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BCIS - Special Registration Procedures

The United States has a proud tradition of welcoming immigrants and visitors. This tradition is renewed and enriched by each and every law-abiding immigrant and visitor. This same tradition is reflected in the United States Government's duty to serve and protect its citizens, residents, and foreign visitors.

Terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of thousands of Americans, as well as nationals from many other countries. As a result, new regulations have gone into effect to help ensure the safety of all persons in the United States. These regulations require the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to register certain individuals in the interest of national security or law enforcement.

We understand that in many cases these procedures may cause inconvenience. However, your cooperation is requested so that our vision in which citizens, immigrants and visitors can live without fear of terrorist threats will become a reality.

Special Registration Procedures require:

  • Being registered upon arrival to and departure from the United States;
  • Being interviewed at an INS office if remaining in the United States for more than 30 days and/or for more than one year;
  • Notifying the INS within ten days of any changes regarding place of residence, employment or educational institution.

Who has to follow the special registration procedures?

As part of the nonimmigrant visa application process, consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates are required to identify individuals who will have to follow the special registration requirements in the United States. Likewise, INS officers at ports of entry may identify nonimmigrants who will have to follow the special registration requirements.

The above will apply only to persons who want to enter the United States for a temporary period of time (such as a tourist or a student, etc.). Persons who have been approved to stay permanently in the United States do not have to follow special registration procedures at this time.

When I apply for a visa to enter the United States, how will I know if I will have to follow the special registration procedures?

Whenever possible you will be told by a consular officer as part of the process of obtaining your nonimmigrant visa. The INS immigration inspectors will notify you each time you enter the United States if you are required to follow the special registration procedures.

What if I don't need a visa?

Whenever you apply for admission to the United States the INS immigration inspectors will notify you if you are required to follow the special registration procedures.

Will I be delayed at the airport upon arrival in the U.S?

We cannot know how long you will be delayed because it will depend upon how many persons will be receiving special registration processing on the same day that you arrive in the U.S. We recommend you leave at least three hours between arrival time and a connecting flight.

Entering the United States

What will happen when I come to the United States?

An INS officer will inform you if you will need to follow the special registration procedures. You will be instructed to go to an area where you will be fingerprinted, photographed, asked to show documents, and interviewed as to the length and purpose of your stay in the United States. Additional information on how to follow the special registration procedures will be provided to you when you are registered.

If I'm traveling with family members, what will happen to them when we enter the United States?

You may be temporarily separated from your family for the length of time required to carry out the described special registration procedural steps. Depending on the individual circumstances, some or all of your family members may also be required to follow the special registration procedures, in which case they too will be fingerprinted and photographed.

While You Are In The U.S.

Am I required to do anything while I am in the United States?

Yes. If you are subject to the special registration procedures and you remain in the United States for 30 or more days, you need to go to the nearest INS district or sub-office that has responsibility for the area where you are staying. You can do this any time beginning on the 30th calendar day from the day that you entered the United States and up to the 40th calendar day. You will not need an appointment.

What if I'm traveling to different places in the United States during my visit?

You can be interviewed at the INS district or sub-office closest to where you are travelling. You will need to bring documents to show who and where you are visiting. What will happen to me if I stay more than 30 days in the country and I do not report to the district office as required? Depending on the circumstances, you may be subject to arrest and detention, fines, and/or removal from the United States. You could also be denied re-entry into the United States for many years.

Leaving The United States

What do the special registration procedures mean for me when I leave or travel outside of the United States?

If you leave the United States on or after October 1, 2002, it is your responsibility to make certain that your departure is known and documented by an INS inspecting officer, each and every time you leave. On of after October 1, 2002, you are required to report your departure from the United States by appearing before an INS inspecting officer on the same day that you leave.

These new regulations include restrictions as to which airports, seaports or land entry/exit points that you can use to depart from the United States. When you are initially registered, you will be given a list of those airports, seaports or overland exit ports you can use to leave the United States.

What will happen to me if I cannot or if I choose not to report my departure from the United States?

Depending on your personal circumstances, you might not be permitted to return to the United States. A consular officer or an INS inspecting officer will decide if the reasons you give for failing to report your departure satisfy the conditions set by the Attorney General and the Secretary of State that would allow you to re-enter the country.

If I have already registered at an immigration office and then I leave the United States, do I have to register again when I return?

Yes. You will have to begin this process again each time you enter the United States.

Please contact the Consular Section at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for more information, or you can call the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service:

INS National Customer Service Center (800) 375-5283