Integrity Legal

Archive for August, 2013

31st August 2013

General “Stonewall” Jackson once said that his tactical and strategic imperative was to keep his opponents between the “horns of a dilemma”.  Expatriates living in the Kingdom of Thailand often find themselves caught between the horns of a dilemma when it comes to the issue of exchange rates. As a long time expatriate and small business owner in Thailand, this blogger often finds that the fluctuating value of the Thai baht when compared to other currencies can be both frustrating and (in some cases) exhilarating. When the Thai baht is weak against other currencies it generally means that the Thai economy is stronger because exports increase (as Thai products are viewed as less expensive) and tourism flourishes. The net result of increased exports and increases in the number of tourists means more money comes into Thailand and the economy improves.

On the other hand, when the Baht is strong it means that an expatriate earning money in Thailand has higher purchasing power in either their home country or other countries that they visit. In many cases, expatriates travel more than the average citizen of their home country, so currency fluctuations affect expatriates disproportionately when compared to those who primarily reside in one place for most of their lives.

The examples cited above are rather simplistic and definitely do not pertain to issues involving international currency markets, stock exchanges, and financial institutions; but they highlight an underlying day-to-day dichotomy that can be paradoxical for the average expatriate. Is it good to have a comparably strong or weak local currency? Following the economic crash in 1997, many expatriates in Thailand, especially those with significant foreign capital, were able to make investments into the economy that may not have been possible prior to the extreme devaluation of the Thai baht. This was definitely a positive development for the limited number of expats able to make such investments. Furthermore, it could also be viewed as something of a “silver lining” for the Thai economy. That being stated, the overall economic trauma caused by the 1997 crash was a burden on Thais as well as foreign expatriates as the Thai economy was stunted for some time in the aftermath. Meanwhile, it took many years for Thailand to once again be viewed as solid jurisdiction for large foreign investment.

Presently, there are those who speculate that Thailand may be standing on the precipice of another economic downturn. There are those who believe that the Baht will lose value (at least against the dollar) in the coming months and some who argue that previously implemented economic policies will lead to full-scale recession. At one time, expatriates were virtually immune from local economic downturns, now as the world has become more globally integrated such immunity may not prove so strong should an economic collapse occur again. Also with the ASEAN Economic Community quickly moving toward realization economic issues in one country could lead to problems across the region.

There is no unequivocal answer to the expatriate’s dilemma, but for expatriates in Thailand it might not be a bad idea to keep a close eye on those exchange rates.

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30th August 2013

In a recent article from The Telegraph author Ambrose Evans-Pritchard analyzed how Federal Reserve policies impact emerging markets. It is a very interesting article for anyone (especially expatriates living abroad) interested in understanding how Fed policy reverberates in markets outside of the United States. Of particular interest to expats living overseas was the analysis of the disproportionate impact Fed policy has on foreign nationals residing in other countries. Although the aforementioned article would seem primarily targeted  at a British audience, as an American expatriate living in the Kingdom of Thailand, I found this information compelling. Evans-Pritchard cited an assertion from Mirza Baig of BNP Paribas noting that foreign nationals bear significant currency risks in some of the nations in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, it appears that foreigners bear currency risks of 81%, while those expatriates living in Malaysia and India bear 90% and 74% risk, respectively. I have  dealt with the vicissitudes of currency fluctuation many times during my tenure in Thailand as the exchange rate between the Thai Baht and the US Dollar was around 39-1 when I first arrived in the Kingdom. Since then, I have seen the exchange rate fall (or rise depending upon your perspective) to around 27-1 and re-stabilize around 30-1. As of the time of this writing, the Baht-Dollar exchange rate stands at approximately 31-1. However, many are speculating that the Baht will lose value against the dollar in the coming months. This would likely be due to the perception that the Fed may begin to implement a kind of belt tightening after years of promoting liquidity.

Unlike times past, the actions of the Fed have increasingly serious implications in emerging markets. As the article noted, in the past when the Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker tightened up his belt, there were substantial ramifications in South America and elsewhere. The negative aspects of those policies on South American economies was containable. However, this was at a time when China was virtually isolated, and the Soviet Union did not really factor into the any analysis of the economic interactions between countries in the “Free World”. Meanwhile in the 1990′s Federal Reserve policies could negatively impact global economics more than before that period, such negative implications were still containable since there was a “power ratio” of around 1:2 between the United States economy and the emerging markets. This is no longer the case as the relationship has basically equalized. Should Fed policies have a substantial negative impact on the emerging markets, then the problem may not be contained within those markets and the economic problems could easily (and quickly, if there is anything to be learned from the financial crashes of the past decade) spill over into Western Europe and America.

In American politics, one cannot read articles and information regarding the United States’ stance on Southeast Asia without seeing the words “pivot”. The Obama administration has consistently noted that the U.S. wishes to see American foreign policy “pivot” to a more solid relationship with the nations in the Asia-Pacific region and those comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In fact the P-word has been cited in connection to the visit to Southeast Asia by the American Secretary of Defense. However, in light of recent events in the economic sphere it would appear that ASEAN countries and Thailand specifically may be “pivoting” themselves. For example, at the recent meeting between the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the Foreign Minister of China it was noted that Sino-ASEAN trade increased five times compared to ten years ago. As of 2012, trade between China and ASEAN stood at approximately $400 billion. Clearly, China is becoming an increasingly important trading partner and in light of the fact that ASEAN and Thailand may not wish to be at the mercy of the Fed’s whims, further solidifying this relationship may prove to be an effective method for ASEAN nations to mitigate negative side effects caused by economic policies of both China and the United States.

In a recent interview, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, articulated a desire to see further investment in Thailand from China and supported such an investment due to Thailand’s position as the “strategic center” of ASEAN. “Thailand will be spending about 66 billion U.S. dollars in infrastructure. Especially, we will need the technology that China has, like high speed train,” Mrs. Yingluck stated. “And we know that the high-speed railway connecting Thailand and China will run from Thailand through Laos to China. So it will be an important part of Chinese investment in Thailand”. As the deadline for ASEAN integration comes ever closer it seems logical to assume that Thailand, the ASEAN jurisdictions, and China will all see a closer economic relationship begin to blossom. How this relationship will impact both diplomatic and trade relations with the United States remains to be seen, but American economic policy makers should be aware that the era of America being able to set economic and monetary policy with little thought to the implications in emerging Asian markets has passed.

 

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29th August 2013

The rules regarding processing and adjudication of applications for one year multiple entry Thai visas appear to have changed. The following was recently posted on the official website of the Honorary Thai Consulate in Birmingham, UK:

With immediate effect all Non-Immigrant Multiple Entry visas can not be issued on the same day, as we require authorisation from the Royal Thai Embassy  in London. Once approval has been granted the visa will be issued.
If your application is declined you will be informed.
Please ensure we have your UK contact telephone number.
All other visas will be issued on the same day as usual  providing we have all the correct documentation.

Although the procedural change noted above may not negatively affect Thai visa applicants, it may be an indication that Thai authorities are more diligently scrutinizing long term visa applications. Some visa issuance procedures have been in a state of flux for some time now, as many Royal Thai Honorary Consulates in the United States have already placed information on their websites which states that only 90 day Thai business visas will be issued and those wishing to remain longer in the Kingdom of Thailand must make a request for a Thai work permit and Thai visa extension.

As noted above, in the past it was possible to obtain one year multiple entry Thai visas from some Honorary Thai Consulates in as little as a day. However, as new non-immigrant multiple entry visa applications appear to be subject to increased scrutiny from Thai Consular Officers it could be argued that more long term Thai visa applications may be denied in the future.

The posting of these processing changes have come shortly after recent reports that Thai visa stickers destined for Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad went missing and that some foreign nationals in Thailand had been found with previously unaccounted for stickers in their passports. Perhaps Thai authorities are implementing stricter visa processing and adjudication rules in an attempt to curtail immigration fraud, or these rule changes could simply be the result of the naturally evolving state of Thai immigration policy. On a related note, it was recently reported that Thai immigration officials are thinking of implementing new E-visa procedures at the various Thai Consulates and Embassies around the world in order to maintain more security in the visa process. In any case, it appears that those seeking long term Thai visas from Thai Consulates and Embassies abroad will see their applications examined more closely compared to the past.

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28th August 2013

It is being reported that the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand is attending a joint ASEAN-China summit which will include China’s foreign minister and the Foreign Ministers of the other  members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote from the Thai Government’s Public Relations Department website:

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul is attending and co-chairing the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 28-29 August 2013 in Beijing. The meeting is part of this year’s commemorative activities to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership. ASEAN and Chinese Foreign Ministers will discuss future direction of ASEAN-China relations, including ways to advance ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership to a higher plane. They will also discuss key recommendations which were the result of the High-Level Forum on 10th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership, held in Bangkok on 2 August 2013. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the special meeting is a good opportunity for ASEAN and China Foreign Ministers to discuss various issues of common interests, which will pave the way to the successful 16th ASEAN-China Summit, to be held in Brunei Darussalam in October 2013.

Many issues of importance both to China and the ASEAN states are likely to be discussed including issues which touch upon economics in the region, human rights, and immigration policies. Concurrently, the ASEAN members have also been discussing the prospect of a single ASEAN visa scheme for sometime now. Although, as of the time of this writing, no such scheme exists there are those who would argue that such a development would encourage tourism in the ASEAN states (particularly from China and other Asian nations) and cross-border business expansion.

With respect to immigration policy in Thailand, recent developments in the Kingdom and at Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad have caused Thai Immigration officials and the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin discussing new methods for issuing visas in an effort to combat immigration fraud. As a large number of Thai visas stickers have been reported stolen and Citizens of various countries outside of Thailand have been detained for using inappropriately obtained visa stickers Thai authorities may begin rethinking the current system for issuing Thai visas. To quote from a different page on the Government Public Relations Department website.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary stated a long term solution to the problem [of fraudulently obtained "visas"] is to use electronics visa (E-VISA), a measure that Thailand is planning to implement at the end of next year.

It will be interesting to see how Thailand implements such as system especially as Thai visa issuance practices and security precautions are coming under scrutiny. Many nations around the world use e-visa systems when issuing travel documents to foreign nationals. The United States currently even requires those attempting to enter the U.S. on the visa waiver program to pre-enroll themselves in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system prior to traveling.

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27th August 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the procedures for obtaining a Thai visa extension on an expiring passport have changed. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Royal Thai Immigration Police:

According to the New Regulation from August 13, 2013,
when submitting application for Visa Extension if the validity of passport of the applicant is not longer than one year left before expiry,
the extension of stay will be permitted not exceeding the expired date of passport.
After the renewal of your passport of obtaining a new passport,
you have to re-apply for Visa Extension by submitting required document and paying extension fee ( 1,900 Baht).
In case of overstay, the fine is 500 Baht per day.

Clearly, those who have a passport expiring shortly following their Thai visa extension deadline will want to take measures either to renew their passport prior to visa extension renewal or be prepared to possibly pay more visa extension fees following renewal of a passport subsequent to extension.

Thai visa extensions are common among the expatriate community in Thailand as those holding non-immigrant visas such as the Thai Business Visa (categorized by Thai Immigration as Non-immigrant category “B”), the Thai O visa (often used by those who are married to a Thai or maintain a family relationship with a Thai national [in some cases a Thai O visa may be obtained by those who simply fall into the "miscellaneous" immigration category, Thai condominium owners being the most notable case in point]), the Thai Education visa (categorized as the ED visa), or the Thai Retirement Visa (classified as a Thai O-A visa) must obtain extensions in order to maintain lawful presence.

Holders of the Thai Business visa often obtain a visa extension when maintaining long term employment in the Kingdom of Thailand. It should be noted that those employed in Thailand must also obtain a Thai work permit as well as a Thai business visa extension in order to remain in the Kingdom for a long period of time to undertake employment activities. Those remaining in Thailand on a retirement visa, while able to obtain visa extensions, are generally unable to obtain a work permit as employment activities are not permitted while present in the country on an O-A visa. Holders of a Thai ED visa may also be eligible for one or more visa extensions, but are generally not allowed to obtain a work permit, except under very narrowly defined circumstances. Thai O visa holders may be able to obtain a Thai work permit depending upon the reason for the visa’s issuance. Those married to Thais, or those granted an O visa based upon having a Thai child are often able to obtain a Thai work permit.

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26th August 2013

จากการเขียน Blog ครั้งก่อนเรื่องข้อสงสัยเกี่ยวกับการขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ของคู่สมรสเพสเดียวกันนั้น  ขาฯได้พบคำตอบเกี่ยวกับหัวข้อดังกล่าวจากกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯ ดังนี้:

Q: คำตัดสินของศาลสูงเรื่องคดี Windsor vs. United States มีผลกระทบต่อกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองอย่างไร?

A: ศาลสูงตัดสินว่า Section 3 ของ DOMA นั้น ขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ จากนี้ไป สถานเอกอัครราชฑูตและสถานกงศุลของสหรัฐฯ จะปฎิบัติต่อการขอวีซ่าของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน ในวิธีการเดียวกับคู่สมรสต่างเพศ  นอกจากนี้ คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันที่จะเดินทางเข้าสหรัฐเพื่อ – งาน การศึกษา หรืออื่นๆ – จะขอวีซ่าเหล่านั้นได้เช่นกัน  รวมถึงลูกติดของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันด้วย

ตามที่เคยสนทนาใน Blog นี้ การที่ศาลลงความเห็นว่า Section 3  ของ DOMA นั้นขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ ส่งผลให้ผู้ที่เป็นคนถือสัญชาติอเมริกันสามารถยื่นขอผลประโยชน์ทางการเข้าเมืองให้คู่สมรส (หรือคู่หมั้น) เพศเดียวกัน กระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐซึ่งรับผิดชอบเรื่องการออกวีซ่า ยังต้องทำการแจ้งข้อมูลเบื้องต้น  ทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐได้จัดระบบให้สอดคล้องกับการตัดสินของศาลสูงเรียบร้อยแล้ว

Q: ข้ฯต้องอาศัยอยู่ในรัฐที่ออกกฏหมายยอมรับคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันหรือไม่เพื่อที่จะขอวีซ่าเข้าเมือง

A: ไม่จำเป็น หากท่านได้จดทะเบียนสมรสในรัฐหรือประเทศที่ยอมรักการจดทะเบียนสมรสของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน ถือว่าทะเบียนสมรสนั้นถูกต้องสำหรับประกอบการยื่นขออนุญาตเข้าเมือง (โปรดอ่านข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมใน Website ของ USCIS – ในหัวข้อ – Citizenship and Immigration Services)

เนื่องจากเขตปกครองของสหรัฐที่ยอมรับการสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกันนั้นมีไม่มาก และมีหลายรัฐที่ห้ามให้มีการสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกันนั้น จึงมีข้อสงสัยมากมายทั้งในวงของนักกฎหมายและของคู่สมรสเหล่านั้นด้วย ใน Blog ที่ข้าฯ ได้เขียนก่อนหน้านี้ ข้าฯได้ยืนยันแล้วว่าความถูกต้องขึ้นอยุ่กับ “รัฐที่ได้ทำการจดทะเบียน” นั่นคือ USCIS จะรับรองการยื่นขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันก็ต่อเมื่อการจดทะเบียนได้จดในรัฐที่ยอมรับการจดทะเบียนประเภทนี้  นอกจากนี้ ดูเหมือนว่ากระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯก็มีนโยบายที่คล้ายกันคือ จะอนุมัติการขอวีซ่าของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน ต่อเมื่อ USCIS  ได้อนุมัติการเข้าเมืองของคู่ดังกล่าว  แต่อาจมี่เขตปกครองบางเขต ที่อาจยอมรับการครองเรือนของคนเพศเดียวกัน แต่อาจไม่ถือเป็นการสมรส ซึ่งทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯกล่าวว่า:

Q: ข้าฯอยู่ร่วมกันกับคูคนเพศเดียวกัน  เราจะได้รับสิทธิเหมือนคู่ที่ทำการสมรสหรือไม่

A: ณ. เวลานี้ การขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ จะอนุมัติให้เฉพาะบุคคลที่จดทะเบียนสมรสอย่างถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย

ถึงแม้คำตอบจะดูชัดเจนแล้ว มีหลายคู่อาจมีข้อสงสัยเพิ่มเติมคือ:

Q: ข้าฯถือสัญชาติอเมริกันและมี่คู่หมั้นต่างชาติที่เป็นคนเพสเดียวกันกับข้าฯ แต่ไม่สามารถทำการจดทะเบียนสมรสในประเทศของคู่หมั้น เรามีทางเลือกอย่างไรบ้าง? เราสามารถขอ K-Visa (วีซ่าคู่หมั้น) ได้หรือไม่?

A: คุณสามารถยื่น Form I-129f และขอวีซ่าคู่หมั้น (K-1) หากคุณสมบัติครบตามข้อกำหนดของการขอเข้าเมือง การที่เป็นการหมั้นระหว่างคนเพสเดียวกัน อาจอนุมัติให้ใช้เพื่อเข้าไปจดทะเบียนสมรสในสหรัฐฯ หากต้องการขอข้อมูลเรื่องการปรับสถานะ อ่านได้ใน Website ของ USCIS:

ในเมื่อในเวลานี้ คู่สมรสต่างเพศสามารถยื่นขอ K1 วีซ่า ได้ จึงมีความน่าจะเป็นที่คู่หมั้นที่มีเพศเดียวกันน่าจะยื่นขอ  US fiance visa ได้เช่นกัน หากมีความตั้งใจที่จะไปจดทะเบียนสมรสในเขตปกครองที่อนุญาตการจดทะเบียนสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกัน

อีกประเด็นที่อาจมีข้อสงสัยคือการออก Non-immigrant visa (NIV)  วีซ่าประเภทนี้ไม่ได้ไม่ได้อนุญาตให้ผู้ถือเปลี่ยนสถานะเป็นผู้ย้ายเข้าเมือง  ทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยได้ให้รายละเอียดดังนี้สำหรับการออก NIV ให้กับคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันว่า:

Q: คู่ที่เป็นเพศเดียวกันสามารถขอวีซ่าประเภทเดียวกันหรือไม่?

A: ได้  ณ. เวลานี้ คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันพร้อมลูกสามารถยื่นขอวีซา NIV ได้ คู่ครองเพศเดียวกันและลูก (ถือเป็นลูกเลี้ยงของผู้ยื่นหลัก หากจดทะเบยนสมรสก่อนเด็กอายุครบ ๑๘ ปีบริบูรณ์) ก็ สามารถรับสิทธิขอวีซ่า NIV ถ้ากฎหมายอนุมัติวีซ่าให้  แต่เอกสารเพิ่มเติมคงไม่มีการเปลี่ยนแปลง เช่นเดียวกับการขอให้คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน [italics added]

Q: คู่สมรสต่างชาติของข้าพเจ้ามีบุตร ข้าพเจ้ายื่นคำขอพร้อมกับคู่สมรสได้หรือไม่?

A: ได้  บุตรของคู่สมรสต่างชาติจะถือเป็น”ลูกเลี้ยง” ของผู้ถือสัญชาติอเมริกันจึงสามารถรับสิทธิในกลุ่ม IR2 แต่ต้องจดทะเบยนสมรสก่อนเด็กอายุครบ ๑๘ ปีบริบูรณ์

แน่นอน ทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯ ได้อนุมัติให้ลูกเลี้ยงคนคนถือสัญชาติอเมริกันย้ายเข้าเมืองในกรณีที่ คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันจดทะเบียนสมรสก่อนเด็กอายุครบ ๑๘ ปีบริบูรณ์ ดังนั้น น่าจะเป็นที่เข้าใจว่าเด็กที่กำลังจะเป็นลูกเลี้ยงของคนถือสัญชาติอเมริกันที่ขอวีซ่าประเภทคู่หมั้นคือ  K-2 visa เพื่อทำการสมรสในสหรัฐฯ

หากท่านต้องการข้อมูลจาก Website หาได้ที่: วีซ่าคู่เพศเดียวกัน

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24th August 2013

หลังจากการที่ศาลตัดสินคดี Windsor ที่มีการอ้างว่า ขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ มีคู่รักเพศเดียวกันหลายคู่ มีข้อสงสัยเกี่ยวกับการอพยพเข้าเมืองของสหรัฐ  ทาง USCIS และกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯ เคยตอบคำถามเรื่องนี้มามากแล้ว และผมเคยปรึกษาหารือเรื่องคำตอบเหล่านี้ ใน Blog นี้มาก่อน แต่กระผมได้สังเกตว่า  USCIS ได้ให้ข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมเรื่องนี้ใน website  ของ  USCIS:

Q1: ข้าฯ เป็นพลเมืองของสหรัฐ  หรือเป็นผู้อาศัย (Permanent Resident) และมีคู่สมรสของข้าฯ เป็นคนเพศเดียวกันและเป็นคนต่างชาติ ขาฯ สามารถรับรองการขอ VISA ย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ให้กับคู่ของข้าฯ ได้หรือไม่ ? (ใหม่)

A1: ได้ ท่านสามารถยื่นแบบ Form I-130 (และเอกสารอื่น ๆ) สิทธิในการขอย้ายที่อยู่จะพิจารณาตัดสินตามกฎต่างๆ ของการเข้าเมือง และจะไม่ใช้ความเป็นคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันมาเป็นตัวแปรในการตัดสิน

นอกจากนี้คนอเมริกันหรือ Permanent Resident สามารถยื่นคำขอ คือ IR 1 Visa, CR 1 Visa  หรือตัวเสริมคือ K3 Visa   เพื่อให้คู่สมรสเข้าเมือง  นอกจากนี้ เมื่อยื่นขอ Visa ที่สถานฑูตหรือสถานกงศุลของสหรัฐฯ การพิจารณาการขอ Visa จะพิจารณาเช่นเดียวกับ การพิจารณาการขอ Visa  ของคู่สมรสต่างเพศ

ประเด็นที่หลายคู่สงสัย คือ ข้อแตกต่างระหว่างรัฐที่อาศัยอยู่กับรัฐที่จดทะเบียยนสมรส เพราะมีไม่กี่รัฐที่อนุญาติให้คนเพศเดียวกันจดทะเบียนสมรส ในขณะที่บางรัฐไม่ยอมรับการสมรสระหว่างเพศเดียวกัน และอาจะไม่อนุญาติให้จดทะเบียน   USICS ได้อธิบายเพิ่มเติมในประเด็นนี้:

Q3: ข้าฯ และคู่สมรสได้จดทะเบียนในรัฐ ในสหรัฐฯ หรือในประเทศที่ยอมรับ การสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกัน แต่เราอาศัยในรัฐที่ไม่อนุญาติให้จดทะเบียนสมรส ข้าฯ สามารภยื่นขอให้คู่ครองย้ายเข้าเมืองได้หรือไม่

A3: ได้เพราะ สถานภาพการสมรส จะพิจารณาจากรัฐที่ได้ทำการจดทะเบียน หากกฎหมายของรัฐนั้นอนุญาตให้ คนเพศเดียวกันจดทะเบียนสมรสได้ ถือว่าเป็นการจดทะเบียนที่ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย แล้วใช้ในการประกอบการพิจารณา การขอย้ายเข้าเมืองได้

อาจมีบางกรณีที่จะมีผลทำให้ กฎหมายของที่อาศัยมีผลต่อบางประเด็น แต่โดยรวมแล้ว ทาง USCIS จะนำกฎหมายของรัฐที่คู่สมรสได้ดำเนินการจดทะเบียน มาใช้ในการพิจารณาการขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่

นอกจากนี้ ข้าฯ ก็ไม่เคยได้ยินว่า  Section 2 ของ DOMA จะขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ  ดูด้จากคำอธิบายต่อไปนี้:

Q5: Form I-130 หรือคำขออื่นๆได้ถูกปฎิเสธโดยอ้างกฎของ DOMA เพียงอย่างเดียว ข้าฯ ควรทำอย่างไรต่อ?

A5: USCIS จะนำคำขอที่ถูกปฎิเสธเพราะ DOMA Section 3 มาพิจารณาอีกรอบ ถ้าหากมีข้อมูลเรื่องธุรกรรมเหล่านี้ USCIS จะนำคำตัดสินมาพิจารณาอีกครั้ง ซึ่งจะปฎิบัติเช่นนี้กับทุกกรณีที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธ ใน Form I-130 (เช่น Form I-485 ที่นำยื่นในเวลาเดียวกัน)

  • USCIS จะนำ Form I-130 ที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธเนื่องจาก DOMA Section 3 หลัง 23 กพ. 2011  มาพิจารณาอีกรอบ และ USCIS จะติดต่อไปยังผู้ยื่นคำขอโดยใช้ที่อยู่ในใบคำขอ เพื่อขอข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม
  • หากคุณได้มีคำขอที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธ เนื่องด้วย กรณีดังกล่าวข้างต้น คุณสามารถส่ง email ส่วนตัว (ที่สามารถรับคำตอบได้) ไปยัง USCIS <USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov> เพื่อแจ้งการร้องเรียน  ทาง USCIS จะตอบอีเมล์แล้วขอข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมเพื่อประกอบการพิจารณา
  • ถ้าหากการปฎิเสธ คำขอ I-130 เกิดขึ้นก่อน 23 กพ. 2011 กรุณาแจ้ง USCIS ก่อน 31 มีค. 2014  เพื่อให้ USCIS ดำเนินการเปิด I-130 ของคุณ  กรุณาแจ้งจำนงไปยัง  < USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov > โดยเขียนว่า ทางคุณมีข้อสงสัยว่า การยื่นคำขอของคุณได้รับการปฎิเสธเพราะ  DOMA Section 3

พอทางการเริ่มพิจารณา I-130 ของท่าน จะเสมือนเป็นการพิจารณาใหม่โดยไม่คำนึงถึง DOMA Section 3 แล้วจะพิจารณาตามข้อมูลเก่า และข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม ในเวลาเดียวกัน USCIS จะนำคำขออื่นๆ มาพิจารณาตามความจำเป็น หากคำขอเหล่านั้น ถูกปฎิเสธ เนื่องจากการปฎิเสธ I-130 (เช่น Form I-485 เป็นต้น)

นอกจากนี้การขออนุญาติทำงานที่ถูกปฎิเสธเนื่องจากการปฎิเสธ Form I-48S ก็จะนำมาพิจารณาต่อ และจะออกใบอนุญาติทำงานหากอนุมัติ หากการตัดสินเกิดการล่าช้า  USCIS จะ (1) ยื่นเรื่องใหม่ทันที หรือ (2) พิจารณาและอนุมัติคำขอที่เคยถูกปฎิเสธ

  • หากมี form อื่นๆ (นอกจาก I-130) ที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธเรื่องจาก DOMA section 3 กรุณาแจ้ง USCIS ก่อน 31 มีค. 2013 โดยส่ง email ไปยัง <USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov>

จะไม่มีค่าใช้จ่ายเกิดขึ้นในการร้องขอให้ USCIS นำคำขอมาพิจารณาใหม่ แต่หากท่านต้องการยื่นคำขอใหม่ ท่านสามารถทำได้พร้อมจ่ายค่าธรรมเนียม ตามที่แจ้งได้

USCIS จะดำเนินธุรกรรมตามกฎและนโยบายของศาลสูง ซึ่งการนำใบสมัครของคู่สมรสที่มีเพศเดียวกันมาพิจารณาอีกรอบ ชี้ให้เห็นว่า ทางองค์กรมุ่งที่จะส่งเสริมความเท่าเทียมของครอบครัวทุกประเภท

หากท่านต้องการข้อมูลจาก Website หาได้ที่: วีซ่าคู่เพศเดียวกัน

more Comments: 04

23rd August 2013

The administration of this blog routinely posts the estimated processing times of the various service centers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The following was quoted directly from the official USCIS website:

Field Office Processing Dates for California Service Center as of: June 30, 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 April 16, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 16, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. April 16, 2013
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 4, 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 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-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: June 30, 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 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 February 2, 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 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 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)] June 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 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 February 15, 2013
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: June 30, 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 April 16, 2011
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 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 20, 2013
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: June 30, 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 April 2, 2013
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 April 10, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 10, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. April 10, 2013
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 June 4, 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 16, 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 19, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister March 20, 2011
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) June 4, 2012
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications November 19, 2012
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications April 10, 2013
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 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 March 20, 2013
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 28, 2012

Those reading these estimates should bear in mind that these estimates do not necessarily provide an accurate estimate of the overall US visa process. Those seeking a United States visa from outside the United States will likely be required to undergo Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. Furthermore, before an immigration petition even reaches a US Embassy overseas the file must first be processed by the National Visa Center. All of these facts are likely to cause the overall US visa process to be significantly longer than the time it takes for USCIS to merely adjudicate an immigration petition.

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22nd August 2013

In what could be described as a watershed moment for United States-Myanmar relations, these two countries held their first joint human trafficking discussions officially dubbed the U.S.-Myanmar Trafficking in Persons dialogue. The discussions were held on August 1, 2013 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Myanmar Police Chief Major General Zaw Win and United States Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca headed the Myanmar and United States’ delegations. These events were reported in an August 19th Press Release from the American State Department. To quote from the recent State Department Press Release:

In-depth discussions covered a variety of human trafficking issues, including forced labor, sex trafficking, and the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers, with particular focus on the importance of employing a victim-centered approach to combating human trafficking, the need to show concrete results in holding to account perpetrators of all forms of trafficking, and the benefits of robust government-civil society partnerships. Both governments agreed the dialogue was very productive and pledged their continued commitment to enhanced cooperation in addressing this serious crime and human rights issue under the auspices of the United States-Myanmar Joint Plan on Trafficking in Persons.

Human trafficking is a serious issue to American policymakers as well as their counterparts in the various nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Many of the ASEAN members states (Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) have struggled with human trafficking and have promulgated policies to thwart would-be traffickers and provide assistance to the victims of this insidious international scourge. It is promising to see the United States engaging Myanmar on this issue as recent history has seen Myanmar maintaining a rather aloof stance towards both the United  States and the international community as a whole. Hopefully, this recent meeting will garner further cooperation between the United States and the Union of Myanmar on this issue as the eradication of human trafficking would prove to be not only a benefit to the people of each of these countries, but also to the region and the world. It could be argued that by engaging Myanmar in a discussion of this issue the United States is not only highlighting Myanmar’s importance geopolitically, but also that country’s potential to curtail human trafficking on a regional scale. Should this meeting result in any decrease (whether large or small) in human trafficking, then this initial dialogue must be viewed as a success. Hopefully the day will come when human trafficking is no longer the problem that it is at this time.

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21st August 2013

It was recently announced that Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand met for the first Thailand-China Strategic Dialogue on August 19. These two officials discussed many issues of importance to both countries and assessed not only the Sino-Thai relationship, but also the relationship both countries maintain with the nations comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote a recent press release from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Both sides noted with satisfaction the progress and the dynamism made in areas as high-level visits, trade and investment, tourism, culture and education since the adoption of the Joint Action Plan on Thailand-China Strategic Cooperation (2012-2016). Both sides agreed to maintain the momentum and, as for next steps, to deepen cooperation on high speed train, water resources management, green, renewable and alternative energy as well as education and human resource development as priority under the MOU on Cooperation on Sustainable Development. Both sides shared the view that the 3rd Meeting of the Joint Commission on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation should be convened soon to discuss ways to further promote trade and investment in order to achieve the bilateral trade target of 100 billion USD by 2015 set by the leaders of the two countries. Both sides also agreed to fully implement the MOU on Agricultural Trade Cooperation and facilitation trade in agricultural products and RMB should play a greater role in the business transactions between China and Thailand. Both sides reviewed the decade-long China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership and agreed that it has stood as a pillar of regional peace, stability and prosperity…

As the date approaches for the integration of the ASEAN economies thereby creating the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) many nations around the world and within the region are likely speculating as to how ASEAN and China will interact both geopolitically and economically. In fact, the recent Thai-Chinese dialogue occurs closely after a recent ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Retreat hosted in the Thai city of Hua Hin. Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, chaired the meeting. During the course of the discussions, the issue of the Sino-ASEAN relations was discussed. To quote directly from a different press release from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Mr. Surapong highlighted the importance of ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture. He suggested that ASEAN should strive towards a common and more coordinated position and speak with one voice on matters that affect the interest of ASEAN…On ASEAN-China dialogue relations, Mr. Surapong emphasized the importance of maintaining the continuing the spirit of “constructive cooperation” for mutual trust and cordial relations between ASEAN and China, including through advancing trade facilitation and promoting ASEAN’s connectivity efforts with China. He looked forward to the convening of a Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting on 28 – 30 August 2013 in Beijing, to further discuss ways to enhance the strategic relations between ASEAN and China.

Clearly ASEAN’s future economic position is of interest to the Foreign Ministers representing the nations which are included in ASEAN. However, the future of Sino-ASEAN relations is of key importance not only in terms of regional politics, but in terms of global economics and international affairs. How ASEAN will interact with China on key international issues in the future is of significance for many nations in the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile, an integrated ASEAN economic bloc could represent one of, if not the, largest economies in the world at some point in the relatively near future. By capitalizing on such a situation to improve trade relations not only with China, but with the United States and the nations comprising the European Union, the countries of ASEAN could stand to reap benefits exponentially larger than those garnered through traditional bi-lateral negotiation.

It will be interesting to see what develops at the upcoming meeting of ASEAN and Chinese Foreign Ministers.

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