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Archive for the ‘US Embassy Kabul’ Category

27th May 2017

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the new administration in the USA has promulgated policies which will place more scrutiny upon those who may be applying for visas to the USA in the future. The proposed “extreme vetting” of US visa applications in a Consular Processing context appears to be aimed at narrow subsets of “red flagged” visa applicants. In order to best summarize this policy shift, it is necessary to quote directly from a relatively recent Reuters article:

The final cable seen by Reuters, issued on March 17, leaves in place an instruction to consular chiefs in each diplomatic mission, or post, to convene working groups of law enforcement and intelligence officials to “develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.” Applicants falling within one of these identified population groups should be considered for higher-level security screening…

The new administration appears keen to narrowly target those applicants which are deemed to be appropriate for “increased scrutiny”. However, a rather recent proposal has been submitted by the U.S. Department of State requesting implementation of the emergency review procedures of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. In short, the DOS is requesting expedited processing of a request to modify the forms associated with applications for US visas. To quote directly from the US government website Regulations.gov:

The Department proposes requesting the following information, if not already included in an application, from a subset of visa applicants worldwide, in order to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities:

  • Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
  • Address history during the last fifteen years;
  • Employment history during the last fifteen years;
  • All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
  • Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
  • Name and dates of birth for all children;
  • Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
  • Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and
  • Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.

 

Most of this information is already collected on visa applications but for a shorter time period, e.g. five years rather than fifteen years. Requests for names and dates of birth of siblings and, for some applicants, children are new. The request for social media identifiers and associated platforms is new for the Department of State, although it is already collected on a voluntary basis by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for certain individuals.

It is this blogger’s opinion that the long term implications of these policy changes will be broad. However, from reading the aforementioned notice, it appears that, at the present time, DOS personnel will only be seeking more detailed information on certain individual applicants, and not from all applicants seeking visas to the USA. How will the narrow subset of applicants subject to increased scrutiny be determined? To answer that it is necessary to quote further from the Regulations.gov website:

Department of State consular officers at visa-adjudicating posts worldwide will ask the proposed additional questions to resolve an applicant’s identity or to vet for terrorism or other national security related visa ineligibilities when the consular officer determines that the circumstances of a visa applicant, a review of a visa application, or responses in a visa interview indicate a need for greater scrutiny.

Notwithstanding the fact that enhanced scrutiny will apparently only be applied on a case by case basis and only upon those individuals who are deemed to be in need of such scrutiny it seems logical to infer that at some point these additional screening protocols may be applied on a broader basis; if for no other reason than the fact that applying such scrutiny across the board might save time and resources of Consular Officials making cases by case determinations. As it stands, as of the time of this writing, the new protocols add a degree of uncertainty to the visa application process and Consular processing in general as it is difficult to foresee what may be considered a trait which warrants heightened scrutiny. Therefore, planning for such an eventuality is problematic.

As this situation continues to evolve this blog will post further updates.

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3rd June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Embassy in Kabul is taking measures to re-institute a policy which would allow for visa interviews to take place on the premises of the Post in Afghanistan. Readers are reminded that such interviews have not been conducted at that location in approximately 20 years. To quote directly from a Department of State announcement as posted upon the official website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

As of June 1, for the first time in 20 years, immigrant visa applicants will again have scheduled As of June 1, for the first time in 20 years, immigrant visa applicants will again have scheduled interviews in Kabul. U.S. Embassy Islamabad was previously the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate where immigrant visa applicants could be interviewed.

Applicants for petition-based visas, which are mostly temporary work visas, can also now interview in Kabul. For the last two years, applicants for visitor, student and most other temporary visas could apply in Kabul, but not applicants for visas that if approved allow someone to move to the U.S. or to work there. Applicants for non-immigrant petition-based visas like temporary workers (H) can schedule their own appointments using the existing online system on the Embassy’s web site. All of these categories of visas involve a multi-step process that usually starts with a petition that a U.S. relative or employer files with immigration authorities. It is important to note that prior to the interview, the National Visa Center conducts almost all pre-interview processing of petitions that the immigration service approves in the United States. The National Visa Center will also schedule appointments when approved immigrant visa petitions become current.

All of these categories of visas involve a multi-step process that usually starts with a petition that a U.S. relative or employer files with immigration authorities. It is important to note that prior to the interview, the National Visa Center conducts almost all pre-interview processing of petitions that the immigration service approves in the United States. The National Visa Center will also schedule appointments when approved immigrant visa petitions become current…

It should be noted that those seeking immigrant visas to the United States of America must generally first receive an approved immigration petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Upon receiving such approval a case file will usually be sent to the National Visa Center which acts as a sort of clearinghouse for visa application files so as to insure that the case file arrives at the US Mission with appropriate jurisdiction. Prospective visa seekers should note that estimated processing times for USCIS adjudication do not take into account Consular Processing at an appropriate US Embassy or US Consulate abroad.

For related information please see: American visa.

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2nd June 2011

Frequent readers of this web log may have taken note of the fact that the administration routinely posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Missions in Asia as a courtesy to the public-at-large. To quote directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan:

DATE                                 DAY                           HOLIDAY

January 2*                 (US)  Sunday  New Year’s Day
January 16*               (US)  Sunday  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 15              (AF)  Tuesday  Liberation Day
February 16**           (AF)  Wednesday  Prophet’s Birthday
February 20*              (US)  Sunday  President’s Day
March 21                   (AF)  Monday  Nawrooz (Afghan New Year – 1390)
April 28                      (AF)  Thursday   Victory Day
May 29*                    (US)  Sunday  Memorial Day
July 3*                      (US)  Sunday  Independence Day
August 1**                (AF)  Monday  First Day or Ramadan
August 18***             (AF)  Thursday  Independence Day
Aug 31 – Sept 2**      (AF)  Wednesday – Friday Eid ul-Fitr
September 4*             (US)  Sunday  Labor Day
September 8***          (AF)  Thursday  Martyrdom of National Hero Day
October 9*                 (US)  Sunday  Columbus Day
November 6-8**          (AF)  Sunday – Tuesday Eid-e Qurban
November 10*             (US)  Thursday  Veteran’s Day
November 24               (US)  Thursday  Thanksgiving Day
December 6**             (AF)  Tuesday  10th of Muharram (Ashura)
December 25               (US)  Sunday  Christmas Day

Notes:

*    American holidays marked with an asterisk (*) are observed on a different day than in the US.

**  Afghan holidays marked with double asterisks (**) are based on the Islamic Calendar and depend on sightings of the moon.  As a holiday approaches, adjustments to this schedule may be made based on local practice and Afghan government announcements.

*** Afghan holidays marked with triple asterisks (***) are observed one day earlier.

Those wishing to visit the official homepage of the United States Embassy in Kabul are encouraged to click HERE.

It may sometimes prove necessary for an American Resident Abroad or an American traveling abroad to acquire documentation (US Passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Notarized affidavit, etc.) which can only be obtained from an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas. Americans seeking such documentation are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section with appropriate Consular jurisdiction.

Those seeking an American non-immigrant visa (such as a B-1 visa, B-2 visa, J-1 visa, or F-1 visa) are likely to see their visa application processed at a non-immigrant visa section of a US Embassy, US Consulate, or American Institute abroad. Meanwhile, those seeking an immigrant visa such as a CR-1 visa or IR-1 visa (for purposes of Consular Processing, the K-1 visa; although a non-immigrant US fiance visa, is treated in much the same way as immigrant visa categories for processing purposes) are likely to see their visa application processed by an Immigrant Visa Unit abroad. Immigrant visas such as those noted above are likely to only be granted pursuant to an initial adjudication of an immigration petition at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Those seeking visas such as the EB-5 visa or the L-1 visa are well advised to take note of the fact that it is unlikely that a visa application will be adjudicated by a US Post abroad until after an initial immigration petition is approved by USCIS.

For related information please see: Legal.

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