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New guidance on inadmissibility based on medical grounds

October 28
21:54 2010

Following an update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to its technical instructions, the Department of State (DOS) has updated guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) concerning medical grounds of inadmissibility and issued a corresponding cable to the field.

The cable notes that the CDC updated the Technical Instructions for Physical or Mental Disorders with Associated Harmful Behavior and Substance-Related Disorders (2010 MH TIs) effective June 1, 2010. Those instructions supersede all previous guidance on physical or mental disorders and substance-related disorders. The major revisions in the 2010 MH TIs include changes to the methods of diagnosis of mental disorders and substance-related disorders, the definition and determination of remission, and the alcohol abuse evaluation. The DOS cable includes updates to 9 FAM resulting from this change to the technical instructions.

The CDC’s updated technical instructions for panel physicians are available at http://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/exams/ti/panel/mental-panel-technical-instructions.html. The updated portion of the FAM is available at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86936.pdf.

ICE Approves Special Relief for Certain F-1 Haitian Students
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has approved special relief for certain F-1 Haitian students who have suffered severe economic hardship as result of January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti. This relief applies only to students who were lawfully present in the United States in F-1 status on January 12 and enrolled in an institution that is certified by ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

The suspension of certain regulatory requirements allows eligible Haitian F-1 students to obtain employment authorization, work an increased number of hours during the school term and, if necessary, reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F-1 student status.

F-1 students granted employment authorization by means of the notice will be deemed to be engaged in a full course of study if they meet the minimum course load requirements specified in the notice.
“We want to ensure that students from Haiti, who were here at the time of January’s tragic events, are able to concentrate on their studies without the worry of financial burdens created by the devastation of the earthquake,” said Louis Farrell, director of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

“These students have the full support of SEVP [the Student and Exchange Visitor Program] and designated school officials for assistance.”

ICE manages SEVP and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

An ICE press release announcing the relief is available at http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?bc=1016%7C6715%7C12053%7C26286%7C32985.

New appointment service for visa applicants from Canada
The U.S. Mission in Canada is transitioning to a new appointment service for applicants applying for a visa to come to the United States. As of September 1, 2010, all services, including calling for information and scheduling an appointment, are being provided at no additional cost, with no requirement that applicants pay phone charges or use PIN numbers to access such services. Applicants should go to http://www.usvisa-info.com/en-CA/selfservice/ss_country_welcome to obtain information online or via telephone on how to start their application for a U.S. visa at a consular section in Canada.

Beginning September 1, 2010, applicants must pay their machine-readable visa (MRV) fee before scheduling an appointment. If the applicant has paid the MRV fee before September 1, 2010, but has not scheduled an appointment, there is a grace period from September 1, 2010, until October 1, 2010, during which the applicant can still use the MRV fee for appointment scheduling. If the applicant does not schedule an appointment before October 1, 2010, he or she will have to pay the MRV fee again through the new service to schedule an appointment.

The announcement and related links are available at http://www.consular.canada.usembassy.gov/new_appointment_service.asp.

Cyrus D. Mehta

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