Integrity Legal

Archive for July, 2013

31st July 2013

The administration of this blog periodically posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Embassies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region in order to provide a level of convenience to Americans traveling in the area. The following holiday closing schedule was quoted directly from the official website of the US Embassy in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar):

Date Day U.S.* Burmese**
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day
January 4 Friday Independence Day
January 21 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday
February 12 Tuesday Union Day
February 18 Monday President’s Day
March 27 Wednesday Armed Forces Day
April 15 Monday THINGYAN (Water Festival)
April 16 Tuesday THINGYAN (Water Festival)
April 17 Wednesday Burmese New Year
May 1 Wednesday Workers’ Day
May 27 Monday Memorial Day
July 4 Thursday Independence Day
July 19 Friday Martyrs’ Day
July 22 Monday Full Moon of Waso
September 2 Monday Labor Day
October 14 Monday Columbus Day
November 11 Monday Veteran’s Day
November 27 Wednesday National Day
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day Christmas Day

Many Americans traveling abroad find that it is necessary to travel to an American Embassy or Consulate in order to request services such as Passport renewal, adding of visa pages, notarial services, or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Many of these requests can be made at an American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy or US Consulate-General.

Meanwhile, every year many foreign nationals from around the globe travel to American posts abroad to apply for visas and other travel documents granting permission to travel to the United States. Some visa seekers only wish to remain temporarily in the US on non-immigrant visas such as the B-1 visa (Business Visa), the B-2 visa (Tourist Visa), the F-1 visa (Student Visa), or the J-1 visa (Exchange worker visa). Generally, applications for the aforementioned visa categories can be made at a non-immigrant visa unit within the Consular Section of the US Embassy or US Consulate-General. Applicants are usually required to make an appointment in advance to apply for these types of visas.

Some foreign nationals wish to travel to the United States for business purposes. Depending upon the circumstances of the individual applying for admission to the USA, a business traveler may be issued a non-immigrant or an immigrant visa. The L-1 visa, the E-1 visa, the E-2 visa, the EB-5 visa, the EB-4 visa, the EB-3 visa, the EB-2 visa, the EB-1 visa, and the H-1B visa are all business visa categories commonly sought by foreign nationals. Generally, a business travel unit  within the Consular Section of a US Embassy or Consulate-General abroad is responsible for adjudicating such applications.

Some foreign nationals seek visa benefits based upon a relationship to a US Citizen or lawful permanent resident. One of the most commonly sought US family based visas is the immigrant visa based upon marriage to an American Citizen, these types of visas are generally classified as a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa. Fiancees of US Citizens may be eligible to apply for a K-1 visa (US fiance visa). Furthermore, those married to Americans sometimes seek a US K-3 visa. K-1 visas and K-3 visas are generally adjudicated by an Immigrant visa unit, notwithstanding the fact that they are non-immigrant visa categories as they are treated as immigrant visas since the applicants have immigrant intent.

For related information please see: US Immigration Asia.

 

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30th July 2013

In a previous posting on this blog regarding partnerships in Thailand, Thai Ordinary Partnerships and Thai Registered Ordinary Partnerships were discussed. There is another type of partnership structure in Thailand which may be more familiar to those from Western countries: the Thai Limited Partnership. Limited Partnerships have been a method of structuring an enterprise in jurisdictions such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth nations for quite some time. Meanwhile, jurisdictions in the Eurpoean Union allow for similar structures. Thailand was a relatively late jurisdiction when it came to allowing for use of such structures, but now it may be possible for promoters of a business to form this type of partnership.

A Thailand limited partnership generally consists of, at a minimum, at least one Managing Partner who manages the business and at least one Limited Partner. Depending upon the unique circumstances of a given business enterprise there could be one or more managing partners and one or more limited partners. Although managing partners are personally liable for partnership debts, limited partners are not persoally liable for partnership debts and are only personally liable for the their capital contributions, especially if said contributions have been removed, in whole or in part, or if said contributions were never submitted. It should be noted that limited partners may lose some degree of their limited liability if the limited partner engages in the managment of the partnership or allows his or her name to be used in the Limited Partnership’s legal name. Limited Partnerships in Thailand must register their partnership agreement with the Ministry of Commerce in the same manner as a Registered Ordinary Partnership. As a general rule, Limited Partnerships are taxed in much the same manner as Registered Ordinary Partnerships.

Limited Partnerships which include a foreign national may be subject to the provisions stipulated in the Foreign Business Act. Therefore, where a foreign national owns a majority interest in a Thai Limited Partnership the Partnership may need to apply for a Thai Foreign Business License. However, American Citizens wishing to structure a limited partnership in Thailand may be eligible to obtain an Amity Treaty Certificate for the partnership pursuant to the terms of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. If a foreign national owns simply a minority interest in a Thai limited partnership as a limited partner, then the partnership may not be required to obtain a foreign business license. However, the foreign national would not be able to manage the limited partnership.

Limited partnerships are able to be converted into limited companies so long as such conversion complies with relevant Thai corporate law.

For information regarding Thai Limited Companies please see: Company Registration Thailand.

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29th July 2013

Thailand Visa Update

Posted by : admin

There have been some recent developments with respect to Thai visas. The following information is for general use only and should not be construed to apply to every unique situation as there are often numerous Thai visa options for those wishing to travel and remain in the Kingdom of Thailand for a prolonged period of time.

Thailand Business Visas

It has recently come to this blogger’s attention that 12 month multiple entry Thai business visas are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain from Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad. For example, the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur recently announced that it will no longer issue 12 month multiple entry business visas to applicants as applicants are now only able to obtain a 90 day Thai Business Visa (officially referred to as the Non-Immigrant “B” Visa) at that post. Applicants are encouraged to first obtain a 90 day Thai business visa and subsequently apply for a Thai work permit and visa extension in the Kingdom of Thailand. However, it would appear that the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang may issue 12 month multiple entry business visas under limited circumstances. It seems that those who have previously obtained a multiple entry Thai business visa and Thai work permit may be eligible to obtain another one year Thai business visa from the Thai Consulate in Penang. Meanwhile it would seem that the other Thai Embassies and Thai Consulates around the world are becoming increasingly hesitant to issue one year multiple entry Thai business visas and in those situations where such visas are issued they are only granted after significant scrutiny by the Consular officers issuing such travel documents.

Thailand Retirement Visas

In some cases, a foreign national may be eligible to obtain a Thai retirement visa. However, Thai Immigration officials are carefully reviewing applications for Thai retirement visas. In fact, this blogger has  learned that issues surrounding the finances of the applicant for a Thai retirement visa are of increasing concern for Thai Immigration officers. In fact, Thai Immigration officers seem to be seeking larger amounts of evidence concerning a retiree’s financial situation compared to past applications.

Thailand O Visas

The O visa in Thailand is technically classified as a miscellaneous visa category. Generally, this visa category is used by foreign nationals with family in Thailand (this is why this category is sometimes referred to as a Thai marriage visa notwithstanding the fact that  it could be used by any family member of a Thai national). As is the case with the Thai retirement visa, the finances of the foreign national seeking an O visa is of central concern to the Thai Immigration authorities especially when the foreign national is seeking a Thai O visa based upon marriage to a Thai. Therefore, those seeking Thai O visas should be prepared to show substantial evidence of ability to financially support oneself, and one’s spouse, while in Thailand.

Thailand Education Visas

The Thai Education visa (categorized by Thai Immigration as the “ED” visa) is more widely used by foreign nationals in Thailand compared to times past. That stated, Immigration officials examine such applications with a great deal of thoroughness. It should be noted that those staying in the Kingdom on an ED visa based upon attendance at a Thai language school may be tested on their Thai language ability by Immigration officers. Therefore, if one has been present in Thailand on an ED visa for a significant period of time, but cannot show a basic understanding of Thai the ED visa could be revoked.

For related information please see: Thailand work permit

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27th July 2013

Periodically, the administration of this web log post the estimated processing times from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). It should be noted that the following processing time estimates are exxactly that: estimates. Some petitions may process more quickly while other petitions may proccess more slowly. To quote directly from the USCIS official website:

Field Office Processing Dates for California Service Center as of: May 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker E – Treaty traders and investors 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2A – Temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation 5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional 2 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 November 15, 2011
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 February 1, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 October 4, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 21, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister February 11, 2010
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Religious workers 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications May 30, 2012
I-526 Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States March 16, 2012
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications 2.5 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement based on exceptional hardship or persecution 4 Months
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents 6 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization November 28, 2011
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition 3 Months
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) May 16, 2012
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) based on PL107-273 September 12, 1997
Field Office Processing Dates for Nebraska Service Center as of: May 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 March 16, 2013
I-131 Application for Travel Document Refugee or asylee applying for a refugee travel document 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Permanent resident applying for a re-entry permit 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) dependent applying for advance parole 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) principal applying for advance parole 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability January 2, 2013
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager January 16, 2013
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver January 16, 2013
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses 4 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Indochinese Adjustment Act 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on grant of asylum more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on refugee admission more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition Petition for accompanying family members of a refugee or an asylee 5 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved asylum application [(a)(5)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] May 8, 2013
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition January 15, 2013
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) 6 Months
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) based on PL107-273 6 Months
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Texas Service Center as of: May 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses 4 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on grant of asylum more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition Petition for accompanying family members of a refugee or an asylee 5 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition January 7, 2013
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) based on PL107-273 6 Months
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Vermont Service Center as of: May 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 July 1, 2012
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation 5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional 2 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 April 16, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 October 22, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 9, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 9, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 March 5, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister December 4, 2010
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) May 7, 2012
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications April 16, 2012
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications 2.5 Months
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents 6 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] March 27, 2013
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] October 31, 2010
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] January 6, 2011
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension October 31, 2010
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing October 31, 2010
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension October 31, 2010
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing October 31, 2010
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition 3 Months
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement 3.5 Months
I-90A Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement for Special Agricultral Workers (SAW) 3.5 Months
I-914 Application for T Non-immigrant Status Provide temporary immigration benefits to an alien who is a victim of trafficking in persons, and immediate family 4 Months
I-918 Petition for U Non-immigrant Status Provide temporary immigration benefits to an alien who is a victim of qualifying criminal activity, and their qualifying family May 7, 2012

It should be also noted that although these USCIS estimated processing times can provide a general framework for understanding the time frames for petition adjudication by USCIS, these estimates do not necessarily reflect the estimated time frame for the entire US visa process especially if the unique circumstances of a given case requires Consular Processing of a US visa application at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad.

For a married couple seeking an IR1 visa or a CR1 Visa for a foreign spouse of US Citizen the process begins at the USCIS where the initial petition will be adjudicated. Assuming USCIS approves the initial petition, then the petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will require certain documents before forwarding the application to a US Embassy or Consulate abroad where a foreign spouse must undergo an interview prior to the Consular Officer making a decision regarding visa issuance. In some cases, the Consular Officer may approve the visa application at the interview. Meanwhile, in some circumstances, the officer may deny the application (especially where a ground of inadmissibility is found to exist in the case and under such circumstances the applicant must be granted an I-601 waiver, or something similar, prior to the application receiving further favorable treatment). In some cases, the officer may simply find that some further evidence of the relationship or documentation pertaining to the foreign national is lacking and will thereby deny the application pursuant to section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Under these circumstances, the 221(G) denial may be overcome by presenting further evidence to the Consular Officer and upon their finding that the relevant requirements have been met the application may be approved.

As one can infer from the above example, the USCIS estimateed  processing times may not accurately reflect the total time it may take to obtain a US visa since the process is sometimes more complex than simple USCIS petition approval.

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26th July 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new set of answers to frequently asked questions stemming from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In previous postings on this blog the fact that lawful permanent residents and American Citizens with same-sex spouses can now file for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse has been discussed at length. That said, USCIS discussed this issue in their recently issued FAQ release, to quote directly from the USCIS website:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. [italics added]

As previously pointed out on this blog, the ability of American Citizens to file for immigration benefits for a same-sex foreign spouse is a fairly clear cut result of the recent Supreme Court decision finding Section 3 of DOMA unConstituional. It should be noted that the USCIS seems to also imply that a K3 visa would also now be a possibility for same sex couples as it could be construed to be an “applicable accompanying application”. However, an issue that was not so clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court’s decision pertains to the K-1 visa (US fiance visa). As Fiance visas are, by  definition, not based upon a marriage, but an intended marriage; further clarification from USCIS on these types of visas post-DOMA is considered by some to be quite helpful. To quote further from the aforementioned USCIS FAQ section:

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes.  You may file a Form I-129F.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. [italics added]

This clarification from USCIS regarding the fiance visa in the context of same sex marriage, while helpful, is slightly qualified by the next section of the same FAQ page:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. [italics added]

Clearly, the US fiance visa is now a viable option for same sex couples with a bona fide intention to marry in those jurisdictions of the United States which recognize same sex marriage. Since the jurisdiction of the celebration of the intended marriage is USCIS’s primary concern it would appear that a K1 visa itself will be a possibility for same sex couples in the future. However, it would appear that some ancillary immigration benefits may or may not be available at this time for some same sex bi-national couples depending upon the unique residency circumstances of those couples.

Of further interest to some same sex couples will likely be the fact that there are benefits for the foreign same sex spouse of an American Citizen with respect to naturalization:

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?
A8. Yes.  As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident.  But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen.  For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Therefore, the same sex spouse of an American Citizen will be treated the same way as the opposite sex spouse of an American for purposes of obtaining US Citizenship based upon the couple’s marriage and lawful permanent residence obtained thereby. Finally, of further note in this recently issued USCIS FAQ page relates to the I-601 waiver process:

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances.  For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident.  In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?
A9.Yes.   Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Waivers of inadmissibility can be difficult to obtain under certain circumstances as they are, by definition, a discretionary waiver. However, one major hurdle for many same-sex bi-national couples in the US immigration sphere has been cast aside by the comendable decision of the United States Supreme Court. USCIS deserves comendation as well for their efforts to quickly and decisively implement policies which bring immigration regulations in line with changes in the law.

Readers are encouraged to read the USCIS website and the FAQ section quoted above to find out further details regarding immigration regulations pertaining to same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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21st July 2013

In an effort to provide relevant information to travelers and expatriates who read this blog, the administration posts the holiday closing schedules for the various US Emabssies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region. The following is the holiday closing schedule for the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as posted on the official Embassy website:

Month Day Holiday Khmer/U.S.
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day U.S.
January 21 Monday Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S.
February 18 Monday George Washington’s Birthday U.S.
March 8 Friday International Women’s Day CAM
April 15 Monday Khmer New Year’s Day CAM
April 16 Tuesday Khmer New Year’s Day CAM
May 13 Monday Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah​Boromneath NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia CAM
May 14 Tuesday Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah BoromneathNORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia CAM
May 27 Monday Memorial Day U.S.
June 18 Tuesday Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen-Mother NORODOM MONINEATH SIHANOUK of Cambodia CAM
July 4 Thursday Independence Day U.S.
September 2 Monday Labor Day U.S.
October 3 Thursday Pchum Ben Day CAM
October 4 Friday Pchum Ben Day CAM
October 14 Monday Columbus Day U.S.
October 15 Tuesday National Day of Mourning for His Majesty King Father​Preah Bat Samdech NORODOM SIHANOUK CAM
November 11 Monday Veterans Day U.S.
November 18 Monday Water Festival CAM
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day U.S.
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day U.S.

Each year, many Americans travel to a US Embassy or US Consulate in an effort to obtain services such as US Passport renewal, notary service, additional US Passport pages, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. Meanwhile, many foreign nationals from around the world must undergo Consular Processing in order to eventually be granted a US visa. Non-Immigrant visa units are tasked with adjudicating applications for non-immigrant visas such as the B-1/B-2 visa (US Tourist visa), F-1 visa (student visa), and the J-1 visa. Business visa units are responsible for the adjudication of business visa applications for travel documents such as the E-1 visa, the E-2 visa, the EB visa, the L-1 visa, the O-1 visa, and the H1-B visa. Finally, immigrant visa units have the responsibility for adjudicating applications for immigrant visas such as the IR-1 visa and the CR-1 visa. However, those seeking a K-1 visa (fiance visa) may also find themselves being interviewed by an officer with the immigrant visa unit as such travel documents are treated in much the same way as immigrant visas, notwithstanding the fact that K-1 visas are technically non-immigrant visas.

Those wishing to receive service from American Citizen Services at a US Embassy abroad or those wishing to have a visa application adjudictaed are encouraged to make an appointment online prior to traveling to the US Post.

For related information please see: US Embassy Thailand.

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9th July 2013

Those researching business and corporate entities in Thailand (sometimes referred to as Thai juristic persons) often come upon information pertaining to Thai partnerships. Partnerships in the Kingdom of Thailand are different from Thai limited companies and Thai sole proprietorships for a number of reasons. For example, Thai limited companies provide the shareholders with limited liability. This means that liabilities incurred by a Thai limited company do not generally flow through to the individual shareholders (that said, under some circumstances, directors of Thai companies may have some legal liability to the company itself). Depending upon the type of Thai partnership, the partners may or may not have limited liability. Thai Partnerships differ from Thai Sole Proprietorships for a number of reasons, but the most obvious difference is that Thai Sole Proprietorships, as the name suggests, are operated by one natural person.

In the Kingdom of Thailand, there are different types of partnerships: Thai Ordinary Partnerships, Thai Registered Ordinary Partnerships, and Thai Limited Partnerships. In this posting only ordinary partnerships and registered ordinary partnerships will be discussed as Thai limited partnerships will be discussed in a later posting.

Thai Ordinary Partnerships

Thai ordinary partnerships are sometimes referred to as unregistered partnerships. The name “unregistered partnership” may stem from the fact that Thai ordinary partnerships are not required to have a written partnership agreement and even where a written partnership agreement exists it is not required that the aforementioned agreement be registered. That being stated, ordinary partnerships are still required to register their existence as a business entity with the Thai Ministry of Commerce. However, notwithstanding the fact that an ordinary partnership has registered with the Ministry of Commerce, this type of registration should not be construed to mean that the partnership is a Thai registered ordinary partnership. All partners in a Thai ordinary partnership have unlimited liability for the acts of any of the other partners which occur in the course of the partnership’s business. Creditors of an ordinary partnership may make claims against the property of any of the partners and do not need to first make a claim against the assets of the partnership.

Thai Registered Ordinary Partnerships

Thai Registered Ordinary Partnerships must be registered with the Ministry of Commerce in the Kingdom of Thailand. When registering this type of partnership a copy of the written partnership agreement, information regarding capital contributions as well as managerial duties of the partners, and objectives of the partnership must be included in the application for registration. In the eyes of Thai law, a registered ordinary partership is viewed as a distinct entity separate and apart from the partners. However, the legal distinction between the registered ordinary partnership and the partners as individuals should not be construed to mean that the partners have limited liability. That stated, if a claim is to be made by a creditor against a Registered Ordinary Parntership, then the creditor must first seek to make their claim against the assets of the Registered Ordinary Partnership before making a claim against either of the individual partner’s assets.

There are significant differences in the way in which registered ordinary partnerships and ordinary partnerships are taxed in the Kingdom of Thailand. Therefore, those interested in establishing either of these types of partnerships are encouraged to contact a legal professional in Thailand to ascertain whether either of these types of structures are suitable.

It should also be noted that foreign nationals wishing to set-up a Thai Registered Ordinary Partnership or a Thai Ordinary Partnership may be barred from doing so pursuant to the provisions of the Thai Foreign Business Act. In some cases, a Thai Foreign Business License may be obtained depending upon the type of business the foreign nationals wish to undertake through use of a Thai partnership. American citizens wishing to set-up a Thai partnership (either a registered ordinary partnership or simply an ordinary partnership) may obtain certification for their proposed partnership pursuant to the terms of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity, provided that the proposed business activity is not restricted under the terms of the Treaty; and, upon being approved for a Treaty certificate, operate their partnership notwithstanding the provisions of the Foreign Business Act.

For related information please see: Thailand Company Registration.

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2nd July 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a statement regarding the implementation of policies regarding adjudication of immigration petitions for same-sex bi-national married couples. To quote directly from the official website of DHS:

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

This statement is a significant moment in the long fight for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. In order to provide further information regarding these developments the DHS has posted some frequently asked questions on the same page as the aforementioned quotation. These FAQ’s are quoted below:

Q1:  I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national.  Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?

A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly, the United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident same sex spouse of a foreign national can now submit an I-130 petition for Lawful Permanent Residence (also known as “Green Card” status) for their husband or wife. In fact, it would appear that a same-sex couple in Florida was recently granted immigration benefits for the same-sex spouse. This would especially be true in a case where the couple not only was married in State recognizing same-sex marriage, but also resides in that same State or another of the 13 States which recognize such unions. An issue which is, as of yet, not so clearly delineated hinges upon a situation in which a same-sex married couple has married in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage (and performs them), but resides in a State which does not recognize such unions. To shed further light upon this issue it is necessary to quote again from the same DHS webpage, quoted above, regarding this issue:

Q2:  My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not.  Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?

A2: Yes, you can file the petition.  In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.

For those wishing to visit the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to learn more please click HERE.

For those unfamiliar with the recent Supreme Court decision striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) it should be pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision did not impact section 2 of DOMA which reads as follows:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that there are some who argue that section 2 of DOMA violates the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, no Court ruling nor Act of Congress has repealed section 2 of DOMA and, in the words of the DHS website itself, in those “fact-specific” situations in which Section 2 of DOMA may be relevant the provisions of Section 2 could prove detrimental to a same-sex bi-national couple. That being said, according to the DHS website, a petition could still be filed and it would be adjudicated accordingly.

One final point to ponder on this issue is the K-1 visa. Under current United States Immigration law it is possible for an American Citizen to apply for a Fiance Visa, also known as the K-1 visa, for a foreign fiance residing abroad, so long as the couple intends to marry in the United States within 90 days of the foreign fiance’s arrival (other regulations apply to K-1 visa holders, but for the purposes of this analysis they are not necessarily relevant). If a same-sex couple, who are not yet legally married, wishes to obtain a K-1 visa based upon their intention to wed in the United States, then it could be inferred from the DHS Secretary’s statement that they might be adjudicated in the same manner as the same petition for a different-sex couple. However, this should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion because the statements quoted above only pertain specifically to couples who are already married. Neither the Court, nor the DHS, have specifically dealt with the question of those same-sex couples who wish to seek a K1 visa based upon an intention to marry in the USA. It could be inferred from the Court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor that those same-sex couples with the intention to marry in a jurisdiction where same-sex unions are recognized should be granted the same treatment as those different-sex couples in similar circumstances; but the issue has yet to be clearly adjudicated and therefore no completely clear answer arises.

Meanwhile, one significant question remains: based upon the above information how will USCIS adjudicate K-1 visa applications for same-sex couples who wish to travel to the United States to marry in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage, but reside in a State which does not? Hopefully the answer to this question will come soon. Until then it would appear that although DHS clearly intends to adjudicate same-sex married couples’ petitions for immigration benefits in the same way as different-sex couples; it remains to be seen how same sex fiances will be treated in the eyes of U.S. Immigration law.

For information on immigrant visas please see: CR-1 Visa or  IR-1 Visa.

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1st July 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan has made a new policy regarding visa-free travel for Thai nationals. In order to explore this issue more fully it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

In celebration of the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, the Government of Japan has decided that from July 1, nationals of the Kingdom of Thailand in possession of ordinary IC passports who wish to enter Japan for a period not exceeding 15 consecutive days for short-term stay will be made exempt from the visa requirements. The further development of Japan-Thailand exchange is expected as a result of the exemption of visa requirements, including increases in the number of tourists from Thailand who visit Japan and the enhancement of the ease of business transactions between the two countries.

Prior to this announcement, Thai nationals wishing to visit Japan, even for a short period of time, were required to obtain a visa in advance. Although limited to only 15 days of visa-free lawful status in Japan, this policy change is likely to have a significant impact upon Thai-Japanese travel patterns with the upshot that Japan is likely to see a rise in Thai tourists visitng that country. The Japanese government also noted that visa-free travel privileges do not extend to all travelers wishing to visit Japan:

However, those entering Japan with intentions other than those noted above; or in other words, those who wish to stay in Japan for short-term stay of over 15 days or who wish to stay for purposes such as work, will be required to obtain visas in advance. In addition, this visa exemption applies only to those with an ordinary IC passport. Nationals of the Kingdom of Thailand who do not hold an ordinary IC passport continue to be required to obtain a visa.

Those interested in this recent announcement are encouraged to click upon the hyperlink noted above to view this announcement in detail. It would appear that although Japan is granting limited visa-free travel privileges to Thais these privileges are only to be used by those wishing to travel to Japan for short periods of time as tourists. In much the same way that Thailand grants Thai Visa Exemptions to passport holders from many different countries, but requires those wishing to work or reside in Thailand to obtain a long term visa (and later extension) prior to arrival; so too are Japanese officials attempting to make certain that those lawfully present in Japan are there only for short periods of time and not utilizing this privilege as a means of maintaining permanent presence.

For related information please see: Thailand Business Visa.

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