used to track 
applications and petitions and to process and issue notices and 
decisions on all filed cases. Encouraged by these positive results, the 
Service is embarking on the third and final phase of the Direct Mail 
Program.

Direct Mail Program--Phase III

    Phase III of the Direct Mail Program is intended to further 
alleviate adjudication burdens of local Service offices, thereby 
enabling the Service offices to provide more intensive contact services 
with the public, such as responding to inquiries, conducting 
interviews, and performing field examinations.

Planned Procedure Changes

    During the next several years, the Service plans the expansion of 
the Direct Mail Program through two complementary strategies as 
follows:

1. Continued Form-by-Form Nationwide Conversion

    In terms of plans for future nationwide implementation, the Service 
plans the following conversions.
a. Application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)--Form I-
765
    Currently about one-half of all EAD applications are filed and 
processed through Direct Mail. This conversion has improved inventory 
control, data integrity, and overall service. It has also meant the 
employment authorization data is available sooner for verification 
purposes.
    During the next 12 months, the Service plans to shift almost all 
remaining EAD applications to Direct Mail as a new production system 
becomes available in the service centers and the capacity is developed 
to assimilate the workload into the service centers. On an interim 
basis, two types of applications will continue to be filed locally so 
they can be pre-screened before being sent to the service center for 
processing. These are:
    i. Applications with eligibility based on an alien being in 
proceedings before an immigration judge; and
    ii. Applications with eligibility based on a separate application 
for adjustment of status under section 245 of the Act that was filed 
and is pending at the local office.
    It should be noted that the proposed changes in filing procedures 
for EADs will require applicants to initially submit their applications 
with two (2) color photos and, until a new application form containing 
a fingerprint block and revised filing instructions is available, a 
completed signature card to a local INS office. Applicants may also be 
asked to appear at a local office to pick up their first EADs as a 
means of verifying their identity. After this one-time visit to the 
local INS office, the Service will be able to electronically verify the 
applicant's identity when future applications are filed.
    After reviewing the comments to this rulemaking, the Service 
proposes to revise the filing instructions on Form I-765 to reflect the 
procedures outlined above and then publish the new instructions in the 
Federal Register.
b. Application for Alien Registration Card--Forms I-90, I-90A, and 
Application To Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident I-698
    The Service also plans to convert all applications for an alien 
registration card to a single Direct Mail process. Manufacturing of a 
card requires that persons first have had their right index fingerprint 
and signature recorded on a secure document so they can be incorporated 
into the card. Currently some of these types of applications are filed 
by Direct Mail and the person then is instructed to appear for this 
process to be done. In other instances, the person must take his or her 
application to a local office for this process. The local office then 
forwards the application to the service center for receipting and 
processing.
    The Service plans to convert Forms I-90, I-90A, and I-698 to Direct 
Mail, first by requiring that these applications be accompanied by a 
completed fingerprint card, FD-258, and then by revising the 
application forms to capture the right index fingerprint. This will 
standardize the collection of fingerprints and signatures and enable 
the Service to electronically capture and store this data for future 
verification. Although controls will have to be introduced to ensure 
the appropriate fingerprint and photo are submitted, ultimately an 
applicant will not normally have to appear at the local INS office for 
these processes.
    After reviewing the comments to these planned changes, the Service 
will revise the filing instructions on Form I-90 to reflect the 
procedures outlined above and then publish the new instructions in the 
Federal Register.
c. Application To Adjust Status--Form I-485
    The Service also plans to convert adjustment of status applications 
to Direct Mail over the next several years. This conversion will be 
done incrementally by type of eligibility for adjustment--for example, 
shifting all applications for adjustment of status based on having 
asylee status for a year.
    The Service is also considering shifting the processing of 
completing the transition of refugees to permanent resident status to 
Direct Mail. However, this would require the introduction of a formal 
application process.

2. Office-by-Office Implementation of Direct Mail

    Effective July 1, 1994, the Baltimore District Office will serve as 
the pilot site for the installation of CLAIMS and conversion to Direct 
Mail. (See the Notice published elsewhere in this issue of Federal 
Register by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.) Beginning in 
Baltimore, CLAIMS will be installed in local INS offices on an 
incremental basis. The installation of CLAIMS at any district office 
will permit a shift of most casework to Direct Mail for that district. 
This office-by-office conversion will take place in tandem with the 
nationwide form-by-form conversion until the Direct Mail Program is 
complete.
    It should be noted that the Service plans to continue to accept and 
process certain applications locally even after Phase III is 
implemented. Petitions for orphans will still be filed and processed 
locally, as will applications for waivers of grounds of excludability 
discovered during an interview. Applications for border crossing cards 
and waivers when applying for admission will continue to be filed and 
processed at Ports-of-Entry.
Where to File
    1. 8 CFR 103.2(a) requires that an application, petition, and/or 
other document submitted to the Service be executed and filed in 
accordance with the instructions on the application form, as stipulated 
by the particular section of the regulations requiring its submission. 
These instructions always provide information on where an application 
or petition should be filed, including the mailing address. In a direct 
mail environment, an applicant should file his or her application or 
petition with either the district director or the service center 
director having jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence, 
as directed by the instructions on the form, to avoid processing 
delays.
    2. Prior to the Direct Mail Program, Service regulations typically 
required that applications or petitions be filed with the district 
director having jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence. 
Since the inception of Direct Mail, the Service has been gradually 
amending its regulations by replacing the ``district director'' with 
``director'' to apply to both district directors and service center 
directors. Most of these amendments were made when the Service made 
rules to implement the Immigration Act of 1990. However, certain 
sections in 8 CFR parts 245, 245a, 264, and 274a still require that the 
form be filed with the ``district director'' having jurisdiction over 
the alien's place of residence. This interim rule amends the pertinent 
sections by removing the remaining references to ``district director'' 
and replacing them with ``director'' to conform with the Direct Mail 
policy.
    The Service's implementation of this rule as an interim rule, with 
provision for post-promulgation public comment, is based on the ``good 
cause'' exception found at 5 U.S.C. 553 (a)(2) and (d)(3). This 
regulation relates to agency management as it expands the scope of the 
service center directors to accept and process certain types of 
applications/petitions under the Direct Mail Program. This change will 
provide flexibility to transfer filings to service centers as the 
Direct Mail Program is expanded, thereby alleviating the severe 
overcrowding that occurs in Service offices if the workload had to be 
processed locally. It will also improve consistency, productivity, and 
timeliness of application processing, and will provide more information 
about case status through receipt and other notices.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in 
accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), has 
reviewed this regulation and by approving it certifies that this rule 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. This rule is merely administrative in nature and 
expands the scope of Service officers.

Executive Order 12866

    This rule is not considered by the Department of Justice, 
Immigration and Naturalization Service, to be a ``significant 
regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, Sec. 3(f), Regulatory 
Planning and Review, and the Office of Management and Budget has waived 
its review process under section 6(a)(3)(A).

Executive Order 12612

    The regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the National Government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with Executive 
Order 12612, it is determined that this rule does not have sufficient 
federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism 
Assessment.

Executive Order 12606

    The Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service 
certifies that she has addressed this rule in light of the criteria in 
Executive Order 12606 and has determined that it will enhance family 
well-being by reducing the processing time for aliens applying for 
certain immigration benefits.

List of Subjects

8 CFR Part 103

    Administrative practice and procedure, Authority delegations 
(Government agencies), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

8 CFR Part 245

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration.

8 CFR Part 245a

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration.

8 CFR Part 264

    Aliens, Registration and fingerprinting, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

8 CFR Part 274a

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Employment.

    Accordingly, chapter I of title 8 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations is amended as follows:

PART 103--POWERS AND DUTIES OF SERVICE OFFICERS; AVAILABILITY OF 
SERVICE RECORDS

    1. The authority citation for part 103 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552, 552a; 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1201, 1252 
note, 1252b, 1304, 1356; 31 U.S.C. 9701; E.O. 12356, 47 FR 14874, 
15557, 3 CFR, 1982 Comp., p. 166; 8 CFR part 2.

    2. In Sec. 103.2, paragraph (a)(1) is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 103.2  Applications, petitions, and other documents.

    (a) Filing. (1) General. Every application, petition, appeal, 
motion, request, or other document submitted on the form prescribed by 
this chapter shall be executed and filed in accordance with the 
instructions on the form, such instructions, which include where an 
application or petition should be filed, being hereby incorporated into 
the particular section of the regulations requiring its submission. The 
form must be filed with the appropriate filing fee required by 
Sec. 103.7. Such fees are non-refundable and, except as otherwise 
provided in this chapter, must be paid when the application or petition 
is filed.
* * * * *

PART 245--ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS TO THAT OF PERSON ADMITTED FOR 
PERMANENT RESIDENCE

    3. The authority citation for part 245 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1182, 1255; and 8 CFR part 2.


Sec. 245.2  [Amended]

    4. Section 245.2 is amended by revising the term ``the district 
director'' to read ``the director'' whenever it appears in the 
following paragraphs:
    (a)(1)
    (a)(5)(i)
    (a)(5)(ii)
    (a)(5)(iii)
    (b)
    (c)


Sec. 245.3  [Amended]

    5. Section 245.3 is amended by revising the term ``the district 
director'' to read ``the director'' in the first sentence.


Sec. 245.7  [Amended]

    6. In Sec. 245.7, paragraph (a) is amended by revising the term 
``the district director'' to read ``the director'' in the first 
sentence.

PART 245a--ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS TO THAT OF PERSONS ADMITTED FOR 
LAWFUL TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT RESIDENT STATUS UNDER SECTION 245A OF 
THE IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT, AS AMENDED BY PUBLIC LAW 99-
603, THE IMMIGRATION REFORM AND CONTROL ACT OF 1986, AND PUBLIC LAW 
100-204, SECTION 902

    7. The authority citation for part 245a continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1255a and 1255a note.

    8. Section 245a.3 is amended by revising paragraph (d)(1) to read 
as follows:


Sec. 245a.3  Application for adjustment from temporary to permanent 
resident status.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) The application must be filed on Form I-698. Form I-698 must be 
accompanied by the correct fee and documents specified in the 
instructions. The application will be mailed to the director having 
jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence.
* * * * *

PART 264--REGISTRATION AND FINGERPRINTING OF ALIENS IN THE UNITED 
STATES

    9. The authority citation for part 264 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1103, 1201, 1201a, 1301-1305.


Sec. 264.5  [Amended]

    10. In Sec. 264.5, paragraph (e)(2)(i) is amended in the first 
sentence by revising the phrase ``, in person, at'' to read ``with''.

PART 274a--CONTROL OF EMPLOYMENT OF ALIENS

    11. The authority citation for part 274a continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1324a; 8 CFR part 2.


Sec. 274a.13  [Amended]

    12. Section 274a.13 is amended by revising the term ``district 
director'' to read ``director'' whenever it appears in paragraphs (a) 
and (d).
    13. Section 274a.13 is further amended in paragraph (d) by revising 
the term ``district director's'' to read ``director's'' in the last 
sentence.

    Dated: June 24, 1994.
Doris Meissner,
Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Service.
[FR Doc. 94-16037 Filed 6-30-94; 8:45 am]
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