Integrity Legal

Archive for June, 2010

30th June 2010

This blog primarily reports upon issues revolving around US Family Visas. With that in mind the following announcement was made in a press release from the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Ombudsman, this quote is provided by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

During FY 2009 and FY 2010, usage of family-based visas has been exceptionally low, especially among spouses and children of green card holders (the F-2A preference category). In FY 2009, approximately 10,000 family-based visas were unused and, by statute, were reallocated for use by employment-based immigrants in FY 2010.

It is interesting to note the relative lack of interest in Family based visas under preference category F-2A because, in this author’s experience, there is little decline in the demand for spouse and family based visas for the immediate relatives of American Citizens. That said, there seems to have been a slight decrease in demand for the K1 visa in Thailand, but this is likely attributable to the recent unrest in the city of Bangkok.

For those readers who are unaware, United States Citizens may petition for their foreign fiancee to travel to the USA on a K1 Fiance Visa. After arrival the fiancee must marry the American petitioner within 90 days of entry and subsequently file an application for adjustment of status. Those American Citizens with a spouse overseas may petition for a US Marriage Visa. There are multiple marriage visa categories although the once popular K3 Visa is no longer being processed by the National Visa Center where the underlying visa petition arrives contemporaneously or before the K3 visa application.

For those who are not United States Citizens, a K1 visa is not available for the fiancees of Lawful Permanent Residents. Furthermore, the spouse of a Lawful Permanent Resident is not given high priority compared to the spouse of a US Citizen. This preference has existed for a relatively long period of time. There are those who argue for “rolling over” the balance of preference petitions in order to provide a chance for later applicants to enjoy the higher relative priority. That being said, current Immigration policy favors employment petitions if there is are any unused visa numbers in the aforementioned family based category.

Some speculate that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will have a dramatic impact upon the overall Immigration system, but for now the current system remains and those seeking a family based visa in the F-2a category would be wise to file sooner rather than later.

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29th June 2010

The administration of this blog attempts to provide relevant information to those travelers and immigrants seeking visas and other services at US Diplomatic and Consular Posts overseas. Over the past few days, we have been posting information regarding the holiday closing schedules of Posts in China. Below are the holiday closing schedules for US Consulates in China. The following is a direct quote from the website of the US Consulate in Shanghai:

The Embassy is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We are closed on the following American and Chinese holidays:

2010 Official American and Chinese holidays

January 1                   Friday                New Year’s Day*** January  18                Monday             Martin Luther Jr.’s Birthday*
February 13-17          Sat-Wed           Chinese (Lunar) New Year**
February 15               Monday             President’s Day*
April 5                        Monday             Tomb Sweeping Day**
May 1-3                      Sat-Mon            International Labor Day**
May 31                       Monday             Memorial Day**
June 16                      Wednesday       Dragon Boat Festival**
July 5                          Monday             Independence Day*
September 6              Monday              Labor Day*
September 22            Wednesday       Mid-Autumn Festival**
October 1-5                Fri-Tuesday       Chinese National Day**
October 11                 Monday             Columbus Day*
November 11              Thursday           Veteran’s Day*
November 25              Thursday           Thanksgiving Day*
December 24              Friday                Christmas Day*
December 31              Friday                New Year’s Day (2011)*

*     American Holidays
**   Chinese Holidays
*** Chinese and American Holidays

The following is a direct quote from the website of the US Consulate in Shenyang:

The Consulate is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. We are closed on the following American and Chinese holidays:

Date Weekday Holiday Nation
January 1 Friday New Year’s Day US & China
January 18 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr’s Birthday US
February 13-17 Sat-Wed Lunar New Year China
February 15 Monday Presidents’ Day US
April 5 Monday Tomb Sweeping Day China
May 1-3 Sat-Mon International Labor Day China
May 31 Monday Memorial Day US
June 16 Wednesday Dragon Boat Festival China
July 5 Monday Independence Day US
September 6 Monday Labor Day US
September 22 Wednesday Mid-Autumn Festival China
October 1-5 Fri-Tue Chinese National Day China
October 11 Monday Columbus Day US
November 11 Thursday Veterans’ Day US
November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving Day US
December 24 Friday Christmas Day

Information imparted below is quoted from the website of the US Consulate in Wuhan:

Holidays for 2010

***    January 1                Friday                   New Year’s Day
*        January 18              Monday                Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
**      February 13-17       Sat-Wed              Chinese (Lunar) New Year
*        February 15            Monday                President’s Day
**      April 5                     Monday                Tomb Sweeping Day
**      May 1-3                  Sat-Mon                International Labor Day
*        May 31                   Monday                 Memorial Day
**      June 16                  Wednesday           Dragon Boat Festival
*        July 5                      Monday                 Independence Day
*        September 6          Monday                  Labor Day
**      September 22        Wednesday           Mid-Autumn Festival
**      October 1-5            Fri-Tuesday           Chinese National Day
*        October 11             Monday                 Columbus Day
*        November 11         Thursday                Veterans’ Day
*        November 25         Thursday                Thanksgiving Day
*        December 24         Friday                     Christmas Day

*     American Holidays
**   Chinese Holidays
*** Chinese and American Holidays

Finally, below is the holiday closing schedule of the US Consulate in Chengdu as quoted from the US Consulate’ official website:

The Consulate is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. We are CLOSED on the following American and Chinese holidays:

DATE

EVENT

January 1 Friday

New Year’s Day***

January 18 Monday

Martin Luther King, Jr.’ Birthday*

February 13-17 Sat-Wed

Chinese Lunar New Year**

February 15 Monday

President’s Day*

April 5 Monday

Tomb Sweeping Day**

May 1-3 Sat-Mon

International Labor Day**

May 31 Monday

Memorial Day*

June 16 Wednesday

Dragon Boat Festival**

July 5 Monday

Independence Day*

September 6 Monday

Labor Day*

September 22 Wednesday

Mid-Autumn Festival**

October 1-5 Fri-Tuesday

Chinese National Day**

October 11 Monday

Columbus Day*

November 11 Thursday

Veterans’ Day*

November 25 Thursday

Thanksgiving Day*

December 24 Friday

Christmas Day*

December 31 Friday New Years Day (2011)*

*      American Holiday
**    Chinese Holiday—Chinese Government offices will be closed
***  Chinese and American Holidays

Those seeking visas overseas such as an Immigrant visa or a K1 visa are wise to contact the relevant Post in order to ascertain the protocols for visa interview. Those seeking assistance from an American Citizen Services (ACS) section of a US Post overseas are prudent to contact the Post prior to arrival as many Posts allow appointments for matters before the ACS unit.

For information regarding attorney assistance with Consular Processing in Bangkok, Thailand please see: US Embassy Thailand.

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28th June 2010

On this blog we regularly post information of general interest to Americans or prospective immigrants seeking services at American Embassies or Consulates abroad. The following is the posted holiday closing schedule for the United States Consulate-General in Guangzhou, China. The following is a direct quotation from the US Embassy in China’s website:

We are CLOSED on the following American and Chinese holidays.

Date

Weekday

Holiday

Nation

January 1 Friday New Year’s Day US & China
January 18 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday US
February 13 - 17 Saturday – Wednesday Chinese (Lunar) New Year China
February 15 Monday President’s Day US
April 5 Monday Tomb Sweeping Day China
May 1 – 3 Saturday – Monday International Labor Day China
May 31 Monday Memorial Day US
June 16 Wednesday Dragon Boat Festival China
July 5 Monday Independence Day US
September 6 Monday Labor Day US
September 22 Wednesday Mid-Autumn Festival China
October 1 – 5 Friday - Tuesday Chinese National Day China
October 11 Monday Columbus Day US
November 11 Thursday Veterans’ Day US
November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving Day US
December 24 Friday Christmas Day US
December 31 Friday New Year’s Day (2011)

Holiday closure schedules can be very important for Americans as there often arise situations in which an American believes that the closest US Embassy or US Consulate will be open for business when, in fact, the Embassy or Consulate is closed for a holiday in the host country or one of the more obscure US holidays. This author has personally been the victim of this problem when traveling to the US Embassy in Bangkok and realizing that the Embassy was closed for American Veterans Day. To save others time and  frustration, we try to post these lists so that travelers can plan accordingly.

Many Americans traveling overseas find that they need the assistance of an American Citizen Services (ACS) section of an American Embassy or Consulate overseas. Many find that they need ACS to produce a replacement US passport, add visa pages, or, in some cases, more serious matters must be dealt with that can only be executed by an American Consular Officer.

In situations where a prospective immigrant to the United States wishes to set a visa interview appointment for a K1 visa, a K3 visa, a CR1 visa, or an IR1 visa it may be best if the applicant makes an appointment prior to traveling to the Post in order to be sure that the Post is functioning upon arrival. This is also the case for those seeking a non-immigrant visa such as a B1 visa, B2 visa, F1 visa, or J1 visa. Interviews for these types of travel documents are usually scheduled in advance, but it is recommended that one contact the post prior to interview in order to be fully apprised as to the pertinent protocols.

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27th June 2010

On this blog, we try to provide information for those individuals (be they American Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or prospective immigrants) who may have business with US Embassies and Consulates overseas. That said, the following information is quoted from the website of the United States Embassy in Beijing, China:

The Embassy is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We are closed on the following American and Chinese holidays:

Embassy Holidays for 2010

***    January 1          Friday                  New Year’s Day
*       January 18         Monday                Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
**     February 13-17   Sat-Wed               Chinese (Lunar) New Year
*       February 15        Monday                President’s Day
**     April 5                Monday                Tomb Sweeping Day
**     May 1-3             Sat-Mon               International Labor Day
*       May 31              Monday                 Memorial Day
**     June 16              Wednesday           Dragon Boat Festival
*      July 5                 Monday                 Independence Day
*      September 6        Monday                 Labor Day
**    September 22       Wednesday           Mid-Autumn Festival
**    October 1-5         Fri-Tuesday           Chinese National Day
*      October 11          Monday                Columbus Day
*      November 11       Thursday               Veterans’ Day
*      November 25       Thursday               Thanksgiving Day
*      December 24       Friday                   Christmas Day

Those who may be traveling to any US Embassy or US Consulate abroad are generally wise to at least attempt to make an appointment to visit the Embassy in advance. This is particularly true for those seeking assistance from the American Citizen Services Section of US Missions abroad. In many cases, an appointment can be made in advance and this allows the Consular Officers to better anticipate customer needs thereby streamlining the overall process. Those seeking an appointment should first find the official website of the US Embassy in their country of residence and make scheduling decisions accordingly.

In the case of those seeking visas to the USA, American Consulates generally make visa interview appointment on a “first come, first serve” basis. As each post has different administrative protocols it may be wise to contact an Embassy directly if one is seeking a non-immigrant visa to the USA. In the case of Immigrant visas (or pseudo-immigrant visas such as the K1 visa or the K3 Visa) an appointment for interview is generally made after the Embassy or Consulate receives the prospective immigrant’s application package from the National Visa Center. In some cases, a Direct Consular Filing may be available to those prospective immigrants with an American Citizen spouse residing in the Consular District. In any case, many opt to consult an American lawyer prior to submitting an application or petition for a US Marriage Visa or a US fiance visa.

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26th June 2010

In a recent posting on the Chiang Mai Mail website, issues surrounding foreigners’ rights in Thailand were discussed. The issues came up in the context of a recent road show conducted by the Thai Ministry of the Interior. Foreigners residing in Thailand sometimes find it difficult to fully exercise their rights as the rules themselves can be somewhat vague. For example, the issue of alien registration on a Thai Tabien Baan can be confusing as few foreign nationals are fully aware of their right’s regarding registration. To quote the Chiang Mai Mail’s report about the recent Interior Ministry Roadshow:

Holders of Permanent residency can get a blue book (Tor Ror 14) and holders of temporary visas can get on the yellow book (Tor Ror 13) before they can apply for naturalization. The Provincial Administration reiterated an important point, that foreigners have the right to be listed on the census registration, “It is not well known even among officials. We have contacted registration officials that you have this right and you should insist on it.”

For many, registration on a Yellow Tabien Baan is beneficial because many Thai government offices view a Tabien Baan as definitive proof of lawful presence in Thailand and use the information in the Tabien Baan accordingly. Another issue that came up at the aforementioned roadshow was the issue of naturalization of those seeking Thai Citizenship. In the past, the language requirements for naturalization were rather stringent. During the recent roadshow the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry commented upon the revised linguistic requirements for naturalization to Thai Citizenship:

The requirements for naturalization were laid out, including the income requirements for both those married to Thais and those not married to Thais. The linguistics requirement has been reduced but the applicant must be able to sing the National and Royal anthems. Speaking and listening is mandatory but reading and writing is no longer required.

Finally, of particular interest to many foreign nationals in Thailand is that of the 90 day “check in” for foreigners present in the Kingdom on a “temporary” visa such as a Thai business visa or a Thai O visa. Regarding the Ministry of Interior’s stance on the issue, the Chiang Mai Mail was quoted as saying:

The next issue under discussion was Immigration and the right of habitation. Immigration officials discussed the various visas and how to obtain them as well as how to obtain Permanent Residency. The main issue of contention brought up by multiple Consul Generals, including Japanese Consul General Junko Yakata, was that of the 90 day reporting required of all foreigners on long stay visa extensions. Consul General Yakata told the officials that there are 3,000 Japanese nationals living in Northern Thailand. She requested a simplification of the process, perhaps by extending the length of time needed in between reports.

Chinese Consul General Zhu Weimin requested a change in the 90 day reporting procedure as well, citing the large numbers of Chinese students who attend Chiang Mai schools who cannot take time off from school to travel to Immigration to report. He suggested they open on the weekends for those who have jobs and classes.

The official justified the 90 day reporting by saying “it allows us the best possible protection. If someone goes missing then we have more recent information as to their whereabouts to give to the Embassy.”

90 day reporting is currently required of those foreigners remaining in Thailand on a Thai visa extension. Anyone in the Kingdom on an extension must report their address every 90 days. As can be gathered from the above quotation, some foreign nationals in Thailand feel that the 90 day reporting requirement is cumbersome. However, Thai authorities seem unwilling to change the rules as the current system would seem to provide the most efficient method of maintaining records as to the last known addresses of foreign nationals in Thailand. This is important as Thai authorities can use the data from 90 day reporting to apprise foreign governments of the location of their citizens for purposes of death or disappearance in Thailand. In this author’s opinion, the 90 day reporting scheme is rather cumbersome, but no one, as of yet, has provided a feasible alternative which would comport to the needs of all concerned.

For Related Information please see: Thailand Permanent Residence.

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25th June 2010

Marriage Fraud as well as Immigration Fraud are a serious issues in the eyes of those agencies tasked with the job of adjudicating visa petitions and enforcing American law with regard to admission to the United States. With that in mind, it should be noted that domestically the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE) has jurisdiction to enforce immigration regulations as well as decisions issued by Immigration courts. The following is a direct quote from a recently promulgated press release from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A U.S. citizen, who was paid to engage in a phony marriage with a Cambodian national to evade immigration laws, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court. The guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Justin Michael Martin, 25, of Georgetown, Ky., pleaded guilty June 22 in the Western District of Kentucky
to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and marriage fraud. Martin admitted that between Jan. 1, 2000 and April 7, 2010, he knowingly reached an agreement with Yota Em, Phearoun Peter Em, aka Sophea Lim, and Michael Chanthou Chin to knowingly enter into a marriage to evade U.S. immigration laws. Martin admitted that Phearoun Peter Em drove Martin to a U.S.
Post Office in Lexington to apply for a U.S. passport, and that Phearoun Peter Em paid the passport
application fee. On June 17, 2004, Michael Chanthou Chin drove Martin and others to the Louisville airport. In exchange for a fee, Martin, Phearoun Peter Em, and others traveled from Kentucky to Cambodia. Once in Cambodia, Martin met with Cambodian national Yota Em and agreed to marry her to evade the immigration laws of the United States.


Photographs were taken of Martin and Yota Em during an engagement ceremony on June 25, 2004, and at other locations in Cambodia. While in Cambodia, members of the conspiracy paid for Martin’s lodging, food, transportation, sexual services from a Cambodian female, and other expenses.
On June 27, 2004, Martin returned to the United States and was met at the airport by Michael Chanthou Chin. Thereafter, certain immigration forms were completed by Martin and Yota Em, which falsely represented the marriage as genuine. On Sept. 27, 2005, Yota Em entered the United States using a K-1 (fiancée) visa. On March 5, 2007, Yota Em and Martin participated in a civil marriage ceremony in Lexington, knowing that the marriage was not entered into in good faith, was in exchange for something of value, and that the purpose of the marriage ceremony was to enable Yota Em to obtain U.S. permanent resident status in the United States. Phearoun Peter Em and Michael Chanthou Chin served as witnesses at the civil marriage ceremony.


Martin and Yota Em subsequently participated in a marriage interview with immigration officials in Louisville and falsely claimed that they married in good faith. Phearoun Peter Em acted as an interpreter for Yota Em. On June 30, 2009, Martin and Yota Em were divorced. The marriage between Martin and Yota Em was fraudulent and was entered into solely to evade U.S. immigration laws. Martin admitted that he was paid about $7,000 for participating in the marriage fraud scheme.
Defendant Yota Em is currently a fugitive. Anyone with information about her whereabouts should call 1-866-DHS-2ICE. The maximum potential penalties for Martin are 10 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of six years.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Claire Phillips, Western District of Kentucky, is prosecuting the case. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.

It is unfortunate to see this type of fraud occurring as it makes it increasingly difficult for bona fide couples to receive immigration benefits due to the fact that the American government must expend resources in an effort to catch fraudulent visa petitions and applications. As time and resources are spent investigating visa fraud, the overall visa process for all applicants could slow down. That said, Officers of the United States government should be commended for their diligence in apprehending the individuals involved in the conspiracy noted above. Fraud Prevention is a serious issue that must be dealt with in order to forestall an erosion of the integrity of the US Immigration system.

In recent weeks it has been announced that fees associated with the K1 visa and the K3 Visa are increasing. There is speculation that the funds derived from the increase in fees will be used to combat immigration fraud on a wider scale as the fee is being increased by the Department of State for those applications filed at a US Consulate or US Embassy abroad. Many feel that the funds will likely be used to increase the resources available to each Fraud Prevention Unit attached to US Missions overseas. Hopefully, by increasing resources available to Fraud Prevention Units outside of the USA, there will be fewer people entering the United States illegally based upon sham relationships.

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24th June 2010

This blog routinely discusses interesting issues associated with American Immigration and US Embassies and Consulates overseas. That being said, in a recent press release from the American State Department it was noted that Officers at the US Embassy in China are opening their facilities in order to assist in processing the extremely large number of visa applications made by Chinese nationals who are seeking admission to the United States. The following is a direct quote from the aforementioned press release:

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, along with four U.S. consulates general across China, is opening on Saturdays over the next few weeks to accommodate thousands of Chinese travelers seeking visas to visit the United States.

Trade, commerce, people-to-people exchanges, and tourism between China and the United States have grown dramatically over the past couple years. In 2009, U.S. consulates in China issued more than 487,000 visas to Chinese travelers. Sixty-six percent of these visas were for business and tourism. Growth in 2010 has been even more dramatic. China’s 2010 visa load is up 28 percent over the same period last year.


“We’re excited about the extraordinary growth in visa demand in China and what it means for our countries’ deepening economic and interpersonal relationship,” said Janice Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. “We expect this trend to continue and are actively increasing staffing in our Embassy and consulates. We also introduced new technologies to improve our efficiency while providing more convenient procedures for applicants.”


“While we’re pleased about increased Chinese interest in traveling to the United States, we are not pleased by the increased wait times for a visa appointment,” observed U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr. “We applaud the efforts of our Consular staff and the Bureau of Consular Affairs to think creatively and boost resources to help clear the backlog. I witnessed our team’s dedication when I visited the Consular Section last week.”

This author applauds the efforts of the US Embassies and Consulates in China. The attitude taken toward the backlog of pending applications in China is similar to the attitude taken by the US Embassy in Bangkok regarding the backlog arising from recent unrest in the city. In Thailand, this author is pleased to have been witness to the exceptionally diligent efforts of the Consular Officers and support staff at the US Consulate in Bangkok as they cleared a rather large caseload which arose as a result of the extended closure of the Post due to the protests that broke out in the district in which the Post is located.

Although the US Immigration process can be rather cumbersome, it is nice to see that officers in the Department of State are taking active measures to creatively and efficiently deal with what could be viewed by others as an overwhelming work load.

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23rd June 2010

On this blog we often discuss issues associated with US passports and US Immigration. Recently, this author discovered that the Department of State (DOS) is seeking comments regarding a proposed rule change which would alter the way in which DOS collects information prior to American passport issuance. The following excerpts are taken from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website. To quote one page from the AILA website:

The Department of State is seeking Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval for the information collection described below. The purpose of this notice is to allow 60 days for public comment in the Federal Register preceding submission to OMB. We are conducting this process in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995….

Abstract of proposed collection:

The information collected on the DS-3053 is used to facilitate the issuance of passports to U.S. citizens and nationals under the age of 16. The primary purpose of soliciting the information is to ensure that both parents and/or all guardians consent to the issuance of a passport to a minor under age 16, except where one parent has sole custody or there are exigent or special family circumstances.

Methodology:

Passport Services collects information from U.S. citizens and non- citizen nationals when they complete and submit the Statement of Consent or Special Circumstances: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor under Age 16. Passport applicants can either download the DS-3053 from the Internet or obtain one from an Acceptance Facility/Passport Agency. The form must be completed, signed, and submitted along with the applicant’s DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport…

Clearly the Department of State wishes to use the DS-3053 in order to collect what they deem to be the necessary information before issuing a passport to a minor child. The public policy reasons for this change of rules is somewhat obvious as the Department is likely concerned about improper issuance of a US passport to minor.

To quote another page on the AILA website:

60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Form DS-5504, Application for a U.S. Passport: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement, OMB Control Number 1405-0160…

The Department of State is seeking Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval for the information collection described below. The purpose of this notice is to allow 60 days for public comment in the Federal Register preceding submission to OMB. We are conducting this process in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995…

We are soliciting public comments to permit the Department to:

Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is necessary for the proper performance of our functions…

The information collected on the DS-5504 is used to facilitate the re-issuance of passports to U.S. citizens and nationals when (a) the passport holder’s name has changed within the first year of the issuance of the passport; (b) the passport holder needs correction of descriptive information on the data page of the passport; or (c) the passport holder wishes to obtain a fully valid passport after obtaining a full-fee passport with a limited validity of two years or less. The primary purpose of soliciting the information is to establish citizenship, identity, and entitlement of the applicant to the U.S. passport or related service, and to properly administer and enforce the laws pertaining to the issuance thereof…

In this instance, it would seem that the Department of State is primarily concerned with collecting necessary data so as to issue US passports only to those individuals who are legally entitled to such travel documents. US Citizenship has many benefits that are not accorded to Non-US Citizens. Therefore, those issuing US passports must take appropriate measures to ensure that US passports are not issued to individuals who are not legally entitled to such status. With laws such as the Child Citizenship Act, these measures are likely to become more necessary as individuals are deriving their US Citizenship in different way compared to Americans in previous generations.

For those interested in obtaining a US Passport in Thailand or information about visa services please see: American Citizen Services or US Embassy Thailand.

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22nd June 2010

In the relatively recent past, there were some who felt that Thailand was something of a “safe haven” for those with a criminal record or a criminal warrant issued outside of the Kingdom. However, in recent years, this appellation would seem to be increasingly misapplied as Thai authorities take evermore stringent measures against criminals from other jurisdictions. For example, Pattaya One News recently reported the arrest of a Belgian National for falsification of official documents. The following is a direct quote from that story:

On Tuesday afternoon at the Chonburi Immigration Office located in Soi 5 off Jomtien Beach Road, Police Lieutenant Colonel Prapansuk, the Deputy Superintendant of Chonburi Immigration, held a press conference to announce the arrest of a Belgian man wanted by the Belgian Authorities. Mr. Justin Andre Cornelius Van Den Bussche aged 38, a part-owner of a bar here in Pattaya and a resident of 3 years, was arrested at his house within the Sabai Jai Village in Central Pattaya. According to information received by the Belgian Embassy in Bangkok, Mr. Van Den Bussche was recently sentenced to 1 year in prison by a Belgian Court in relation to a case involving the falsifying of official documents. He was able to flee to Thailand and Immigration Police were informed that his Belgian passport was going to be cancelled on 15th June. On 15th he was arrested and charged with not possessing a valid passport and will be deported to Belgium where authorities will be waiting for him.

Thai authorities in Pattaya are not the only law enforcement agents in Thailand who appear to be taking a firm line against foreign nationals committing crimes in Thailand. The following is a quote from the Pattaya Today blog:

An American man was arrested and alleged to have committed paedophilia, or having engaged in sex, with an underage child in this northern Thai province, according to provincial tourist police. Police found evidence that the man identified as Wilbert Willis Holley, 72, had sexually abused a ten-year-old female student at a local school in Chiang Mai’s provincial seat. The girl told officials that she had been sexually molested several times by Mr Holley at a local guesthouse. The suspect however denied the charge but the investigators are confidence that they have strong evidence to take legal action against him. Police brought Mr Holley to search his residence in order to find whether or not there was further evidence for human trafficking or any other offences.

Those who believe that Thailand is a “safe haven” for criminal elements would be wise to note Royal Thai Immigration’s recent efforts to integrate their database with that of the United States and other international criminal and terrorism databases. This would seem to indicate strong resolve on the part of the Thai government to both prosecute and/or commence extradition proceeding against foreign and domestic criminals in Thailand.

For related reading on arrest warrants and criminal matters please see: warrant for my arrest or American attorney.

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21st June 2010

This blog frequently discusses the formation and incorporation of Thai companies, but we rarely discuss corporate formations in the United States of America. Relatively few foreign nationals are aware of the many benefits that come from setting up a corporate structure in the United States.

One of the most advantageous aspects of setting up a company in the United States is banking. American banks are some of the most efficient and customer-service oriented financial institutions in the world. For this reason, many Americans and non-US Citizens routinely use US banks in order to enjoy all of the amenities of truly “global” service. Simply because an individual is not physically in the United States should not mean that he or she should not be accorded comparable banking advantages when competing in the global marketplace. Furthermore, lack of American citizenship should not be a bar upon an international businessperson’s ability to conduct their affairs, banking or otherwise, efficiently and on a global scale.

Limited Liability is another major benefit to those wishing to conduct business in the international, supranational, and multinational spheres. In many jurisdictions of the United States of America the Limited Liability Company has been used as a means of providing limited liability to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). A US LLC can also be utilized by foreign nationals doing business in a US jurisdiction so long as the legal formalities are met. That said, those interested in setting up a company in the US are well-advised to seek counsel from an attorney licensed in the jurisdiction where the business is to be conducted.

US Immigration is likely one other point of interest to those seeking a corporate presence in the United States of America. If a US visa applicant has a bona fide business reason for traveling to the United States, then a US business visa may be obtained from a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas. For those who simply need to conduct a meeting or undergo specialized training, a US B1 visa may be the appropriate travel document. However, those wishing to remain for a relatively long period of time working in the USA may apply for a visa category such as the E2 visa or the L1 visa (either the L1A or L1B sub-category). In some cases, an H-1 visa may be the appropriate visa for an individual working and conducting business in the United States. Depending upon the category of the US visa being sought, an applicant’s unique qualifications and skills must be adjudicated by a US Consular Officer with appropriate jurisdiction.

For more information about company registration in Thailand please see: Company in Thailand or US-Thai Treaty of Amity. For further information about setup of a Company in the USA please see: US Company Registration.

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