Immigration News Update

DHS Announces Taiwan now part of Visa Waiver Program

On October 2, Janet Napolitano announced that the Department of Homeland Security has designated Taiwan as a participating country in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The Visa Waiver Program allows passport holders from participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for 90 or fewer days of business or tourism travel. Currently, there are 36 other countries that participate in the VWP, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia and others. A full list of participating countries and additional information about the Visa Waiver Program can be found at the State Department website: Eligible Taiwan passport holders will be able to travel to the U.S. without a visa beginning November 1, 2012, after they are approved for advanced authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

United States and Mexico beginning Interior Repatriation Initiative

Earlier this week, ICE officials and the Mexican Ministry of the Interior announced the beginning o f a pilot program to provide “humane, safe and orderly” repatriation of Mexican nationals to the interior of Mexico and ultimately to their hometowns, rather than returning them to towns on the U.S. – Mexico border. According to ICE, their Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) will transport Mexican nationals via charter aircraft to Mexico City. Once nationals arrive in Mexico City, Mexican authorities will provide them with transportation to their towns and communities of origin.

ICE touts this program as a means of allowing Mexican authorities to assist returning Mexican nationals in safely reintegrating into their communities. Historically, a statistically significant number of Mexican nationals who are removed from the United States are not from the northern border towns to which they were being transported by the U.S. government. This initiative aims to minimize the loss of life and potential for exploitation by criminal organizations of Mexican nationals who attempt to enter the United States without inspection or authorization.

The first repatriation flight of 131 Mexican nationals departed the El Paso International Airport on Tuesday of this week.

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