Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘Amity Treaty’ Category

11th July 2016

In a previous posting on this blog the issue of single person incorporation of Thai companies was discussed. Back in September of 2015 it was revealed that the officials with government offices such as the Ministry of Commerce and the Department of Business Development were reviewing the possibility of amending the existing corporate laws in Thailand so as to allow an incorporated entity such as a limited company to be owned by one individual person. This would be similar to legislation in countries such as the United States which allows individuals, acting alone, to set up structures such as limited liability companies on their own.

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some new developments have taken place with regard to this topic. To quote directly from the website of The Nation Newspaper:

THE Business Development Department has reviewed a new draft law and added in the document that a foreign individual cannot register a business in the Kingdom. The move aims to prevent |foreign enterprises from competing against Thais in many businesses that should be preserved for Thais. The original draft, known as “one person, one company,” states only that a single person can register a business in Thailand.

As readers of this blog and website may be aware there are many provisions enshrined in Thai law designed to protect Thai enterprises from foreign competition in Thailand. Most notable is the Foreign Business Act which specifically designates the type of business activities which are restricted to foreign nationals. As the website of Coconuts Bangkok noted:

This addition to the draft is designed to keep foreign businesses from competing against Thai companies in the long list of industries that the government has deemed reserved for Thai nationals only.

The aforementioned list of industries is detailed in the provisions of the Foreign Business Act. Currently, Thai law requires that a limited company have at least 3 shareholders in order to be registered pursuant to Thai law. This proposed law would change those provisions. It appears that Thailand would be the third country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to adopt this type of change while Malaysia is apparently reviewing similar legislation.

The final draft of this proposed law remains to be seen, but it seems logical to assume that easing of corporate regulation of Thai company structures will result in increased business activity.

It should be noted that pursuant to the terms of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity, it is possible for American citizens to own virtually 100% of their companies in Thailand notwithstanding the provisions of the Foreign Business Act. It remains to be seen how these changes to the law will impact the registration of so called Amity Treaty Companies.

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5th November 2015

During the month of October 2015, it came to this blogger’s attention that the Thai government began to heavily enforce regulations against those overstaying their Thai visa and those utilizing nominees in order to control companies in Thailand. In a recent article on the Khaosod English website it was noted that more than 9000 people were arrested and detained pending deportation for overstaying their visas. The article went on to note:

The penalties announced Sunday are identical to regulations announced by the immigration bureau last year that have been in effect since Aug. 17, 2014. Foreign nationals who remain in the country more than 90 days after their visa expires are to be banned for one year. Those who overstay for one year, three years or five years are forbidden from re-entering the country for three years, five years and 10 years respectively. If they don’t turn themselves in and are instead caught by police, those who have overstayed less than a year would be blacklisted for five years while those with over a year face a 10-year ban…

The penalties referred to above were apparently applied to those detained in the aforementioned roundup and it would appear that such measures are likely to be applied to overstayers in the future. For this reason it is strongly recommended that those wishing to stay in Thailand obtain a visa and leave within the specified period of validity unless a Thai visa extension is obtained. There are many types of Thai visa categories including business visas, retirement visas, O visas for family members of Thai nationals, and the greatly anticipated long stay tourist visa which is set to begin being issued in mid-November.

Meanwhile, Thai officials in the Ministry of Commerce seem to be implementing stricter enforcement of rules regarding the use of nominee shareholders in Thai companies. Under the Foreign Business Act, foreign nationals are not permitted to use Thai nominee shareholders in order to circumvent the restrictions on foreign ownership of Thai companies. Those caught violating this law can face fines or possible imprisonment. Apparently, officials with the Department of Business Development will be investigating certain companies to determine if nominees are in use. To quote directly from The Nation:

The 10 sectors to be inspected are food and beverage, tourism, property rental, the property trade, car rental, spa, handicraft and souvenir retail, Internet retailing, direct sales, and education consultants. Chainarong said that those sectors would be targeted because it was believed that a high proportion of their businesses were foreign controlled through the use of Thai nominees…

Clearly Thai regulators are becoming increasingly serious regarding the enforcement of Thai law in both the realm of immigration and business. It should be noted that American Citizens are permitted to own 100% of certain types of Thai corporations pursuant to the provisions of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity.

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20th September 2015

In a recent article in the Bangkok Post it was reported that the current government in Thailand is taking measures to foster growth for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Thailand. It would appear that the present government is eager to provide encouragement for small and medium sized businesses in Thailand. Furthermore it seems as though Thai officials are attempting to position the country as a location of choice for small business start-ups within the greater framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). However, of particular interest to this blogger was the mention of possible rule changes with regard to Thai corporate regulations pertaining to Thai Company registration and the shareholdings thereof. To quote the aforementioned article directly:

Mr Pongpun said the authorities were improving regulations on the incorporation of private companies to allow the incorporation of a juristic person registered by only one person.

At present, corporations (also referred to as juristic persons) in Thailand must have a minimum of three (3) shareholders in order to incorporate under Thai law. It should be noted that prior to an amendment to Thai corporate law at approximately the turn of the century it was required that all companies registered in Thailand have a minimum of 7 shareholders in order to incorporate pursuant to Thai law. Many at the time felt that the 7 shareholders requirement was too cumbersome and for that reason the statutorily required number of shareholders was reduced to 3. Since then, there have been those who have noted their belief that allowing Thai corporate structures with only one shareholder would bring Thai corporate law more in line with similar bodies of law globally. For example, in many American jurisdictions Limited Liability Companies or LLCs are only required to have one member/shareholder, while similar Limited Company (Ltd.) structures are allowed in Britain and the Commonwealth nations and many European jurisdictions allow for similar corporate structures as well.

It remains to be seen whether Thai corporate law will be amended to allow for single shareholder corporations in Thailand. It is a good sign that such structures are being considered by Thai officials especially since such structures would be especially beneficial to small business owners in Thailand. Of special note to American readers, pursuant to the provisions of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity it is possible for American Citizens to own 100% of an Amity company registered in Thailand. Should the aforementioned changes take place it could result in Americans being able to own their small business singularly without any Thai shareholders.

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1st September 2013

Many people living in Thailand establish corporate entities in order to conduct business in the Kingdom. This is no different for foreign nationals wishing to do business in Thailand. In the past, it was relatively easy for foreign nationals to set-up a Thai company. However, over the years the rules regarding corporate formation have grown increasingly complex as the business environment has evolved. At the same time, Thai officials have implemented policies which foster foreign investment (most notably recent regulations which have decreased the Thai corporate tax rate from 23% to 20%). All of these issues gain a new complexion when one considers the fact that as Thai laws regarding corporations have developed so too have the agreements creating the infrastructure which underlies the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In the past, Thai authorities did not, in general, heavily scrutinize Thai companies with all Thai shareholders, even such entities having a foreign director. In fact, there was a time when simply maintaining a majority of Thai shareholders provided a degree of protection against substantial official examination. Thai partnerships (both limited and ordinary) were also somewhat immune from significant governmental oversight even where a foreign partner controlled a stake the firm. However, it should be noted that pursuant to the provisions of the Thai Foreign Business Act virtually all Thai business entities with a foreign majority ownership structure have been required to obtain either a Foreign Business License, a Treaty Certificate pursuant to the provisions of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity, or some other form of documentation showing either licensure from the Ministry of Commerce pursuant to Thai law or exemption based upon a Free Trade Agreement.

As of January 2013, a new policy regarding newly established Thai companies came into effect. Thai companies with any foreign directors must now prove that the registered capital has been paid into the company by the relevant shareholders. This is even the case where the company is wholly owned by Thai nationals. Furthermore, where a foreign national maintains 50% (or more) interest in a Thai partnership evidence must be provided showing paid up capital in the enterprise. Registered capital has always been an issue for Thai authorities, but it would now appear that the rules regarding registered capital will be applied more stringently especially where there is a foreign director or partner involved in the Thai company or partnership.

As the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is set to come into existence in 2015 and based upon the fact that Thailand has signed various international agreements pertaining to international trade and foreign direct investment there are some who argue that the time is quickly coming when Thai regulation of foreign run businesses will be liberalized. Until that time comes, the rules imposed upon foreigners setting up businesses in Thailand are likely to be more strictly enforced compared to times past.

For related information please see: Thailand Business Registration.

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16th August 2013

Recently, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand visited the United States of America and was welcomed by the American Secretary of State. Some of the remarks made in a press conference may be notable to those interested in American foreign policy and the relationship between the United States and Thailand. To quote directly from remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry in a recent State Department press release:

I want to thank our friends in Thailand, who represent the longest security relationship, the longest partner that we have in Asia – 180 years of a treaty relationship with Thailand. They are our partner in the largest multinational field exercise that takes place in the region.

The Treaty noted above is the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations Between the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America (sometimes colloquially referred to as the US-Thai Treaty of Amity). This Treaty could be viewed as an update of previous Treaty agreements made prior to the Amity Treaty’s ratification in 1966. The Treaty of Amity represents one of the best sources of legal protection for American Citizens and American Companies conducting business in Thailand as it provides “National Treatment” to American companies in Thailand. So long as American companies (or American owned Thai Companies) receive certification from the Thai Ministry of Commerce, they arre permitted to legally operate in Thailand notwithstanding the provisions of the Thai Foreign Business Act. There are some restrictions on the business activities which an Amity Company may undertake, but overall the Treaty is a significant boon to American businesses operating in Thailand.

The Treaty not only symbolizes strong Thai-American relations in the commercial sphere, it also is seen as a symbol of America’s long standing diplomatic and security relationship with the Kingdom of Thailand, as Secretary Kerry noted in the aforementioned quote. Thai Foreign Minister Dr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul also commented upon the close relationship between Thailand and the United States, citing a relatively recent visit to the Kingdom of Thailand by President Obama:

Last November, President Obama visited Thailand as his first stop in Southeast Asia after his reelection. His visit served to strengthen our strong partnership. My meeting with Secretary Kerry today will be a good chance to continue dialogue on our future partnership, especially as we mark 180 years of Thai-U.S. diplomatic relations this year.

Those wishing to read this press release in detail are encouraged to click HERE.

As the prospect of an integrated ASEAN Economic Community draws near, it stands to reason that the United States and Thailand will continue to maintain their close relations as Thailand will likely prove to be a significant participant in the pan-ASEAN economic bloc. This important role for Thailand within the ASEAN framework could also prove beneficial to American business in Thailand. Only time will tell.

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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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2nd October 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the Philippines has voiced his belief in the advisability of further integration of the economies in the countries which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). In order to provide further insight into these comments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Asia One at AsiaOne.com:

Asean must take advantage of opportunities at a time when the world’s traditional growth centres are slowing down, Philippine President Benigno S Aquino III yesterday said. At the close of Asia Inc Forum’s Asean 100 Leadership Forum here, Aquino said for Asean to grow further, it is necessary for the member states to work together to continue to maintain peace, stability and an environment that attracts investments. “I am aware that the diversity in Asean makes it difficult to completely agree with one another on some issues, but this has not stopped us from collaborating on the economic front, and integration has always helped us push our economies.”

This blogger encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting article in detail.

There seem to be few who question the soundness of the idea that economic integration in ASEAN would provide benefits to the citizens of all of the economies at issue. That stated, ASEAN is a unique regional bloc due to the fact that it has utilized a relatively slow economic integration process which has allowed the participating members to provide mutual benefits to one another while simultaneously allowing the member nations to respect the views of each other regarding national interest and foreign policy, especially in a global context.

Meanwhile, another ASEAN member; specifically the Kingdom of Thailand, has recently been the topic of an article about that nation’s relationship with the United States. In order to provide further context it is necessary to quote directly from an article by Walter Lohman posted to the official website of The Heritage Foundation at Heritage.org:

The United States and Thailand have enjoyed more than a century and a half of close relations, beginning with the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833. They fought side by side on the Korean Peninsula and fought together again in Vietnam. However, as a result of U.S. withdrawal from Indochina, both nations’ 1970s rapprochement with China, and China’s subsequent rise to major power status, the alliance has struggled for lack of shared strategic purpose…As critical as this cooperation is, it is not enough to reconstitute a grand strategy on the scale of the Cold War. But rediscovering shared purpose in the U.S.–Thai alliance does not require a grand strategy. The regional dynamic is too complex, Thailand’s position ambivalent, and America’s own relationships in the region too varied and layered to foster a strategic meeting of the minds with Thailand…Both U.S. and Thai officials praise Cobra Gold as a pillar of the cooperation and interoperability of the U.S. and Thai militaries, an achievement that has proved useful for military missions, such as joint patrols of vital sea lanes, and noncombat missions, such as disaster relief following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Burma.[1] Two other major joint exercises are the annual CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) naval exercises[2] and Cope Tiger, an exercise involving both countries’ air forces…[3]

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the aforementioned hyperlinks in order to read this article in detail.

This blogger must take note of the rather precise understanding of the complex interplay of relationships between Asian countries in the context of global diplomacy. It is especially gratifying to see that type understanding in an analysis of US-Thai relations. A prime example of how some such relationships smoothly operate over time can be viewed in an analysis the relationship between the United States and Thailand. The US-Thai Treaty of Amity has proven to be a useful platform for Thai-American business while simultaneously having the ancillary benefit of providing new business opportunities in the economies of the surrounding nations. Hopefully the same trend will continue and similar situations will arise in the other ASEAN economies which foster and facilitate sustainable regional growth for the whole of ASEAN.

For information pertaining to procurement of legal services in the Kingdom of Thailand or the Greater ASEAN region please see: Legal.

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26th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the National People’s Congress in China has apparently ratified a protocol regarding that nation’s Treaty of Amity with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Xinhua, XinhuaNet.com:

BEIJING, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), or China’s top legislature, on Friday ratified the Third Protocol Amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. According to Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, ratifying the protocol will help exhibit China’s political support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and boost ties between China and the European Union. Cui was entrusted earlier by the State Council to brief the NPC Standing Committee on the basic information of the protocol. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed in February 1976. It was one of the basic political documents of the ASEAN…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

It should be noted that the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand maintain the US-Thai Treaty of Amity which could be described as similar to the aforementioned Sino-ASEAN agreement mentioned above. There has been recent speculation regarding the future of both the Chinese and ASEAN jurisdictions’ economies with many noting the possibility of a very bright economic outlook for both locations as well as Greater Asia as a whole. Meanwhile, there has been speculation that ASEAN could see a unified ASEAN visa scheme, but such developments have yet to come to fruition.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that some of the Citizens of the sovereign State of Maryland have recently petitioned one of their Senators regarding the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of On Top Magazine, OnTopMag.com:

More than 3,000 people have signed on to a petition urging Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski to co-sponsor a bill that would seek to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which forbids federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples. Freedom to Marry will present Mikulski with the petition on Friday at 3PM, the group said in an email to On Top Magazine. “Recent census data show nearly 17,000 same sex couple living across the state of Maryland,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said in a statement. “These loving, committed couples and their families are harmed every day by the denial of marriage, and by federal discrimination against the marriages they are able to celebrate across the border in the District of Columbia and six other states.” “We hope that Senator Mikulski will heed the call of her constituents and join us in ending marriage discrimination at the federal level and in Maryland,” he added…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this interesting article.

Frequent readers of this blog may recall that the provisions of DOMA currently preclude visa benefits such as the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, and the K-1 visa to those in a same sex marriage even if said marriage has been legalized and/or solemnized by one of the sovereign American States which recognize such unions. Federal Legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have sponsored legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act and the Uniting American Families Act in an effort to end this discrimination, but as of yet it remains to be seen if said legislation will see passage.

For those interested in information pertaining to Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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30th April 2011

Over the years this blogger has seen large numbers of tourists flock to the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the neighboring nations of Laos, the Union of Myanmar (referred to by some as Burma), Malaysia, and the Kingdom of Cambodia. At the same time, this blogger has also witnessed the metamorphosis of some of these tourists into entrepreneurs by remaining in some of these countries (as well as other jurisdictions in Greater Asia such as Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Nepal, Macau, India, and Sri Lanka; to name only a few) in a business context for many years and; for some, even decades or a whole lifetime. Whatever the circumstances of those Americans Resident Abroad remaining in the region of economies increasingly being labeled by both the mainstream and alternative media outlets by their affiliation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) one thing is clear: the economies of Asia are set to expand at an incredible rate by relative historical comparison. Therefore, it stands to reason that there are likely to be more Americans doing business in these jurisdictions. This state of affairs is occurring at a time when the potential of the internet and the World Wide Web first noted little more than a decade ago is beginning to become fully realized by businesses large and small. As e-commerce becomes an evermore ubiquitous facet of virtually every enterprise’s business strategy it is becoming more clear that many business functions are increasingly being performed by businesses of all sizes online and, in some cases, these businesses are even being maintained from an entrepreneur’s home.

This phenomenon is interesting for this blogger to note from the perspective of an American who is resident in Bangkok, Thailand as the Thai shop-house business model of maintaining a residence and business premises within close proximity has lead to a thriving small business community in the vast metropolis that is Greater Bangkok. This thriving business community, coupled with many of the other positive factors associated with doing business in Thailand, has lead to a vibrant economy that remains conducive to further foreign investment by entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to derive economic benefits both in Thailand and throughout the Asian markets. Of possible importance to Americans resident abroad or those thinking of residing abroad are the issues noted above as well as those associated with ownership of Thai property or Thai real estate especially in the form of a Thai Condominium.

In Thailand, as well as throughout many jurisdictions in Asia, there are restrictions placed upon foreign ownership of real estate. Although there are provisions allowing for foreign ownership of Thai property in many cases it is difficult, if not impossible, for a foreign national to secure freehold title (referred to as Chanote title in Thailand) in Thai real property such as land. However, it may be possible for a foreign national in Thailand, such as an American Citizen, to conveniently secure freehold title to a Thai Condo if the provisions of various laws and regulations on this issue, such as the Thai Condominium Act, are adhered to. Meanwhile, a foreign national who owns a Condo in Thailand may be qualified to receive a Foreign House Registration Booklet (referred to as a Tabien Baan for Thais or a Foreign Tabien Baan, or Yellow Tabien Baan for foreign nationals). Taking the aforementioned factors into consideration, in conjunction with the fact that for American Citizens and American Companies in Thailand there may be benefits pursuant to the provisions of various legal instruments such as the US-Thai Treaty of Amity which may provide the privilege of virtually 100% ownership of a Company in Thailand with “National Treatment” for certain business undertakings, one is left with little doubt that there are tangible legal benefits which could be accrued to the favor of Americans resident in Thailand conducting business in the ASEAN region as well as the regions of Greater Asia. Therefore,  investing in what this blogger would refer to as a “Thai Pad” (which non-literally alludes to the IPad-like gadgets allowing for increasingly easy real time access to the internet as well as the exponentially beneficial combination of privileges accruing to owners of Thai property registered on a Yellow Tabien Baan in conjunction with the advantages which may be had for Americans resident abroad utilizing a Thai company certified under the US-Thai Amity Treaty) could prove to have been prudent by future analysts in both tangible as well as intangible terms.

For related information please see: US Company Registration.

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3rd April 2011

While surfing the internet recently this blogger came upon a very interesting posting on the ILW website which discussed the issue of naturalization in the United States and how the naturalization process operates when a prospective United States Citizen who may seek naturalization remains outside of the United States while working for an American company with offices abroad.  To quote directly from an article written by Attorney Cyrus D. Mehta on the website ILW.com:

It is not uncommon for a permanent resident to receive a plum posting for an American corporation overseas or for its subsidiary. This is a frequent occurrence these days in a globalized world, and especially when jobs have become more scarce in the US since the economic downturn. While such an assignment may provide a great boost to the permanent resident’s career, he or she may still wish to preserve the ability to naturalize, but the overseas posting presents a challenge since it may be difficult to maintain continuous residence. One of the key requirements for applying for US citizenship under INA § 316(a) is the need to be physically present for half the time in the US during the qualifying period, which may either be five or three years (if one is married to a US citizen) and to have also resided continuously during this period. The challenges of maintaining residence while on an overseas assignment were addressed in a prior blog, Naturalizing In A Flat World, http://cyrusmehta.blogspot.com/2010/07/naturalizing-in-flat-world.html.

Those reading this blog are well advised to click on the hyperlinks above to read the above cited article in its entirety as the article is very insightful.

Those who are unfamiliar with the overall immigration process should note that visas such as the CR-1 visa and the IR-1 visa (utilized by the immigrant spouses of American Citizens) can place the visa holder on something of a “path to Citizenship”. That being stated, the CR-1 visa only provides the visa holder with conditional lawful permanent residence upon entry as such visas are issued to couples who have been married for less than 2 years at the time of admission to the USA. Meanwhile, the IR-1 visa provides unconditional lawful permanent residence upon admission to the USA and is issued to spouses of American Citizens who have been married for 2 years or more. After remaining in permanent resident status in the USA for 3 years, and maintaining the requisite physical presence required under relevant US law, a permanent resident, married to an American, can file for naturalization to United States Citizenship.

This issue also relates to the K-1 visa (a non-immigrant US fiance visa) because those who enter the United States in K-1 status, get married, and apply for adjustment of status may begin accruing time toward eventual naturalization as soon as the adjustment of status petition is approved. Once an adjustment is approved for a K-1 visa holder, then that individual essentially becomes a CR-1 visa holder with Lawful Permanent Residence. Therefore, the K-1 holder, now permanent resident, must still apply for a lift of conditions before being granted unconditional lawful permanent residence which must precede an eventual naturalization application.

As noted in the article cited above, there may be some US permanent residents who can accrue time toward naturalization while not actually physically in the United States if such an endeavor fits within some of the exceptions present within the statutory framework of relevant US Immigration law. American companies with offices abroad may fit the statutory exception scheme for naturalization notwithstanding foreign residence. However, the unique facts in any case require that those truly interested in this issue must either conduct their own thorough research or retain the assistance of an American attorney as this issue can be highly complex.

Many American companies operating out of the Kingdom of Thailand opt to conduct their affairs pursuant to the privileges accorded to Americans and American companies under the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. So-called “Treaty of Amity Companies” may allow for an American individual or company to own virtually 100% of a Thai enterprise conducting business in Thailand. Amity certification allows American businesses to operate with “National Treatment” and thereby circumvent some of the restrictions placed upon foreign business enterprises pursuant to other relevant Thai law. That said, Amity Treaty certification may not, in and of itself, mean that one working for such a company can accrue time toward naturalization while abroad as such issues are likely best analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

For related information please see: Thai Company or US Company Registration.

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