Special Registration

This is a  report prepared by the Law Offices of Jay I Solomon.  It contains general information.  As individual circumstances may differ, as regulations, laws and interpretations may change, you are advised to consult an attorney regarding your own situation.  This report was prepared from information available on November 12, 2002, and has been updated through December 1, 2003

update:  December 1, 2003.  

The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it will suspend the formal requirement for individuals previously registered in the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to re-register after 30-days and one year of continuous presence in the United States. The interim rule outlining the new procedures will take effect immediately with publication in the Federal Register, and allows for a 60-day public comment period.

What this means:  We expect that tomorrow (December 2nd) a new regulations will be published which eliminates the requirement that you reregister within 10 days either side of the one year anniversary of your initial registration.  While the regulation is expected to be effective immediately, people who would have been required to reregister before December 2, 2003 (those who initially registered before November 22, 2002) are not "forgiven" if they did not reregister on time.

In addition, the requirement that individuals appear at a local office and reregister within 30 days of arrival in the U.S. has been eliminated - except that  the Department of Homeland Security can still require reregistration of anyone for any reason.

Here is what the American Immigration Lawyers has to say in warning:

Despite press reports, and some statements already made by DHS officers in the field, Special Registration is not "over." Port of entry registration will continue. Call-in registration can still be instituted at any time. And, very importantly, all registrants - port of entry and call-in alike must still comply with departure registration requirements.


update:  November 20, 2002 - we have received reports from individuals who have been through "special registration, and we have obtained a copy of the INS worksheet containing the questions asked at interviews

UPDATE:  DEADLINES EXTENDED 2/17/2003;  INS has announced that the deadline for registration for men from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan and Kuwait has been extended until April 25, 2003.  The deadline for men from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has been extended through March 21, 2003.  

UPDATE:  January 16, 2003 - The INS has added another group for special registration:  men (16 years old and older) from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan or Kuwait who entered before 9/30/02

Reporting date extended for Group 1 and Group 2 - If you are in the First Group or Second Group and have not registered yet, the INS has provided an additional time period in which you can legally register: January 27 to February 7, 2003.  Notice of this extension is due to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow.

UPDATE:  Atlanta reports - current as of January 8, 2003
Detention not automatic in Atlanta

Original group for special registration:

update:  November 22, 2002 - Special registration expands to include 13 additional countries

Update:  December 18, 2002 - Saudi Arabia and Pakistan now added to special registration

Who's next?   Attorney General Ashcroft says "everyone."
    - interview with Larry King on 12/17/2002:

KING: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were just added, I'm told, to the alien registration order. Some question why Saudi and Pakistan weren't on the list before.

ASHCROFT: Well, this is a process, which the Congress has mandated be comprehensive by the year 2005. So, this business of the NSEERS program, the Exit, Entry, Registration System program, the national program, that will cover every nation -- 24 months from now, it's going to cover every one.

We started out based on the state sponsors of terrorism. They were the first ones to go into the system. And then other nations are being added as we ramp up, and it's a matter of a short period of time that the United States is going to be more careful about its borders. We want to know who's here, and we want to know who leaves.

For the full interview ...


If you have a report about an experience with special registration, send it to us. 

 Most men from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria must register in person at an INS office.

Special Registration applies to: [first group]

Special Registration also applies to: [second group]

Special Registration also applies to: [third group]

Special Registration also applies to:  [fourth group]

Special Registration does not apply to

If you are subject to "Special Registration,  you must go to one of the designated Immigration offices which are listed below and:

You must also return to the INS each year within 10 days of the anniversary on which you were registered, and do it all again - and you must file a special change of address form each time you change your address in the United States, change jobs, or change schools.

If you leave the United States, you must leave through certain border points or airports, and register with the INS upon your departure.


Federal Register Notice adding 13 additional countries to special registration list

Notice prepared by INS, including questions and answers

Notice by Attorney General Ashcroft requiring Special Registration by individuals already in the United States.

Previous notice requiring Special Registration of certain individuals upon their entry into the United States.

Where to go for Special Registration

Who is a "dual national?"  A quick review of citizenship laws of the world, published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 2001 discusses citizenship laws of the world, including when citizenship is acquired or lost, and if dual citizenship is recognized. (large PDF file)

Here's what happened during the first week (and after) of special registration:

"I went for Special Registration as well as to get an EAD for my wife and myself.
In short, both processes went without too many problems and we returned
having successfully accomplished both tasks. I know that much information
is not available about the Special Registration process, so I am relating
my experience. The wait to be interviewed by the officer was about 2 hours
(short by INS standards, I suppose). She was obviously frustrated at having
to do this Special Registration in addition to her other interviewing
responsibilities. The brochure that I had received at the airport said I
would be fingerprinted and photographed, but the first question she asked
me is if I had brought a photograph. I had everything but a photograph so
had to go and get one from a studio conveniently located next to the INS
office! I left my supporting documentation with her (including letters from
employers, pay stubs, tax returns, property deed, utility bills, etc) to
review, which I do not believe she even looked at. She then asked me
administrative questions, i..e. office phone number, address, etc. Two
interesting questions were: how far do you live from work and do you drive
to work? She entered all this data in her computer, but the photograph and
fingerprint were on a little card that she file away. (At the airport they
scanned fingerprint and the photo into their computer). At the termination
of the interview she handed me a list of "Ports of Departure" and added "I
don't know if these necessarily apply to you." When I asked her to clarify,
she could not. I stressed that since Raleigh/Durham was not on the list it
was important for me to know. She called up her supervisor who also did not
know, but said they "would call me at work with an answer". She said that I
would have to do this until I got my actual green card, but I am not sure
if she knew that or just wanted to get rid of me. She also did not make any
notation in my passport that I had done this interview, but upon my
insistence, gave me a Xerox copy of the form she filled out."

"It went well, you are right, there were no pictures
taken, no questions asked about the visa status or
other documents. They requested my passport and I 94
form, then my work ID, I was fingerprinted, then they
filled a two page form with info about my work place
and address, my home address, telephones, parents age
and previous arrests then I signed the form. I waited
one hour, the interview took 15 min."

See also a published reportby A-A FARMAN-FARMAIAN 

From: V. Brown
Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 10:37 AM
Subject: [chapters] SPECIAL REGISTRATION ALERT - Philadelphia District
Yesterday a Moroccan client of one of our members was TAKEN INTO CUSTODY at his Special Registration Interview in spite of a 245i employment-based application for permanent residence pending with the Vermont Service Center, based on an approved labor certification application and preference petition. He brought with him the original I-485 receipt notice, his valid EAD, passport, lease, and proof of current employment. He was eventually released but will be issued a Notice To Appear.

In Atlanta, special registration is being handled by the examinations section of INS.  Here is what the Assistant District Director for Examinations told the Atlanta chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

"If you have clients who are subject to special registration, they must come to the INS early in the morning and get a ticket from the triage. They will be referred to Officer Maureen Thomas who will handle all matters relating to special registration. Of course, if your clients are not in status, I have been told that they will be referred to the investigation department for further processing."

Sent: Wednesday, December 04, 2002 10:19 PM
To: AILA Chapter Chairs Mailing List

Three out of status individuals were taken into custody today in
Minnesota when they reported for Special Registration. One had a 245 (i)
employment based adjustment pending in Lincoln and two were married to
USC's with petitions that had been pending forever. They were
handcuffed and separated from their attorneys. They arrived at 8 a.m.
and, after threats of bonds being set at $10,000, they were released on
their own recognizance. They attorneys were denied access to the
clients for all but 20 minutes during the day and the clients were not
released until 5.

From an AILA member in Los Angeles.  Posted December 18, 2002

INS is detaining and summarily removing out-of-status NSEERS registrants who entered the USA on the Visa Waiver Program, despite the fact that they might have US citizen relatives, pending or approved I-130s, pending adjustments, or 245(i) eligibility.  My client, an Iranian-born naturalized Danish citizen has a US citizen mother, a 245(i)-eligible approved I-130, and the priority date has just become current (as of the January 2003 Visa Bulletin).  He went in to do NSEERS registration, was detained, has been DENIED BOND, and has been informed that he will be summarily removed pursuant to the terms of entry under the Visa Waiver Program.

Not only is the issue of dual citizenship (and retained nationality) an outstanding issue for these NSEERS Registrants, but the fact that some have naturalized in Western European nations which makes them eligible for VWP entry also means that they are subject to summary removal, with no right to appear before an IJ.  I do NOT see that INS is exercising any prosecutorial discretion.

Registration at initial entry:  

"I came back from Pakistan on December 31st. I had to go through the
Registration process in Atlanta since that was my first port of entry in
the United States. At the Atlanta Immigration, they basically asked me
why I am here, I told them that I am returning back to Minneapolis to
join my work at XXXXXX. Then they sent me to another office where they
were doing registration process for all the foreigners. I had to submit
my passport, I-94 and Custom Card to them, then I waited for my turn.
Then they called my name and asked which city I was born. Then they
asked about my father's name and date of birth and place of birth of my
father. My mother's name, date of birth and place of birth. Then my
company Address and job title. My manager's name and address at work.
Then they asked me if I have done this registration before and I told
them it is the first time I am going through this process. Then they
took fingerprints of my left and right forefingers. Then they took my
picture. They entered all the information in their database and let me
go with the passport and the I-94 card. They put down the FIN number
which is the fingerprint number on the I-94 card. I have to go to the
INS office here in Minneapolis after the 30 days of arrival but before
the 40th day and tell them that I am still doing what I had told them at
the time of entry and still at the same address, they will take my
fingerprints and picture again. Then after one year anniversary, I have
to do the same thing. "


From an AILA member in California re late registration:


I've just spoken with an INS officer from the San Jose sub office re late
registration, and thought AILA members may find this useful if it hasn't
already been disseminated. Per the Service, if a person subject to
registration comes in to register AFTER THE DEADLINE, they will
automatically be referred to investigations and be placed in removal
proceedings. Some have gone into custody for 2 weeks, and bonded out. No
"excuse" for late registration is being accepted EXCEPT BEING IN THE
HOSPITAL. Only this reason, or similar situation, will prevent being
referred to investigations. Moreover, if a person subject to registration
does not register, and tries to adjust later, they will be found
inadmissible under 212(a)(3), which has no waiver available.

The INS is treating dual citizens, i.e., Iranian born individuals
naturalized elsewhere, as being subject to registration. This is so because
the Iranian government still recognizes a person born in Iran as its
national, unless there has been a formal renouncement of Iranian

Atlanta Reports

We have received the following report from an Atlanta member of AILA:

We have been told that out of status aliens who register on time, and who are not criminals and who don't have outstanding warrants of deportation will not be detained.  They will however, in all probability, be issued Notices to Appear before the Immigration Court, which begins removal proceedings against them.  We have not confirmed this information as of January 8, 2003.  See for instance the report below.