Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘US Tourist Visa’ 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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1st October 2013

The United States government has recently shut down due to the inability of Congress to make a deal regarding the budget and current debt ceiling level. The reverberations from this recent turn of events will likely be felt in many sectors of the United States government and by those who may have business with the US government. As a general matter, governmental functions which are deemed essential will still be available. However, those governmental activities and employees deemed non-essential will likely be discontinued and work furloughed until such time as Congress reaches an agreement. It has been 17 years since the United States government last shut down. As of the time of this writing, the Office of Management and Budget has instructed supervisors of various governmental entities to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown.”

What is the practical impact of the government’s closure upon the immigration process? It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the following has been posted on the official website of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and Consulate General Chiang Mai remain open to the public. As always, our priorities remain providing safety, security, and service to U.S. citizens. We are open for all consular services, including visa processing.

It could be inferred that the Embassy is attempting to dispel rumors that a shutdown will negatively impact the processing of US visa applications as well as applications for US passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA), and various notarial services requested by Americans living in Thailand. Hopefully, the recently announced government shutdown will not last long and thus not cause any great problems for those seeking visas to the United States of America. However, a protracted shutdown could mean that processing of US visa applications could move at a slower pace, or, in a worst case scenario, be discontinued until such time as a budget is agreed upon. Hopefully, this will not happen and the processing of applications will continue apace.

Meanwhile, it is likely that the shutdown will not affect processing of immigration petitions at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). As USCIS is funded by the fees paid by petitioners, it seems likely that a government shutdown will not adversely impact those seeking immigration benefits from USCIS. Again, as the United States has not seen a government shutdown in nearly two decades some of the details about the impact of the current shutdown remain somewhat speculative. Readers of this blog should take note that further information will be provided herein as it becomes available.

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24th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has made an announcement regarding issuance of US student visas to Iranian nationals. To quote directly from the Still4Hill blog:

I am very pleased to announce a big step forward in the Obama Administration’s support of the Iranian people. Under our old visa policy, Iranian students and exchange visitors were eligible for visas that lasted for only three months and could be used to enter the country just one time. As of today, that has changed. They are now eligible for two-year, multiple entry visas. This gives young Iranians the opportunity to return home for family events, to participate in internships, to travel outside the United States—and they won’t need to get a new visa every time. I’ve heard from many Iranian students and Iranian Americans that you wanted this change. So I want you to know that we are listening to your concerns. We want more dialogue and more exchange with those of you who are shaping Iran’s future. We want to be able to share with you what we think is great about America…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more about this story.

The US Student Visa, also referred to by the categorical title of F-1 visa, is a very popular travel document among foreign nationals who wish to travel from their home country to the United States in order to undertake a course of study. This visa category is akin to the US tourist visa (B-2 visa) insofar as both visas require the adjudication of a visa application at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. The US student visa is also a non-immigrant visa. It is important to note this fact because it implies that any application for such a visa must survive scrutiny pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Not all non-immigrant visa applications are scrutinized pursuant to 214(b), most notably the L-1 visa, but many popular categories require such scrutiny.

Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act creates the rebuttable presumption that a non-immigrant visa applicant is actually an undisclosed intending immigrant to the United States. This presumption can only be overcome by the applicant providing affirmative proof that they have a strong incentive to leave the United States rather than remain. For many, overcoming such a presumption can be difficult, but it should not be viewed as impossible as many US non-immigrant visas are issued each year.

For related information please see: J-1 visa.

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14th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some have criticized the current process associated with adjudication and issuance of United States visas. Notably, it would seem that this criticism is mostly concerned with non-immigrant visas such as the B-2 visa (US tourist visa) and the B-1 visa (US business visa). To quote directly from a Reuters story posted on the website airwise.com:

The complicated US visa system hurts tourism and must be reformed if the United States wants to attract lucrative tourism from countries such as China, India and Brazil, travel industry officials said…

Readers of this blog are encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail and also gain greater insight into this developing issue.

At the time of this writing the United States maintains a system which allows for some nations to receive admission to the USA through a visa waiver program. As noted above: China, India, and Brazil are not included in the visa waiver program. This situation exists notwithstanding the fact that these three nations in association with two others (South Africa and Russia) compose the so-called BRICS group of developing countries with what some would claim is a virtually unlimited capacity for economic growth in the future.

This visa waiver program also entails the so-called “ESTA” (Electronic System For Travel Authorization) program, which requires foreign nationals to pre-register for admission to the United States before beginning their journey to America. It should be noted that in its current form the ESTA program only pertains to nationals from visa waiver participating countries. Therefore, nationals from countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Kingdom of Thailand cannot benefit from the visa waiver program and the ESTA program as of the time of this writing.

Those interested in further information on such topics are encouraged to visit a few official websites: HERE and HERE. To quote further from the aforementioned piece:

“The challenge we have is the unnecessary, burdensome US visa system,” said USTA president Roger Dow. “It’s really self-imposed barriers that we put on ourselves as a country that have caused us to lose international travel and that have stymied international growth.”

This blogger has heard this argument made in the past and it is certainly salient especially at a time when tourism income is in high demand in an international context. To continue quoting further:

The US visa process from beginning to end can take as long as 145 days in Brazil and 120 days in China, a USTA report said. In contrast, Britain takes an average of 12 days to process visas in Brazil and 11 days in China…

Clearly, the visa processing time differential between the United States and the somewhat similarly socioeconomically situated United Kingdom is a stark contrast. To quote further:

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs a subcommittee focused on export promotion and competitiveness, said the travel industry was important to help President Barack Obama meet his stated goal of doubling exports by 2014. “We see it as part of our economic recovery. I see this as a way to get jobs in our country,” Klobuchar said…

It is refreshing to see a federal legislator like Senator Amy Klobucher from the sovereign State of Minnesota taking the time to investigate an issue that may, at first glance, seem mundane. In point of fact, matters pertaining to United States non-immigrant visas are extremely important as they can have a significant impact upon foreign direct investment in the United States and the amount of money raised by American companies and enterprises offering services to foreign nationals both in the USA and abroad. Finally, a legislator trying to find reasonable solutions to American economic concerns in a reasonable manner! America: Let us not forget, we are one of the most historically fascinating and economically dynamic nations ever to have made our voices heard in the chorus of history. Why do we forget this? We seem to find ourselves constantly debating the minutia of our past transgressions or the history of our geopolitically unique grouping of jurisdictions. We do this when solutions to some of the current economic problems stare us in the face. The reality is that there are many around the world who wish to do business with those in the United States of America. There are many who want to buy our products. There currently exists the distinct possibility that the continent of Asia will have a constantly growing middle class of prospective international travelers for decades into the future. These travelers will likely be traveling for both business as well as pleasure. It stands to reason that many prospective tourists from Asia will make their initial international travel decisions with great care. Therefore, America should continue to be mindful of the fact there exists an international competitive market for income generated from tourism.  It stands to reason that more tourists in America means more tourism income.

From a legal perspective there is something to be said for allowing further membership in the United States visa waiver program as it would lead to fewer overall denied visa applications based upon section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Currently, many tourist visa applications are denied pursuant to a presumption in the aforementioned section of U.S. law. This section requires Consular Officers to make the factual presumption that a tourist visa applicant is actually an intending American immigrant unless the applicant can produce sufficient evidence to overcome this presumption. The visa waiver program gets around this 214(b) presumption by waiving the need for an American visa. Simultaneously, the visa waiver program also restricts those foreign nationals admitted into the United States from adjusting status to lawful permanent residence. One may adjust one’s status to lawful permanent residence (Green Card status) from tourist visa status in the U.S.A. under very limited circumstances. The visa waiver program does not permit such adjustment and therefore requires those foreign nationals seeking immigrant status to depart the United States and undergo Consular Processing abroad.

It remains to be seen whether or not US visa policy regarding non-immigrant visas such as those described above will be changed, but clearly there is some momentum behind this rather important issue in Washington D.C.

For related information please see: K-1 visa system, K-3 visa system, or US Company Registration.

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7th April 2011

This blogger writes this post in transit between the Vientiane, Laos and Bangkok, Thailand having been retained to assist with Consular Processing at the Post in Laos. It came to this blogger’s attention while physically outside of the US Embassy compound that the Post in Vientiane will be closed on April the 8th for training purposes. This alone would not have concerned this blogger a great deal as United States Missions abroad routinely close local posts in order to use the closure as an opportunity to train personnel. Therefore, those reading this should not necessarily make the assumption that the Post in Vientiane is closing in anticipation of a government shutdown. That said, the forthcoming information, in conjunction with that noted above gave this blogger pause.

Bearing the above paragraph in mind, this blogger was also notified that the US Embassy in Bangkok has been calling prospective visa beneficiaries with upcoming visa interview appointments in order to attempt to reschedule pending visa interviews. It would appear that this is being done in response to the belief that a government shutdown is possibly imminent and should such a shutdown actually occur it would likely result in the closure of the various Immigrant Visa Units and Non-Immigrant Visa Units at US Missions abroad.

In a previous posting on this blog, the administration analyzed the possible ramifications of such a state of affairs and those reading this posting are encouraged to look at that post in order to learn more about this rather serious issue. The previous posting on this issue can be found at: Government Shutdown.

A few notes on the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos; first, three words accurately describe this Post: courteous, professional, and efficient. The foreign-language officers are extremely helpful and the English-language officer aptly engaged in staying on top of what, to this blogger, appeared to be  substantial caseload and simultaneously dealing with applicants very politely all while checking documents and doing the routine due diligence required of Consular Officers stationed overseas.

At the time of this writing, it remains to be seen whether or not a government shutdown will actually occur, but should the government shutdown, then this could have a substantial impact upon US visa applications for visas such as the CR-1 visa, the K-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, and the K-3 visa. Meanwhile, processing of business visas such as the EB-5 visa and the L-1 visa could also be impacted by a shutdown of the United States government. There is some speculation as to whether or not the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will shutdown as a result of possible government closure as USCIS is self-funded by petition and application fees (although that agency did receive money from the US government last year in order to cover a funding shortfall).

As this situation evolves, the administration of this blog will attempt to keep readers updated.

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17th March 2011

In recent months the likelihood of a government shutdown seems to be increasing as the politicians in the United States capital seem to be more polarized than ever. Meanwhile, some are arguing in favor of a shutdown (even going so far as to advocate for an extended period of governmental closure). At the same time, others argue against a shutdown. Regardless of one’s opinion either way, it seems possible that a shutdown may occur, and in the event that a shutdown does come to pass, those processing an immigration matter may be prudent to research the impact that a shutdown might have upon the immigration process.

The following was quoted directly from a recent posting on the website CaldwellTeaParty.org:

The next month will be marked by intense negotiations on the debt ceiling, and the GOP will then have to decide on a shutdown or a bipartisan budget deal with Kent Conrad and his allies.

The above citation most clearly and concisely sums up the current state of affairs regarding the possibility of a government shutdown. The administration encourages readers to click on the above links as this issue is quite complex. Those interested in understanding the ramifications of a government shutdown may be best informed by this administration quoting directly from Wikipedia:

A government shutdown occurs when a government discontinues providing services that are not considered “essential.” Typically, services that continue in spite of a shutdown include police, fire fighting, armed forces, utilities, air traffic management and corrections.

A shutdown can occur when a legislative body (including the legislative power of veto by the executive) cannot agree on a budget financing its government programs for a pending fiscal year. In the absence of appropriated funds, the government discontinues providing non-essential services at the beginning of the affected fiscal year. Government employees who provide essential services, often referred to as “essential employees”, are required to continue working.

Although the above citation clears up the issue of what constitutes a government shutdown, the question likely on the mind of those with foreign loved ones processing through the immigration system is: how would a government shutdown impact the processing of my loved one’s visa? The answer: a Federal government shutdown would result in a sort of “freeze” of most of the immigration apparatus as this falls within the bailiwick of the Federal government. Therefore, a Federal shutdown would likely result in little, if any, action being taken with regard to adjudication of visa applications  at each US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. For further insight it may be best to quote directly from a recent posting on the Diplopundit blog:

In 1995, all visa applications are walk-in.  Today, a good number of consular sections have online appointment systems. Which means, visa appointments will have to be canceled and rescheduled if there is a shutdown.  Consular sections may only be open for life and death emergencies. That means lost passport applications, reports of births abroad, adoption cases, notarials, etc. will all have to wait until the Federal government reopens.

The administration of this blog highly encourages readers to click on the above hyperlinks as the quotation above was found in a very interesting and detailed posting dealing with these issues.

Clearly, the ramifications of a government shutdown will be severe for those awaiting processing of a visa application. Meanwhile, it would appear as though USCIS will continue to operate as normal despite a possible shutdown. To quote directly from the website Martindale.com:

USCIS has announced that, because it is funded by filing fees, it should remain open during a government shutdown. The operations of the four Service Centers should remain largely unaffected. Local USCIS District Offices should also remain open.

Again, this blogger highly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to learn more.

Notice that the above quotation uses the word should. This blogger only points this out as it goes to show how difficult it is to foretell what the impact of a government shutdown would be on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) since that agency has attempted to remain self-funded through application fees. That said, the overall issue of government shutdown has yet to fully manifest itself, but that should not be construed to mean that it will not. In fact, those seeking American visas are likely to see an overall slowdown in the overall processing of cases as a result of a shutdown (should one actually occur, which remains to be seen).

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16th January 2011

There was a recent story on the Telegraph.co.uk website entitled, “Boy, 9, has Disney World trip ruined after US Immigration rules him a threat” it was reported that a 9 year old child was denied a US tourist visa to the United States. To quote directly from the article:

They said there was a risk he would not leave the US at the end of his holiday and refused his application under Section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

This blogger noticed in the title of the original article that the use of the term “US Immigration” may have been somewhat opaque as the visa application was likely filed with a US Consulate under the jurisdiction of the United States Embassy in the United Kingdom and not the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in the USA. That said, the article describes the visa application of a child in the United Kingdom and the denial of the application. The child’s parents were attempting to surprise him with a trip to Disney World in the US State of Florida. To quote further directly from the article itself:

Micah [the proposed beneficiary of the US B-2 Visa sought] was born in Britain and has lived in Middlesex all his life with his mum Claudia Lewis.

He holds a South African passport because his grandparents Kathy and Edward, who have lived and worked in Britain since 1990, only got him a South African passport.

They are originally from South Africa.

A letter from Micah’s primary school was included in his visa application confirming he attended the school.

But the US Embassy’s rejection letter to Micah said: “Because you either did not demonstrate strong ties outside the United States or were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the US would be consistent with the visa status, you are ineligible.”

His grandmother Kathy, from Brixton, South London, said: “It was going to be a total surprise. He would have loved it.

This blogger highly recommends that those interested in this heartfelt story go to the Telegraph website and read further.

Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act is a provision which creates a legal presumption in the eyes of adjudicating Consular Officers at every US Mission abroad (US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, Visa Units, etc.) that an applicant for a United States visa is actually an undisclosed intending immigrant. Overcoming this presumption often occurs when a Consular Officer feels that, as opposed to the factual citing from the denial noted above, the applicant has shown “strong ties” to their country of origin, or another country abroad, and, simultaneously, “weak ties” to the United States.

In another section of the aforementioned article the author noted that the couple had spent a considerable sum of money purchasing plane tickets in anticipation of the proposed holiday in the USA. As noted in previous postings on this blog, it is not generally prudent in visa application proceedings to assume a particular outcome as issuance of United States travel documents to foreign nationals is not considered a foregone conclusion nor a “formality”. The circumstances mentioned above are unfortunate as they were unexpected and costly (in both monetary and emotional terms). Those foreign nationals wishing to travel to the United States should not make irrevocable travel arrangements until such time as a US visa has been issued and remitted to the applicant.

That said, the one major factor that could materially alter the outcome of another visa application in a case such as this: a UK Passport. As noted in the section quoted above from the US Embassy the applicant did not show “strong ties” to the UK or another country abroad. If the child always lived in the UK, but never possessed a UK passport and, as noted in the above cited section; never lived in South Africa, but was attempting to use a South African passport to travel to the US, then could it be inferred that the child’s ties to either country were attenuated? Possibly, and without knowing further about details, that may very well have been the reason for denial. However, as all cases are adjudicated based upon the unique facts under the circumstances any analysis of the aforementioned denial is merely an exercise in speculation.

It is generally imprudent to continuously resubmit American visa applications when there has been no material change to the facts of one’s case. However, when circumstances do change materially, then a subsequent application may not be frivolous. In the eyes of the law in many jurisdictions a change in nationality, the acquisition of nationality, the registration of nationality, or the naturalization to a new nationality all come with a host of different legal rights, obligations, and privileges not least of these may be a passport. Perhaps, after acquiring a UK Passport on behalf of the child, if eligible for such a travel document, another visa application would be approved? Better yet, upon acquisition of a UK Passport, the child in the article may be eligible for the visa waiver program, although his previous US visa denial would need to be noted in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) registration system.

Hopefully those thinking of applying for a US Tourist Visa in the future will take note of the fact that one’s nationality is an important facet of any immigration petition or visa application.

For related information please see: US Visitor Visa.

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3rd January 2011

The administration of this blog routinely posts the holiday closing schedules of various United States Missions in Asia in an effort to share this information with those Americans or foreign nationals traveling outside of the United States who need to obtain services which can only be provided by an American Post abroad. The following is the holiday closing schedule of the US Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam as quoted from the US Embassy’s official website:

The following list of official holidays for 2011 has been approved consistent with the provisions of 3 FAM 2336 (American holidays) and the revised Article 73 of the Vietnamese Labor Code. The U.S. Embassy will be closed on these days.

Holiday Date Day Type
New Year’s Day January 03 Monday A&V
Martin Luther King’s Birthday January 17 Monday A
Lunar New Year Festival February 02-07 Wed-Mon V
President’s Day February 21 Monday A
National Anniversary of Hung Kings April 12 Tuesday V
Victory Day (observed) May 02 Tuesday V
International Labor Day (observed) May 03 Wednesday V
Memorial Day May 30 Monday A
Independence Day July 04 Monday A
Vietnamese National Day September 02 Friday V
Labor Day September 05 Monday A
Columbus Day October 10 Monday A
Veterans Day November 11 Friday A
Thanksgiving Day November 24 Thursday A
Christmas Day (observed) Dec 26 Monday A

V = Vietnamese Holidays
A – American Holidays

Those seeking services such as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, US Passport, or addition of visa pages to an already issued US Passport are well advised to contact the American Citizen Services Section of the nearest US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, or US Mission with appropriate Consular jurisdiction.

Those seeking the homepage of the official website of the US Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam should click HERE.

Those seeking information regarding matters pertaining to United States Immigration are well-advised to contact a licensed American lawyer in order to receive advice and counsel regarding the practical implications of the application of relevant American Immigration law.

Those seeking Non-immigrant visas such as the B-2 visa for tourists, the B-1 visa for business travelers, the J-1 visa for cultural exchange visitors, or the F-1 visa for students are likely to have their visa application processed through the Non-immigrant Visa Unit of the nearest American Mission.

Generally, those seeking US family based visas are required to process their application through an Immigrant Visa Unit of a US Mission abroad. For purposes of visa application processing the non-immigrant US fiance visa (the K-1 visa category) is treated in essentially the same manner as the Immigrant spouse visas such as the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa.

Those seeking business and/or investment based visas such as the EB-5 visa or the L-1 visa are generally required to process an Immigration petition at the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to Consular Processing of the visa application.

For related information please see: US Visa Vietnam or K-1 Visa Vietnam.

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20th December 2010

This blogger recently came upon a press release detailing the enactment of a final rule regarding E-2 visas for those wishing to invest and conduct business in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS):

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today posted a final rule in the Federal Register that creates a nonimmigrant investor visa classification in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The “E-2 CNMI Investor Visa” allows foreign long-term investors to reside in the CNMI through December 2014. Petitions for the E-2 CNMI Investor classification will be accepted beginning Jan. 18, 2011. Petitions received before Jan. 18, 2011, will be rejected.

Authorized by the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) of 2008, the E-2 CNMI Investor Visa will be issued for two years, is renewable, and is valid only in the CNMI. The investor’s spouse and children may also apply for status as dependents of the investor.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to the CNMI it should be noted that only recently was this jurisdiction folded into the group of jurisdictions which utilize the Department of Homeland Security to set and enforce immigration law and policy. In the past, the CNMI maintained relatively autonomous status when it came to immigration matters, but newly enacted rules have made CNMI Immigration rules very similar to those of the rest of the USA.

E-2 visas are very useful travel documents for those wish to go to the United States of America (or in this instance, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) for business or investment purposes. Strictly speaking, E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas, but unlike the B-2 visa (US Tourist Visa) the E-2 is effectively treated as if it were a dual intent travel document in the same vein as an L-1 visa. One of the benefits of dual intent travel documents is that the applicant does not need to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent as set forth in section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

The E-2 visa is sometimes confused with the EB-5 visa. The United States EB-5 visa is an Immigrant Investor visa. Pursuant to the provisions of relevant American Immigration law the applicant for an EB-5 visa is accorded Lawful Permanent Resident status upon lawful admission to the United States in EB-5 status. It should be noted that the EB-5 visa process can be rather cumbersome as a petition must initially be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Furthermore, the EB-5 visa seeker must also undergo Consular Processing at a US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, or US Mission with appropriate Consular jurisdiction. Finally, the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) is tasked with inspecting and making findings of admissibility when any foreign national requests admission to the USA. As stated above, upon lawful admission to the USA, an alien national in EB-5 status will be granted conditional lawful permanent residence in the USA.

For related information please see: E2 Visa Thailand.

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8th December 2010

For those who frequently read this web log will undoubtedly note that a frequent topic discussed within these pages is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In a recent document promulgated by the Congressional Research Service and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the matter of legal inadmissibility was discussed in the context of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The following is a direct quotation from the document published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and distributed by AILA:

Legislation aimed at comprehensive immigration reform may take a fresh look at the grounds for excluding foreign nationals that were enacted in the 1990s. All foreign nationals seeking visas must undergo admissibility reviews performed by U.S. Department of State (DOS) consular officers abroad. These reviews are intended to ensure that they are not ineligible for visas or admission under the grounds for inadmissibility spelled out in the INA. These criteria are: health related grounds; criminal history; security and terrorist concerns; public charge (e.g., indigence); seeking to work without proper labor certification; illegal entrants and immigration law violations; ineligible for citizenship; and, aliens previously removed. Over the past year, Congress incrementally revised the grounds for inadmissibility. Two laws enacted in the 110th Congress altered longstanding policies on exclusion of aliens due to membership in organizations deemed terrorist.

Terrorism has been a key concern for American government officials across the entire spectrum of agencies associated with Immigration and travel to the United States. Public health and safety are also significant issues for American Immigration and Consular Officers. To quote the aforementioned publication further:

The 110th Congress also revisited the health-related grounds of inadmissibility for those who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. More recently, the “H1N1 swine flu” outbreak focused the spotlight on inadmissibility screenings at the border. Questions about the public charge ground of inadmissibility arose in the context of Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the 111th Congress.

Influenza has been concerning to many health officials in recent years. However, for many the removal of HIV/AIDS from the list of diseases which can result in a finding of inadmissibility was a relief as many individuals who were previously inadmissible to the USA may have immediately become admissible after HIV/AIDS was no longer a legal grounds for finding someone inadmissible to the USA. This issue was especially acute in the LGBT community as HIV and AIDS issues seem to have a disproportionate impact upon individuals and couples within that community. The report went on to note that issues pertaining to legal inadmissibility are likely to be discussed in the context of proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation:

While advocacy of sweeping changes to the grounds for inadmissibility has not emerged, proponents of comprehensive immigration reform might seek to ease a few of these provisions as part of the legislative proposals. The provision that makes an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States for longer than 180 days inadmissible, for example, might be waived as part of a legislative package that includes legalization provisions. Tightening up the grounds for inadmissibility, conversely, might be part of the legislative agenda among those who support more restrictive immigration reform policies.

Many people are found inadmissible to the United States every year. Among those found inadmissible are those who are unable to seek a remedy in the form of either an I-601 waiver or an I-212 waiver application for advance permission to reenter the USA. Individuals who have been found inadmissible and cannot seek a waiver are colloquially referred to as being unwaivably excluded from the United States. Bearing this in mind, many findings of legal inadmissibility can be remedied through use of a waiver. That said, the waiver process and the standard of proof for obtaining a waiver can be difficult to overcome. For this reason, many bi-national couples opt to utilize the services of an American immigration attorney to assist in matters related to United States Immigration. It is always prudent to ask for the credentials of anyone claiming expertise in United States Immigration law as only a licensed American attorney is permitted to provide advice, counsel, and representation in pending matters before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the American State Department.

For related information please see: US Visa Denial.

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