Archive for February, 2010

Immigration Judge Accused in Sex Bribery Case

Henry Chang | February 26, 2010 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

Former Immigration and Refugee Board judge Steve Ellis, 50, has pleaded not guilty to charges of breach of trust and bribery in relation to the refugee application. Prosecutors allege that Ellis told Ms. Ji-Hye Kim that he would deny her refugee claim in September 2006, unless she slept with him. He is facing one count of breach of trust and a second charge of seeking an improper benefit under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Several months after Mr. Ellis presided over the refugee hearing of Ms. Kim, he visited her on two occasions at the restaurant where she worked. When he asked to meet her privately, she set up a plan with her boyfriend Brad Tripp (now her husband) to record the encounter.

Ms. Kim met Mr. Ellis at a Starbucks coffee shop in Toronto to discuss her case and was allegedly told he would reverse his denial of her claim if she agreed to an “intimate relationship.” Kim was seeking asylum in Canada from an abusive father and threats from money lenders in her home country of South Korea.

What Mr. Ellis did not know is that the meeting at a Starbucks outlet in downtown Toronto was secretly recorded on audio and video by Ji Hye Kim and her boyfriend. The recording, especially portions where Mr. Ellis is heard promising to deliver a favorable refugee decision for the young woman and expressing a desire to be her “friend” is the centrepiece of the Crown’s case at his trial.

The video of Ms. Kim and Mr. Ellis has now been made public and is available for viewing on the Toronto Star website.

Hackers Expose Security Flaws with “Elvis Presley” Passport

Henry Chang | February 25, 2010 in Miscellaneous,United States Immigration | Comments (0)

CNN recently reported that hackers had demonstrated how a biometric passport issued in the name of “Elvis Presley” could be cleared through an automated passport scanning system being tested at an international airport. Using a doctored passport at a self-serve passport machine, the hacker was cleared for travel after just a few seconds and a picture of Elvis Presley himself appeared on the monitor’s display.

Adam Laurie and Jeroen Van Beek, who call themselves “ethical hackers,” say the exercise exposed how easy it is to fool a passport scanner with a fraudulent biometric chip. The Presley test was carried out at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in September 2008, by Laurie and Van Beek, to highlight potential security shortcomings.

Biometric passports, with data stored on embedded chip, are now standard issue in Europe, the U.S. and a number of other countries. However, Laurie and Van Beek used their knowledge of IT security and hacking to show that biometric passports remain vulnerable to fraud.

The problem, in part, is that each country has its own security signature for verifying its own biometric passports. While some share that information, many countries do not, making it easy to exploit the loopholes.

The CNN article may be accessed here.

Cellular Telephones Top List of Electronic Items Seized by USCBP

Henry Chang | in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

The Los Angeles Times has reported that, in the last year and a half, civil liberties groups and business travel leaders have complained about United States Customs & Border Protection (“USCBP”) officers’ broad authority to search and seize laptops and other electronic gadgets carried by international travelers. Recent data obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) details the extent to which this has happened.

Debate over the searches picked up steam in July 2008 when USCBP issued a policy directive, clarifying that its officers at airports and ports of entry could look into electronic devices without first establishing suspicion of wrongdoing. In a recent nine-month period, USCBP searched or seized 1,644 devices from travelers entering and leaving the country, according to data the ACLU obtained through a lawsuit.

Of the searched or seized devices, 582 were cellphones, 398 were laptop computers and 259 were digital cameras. The rest included MP3 players, flash drives, hard drives and DVDs. The ACLU’s data doesn’t indicate how many travelers crossed the borders during that same period, but USCBP estimates that 22 million travelers enter the U.S. per month.

The new data was included in the nearly 900 pages of documents obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in June. The civil liberties group disclosed the information in January and expects to collect more this month.

The ACLU insists that border agents should be required to establish a suspicion that a traveler is breaking the law before they can search electronic devices. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives, a nonprofit group that represents 2,500 members worldwide, also objects to the searches.

The original LA Times article appears here.

Henry Chang Speaks on Treaty Traders/Treaty Investors in a Down Economy (February 23, 2010)

Henry Chang | February 23, 2010 in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

On February 23, 2010 (2:00pm – 3:30pm Eastern Time), Henry J. Chang will be participating in an audio seminar sponsored by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”), along with attorneys Barbara Bower and William Coffman. The topic of the audio seminar will be ” E Visas: Strategies for Treaty Traders/Treaty Investors in a Down Economy.”

The panel will discuss various issues related to treaty trader/investor visa applications and petitions before the U.S. Department of State and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, with a particular focus on how these visa categories are affected by the current global economic climate.

  1. Overview of the Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Categories
  2. Substantial Trade for the E-1 Treaty Trader
  3. Amount of the Investment for the E-2 Treaty Investor
  4. Change of Status with USCIS vs. Processing at the Consular Post
  5. Principal Investor/Trader vs. Employees, Who Qualifies as an Essential or Supervisory Employee? Is Availability of U.S. Workers an Issue?
  6. Preparing the E Visa Applicant for the Interview
  7. E Visa Registration and Processing Changes with the Advent of the DS-160

For further information regarding this audio seminar, as well as instructions on how to register, please refer to the official AILA seminar page, which appears here.

Critics Claim U.S. Policy Singles Out Muslim Travelers

Henry Chang | February 20, 2010 in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

Civil liberties advocates are expressing concern over the United States Government’s recent decision to single out travelers from more than a dozen mostly Middle Eastern countries for increased scrutiny. Critics of the policy argue it could lead to practices that are not only discriminatory but also ineffective against the threat of terrorism.

In January 2010, the Obama administration announced that citizens of 14 predominantly Islamic nations who fly to the United States will have to undergo enhanced screening at airports, including full-body pat-downs or body scanners. Under the new rules, all citizens of “state sponsors of terrorism” (Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria) must receive a pat-down and an extra check of their carry-on bags before boarding planes bound for the United States. Although not officially considered state sponsors of terrorism, citizens of Nigeria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen are also subject to these additional screening procedures. The new rules apply to anyone with a passport from any of the 14 countries and anyone stopping in those countries.

Dennis Parker, director of Racial Justice Programs at the American Civil Liberties Union, thinks the new airport security rules are bad policy. He says there is no way to predict the national origin of a terrorist and that many terrorists have come from countries not on the list. Parker believes policies such as racial profiling and invasive body scanning for all travelers not only violate American rights and values, but also divert valuable resources and attention from countering the real threats posed by Al Qaeda.

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) denies that the new regulations amount to racial profiling. TSA spokesman Greg Soule declined to be interviewed for this report, but said in a written statement: “TSA does not profile. As is always the case, TSA security measures are based on threat, not ethnic or religious background.” The agency statement goes on to note that the new directive also mandates threat-based and random screening for the majority of passengers on U.S. bound international flights.

For further information, please refer to the following Voice of America article.

DHS Will Expand Global Entry Program to Include Citizens of Other Countries

Henry Chang | February 18, 2010 in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

On November 19, 2009, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the publication of new proposed rule that would establish Global Entry, a United States Customs and Border Protection (“USCBP”) voluntary initiative that streamlines the international arrivals and admission process at airports for trusted travelers through biometric identification, as a permanent program. The proposed rule would end the current pilot program and make Global Entry permanent, allowing USCBP to expand the program to additional U.S. international airports.

Currently, Global Entry is operating as a pilot program at selected airports. It allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States. Although this program is intended for “frequent travelers” who make several international trips per year, there is no minimum number of trips an applicant must make in order to qualify.

Participants may currently enter the United States by utilizing automated kiosks located, at the following airports:

  1. Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS)
  2. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  3. Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)
  4. Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
  5. Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  6. George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH)
  7. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  8. Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  9. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  10. McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas (LAS)
  11. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  12. Miami International Airport (MIA)
  13. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  14. Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  15. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  16. San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  17. San Juan-Luis Múñoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
  18. Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB)
  19. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport-SeaTac (SEA)
  20. Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)

The process requires participants to present their machine-readable U.S. passport or permanent resident card, submit their fingerprints for biometric verification, and make a customs declaration at the kiosk’s touch-screen. Upon successful completion of the Global Entry process at the kiosk, the traveler is issued a transaction receipt and directed to baggage claim and the exit, unless chosen for a selective or random secondary referral.

Travelers must be pre-approved before they can participate in the pilot program. All applicants will undergo a rigorous background check and be interviewed by a USCBP officer before they are enrolled. Automated enforcement checks will occur each time the member uses the kiosk to enter the United States. Although pre-approved for the program and determined to be low risk, members of Global Entry may be examined at any time when entering the United States.

The current pilot program is generally limited to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. lawful permanent residents. However, on April 23, 2009, USCBP published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that it had expanded eligibility for participation in the Global Entry pilot to include citizens of the Netherlands who participate in Privium, an expedited travel program in the Netherlands, provided they otherwise satisfy the requirements for participation in the Global Entry pilot program.

The most significant change that would result from a permanent Global Entry program is its expansion to include nonimmigrant aliens from other countries via joint arrangements between USCBP and its respective counterparts in foreign governments. USCBP is working with other countries that operate comparable international trusted traveler programs to enter into reciprocal arrangements for the purposes of expanding eligibility for Global Entry.

Canadian and United States citizens who are already participating in NEXUS, a trusted traveler program operated jointly by USCBP and the Canadian Border Services Agency, will find the Global Entry program to be very familiar. However, unlike the NEXUS program, the permanent Global Entry program would be available to citizens of countries other than Canada and the United States. It is expected that participants in the existing NEXUS program will be among the first group included in the permanent Global Entry program, once it has been implemented.

Further information regarding Global Entry appears here.

Canada Announces Plans to Jump-Start Foreign Credential Recognition Process

Henry Chang | in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today that more skilled immigrants to Canada will be able to access the help needed to jump-start their credential recognition process through expanded overseas orientation services. The Canadian Immigration Integration Project (“CIIP”), run by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (“ACCC”), will receive additional funding of $15 Million over the next three years to expand services in India, China and the Philippines. A new office will also open in London, United Kingdom, in the fall of 2011, which will also serve various Nordic and Arab states according to demand.

The CIIP, run by the ACCC, began offering orientation services in the Philippines, China and India on a pilot basis in early 2007. The existing sites, along with the London office, will offer access to more than 70% of the selected federal skilled workers around the world. These locations will also offer access to approximately 44% of selected provincial nominees around the world.

Newcomers report foreign credential recognition as one of their top challenges once they immigrate to Canada. As part of the Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada has allocated $50 Million over two years (2009-2010) to support a common approach to foreign credential recognition to better integrate immigrants into the Canadian labour market.

Minister Kenney also spoke of advancements and successes of the federal government in the area of foreign credential recognition in Canada, including the recent announcement of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications – a landmark agreement between the federal, provincial and territorial governments to speed up foreign credential recognition for newcomers to Canada.

The official press release is available here.

Update on CIC’s Priority Processing Measures in Haiti

Henry Chang | February 17, 2010 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)


On January 16, 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) announced special immigration measures for Haiti. Shortly after, a unit was set up in Canada to provide support to the visa office in Port-au-Prince by identifying and prioritizing adoption and family class sponsorship applications. On February 15, 2010, CIC published an update on its progress in expediting Haiti cases.

CIC Begins Issuing Permanent Resident Visas

CIC recently began issuing permanent resident visas to some people whose applications were close to being finalized before the earthquake struck Haiti. As of February 14, a total of 22 permanent resident visas have been issued. More visas will be issued in the coming weeks and months.

CIC has set up a unit in Ottawa which is supporting CIC’s office in Haiti by identifying and expediting existing adoption and family class sponsorship applications. The office in Ottawa has responsibility for processing these applications until Port-au-Prince resumes operations.

Priority processing is being given to family class applications for people who self-identify as having been seriously and directly affected by the earthquake. CIC is also processing pre-existing economic class applications through the office in Ottawa.

All applicants must continue to meet all standard admissibility requirements, including security and medical screening. CIC is working closely with its partners to expedite applications while respecting the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect the safety, security and health of Canadians.

Existing Sponsorship Applications

CIC advises that, applicants who had a family class sponsorship application already in process before the earthquake should ask their sponsor in Canada to contact CIC if they haven’t already done so. Sponsors and applicants presently in Canada should notify the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100 (in Canada only, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday) or by email at to identify their existing applications, if the sponsor or the sponsored family have been significantly and adversely affected. If sponsors choose to contact CIC by email, they should include any pertinent information about the application and all relatives being sponsored.

New Sponsorship Applications

New sponsorship applications should be started in Canada by the sponsor. Once the sponsor has completed the sponsorship application, they should write “Haiti” prominently on the mailing envelope to receive priority handling. The sponsor is responsible for demonstrating that his or her family member is significantly and adversely affected by the situation.

Do No Go the Embassy of Canada Unless Instructed

If applicants have already applied, they should not go the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince unless they have been specifically instructed to do so by CIC officials. Showing up at the Embassy will not cause the application to be expedited.

Medical examinations

Only sponsored spouses, partners and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents may take their medical exams when submitting an application for permanent residence. All others should only schedule a medical examination when instructed to do so by CIC officials. Applicants who take their medical examination before receiving instructions from CIC officials, will have to take another medical examination at their own expense.

USCIS Launches Immigration Inquiry Mailbox for Canadian Customers

Henry Chang | February 13, 2010 in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

On December 11, 2009, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced the creation of a general inquiry mailbox for customers in Canada. This will hopefully resolve the ongoing problem that aliens residing in Canada have faced for years when trying to contact USCIS.

Currently, Canadians cannot access the National Customer Service Center using USCIS’ published 800 number. However, the 800 number is the only method by which applicants may contact USCIS in order to ask general questions or to address specific problems with their case (e.g. lost receipt notices, cases pending beyond the normal processing time, etc.).

According to USCIS, Canadian customers may now inquire about general immigration information at However, it still remains to be seen whether Canadians will be able to use the email address to resolve specific problems relating to their case. In addition, this inquiry email does not help aliens who reside in other countries, since it appears to be restricted to persons in Canada only.

According to the announcement, the creation of the Canadian inquiry mailbox signifies a major step in USCIS’ outreach to Canadians since the dissolution of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) Ottawa office in 2003. Time will tell.

Automated Border Clearance Kiosks now available at Vancouver Airport

Henry Chang | February 12, 2010 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

As most of you know, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics start today. Given the added congestion that will inevitably result from this event, it is important to mention that Canadian Border Service Agency (“CBSA”) has established Automated Border Clearance self-serve kiosks at Vancouver International Airport (“YVR”).

Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents who have a valid Canadian passport or permanent resident card have the option of using an Automated Border Clearance kiosk to facilitate their admission upon their return to Canada. Although these kiosks may not be used by foreign nationals, their use by Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents will allow CBSA to focus its resources on foreign nationals visiting for the Olympics, which should speed up the inspection process for these travelers as well.

The self-serve kiosks are quick and easy to use and, unlike other programs such as NEXUS, will involve no advance registration process or fee. One person can make a declaration for up to four people using one kiosk, provided they all live at the same address.

Automated Border Clearance kiosks are being tested on a trial basis and will be available at YVR for two years. This will enable both the CBSA and YVR to evaluate the concept, validate projected costs and benefits, and fine-tune operational procedures and technology.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents who use the Automated Border Clearance kiosk will follow this procedure:

  1. Fill out the CBSA Declaration Card;
  2. Use one of the Automated Border Clearance kiosks, located in the Canadian inspection services area, and follow the instructions on the screen; and
  3. Proceed to the designated border services officer for a verification of your travel documents.

Before using Automated Border Clearance, travelers should have the following items readily available:

  1. A completed CBSA Declaration Card;
  2. A valid Canadian passport or permanent resident card; and
  3. Receipts for purchases made abroad.