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  • News: DHS Final Rule on Notices of Decisions and Documents Evidencing Lawful Status

    [Federal Register Volume 79, Number 209 (Wednesday, October 29, 2014)]
    [Rules and Regulations]
    [Pages 64299-64305]
    From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
    [FR Doc No: 2014-25622]


    =======================================================================
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

    8 CFR Part 103

    [CIS No. 2517-11; Docket No. USCIS-2012-0006]
    RIN 1615-AC01


    Notices of Decisions and Documents Evidencing Lawful Status

    AGENCY: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.

    ACTION: Final rule; request for comments.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its
    regulations governing when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    (USCIS) will issue correspondence, notices of decisions, and documents
    evidencing lawful status in the United States to an applicant,
    petitioner, attorney, or accredited representative. Specifically, this
    final rule explains how USCIS will issue requests, notices, cards, and
    original documents to applicants, petitioners, and their attorneys or
    accredited representatives of record. This final rule also amends the
    regulations to allow represented applicants to specifically consent to
    and request that any notices, decisions, and secure identity documents
    be sent solely to the official business address of the applicants'
    attorney or accredited representative, as reflected on a properly
    executed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited
    Representative. Further, through this final rule, DHS clarifies USCIS
    notification practices relating to represented parties. These changes
    will conform USCIS notice procedures to account for the full range of
    stakeholder norms, including industry preferences, in response to
    stakeholder comments.

    DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective on January 27,
    2015.
    Comment Date: Written comments on the final rule must be submitted
    on or before December 29, 2014. Written comments on the Paperwork
    Reduction Act (PRA) section of this final rule (regarding the revisions
    to the Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or
    Accredited Representative and Form G-28I, Notice of Entry of Appearance
    as Attorney in Matters Outside the Geographic Confines of the United
    States) must be submitted on or before November 28, 2014.

    ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by DHS docket number
    USCIS-2012-0006 by one of the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
    Email: You may submit comments directly to USCIS by email
    at uscisfrcomment@uscis.dhs.gov. Include DHS docket number USCIS-2012-
    0006 in the subject line of the message.
    Mail: Comments may be submitted to: DHS, USCIS, Office of
    Policy and Strategy, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, 20
    Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2140. To ensure proper
    handling, please reference DHS docket number USCIS-2012-0006 on your
    correspondence. This mailing address may be used for paper, disk, or
    CD-ROM submissions.
    Hand Delivery/Courier: Laura Dawkins, Chief, Regulatory
    Coordination Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
    Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW.,
    Washington, DC 20529-

    [[Page 64300]]

    2140. Contact Telephone Number is (202) 272-8377.
    Please refer to the PRA section of this final rule for
    instructions on how to submit comments regarding the revisions to Form
    G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited
    Representative and Form G-28I, Notice of Entry of Appearance as
    Attorney in Matters Outside the Geographic Confines of the United
    States).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Minas Khoudaghoulian, Chief,
    Adjustment and Naturalization Branch, Service Center Operations
    Directorate, Washington, DC, 20 Massachusetts Ave. NW., Washington, DC
    20529. Email: Minas.Khoudaghoulian@uscis.dhs.gov. Telephone: (202) 272-
    1785.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Public Participation

    All interested parties are invited to participate in this
    rulemaking by submitting written data, views, or arguments on all
    aspects of this final rule. DHS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
    Services (USCIS) also invite comments that relate to the economic,
    environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this final
    rule. Comments that will provide the most assistance to USCIS in
    implementing these changes will reference a specific portion of the
    final rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include
    data, information, or authority that supports a recommended change.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and DHS
    Docket No. USCIS-2012-0006 for this rulemaking. Regardless of the
    method used for submitting comments or material, all submissions will
    be posted, without change, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, and will include any personal information you
    provide. Therefore, submitting this information makes it public. You
    may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that
    you provide in any voluntary public comment submission you make to DHS.
    DHS may withhold information provided in comments from public viewing
    that it determines may impact the privacy of an individual or is
    offensive. For additional information, please read the Privacy Act
    notice that is available via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or
    comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov.

    II. Background

    USCIS generally sends original notices and documents to the
    applicant or petitioner who requested the immigration benefit. See 8
    CFR 103.2(b)(19). Under certain limited circumstances, notices to an
    unrepresented applicant or petitioner may be sent to a location or
    person designated by the applicant or petitioner. Examples of such
    situations would include a Violence Against Women Act self-petitioner
    who provides a ``safe'' address for mail or an applicant who is subject
    to legal guardianship. If the applicant or petitioner is represented by
    an attorney or accredited representative (collectively referred to as
    representatives), USCIS also will send a courtesy copy of such notices
    and documents to the representative. See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(3), 292.5(a).
    In this rule, DHS updates and clarifies how applicants, petitioners,
    and their representatives will be notified of actions taken on their
    immigration benefit requests.
    Prior to 1994, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS),\1\
    generally mailed two copies of every approval and denial notice in
    cases in which the applicant or petitioner was represented--one to the
    representative and one to the applicant or petitioner. See Changes in
    Processing Procedures for Certain Applications and Petitions for
    Immigration Benefits, 59 FR 1455, 1463 (Jan. 11, 1994). In 1991, as
    part of a broader rule designed to simplify and streamline filing and
    processing of immigration benefits, INS proposed new notice procedures.
    See Changes in Processing Procedures for Certain Applications and
    Petitions for Immigration Benefits, 56 FR 61201, 61207 (Dec. 2, 1991).
    Specifically, INS proposed that, where an applicant or petitioner is
    represented, all notices, cards and documents issued at approval would
    be sent to that representative. Documents produced after an approval
    notice was sent out, however, would be mailed directly to the
    applicant, with no confirmation to the representative. Id. Commenters
    on that proposed rule pointed to past problems with attorneys and
    accredited representatives receiving courtesy copies and argued that
    INS should continue to issue separate notices as a safeguard. See 59 FR
    1455. INS agreed with the commenters and in the final rule required
    that separate notices would be sent to the applicant or petitioner and
    his or her authorized representative. Id. at 1463.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred primary
    authority for the administration and enforcement of the immigration
    and naturalization laws to the Secretary of Homeland Security. See
    Public Law 107-296, section 1102(2), 116 Stat. 2135 (Nov. 25, 2002),
    as amended by Pub. L. 108-7, section 105(a)(1), 117 Stat. 11 (Feb.
    20, 2003) (codified at 8 U.S.C. 1103(a)); see also 6 U.S.C. 271(b)
    (transfer of INS immigration benefits adjudication functions to
    USCIS).
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III. Reason for This Change

    On August 29, 2011, DHS published a final rule addressing USCIS's
    transformation initiative--a program to change USCIS business processes
    from a paper-based process to an electronic environment. Immigration
    Benefits Business Transformation, Increment I, 76 FR 53764 (Aug. 29,
    2011) (August 2011 final rule). The August 2011 final rule removed
    references to form numbers, form titles, expired regulatory provisions,
    and descriptions of internal procedures, many of which will change as
    USCIS transitions from paper forms to its electronic immigration system
    USCIS Electronic Immigration System, also known as USCIS ELIS. DHS did
    not alter substantive provisions of the regulations but updated
    language in the regulations to facilitate filing and adjudication in an
    electronic environment. Among the provisions amended in the August 2011
    final rule was 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19), which governs how USCIS will notify
    applicants, petitioners, and their representatives of actions taken on
    their immigration benefit requests. See 76 FR at 53780. Before the
    August 2011 rule, 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19) provided that notices and secure
    documents would go directly to the applicant or petitioner, where the
    applicant and petitioner were unrepresented. The rule also provided
    that when applicants or petitioners were represented, USCIS would also
    send notices to the attorney of record or accredited representative. In
    the August 2011 final rule, DHS revised 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19). See 76 FR
    at 53781.
    In response to the August 2011 final rule, many USCIS stakeholders,
    including several large employers, colleges, universities, and law
    firms, asked USCIS to clarify its notification process. Some
    stakeholders noted that it is a common business practice for employers
    to have their representatives receive and distribute documents to their
    international workforce. They also noted that USCIS has routinely sent
    original notices to attorneys or accredited representatives. The
    stakeholders asked USCIS to clarify that the August 2011 final rule did
    not change this practice and urged that USCIS maintain its current
    practice.
    DHS agrees that a clarification is needed. DHS has been informed by
    stakeholders that large corporations,

    [[Page 64301]]

    universities, and employers of foreign workers prefer having notices or
    decisions regarding petitions they have filed on behalf of their
    employees sent to one centralized location, such as the corporation's
    in house counsel, the employer's legal representative, or the company's
    human resources department. As previously stated, USCIS will continue
    its prior practice of sending original notices for benefit requests to
    attorneys or accredited representatives. Nevertheless, DHS does not
    believe that the current regulations are sufficiently clear on this
    point.
    Consequently, in this final rule, DHS will amend its regulations in
    several ways. First, USCIS will clarify that it will send notices only
    to the applicant or petitioner when the applicant or petitioner is
    unrepresented. See new 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(i). Second, if USCIS has been
    properly notified that the person or entity filing the benefit request
    is represented by an attorney or accredited representative recognized
    by the Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals, USCIS will
    send notices to the applicant or petitioner who filed the benefit
    request and to their attorney or accredited representative of record.
    See new 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(ii)(A). Third, if provided for in the
    applicable form, form instructions, or regulations for a specific
    benefit request, an applicant or petitioner may request that USCIS send
    original notices and documents only to the official business address of
    their attorney or accredited representative, as reflected on a properly
    executed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited
    Representative, with a courtesy copy being sent to the applicant or
    petitioner for their records. See id. Fourth, for applications or
    petitions filed electronically, USCIS will notify both the applicant or
    petitioner and the authorized attorney or accredited representative
    electronically of any notices or decisions. Electronic notification
    will not be provided, however, if the applicant or petitioner
    specifically requests to receive paper notices or decisions by mail, or
    if USCIS determines that issuing a paper notice or decision for an
    electronically-filed application or petition is warranted. See new 8
    CFR 103.2(b)(19)(ii)(B). Fifth, USCIS has codified its current practice
    of sending Form I-797, Notice of Action, as an approval notice with a
    tear-off I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to the applicant's or
    petitioner's attorney or accredited representative. Currently,
    applicants who are approved for an extension of stay or change of
    status receive a Form I-797, Notice of Action that has a tear-off I-94,
    which the applicant can use as evidence of his or her current lawful
    status. For applicants or petitioners who are represented, USCIS will
    continue to send these notices only to the official business address of
    their attorneys or accredited representatives, as reflected on a
    properly executed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or
    Accredited Representative, unless the applicant or petitioner
    specifically request that USCIS instead send it to his or her mailing
    address. Finally, USCIS will continue to send original secure
    identification documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards and
    Employment Authorization Documents, only to the applicant or petitioner
    (when the alien is a self-petitioner), unless the applicant or self-
    petitioner specifically consents to having the secure identification
    document sent to his or her attorney of record or accredited
    representative. The Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or
    Accredited Representative or the online representative account profile
    in USCIS's electronic immigration system must reflect the official
    business address of the attorney or accredited representative in the
    address section. See new 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(iii). These changes will
    conform USCIS's notice procedures with industry norms in response to
    stakeholder comments.

    IV. Statutory and Regulatory Requirements

    A. Administrative Procedure Act

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires DHS to provide
    public notice and seek public comment on substantive regulations. See 5
    U.S.C. 553. The APA, however, provides limited exceptions to this
    requirement for notice and public comment, including for ``rules of
    agency organization, procedure or practice.'' 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A).
    This final rule addresses requirements that are procedural in
    nature and does not alter the substantive rights of individuals. In
    this final rule, DHS clarifies policies for sending notices, copies,
    and originals of correspondence, decisions, and secure identification
    documents to applicants, petitioners, attorneys and accredited
    representatives. These minor changes to USCIS mailing procedures do not
    alter a substantive right. Therefore, since this final rule is
    procedural, notice and opportunity for public comment are not required.
    See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A). DHS nevertheless invites comments on this final
    rule and will consider all timely comments submitted during the public
    comment period as described in the ``Addresses'' section.

    B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) mandates that DHS conduct a
    regulatory flexibility analysis when it publishes any general notice of
    proposed rulemaking. 5 U.S.C. 603(a). RFA analysis is not required when
    a rule is exempt from notice-and-comment rulemaking. DHS has determined
    that this rule is exempt from the notice-and-comment requirements in 5
    U.S.C. 553, and, therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not
    required.

    C. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This final rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local,
    and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of
    $100 million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or
    uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed
    necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of
    1995.

    D. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This final rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of
    the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This
    rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million
    or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse
    effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity,
    innovation, or on the ability of U.S.-based companies to compete with
    foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.

    E. Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

    DHS does not consider this final rule to be a ``significant
    regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f),
    Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order
    13563. Based on DHS's preliminary analysis, this final rule is cost
    neutral as it imposes no costs and does not result in discernible
    monetary benefits. Accordingly, this final rule has not been submitted
    to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.
    DHS is pursuing this regulatory action to accord its regulations
    with industry norms and stakeholder requests. This final rule makes two
    clarifications and one change. First, the regulation will clarify that
    USCIS will send original notices and documents only to the applicant or
    petitioner if he or she is not represented by an attorney or accredited

    [[Page 64302]]

    representative, recognized by the BIA, who has filed a Form G-28,
    Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative
    or a Form G-28I, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney in Matters
    Outside the Geographic Confines of the United States. See 8 CFR
    292.4(a), 292.5(a). Second, if the applicant or petitioner is
    represented, USCIS generally will send original notices and documents
    both to the applicant or petitioner and to their attorney or accredited
    representative.
    This regulation will allow applicants and petitioners to choose to
    have USCIS mail original notices and documents only to their attorneys
    or accredited representatives if USCIS indicates that this option is
    available through the USCIS online application system, applicable
    forms, form instructions, or regulations for a specific benefit
    request. As stated earlier in this preamble, some stakeholders noted
    that it is a common business practice for employers to have their
    representatives receive and distribute documents to their international
    workforce. Because this final rule provides that option for the
    employer, employers will benefit from not being required to adjust
    their internal processes to match USCIS notice practices. DHS may amend
    a form in the course of regular program administration to expand the
    options for the mailing of notices at its discretion, but will incur no
    cost as a direct result of this final rule. Employers generally prefer
    that original notices and documents from USCIS are sent only to their
    representatives, thus DHS expects no cost to result from indicating to
    which address applicants or petitioners want notices sent. In addition,
    attorneys or representatives already transmit documents to the aliens
    and petitioners they represent based on where the alien or petitioner
    needs or desires to maintain the original, so this rule should impose
    no additional record keeping burden.
    DHS also is revising the regulation to provide that two originals
    will be sent in the case of represented parties instead of the current
    practice of sending one original and one courtesy copy. This will not
    result in any additional costs because the costs for issuing an
    original of a USCIS notice, such as printing and mailing, would be
    similar to the costs for issuing a copy. Finally, the quantity of
    notices and documents sent will not change, only where and how they are
    sent. Therefore, DHS estimates that these two clarifications and change
    will not result in a direct cost to USCIS or to an applicant or
    petitioner, though applicants and petitioners may benefit from the
    clarifications.

    F. Executive Order 13132

    This final rule will not have substantial direct effects on the
    States, on the relationship between the Federal Government and the
    States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the
    various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6
    of Executive Order 13132, DHS has determined that this rule does not
    have sufficient Federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a
    Federalism summary impact statement.

    G. Executive Order 12988: Civil Justice Reform

    This final rule meets the applicable standards set forth in
    sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

    H. Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the PRA, 44 U.S.C. chapter 35, all Departments are required
    to submit to OMB, for review and approval, any reporting requirements
    inherent in a rule. USCIS \2\ is revising the Notice of Entry of
    Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) and the
    Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney In Matters Outside the
    Geographical Confines of the United States (Form G-28I), and their
    associated form instructions to prepare the forms for filing
    availability in USCIS ELIS, to add a foreign address and foreign phone
    number field, and to make plain language changes. In addition Forms G-
    28 and G-28I are revised to add check-boxes that will implement the
    changes this final rule makes to 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19). Specifically,
    USCIS is revising the forms to provide that, for represented parties,
    DHS will send all original notices regarding any application or
    petition filed with DHS to both the applicants or petitioners and the
    attorney of record or accredited representative either through the mail
    or electronic delivery. However, on the Form G-28 and Form G-28I,
    unless otherwise provided in the applicable regulations or form
    instructions, the applicant or petitioner may instruct USCIS to send
    any original notice regarding an application or petition that he or she
    has filed with USCIS, including Requests for Evidence and notices of
    decision, to the official business address of their attorney of record
    or accredited representative as listed in the form. USCIS is also
    revising the G-28/28I to provide that, for represented parties, DHS
    will only send Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record or any secure
    identity document, such as a Permanent Resident Card or Employment
    Authorization Document, for which he or she is approved, to the
    applicant or petitioner (where the individual is a self-petitioner/
    beneficiary), unless the applicant or self-petitioner/beneficiary
    instructs USCIS to send the secure identity document to the official
    business address of his or her attorney of record or accredited
    representative. See new 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(i)-(iii).
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ DHS is the authoritative regulatory actor that is carrying
    out this rulemaking. USCIS is the component of DHS that manages its
    forms and publishes Federal Register notices under the Paperwork
    Reduction Act. Thus, USCIS is referenced as the actor in the
    Paperwork Reduction Act section of this preamble with regard to the
    form revisions.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The revised Forms G-28 and G-28I have been submitted to the Office
    of Management Budget (OMB) for review and approval under procedures
    covered under the PRA. USCIS is requesting comments on this information
    collection for 30-days until November 28, 2014. USCIS previously
    published a notice in the Federal Register in connection with this
    information collection on May 19, 2014 at 79 FR 28757.\3\ DHS received
    8 comments in connection with this notice during the 60-day comment
    period. Public comments were submitted by 7 individuals and one
    organization. All of the comments are summarized and addressed as
    follows.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ See Agency Information Collection Activities: Notice of
    Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative; Notice
    of Entry of Appearance as Attorney In Matters Outside the
    Geographical Confines of the United States, Form G-28; G-28I;
    Revision of a Currently Approved Collection, 79 FR 28757 (May 19,
    2014).
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Two commenters requested that USCIS reprogram the Form G-28/28I
    that may be completed on a computer (``fillable form'') to permit more
    alphabetic characters than it currently permits attorneys to insert.
    Both of these commenters also requested that the fillable data fields
    permit the insertion of non-textual and special characters in addition
    to alphabetic characters. In response, USCIS cannot expand the number
    of characters permitted in the form's data fields or permit symbols and
    special characters. The technology used for the bar coding of the forms
    and the upload of the forms incorporates data standards that are
    intended to insure the integrity of the data that is captured and
    facilitate the flow of the data into information collection, storage
    and reporting systems. The form data standards impose limits on the
    size of fields and the use of special characters based on what past
    results and research

    [[Page 64303]]

    show are the parameters that provide the best results while still
    serving the needs of respondents and DHS. As such, the data fields
    cannot permit an unlimited number or type of characters. Nevertheless,
    USCIS believes the data elements can accommodate the requirements of
    most attorneys and accredited representatives. USCIS also provides a
    new Part 6. Additional Information section in the form to allow
    respondents to add or address any additional responses that may exceed
    the current field limits.
    One commenter requested that USCIS add a space on the Form G-28/28I
    to indicate who is an authorized signatory for represented entities
    that are filing the related immigration benefit request. USCIS
    understands that who is an authorized signatory for an entity is not
    defined on all USCIS forms or by regulations and it may not always be
    clear. Nevertheless, Form G-28/28I is not the proper form for entities
    to use to designate an authorized signatory because it is used only to
    identify the petitioner/applicant's attorney or accredited
    representative of record to DHS. DHS and USCIS will explore whether
    this issue needs to be addressed in a future rulemaking, field office
    guidance, form instructions, or other policy instruments. Meanwhile,
    all benefit requests require the person signing the request to possess
    the authority to file the request on the applicant or petitioner's
    behalf. Where USCIS has reason to doubt the person's authority to sign,
    we may send a request for evidence as necessary to establish that the
    person has the requisite authority.
    One commenter requested that USCIS move all signature blocks to the
    same place at bottom of the page. USCIS is uncertain what the commenter
    is requesting. The signature of the applicant, petitioner, or
    respondent precedes the signature of the attorney or accredited
    representative on the final page of the Form G-28/28I, and they are
    followed only by a section of the form which permits necessary
    additional information. The commenter is invited to submit clarifying
    comments in response to this notice.
    One commenter complained that USCIS regularly fails to associate a
    new Form G-28/28I with the case when the form is filed to indicate that
    a pending, previously unrepresented filer, now has representation, or
    when the filer of the benefit request submits a new Form G-28/28I to
    indicate that it has a new representative. USCIS endeavors to make sure
    that each case reflects that it is subject to representation when a
    valid Form G-28/28I is filed. Nonetheless, USCIS processes millions of
    immigration benefit requests per year and much of the adjudication
    continues to be a paper-reliant process. As cases are adjudicated,
    files proceed through a number of steps, including intake, receipting,
    background and security checks, and routing to the proper office for
    further processing. As a result, immediately associating a subsequently
    filed Form G-28/28I with the client's case is not always possible.
    Nonetheless, USCIS appreciates the commenter's views and will strive to
    improve the precision of its process and service to its customers. If
    any attorney or accredited representative is concerned that his or her
    G-28/G-28I has not reached the appropriate USCIS office, we encourage
    you to contact the National Customer Service Line for information on
    how to the notify the appropriate USCIS office handling your client's
    case of your authorized representation.
    One commenter has asked USCIS to revise the fillable form to allow
    the attorney to write in the state two-letter abbreviations without
    requiring that they search through an alphabetical listing of all state
    abbreviations in a drop-down menu. USCIS agrees with this comment.
    Thus, we will adopt the suggestion when we revise the form.
    One commenter requested that the form permit a period to be placed
    in the address data element so, for example, addresses such as North
    Main Street may be N. Main, Court may be Ct., and Boulevard can be
    Blvd. As stated previously, USCIS follows standards in form development
    that insure the integrity of the data collected and uploaded into its
    systems. In addition, guidance from the U.S. Postal Service about
    addressing mail states: ``Avoid commas, periods, or other punctuation--
    it helps your mailpiece speed through our processing equipment.'' See
    https://www.usps.com/ship/addressing-tips.htm. Thus, the commenter's
    suggestion is not adopted.
    In the notice, USCIS requested comments on the new features of Form
    G-28/G-28I regarding the USCIS notification practices relating to
    represented parties that DHS is promulgating in this final rule. One
    commenter suggested that DHS should send all original correspondence,
    including notices, Permanent Resident Cards, and Employment
    Authorization Documents, to the attorney of record when USCIS has been
    informed that the filer is represented. The commenter suggested that
    only courtesy copies be sent to the represented party, because their
    clients often move and the mail may not make it to them at their new
    address.
    DHS and USCIS understand and appreciate the commenters view. As
    stated elsewhere in this preamble, however, INS proposed in 1991 that
    all notices, cards and documents be sent to the representative as the
    commenter suggests. Commenters largely opposed the proposal and argued
    that INS should continue to issue separate notices. See 59 FR 1455. INS
    agreed with the commenters and in the final rule required separate
    notices to be sent to the applicant or petitioner and his or her
    authorized representative. Id. at 1463. One commenter on this notice
    requested this change. The commenter's suggestion will not be adopted
    and the represented client will be permitted to choose where notices
    and secure identity documents are sent.
    One commenter requested that USCIS add a column for Department of
    State filings in Part 3, section 1, of the Form G-28/28I. The comment
    did not expand on that request. Part 3 of the form is the Eligibility
    Information for the Attorney. USCIS knows of no edit to that section
    that would convey that the representation involves a filing at a U.S.
    consulate or embassy. In addition, while several USCIS immigration
    benefit requests permit filing at a U.S. consulate or embassy, the
    commenter did not provide a reason why such a distinction is necessary
    or helpful on Form G-28/28I and USCIS knows of none. Thus the
    suggestion is not adopted. USCIS welcomes a comment on this notice from
    the commenter clarifying the suggestion.
    One commenter also requested that the Form G-28/28I be revised to
    permit the attorney to enter a foreign state and province in Section 3,
    parts 6d and 6e. Neither Form G-28 nor Form G-28I includes a Section 3,
    nor do they include a part 6d or 6e. Perhaps USCIS has misunderstood
    the comment, because both forms already permit inclusion of foreign
    states and provinces. Thus no changes are made in response to this
    comment. DHS invites the commenter to submit a scanned pen and ink
    markup of his suggested edits in response to this 30-day notice that
    shows the changes the commenter had in mind.
    One commenter requested that USCIS add Internet hyperlinks to the
    form and docket in addition to the docket number in all Federal
    Register notices published for a form revision as required by the PRA.
    USCIS appreciates how much more convenient it is to click on an
    Internet hyperlink that takes you directly to the form or part of a Web
    site upon which you wish to comment

    [[Page 64304]]

    instead of being required to use one's intuition to navigate through
    the parts of a Web site to find a desired document. We would adopt this
    comment if we could. The timing and process of a Federal Register
    notice, however, precludes USCIS from knowing the precise uniform
    resource locator (URL) for viewing the forms until after it has been
    published. In addition, for ease in handling comments, and maintaining
    the docket, DHS wants to utilize the Federal Docket Management System
    docket at http://www.regulations.gov for the official versions of the
    forms and all comments received on each information collection request.
    If a form cannot be found on the Internet, a copy will be provided upon
    request as indicated in the Federal Register notice.
    One commenter requests that USCIS change question 9 on the Form G-
    28/28I to ask for the telephone number at which the individual can best
    be reached, and not ask for a mobile number. USCIS understands the
    comment and agrees that there should be a field to capture the daytime
    telephone number for the applicant or petitioner as the primary contact
    number. USCIS, however, will not delete the mobile telephone number as
    a data element. USCIS asks for the mobile telephone number in Item
    Number 9 to facilitate USCIS text message updates to the applicant and
    petitioner or represented party. For clarification, USCIS will add the
    words ``(if any)'' after the words ``Mobile Telephone Number'' to avoid
    any implication that a mobile telephone number is mandatory.
    One commenter asked USCIS to specify what notices and documents the
    client will receive and what notices and documents the attorney will
    receive if no box is checked on Form G-28/28I, if only box 2a is
    checked, if only box 2b is checked, or if both boxes are checked on the
    form. The commenter did not indicate where or in what manner they are
    suggesting USCIS provide that information. Nevertheless, this final
    rule explains what type of notices, documents, and situations to which
    these changes apply much more in depth than what we provide in the
    instructions for Form G-28/28I or the Federal Register notice. USCIS
    believes the additional explanation in this final rule will clarify
    this issue for the commenter. No additional changes will be made in
    response to the comment.
    One commenter requested that USCIS change the Form G-28/G-28I
    signature requirements to conform to that of U.S. Immigration and
    Customs Enforcement (ICE). The commenter stated that ICE does not
    require represented parties to sign Form G-28 when they are in ICE
    custody or detention. DHS regulations at 8 CFR 103.2(a)(3) and 8 CFR
    292.4(a) require individuals to sign Form G-28/28I. The regulations
    provide no exemption for individuals who are in the custody of law
    enforcement. Thus, USCIS cannot adopt the commenter's suggestion.
    Finally, two commenters expressed general and strong support for
    the changes that USCIS proposed to make to the Form G-28. No commenters
    opposed the proposed changes.
    When submitting comments on this information collection, your
    comments should address one or more of the following four points.
    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for
    the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including
    whether the information will have practical utility;
    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of
    the collection of information, including the validity of the
    methodology and assumptions used;
    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to
    be collected; and
    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those
    who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated,
    electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or
    other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic
    submission of responses.

    Overview of Information Collection

    (1) Type of information collection: Revised information collection.
    (2) Abstract: This information collection is used by DHS to
    determine eligibility of the individual to appear as an authorized
    attorney or accredited representative. Form G-28 is used by attorneys
    admitted to practice in the United States and accredited
    representatives of charitable organizations recognized by the Executive
    Office for Immigration Review, Board of Immigration Appeals. Form G-28I
    is used by attorneys admitted to the practice of law in countries other
    than the United States and applies only to representation in matters in
    DHS offices outside the geographical confines of the United States. If
    the representative is eligible, the form is filed with the case and the
    information is entered into DHS systems for whatever type of
    application or petition it may be.
    (3) Title of Form/Collection: Notice of Entry of Appearance as
    Attorney or Accredited Representative and the Notice of Entry of
    Appearance as Attorney in Matters Outside the Geographical Confines of
    the United States.
    (4) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the
    Department of Homeland Security sponsoring the collection: Form G-28
    and Form G-28I.
    (5) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond:
    Business or other for-profit. The information collected on Form G-28
    and Form G-28I allows an attorney to identify his or her representation
    of a person in matters either within the geographical confines of the
    United States, or outside of the geographical confines of the United
    States respectively.
    (6) An estimate of the total number of annual respondents: For the
    paper Form G-28, 2,223,700 respondents with an average response time of
    .833 hour (50 minutes); for the USCIS ELIS-filed Form G-28, 281,950
    respondents with and average response time of .667 hour (40 minutes);
    for the paper Form G-28I, 25,057 respondents with an average response
    time of .833 hour (50 minutes).
    (7) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated
    with the collection: 2,057,943 annual burden hours.
    Written comments and/or suggestions regarding the estimated public
    burden and associated response time should be directed to DHS and to
    the OMB USCIS Desk Officer. Comments may be submitted to DHS as
    provided in the ADDRESSES section of this preamble and to the OMB USCIS
    Desk Officer via facsimile at 202-395-5806 or via email at
    oira_submission@omb.eop.gov. When submitting comments by email, please
    make sure to add OMB Control Number 1615-0026 in the subject box. All
    submissions received must include the agency name, OMB Control Number
    and Docket ID.

    List of Subjects in 8 CFR Part 103

    Administrative practice and procedure, Authority delegations
    (Government agencies), Freedom of information, Immigration, Privacy,
    Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Surety bonds.

    Accordingly, DHS is amending part 103 of chapter I of title 8 of
    the Code of Federal Regulations to read as follows:

    PART 103--IMMIGRANT BENEFITS; BIOMETRIC REQUIREMENTS: AVAILABILITY
    OF RECORDS

    0
    1. The authority citation for part 103 continues to read as follows:


    [[Page 64305]]


    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301, 552, 552a; 8 U.S.C. 1101, 1103, 1304,
    1356, 1356b; 31 U.S.C. 9701; Public Law 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135 (6
    U.S.C. 1 et seq.); E.O. 12356, 47 FR 14874, 15557, 3 CFR, 1982
    Comp., p. 166; 8 CFR part 2; Pub. L. 112-54.

    Subpart A--Applying for Benefits, Surety Bonds, Fees

    0
    2. Section 103.2(b)(19) is revised to read as follows:


    Sec. 103.2 Submission and adjudication of benefit requests.

    * * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (19) Notification. (i) Unrepresented applicants or petitioners.
    USCIS will only send original notices and documents evidencing lawful
    status based on the approval of a benefit request directly to the
    applicant or petitioner if the applicant or petitioner is not
    represented.
    (ii) Represented applicants or petitioners. (A) Notices. When an
    applicant or petitioner is represented, USCIS will send original
    notices both to the applicant or petitioner and his or her authorized
    attorney or accredited representative. If provided in this title, on
    the applicable form, or on form instructions, an applicant or
    petitioner filing a paper application or petition may request that all
    original notices, such as requests for evidence and notices of
    decision, only be sent to the official business address of the
    applicant's or petitioner's authorized attorney or accredited
    representative, as reflected on a properly executed Notice of Entry of
    Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative. In such instances,
    a courtesy copy of the original notice will be sent to the applicant or
    petitioner.
    (B) Electronic notices. For applications or petitions filed
    electronically, USCIS will notify both the applicant or petitioner and
    the authorized attorney or accredited representative electronically of
    any notices or decisions. Except as provided in paragraph
    (b)(19)(ii)(C) of this section, USCIS will not issue paper notices or
    decisions for electronically-filed applications or petitions, unless:
    (1) The option exists for the applicant or petitioner to request to
    receive paper notices or decisions by mail through the U.S. Postal
    Service, by indicating this preference in his or her electronic online
    account profile in USCIS's electronic immigration system; or
    (2) USCIS, in its discretion, determines that issuing a paper
    notice or decision for an electronically-filed application or petition
    is warranted.
    (C) Approval notices with attached Arrival-Departure Records. USCIS
    will send an original paper approval notice with an attached Arrival-
    Departure Record, reflecting USCIS's approval of an applicant's request
    for an extension of stay or change of status, to the official business
    address of the applicant's or petitioner's attorney or accredited
    representative, as reflected on a properly executed Notice of Entry of
    Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative or in the address
    section of the online representative account profile in USCIS's
    electronic immigration system, unless the applicant specifically
    requests that the original approval notice with an attached Arrival-
    Departure Record be sent directly to his or her mailing address.
    (iii) Secure identity documents. USCIS will send secure
    identification documents, such as a Permanent Resident Card or
    Employment Authorization Document, only to the applicant or self-
    petitioner unless the applicant or self-petitioner specifically
    consents to having his or her secure identification document sent to
    the official business address of the applicant's or self-petitioner's
    attorney of record or accredited representative, as reflected on a
    properly executed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or
    Accredited Representative or in the address section of the online
    representative account profile in USCIS's electronic immigration
    system.
    * * * * *

    Jeh Charles Johnson,
    Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2014-25622 Filed 10-28-14; 8:45 am]
    BILLING CODE 9111-97-P
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