Legal Question in Immigration Law in California


first thanks for your time

i live in USA, calfornia ,almost from 13 years .over stay visa.i got married recently to my girl Friend American citizen chip

and i apply application 1/485 adjustment status/// but i received request to register to (NSEERS) before they complete my application process .never heard about this registration,,aim originally from Jordan....please i need help ,where i have to go to register i went to immigration department they told me they have to find out where i have to this issue going to cause me some problems

thanks for the help

Asked on 4/07/10, 12:39 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Madan Ahluwalia Ahluwalia Law P C

Persons who are citizens of certain countries must undergo a special National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) registration at the port of entry (POE) when coming into the United States, and must make special address reports and follow other special procedures while in the U.S. NSEERS Registration, conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), involves an interview, photograph, and fingerprints, and certain other check-in procedures during one�s stay in the U.S. All visitors and temporary residents have the potential of being subject to NSEERS based on factors other than home country. There also may be follow-up interviews you are required to attend. We have prepared this FAQ to help you determine if you are subject to NSEERS and how that might affect you.

The DHS has posted extensive information on NSEERS on its web site.

(Note that on 02 December 2003 DHS published a regulation terminating some of the in-person reporting requirements.

Archived historical information

On the archive page is information for 4 "call-in" groups. These are persons who were in the U.S. when the rule went into effect and had to make a special trip to a DHS office to register. If you read the countries for each of the 4 "call-in" groups you will have an idea of which persons will also usually undergo NSEERS when they first enter the U.S. in the future. However, this list is only a general indication. A specific decision is made about each person who enters the U.S.

NSEERS Procedures (a short description in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish). Note that these procedures were in effect prior to 02 December 2003. Although this information may be easier to read in your own language, be sure to read the additional information on the main DHS page regarding current NSEERS requirements.





The FAQ below gives you general information. If you have any question about whether you are subject, whether you should report for NSEERS, or how or where you should report, you need to contact an experienced immigration lawyer to discuss your circumstances and your options.

Q1. I have never heard of this before. When did it start? Does it apply to me?

A1. Registration of aliens and address reporting in some form has been part of U.S. law for about 200 years. The most recent major revision of the immigration law occurred as the Immigration and Nationality Act ((INA) of 1952. In general tourists and others coming to the U.S. temporarily accomplish "registration" at the port of entry when they present their passports and are admitted to the U.S. and given the small white card called a Form I-94. The proper admission through a port of entry and issuance of the I-94 allows the DHS to collect the information it needs.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. security community have identified certain countries that appear to be threats to U.S. security. The DOJ and DHS are using their authority to administer new and more comprehensive registration procedures, called "Special Registration," for nationals and citizens of certain countries and for other individuals on an ad hoc basis.

On 12 August 2002, the DHS published a rule requiring NSEERS for all persons from certain countries and for anyone else identified by a consular or immigration officer as a candidate for NSEERS. The rule affects anyone who enters the U.S. on or after 11 September 2002.

DHS published subsequent rules requiring NSEERS of certain persons already in the U.S. who entered prior to 11 September 2002. Most of those persons have now gone through NSEERS, and most NSEERS registration is now done at the port of entry.

Q2. Who is subject to NSEERS?

A2. First note who is not subject. In general if you hold Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR or "green card") status, or if you have submitted an asylum application, or if you hold A or G temporary status you will not be subject to NSEERS.

Generally all persons in temporary status such as F, H, J, M, O, TN, etc. may be subject, depending on their personal circumstances. Subject persons generally fall into three primary categories:

1. From one of the named countries.

2. Identified for NSEERS by a consular officer when applying for a visa.

3. dentified for NSEERS by a DHS officer at a POE.

Q3. How is a consular or DHS officer identifying people for NSEERS?

A3. Per the regulation at 8 CFR 264.1(f)(2)(iii), the pertinent part of the regulation reads:

"(iii) Nonimmigrant aliens who meet pre-existing criteria, or who a consular officer or the inspecting officer has reason to believe meet pre-existing criteria, determined by the Attorney General or the Secretary of State to indicate that such aliens' presence in the United States warrants monitoring in the national security interests �"

The statement seems vague and could apply to anyone. What it really means is that the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security can set criteria that consular and immigration officers can use to determine whether a person should be subject to NSEERS. Examples of such criteria might include recent travel to one of the identified countries or association with an organization based in one of those countries. Also, an immigration officer at the port of entry can make the determination "on the spot" based upon information obtained from travel documents or from the entry interview.

Q4. I am not a national or citizen of one of these countries. How will I know if I am subject?

A4. In general, if you have lived in or visited these countries, or have other ties to them, or show other fact patterns that might indicate a security concern, you may be subject. If you are, at your next exit and return to the U.S. you may be pulled from the admission line at the airport for NSEERS.

Q5. I am a national or citizen of one of those countries and I am already in the U.S., but I did not undergo NSEERS when I arrived. Should I go somewhere to register? What will happen the next time that I travel outside the U.S.?

A5. You need to read the DHS web site information carefully to determine if you are subject to "Call In" registration, which means that you must report to your local DHS office. NSEERS also applies at ports of entry. The next time you leave the U.S. and return, you may be subject to NSEERS.

Q6. If I am subject to NSEERS what are the basic things that I must do?

A6. You must:

1. Report to a Designated DHS Interviewing Office as indicated in the instructions given to you at the port of entry or based on the criteria listed on the DHS web site.

2. Undergo fingerprinting, photographing, and an interview.

3. Report for follow-up interviews per instructions given to you by the DHS port officer or by the DHS interviewing officer. Note that some follow-up interviews were eliminated by the 02 December 2003 change in the regulations.

4. Report any change of address, change of employment, or change of educational institution within 10 days of any such change using methods of notification specified by DHS. See Q8 for details regarding address reporting for those in F, M, or J status.

5. Depart the U.S. only through designated ports of departure.

Q7. Where are the Designated DHS Interviewing Offices?

A7. For people in the Mobile area, the nearest office is DHS in New Orleans, LA. DHS publishes a list of Designated DHS Interviewing Offices on its web site at

Q8. How do I report changes of address, employment, or educational institution?

A8. Within 10 days of a change in your residence address, your employment, or your educational institution, you must report that change to DHS. Most people must report by mail using form AR-11SR. DHS created the Form AR-11SR specifically for making these NSEERS reports. You must mail the form to the address specified on the form. It is a good idea to keep a copy of what you submit and to send the form by a method that gives you confirmation of delivery/receipt at DHS. DHS publishes the Form AR-11SR and instructions on its web site at

Two important notes regarding address reporting.

1. Those persons in F, J, or M status make the address report directly to the school or exchange program, and that school or program reports to DHS via SEVIS. This process of reporting to the school or program applies equally to those who are in NSEERS and those who are not.

2. Those persons not in NSEERS and not in F, J, or M status must report changes of address on Form AR-11.

Q9. Where are the designated ports of departure? Must I really only leave through one of those ports?

A9. If you are subject to NSEERS you must exit the U.S. only from a designated port of departure and report to a DHS inspecting officer prior to leaving that same day. You will receive a list of these ports during the NSEERS process. DHS also maintains and updates a list of departure ports on its web site at

Q10 Does this mean that if I hold a round-trip ticket arriving and departing from Mobile then I must change my flights? This whole process messes up my travel plans. It could be really expensive to change flight cities and dates. What can I do?

A10 Although you may enter through any port, the rule is clear regarding port of departure for those subject to NSEERS.

When you enter the U.S., you need to plan extra time at the port of entry, so that you have time for NSEERS before you have to catch a connecting flight.

When you plan to leave the U.S., you must route through an appropriate exit port, and again leave plenty of time to do the exit paperwork before connecting to the flight outside the U.S.

Q11 I was not subject to NSEERS at my most recent entry into the U.S. Do I need to worry about this in the future?

A11 Regardless of your citizenship or your experience at the last entry, all persons are subject to review based on both the "country," and the "security concerns" criteria mentioned above. Each entry into the U.S. is a new entry with a new review of your circumstances.

Q12 What if I just don�t want to do this and decide not report to the DHS to register? What if I forget or refuse to check in when required? What if I just get in a car and drive out of the U.S. across the Canadian or Mexican border? Who would know? What are the penalties?

A12 If you are at a port of entry you have the right to refuse to undergo NSEERS, which means that you will be denied entry and sent back home. Very likely you will be held in detention at the DHS office at the airport until the next plane goes back. "Detention" is DHS�s way of saying, "locked in" at the DHS airport office. The physical environment of detention facilities differs at different airports and border crossings.

If you refuse to report to the DHS or to exit from an appropriate port, you can be declared deportable or removable and forcibly removed from the U.S. or be declared inadmissible and prevented from entering the U.S. at any time in the future.

You have the right to file a request with the DHS to be released or exempted from NSEERS, but you are still subject to the rule unless and until DHS gives you a statement in writing that releases you.

If you plan to pursue any of these courses we strongly recommend that you talk with an experienced immigration lawyer.

Q13 I have read the categories and looked at the DHS web site and I am still not sure if I am really subject to NSEERS, or what I should do. How can I be sure what to do?

A13 It is true that it may be difficult to determine if you are subject to NSEERS. You may have been born in one of these countries when your parents were there temporarily as diplomats or for business. Your parents may have been born there, but you were not, and you don�t know if you have citizenship through your parents. You may not believe you are a citizen, but the country may claim you as a citizen anyway.

The penalties for failing to register are severe, but you do not want to undergo NSEERS if it is not necessary. If you have any question about whether you are subject, whether you should report for NSEERS, or how and where you should report, you need to contact an experienced immigration lawyer to discuss your circumstances and your options.

Q14 OK, I am from one of the named countries or have connections to them. I am feeling a little frustrated and anxious about this process. I am not a terrorist. Neither are my family members. We haven�t done anything wrong. Can�t I just convince DHS of that be left alone to go to school or teach or do my research?

A14 As indicated above, you may apply to DHS to be released from NSEERS. DHS has details for application on its web site. But don�t expect easy or quick success. We strongly suggest that you seek the help of an immigration attorney for this process. You may also want to visit the web site of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) at to see what concerned Americans, civil rights lawyers, and those affected by NSEERS are saying or doing about this process.

These are difficult times for all of us. A long period of stability may bring a relaxation of the rules, as has happened in the past. Lawyers may be successful in bringing suits against the government to force changes. For now, we have to manage under these rules.

Citizens and nationals of the named countries are by no means the only ones to have been under close scrutiny in the U.S. in the country�s 200-year history. Remember that people from China, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Germany, and other locations have all been the focus of special interest in the past, as have people of many different religions.

Read more
Answered on 4/12/10, 3:29 pm

Related Questions & Answers

More Immigration Law questions and answers in California