[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 86 (Monday, May 5, 1997)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 24332-24334]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-11519]


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DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Bureau of Consular Affairs

22 CFR Part 41

[Public Notice 2538]


Visas: Documentation of Nonimmigrants Under the Immigration and 
Nationality Act; Validity of Nonimmigrant Visas

AGENCY: Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department has been developing for a number of years a 
machine-readable nonimmigrant visa (MRV). The MRV is a durable, long-
lasting adhesive foil designed to improve security and protect against 
counterfeiting. MRVs are affixed in passports and contain: specific 
biographic data on the bearer, a digitized photograph of the alien, and 
specially encoded machine-readable data. MRVs are now being used 
exclusively at consular posts abroad, having replaced old-style 
mechanically-stamped visas. The Department, therefore, is modifying 
regulatory language to comport with the new MRV technology.
    The Department also is removing an obsolete regulation relating to 
the issuance of visas on official identity cards produced under the 
auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

DATES: This rule is effective May 5, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Chief, Legislation and Regulations Division, Visa Office, 
Department of State, 2401 E Street, NW, Room L603-C, SA-1, Washington, 
D.C. 20520-0106.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen K. Fischel, Chief, Legislation 
and Regulations Division, (202) 663-1203.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The practice of placing United States visas 
into foreign passports has progressed through three stages, the use of 
a simple hand stamp, to a machine-driven automated stamp, and now, to a 
more sophisticated machine readable visa technology that provides 
greater security and anti-counterfeiting features. As a result of the 
new MRV technology, a number of visa issuance procedures codified in 
the Department's regulations at 22 CFR 41.113 have become outmoded, or 
need updating.

Machine Readable Visas (MRVs)

    Section 4604 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, (Pub. L. 100-690), 
enacted

[[Page 24333]]

November 18, 1988, mandated the development of a machine-readable 
travel and identity document to improve border entry and departure 
control using an automated data-capture system. As a result, the 
Department developed the Machine Readable Visa, a durable, long-lasting 
adhesive foil made out of Teslin.
    Before MRVs, nonimmigrant visas were issued using a device called a 
Standard Register protectograph, otherwise known as a Burroughs 
certifier machine. It produced what was colloquially known as a 
``Burroughs visa,'' an indelible ink impression mechanically stamped 
directly onto a page in the alien's passport. Over time, Burroughs 
machines were gradually replaced by MRV technology, which is now used 
exclusively by all nonimmigrant visa issuing posts throughout the 
world.
    22 CFR 41.113(a) prescribes that a nonimmigrant visa shall be 
evidenced by a ``stamp'' placed in the alien's passport. 22 CFR 
41.113(d) defines the format that the ``visa stamp'' is to take. 
Accordingly, the Department is modifying 22 CFR 41.113(d) to encompass 
within the meaning of ``visa stamp'' the Machine Readable Visa foil. 22 
CFR 41.113(d) is also being redsignated herein as 22 CFR 41.113(c), as 
explained below.

Cessation of Indefinite Visa Validity for ``B'' Visas

    Prior to MRV technology, Burroughs visas were issued to alien 
visitors for indefinite validity periods whenever an enabling 
reciprocal arrangement was established between the United States and a 
particular foreign government. Because a Burroughs visa would last for 
the life of the passport containing it, consular officers were 
authorized to issue, where appropriate, a nonimmigrant visitor visa 
with an indefinite validity period. MRVs, however, have a lifespan of 
ten years. Consequently, in anticipation of replacing Burroughs visas 
with MRVs, the Department instructed all posts, effective April 4, 
1994, to cease issuing visitor visas with indefinite validity. The 
maximum validity for a nonimmigrant visa is now ten years.
    22 CFR 41.113(c) refers to the issuance of indefinite validity 
visas. Since this provision has been rendered obsolete with the 
introduction of MRV technology, it is being eliminated. Accordingly, 22 
CFR 41.113(d) is being redesignated as 22 CFR 41.113(c).
    22 CFR 41.113(f), which makes reference to indefinite validity, is 
being amended and redesignated as 22 CFR 41.113(e).

Elimination of the ``Bearer(s)'' Annotation

    Burroughs visas contained a space in which a consular employee was 
required to write the name of the alien to whom the visa was being 
issued. An alien's passport might also include family members, such as 
a spouse, or children, who also had to be listed on the visa. In March 
1983, in order to expedite the issuance of nonimmigrant visas and to 
improve operational efficiency, the Department authorized the use of a 
``bearer(s)'' stamp for certain countries so that consular officers 
would not have to spend time writing in the applicant's name (and those 
of accompanying family members). MRVs, however, must be issued 
individually to qualified aliens. Consequently, the ``bearer'' 
annotation has become obsolete.
    22 CFR 41.113(e) is being redesignated as 22 CFR 41.113(d), and is 
being amended to remove procedures relating to the ``bearer'' 
annotation, and to reflect changes in terminology brought about by MRV 
technology.

Elimination of Signature Requirement

    As a result of the enhanced security afforded by MRVs, the 
signature requirement at 22 CFR 41.113(h) is being eliminated and 22 
CFR 41.113 (i) and (j) are being redesignated as 22 CFR 41.113 (h) and 
(i), respectively.

Restriction to Specific Port of Entry

    22 CFR 41.113(g) is redesignated as 22 CFR 41.113(f) and is 
modified to reflect changes to that section brought about by the new 
MRV technology.

Elimination of Special Regulations for International Games

    The Department is removing its regulation at 22 CFR 41.113(k) 
relating to international sporting events. The regulation was created 
to facilitate the issuance of United States visas on official identity 
cards issued under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee 
(IOC); however, it has never been used, and the Department believes it 
unlikely that it ever will be.
    Under 41.113(k)(2), in order to be recognized as a valid travel 
document (see INA 101(a)(30) and 212(a)(7)(B)(i)(I)), an IOC-issued 
identity card requires the signature of a competent authority of the 
participating government signifying that the bearer of the card will be 
permitted reentry rights for up to six months beyond the expiration 
date of the card. In practice, the above requirement has never been 
satisfied for any international sporting event for which it was 
designed, chiefly because of the enormous administrative difficulty in 
securing authorization from participating governments for the use of an 
OIC-issued card as a valid travel document. Since the regulation has no 
apparent practical applicability, it is being eliminated.

Conclusion

    In light of the foregoing, the Department is amending part 41 of 
Title 22 CFR of the Code of Federal Regulations to comport with the use 
of the machine-readable visa. The Department's regulations are, 
therefore, being amended to reflect the use of the MRV, to eliminate 
the use of the ``bearer(s)'' annotation, to limit the maximum validity 
of nonimmigrant visas to a maximum of ten years, and to remove the 
requirement of the consular officer's signature.

Final Rule

    The introduction of the machine readable visa has necessitated 
changes in the Department's procedural regulations at 22 CFR 41.113.
    The implementation of this rule as a final rule, rather than a 
proposed rule, is based upon the ``good cause'' exceptions established 
by 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) and 553(d)(3). This rule grants or recognizes an 
exemption or relieves a restriction and is considered beneficial to the 
United States Government.
    This rule is not expected to have a significant impact on a 
substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (15 U.S.C. 605(b)). This rule imposes no 
reporting or record-keeping action from the public requiring the 
approval of the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act requirements. This rule has been reviewed as required by 
E.O. 12988 and certified to be in compliance therewith. This rule is 
exempted from E.O. 12866 but has been reviewed to ensure consistency 
therewith.

List of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 41

    Aliens, Nonimmigrants, Passports and visas, Visa validity.

    In view of the foregoing, 22 CFR is amended as follows:

PART 41--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for part 41 continues to read:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1104.

    2. Section 41.113 is amended by removing paragraphs (c), (h), and 
(k) and redesignating paragraphs (d) through (g), (i) and (j) as 
paragraphs (c) through (h), and revising paragraphs (a), (b), and newly 
designated paragraphs (c) through (f) to read as follows:

[[Page 24334]]

Sec. 41.113  Procedures in issuing visas.

    (a) Visa evidenced by stamp placed in passport. Except as provided 
in paragraphs (b) of this section, a nonimmigrant visa shall be 
evidenced by a visa stamp placed in the alien's passport. The 
appropriate symbol as prescribed in 41.12 , showing the classification 
of the alien, shall be entered on the visa.
    (b) Cases in which visa not placed in passport. In the following 
cases the visa shall be placed on the prescribed Form OF-232. In 
issuing such a visa, a notation shall be made on the Form OF-232 on 
which the visa is placed specifying the pertinent subparagraph of this 
paragraph under which the action is taken.
    (1) The alien's passport was issued by a government with which the 
United States does not have formal diplomatic relations, unless the 
Department has specifically authorized the placing of the visa in such 
passport;
    (2) The alien's passport does not provide sufficient space for the 
visa;
    (3) The passport requirement has been waived; or
    (4) In other cases as authorized by the Department.
    (c) Visa stamp. A machine-readable nonimmigrant visa foil, or other 
indicia as directed by the Department, shall constitute a visa 
``stamp,'' and shall be in a format designated by the Department, and 
contain, at a minimum, the following data:
    (1) Full name of the applicant;
    (2) Visa type/class;
    (3) Location of the visa issuing office;
    (4) Passport number;
    (5) Sex;
    (6) Date of birth;
    (7) Nationality;
    (8) Number of applications for admission or the letter ``M'' for 
multiple entries;
    (9) Date of issuance;
    (10) Date of expiration;
    (11) Visa control number.
    (d) Insertion of name; petition and derivative status notation. (1) 
The surname and given name of the visa recipient shall be shown on the 
visa in the space provided.
    (2) If the visa is being issued upon the basis of a petition 
approved by the Attorney General, the number of the petition, if any, 
the period for which the alien's admission has been authorized, and the 
name of the petitioner shall be reflected in the annotation field on 
the visa.
    (3) In the case of an alien who derives status from a principal 
alien, the name and position of the principal alien shall be reflected 
in the annotation field of the visa.
    (e) Period of validity. If a nonimmigrant visa is issued for an 
unlimited number of applications for admission within the period of 
validity, the letter ``M'' shall be shown under the word ``entries''. 
Otherwise the number of permitted applications for admission shall be 
identified numerically. The date of issuance and the date of expiration 
of the visa shall be shown at the appropriate places in the visa by 
day, month and year in that order. The standard three letter 
abbreviation for the month shall be used in all cases.
    (f) Restriction to specified port of entry. If a nonimmigrant visa 
is valid for admission only at one or more specified ports of entry, 
the names of those ports shall be entered in the annotation field. In 
cases where there is insufficient room to list the ports of entry, they 
shall be listed by hand on a clean passport page. Reference shall be 
made in the visa's annotation field citing the passport page upon which 
the ports are listed.
    (g) Delivery of visa and disposition of Form OF-156. In issuing a 
nonimmigrant visa, the consular officer shall deliver the visaed 
passport, or the prescribed Form OF-232, which bears the visa, to the 
alien or, if personal appearance has been waived, to the authorized 
representative. The executed Form OF-156, Nonimmigrant Visa 
Application, and any additional evidence furnished by the alien in 
accordance with 41.103(b) shall be retained in the consular files.
    (h) Disposition of supporting documents. Original supporting 
documents furnished by the alien shall be returned for presentation, if 
necessary, to the immigration authorities at the port of entry, and a 
notation to that effect shall be made on the Form OF-156. Duplicate 
copies may be retained in the consular files.

    Dated: April 22, 1997.
Mary A. Ryan,
Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs.
[FR Doc. 97-11519 Filed 5-2-97; 8:45 am]
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