Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘US Visa’ Category

12th January 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand made no comment regarding the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle although she did note that attendance at upcoming children’s day festivities is apparently encouraged by the Thai government. To quote directly from the official website of the Thai-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) News Network at Tannetwork.tv:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra avoided answering questions about a possible Cabinet reshuffle today and only smiled at reporters...The PM added that she would like to invite children to attend the Children’s Day celebration on Saturday at Government House as she has prepared some surprises for the kids…”

Concurrently it also came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Canada seems to have made some comments regarding same sex marriages performed in that nation. To quote directly from the website Advocate.com:

“Thousands of non-resident same-sex couples married in Canada may not be legally wed if the marriage is not recognized in their home country or state, according to the Canadian government…”

The issues surrounding the status of same sex couples has been an issue of debate in the United States of America especially as the Presidential elections continue to draw closer. However, politics does not appear to be the core concern of those who are the most effected by these issues. For example, those families wishing to maintain a same sex bi-national relationship with a non-American in the United States could be deeply impacted by both American and Canadian policy regarding same sex marriage. This issue could further be hypothetically defined where the same sex marriage (or civil union depending upon the jurisdiction) takes place outside of the United States as such a fact pattern could place the merits of the marriage under the purview of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). How this issue will ultimately be resolved in North America remains to be seen, there is one thing that seems to be a certainty: this issue is not one that will simply disappear since there are many in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Community who wish to see full equality in matters reflecting their marital status. American Courts have dealt with this issue in recent months although a definitive decision does not seem to have been reached hopefully this issue will be resolved in short order.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For general legal information pertaining to South East Asia please: Legal.

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11th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that officials from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are being encouraged to implement the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from a fascinating article posted to the Live Trading News website, LiveTradingNews.com:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wednesday was urged to implement the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2015 timely. “This year’s ASEAN Economic Ministerial meeting takes place at a critical juncture when there is so much uncertainty about the global economy given the fiscal situations in the United States and members of the European Union. From Indonesia’s perspective, it is imperative that ASEAN implements the AEC Blueprint 2015 on time as this will bring benefits to all of its members and allow ASEAN to grow together with our dialogue partners,” said Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu…

Readers are encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Those who read this web log with any frequency may be aware of the fact that there have been many significant developments pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). One major announcement, from this blogger’s perspective, was the broaching of the subject of a possibly unified ASEAN visa similar to the Schengen visa scheme currently utilized in Europe. Concurrently, in the context of the Kingdom of Thailand; there has been discussion surrounding the idea of creating Thailand Plazas throughout the ASEAN jurisdictions in order to promote Thai business interests in the region. With respect to geopolitics, ASEAN has been in the news recently as this organization seems poised to eventually promulgate a formal declaration with respect to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. How such matters will ultimately evolve remains to be seen.

In news pertaining to United States immigration, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Governor of the sovereign State of Arizona has petitioned for Supreme Court review of that State’s recently enacted immigration law. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Politico, Politico.com:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced late Wednesday she has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to consider her state’s appeal to a lower court ruling that put on hold key parts of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law. “I am hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will choose to take this case and issue much-needed clarity for states, such as Arizona, that are grappling with the significant human and financial costs of illegal immigration,” Brewer said in a statement released by her office. “For too long the Federal government has turned a blind eye as this problem has manifested itself in the form of drop houses in our neighborhoods and crime in our communities. SB1070 was Arizona’s way of saying that we won’t wait patiently for federal action any longer. If the federal government won’t enforce its immigration laws, we will.” Brewer, a Republican, vowed this spring to take the case to the high court after a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting her motion to throw out a district court’s ruling that blocked implementation of parts of the law. The deadline to do so was Wednesday…

This blogger asks interested readers to click upon the relevant links above to read this article in detail.

As noted previously on this web log, the powers related to immigration and often wielded by the federal legislature and the federal executive are plenary in nature as immigration is one of the relatively few areas in which the United States federal government maintains virtually unfettered seemingly exclusive jurisdiction. That stated, how said jurisdiction interrelates with reserved States’ Rights and prerogatives is an interesting and almost interminably unsettled question. Hopefully, the Supreme Court of the United States can provide insight into these issues and possibly delineate a framework which will facilitate a better understanding of all of these issues and their interaction within the context of the United States Constitution.

For information related to US immigration from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

For information pertaining to general legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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26th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the US business visas categorized as the B-1 visa and the H-1B visa are making headlines on the World Wide Web. To quote directly from the official website of First Post, FirstPost.com:

Infosys announced on Tuesday that it had received a subpoena from a US District Court demanding documentation of its B1 visa usage, which is  the subject of a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Those reading this web log are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks above in order to gain more perspective on this developing story. Concurrently, readers are also asked to remember that those accused of an illegal act, whether a natural person or a corporation, are innocent until proven guilty pursuant to America law.

Those unfamiliar with these visa categories should note that the B-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa designed for use by those who intend to remain in the United States for a short period of time for business meetings or training. Such travel documents do not permit the bearer to take up employment within the jurisdiction of the United States. Meanwhile, the H-1B visa is intended for those who wish to  undertake employment in the United States of America. In much the same way that a Thai business visa does not confer the right to work in the Kingdom of Thailand, only a Thai work permit entails such privileges, so too does a B-1 visa exclusively permit the bearer lawful status in the USA upon admission. Therefore, those wishing to work in the USA are generally required to obtain a visa which permits the bearer to work or obtain Employment Authorization. Those who have lawful permanent residence pursuant to entry in the USA on a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa are allowed to work in the USA.

The aforementioned article went on to note:

The DOJ’s criminal investigation is not the only legal claim Infosys is facing in relation to B1 visas. As Firstpost has previously reported, an Alabama-based employee named Jack “Jay” Palmer filed a civil lawsuit against the company in February alleging that Infosys used the B1 visa as a way to “creatively” manoeuvre around H-1B visa caps. (Infosys has consistently been the top recipient of H-1B visas in the US.)

Those seeking American immigration benefits should be aware of the fact that the privilege of working in the United States is not always easily obtained. Furthermore, those pondering immigration benefits should note that it is never prudent to be anything but 100% honest with American immigration officials as failure to be candid regarding one’s bona fide immigration intentions could have tremendous adverse ramifications. Consequences for failure to be forthright with immigration authorities could include fines, penalties, incarceration, or a finding of legal inadmissibility. Those found to be legally ineligible for admission to the United States of America may be able to rectify such inadmissibility through use of either an I-601 waiver or an I-212 waiver, depending upon the circumstances of the case.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Department of Homeland Security‘s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is taking criticism from a federal legislator regarding the methodology surrounding the groping of individuals passing through airports in the USA. To quote directly from the official website of Real Clear Politics, RealClearPolitics.com:

The Hill reports: “I walked through … right behind me there was a grandmother — little old lady, and she was was patted down,” Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia) said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” “Right behind her was a little kid who was patted down. And then right behind him was a guy in Arabian dress who just walked right through. Why are we patting down grandma and kids?”

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

It is certainly a credit to Representative Paul Broun that he is questioning TSA policies regarding groping of prospective passengers as it is this blogger’s personal opinion that such searches violate the provisions of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. This news comes on the heels of a recent announcement that lawmakers in the sovereign State of Texas have withdrawn a recent bill brought before that State’s legislature to curtail the activities of the TSA. To quote directly from the website of the Texas Tribune, TexasTribune.org:

A threat from the federal government to shut down Texas airports or cancel flights may have killed legislation by Tea Party conservatives in the Texas Capitol to prohibit federal Transportation Security Administration agents from conducting “invasive searches.” “I don’t cave in to heavy handed threats by the federal government,” said an angry Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the Senate sponsor of the bill, who ultimately withdrew the bill. House Bill 1937, which was passed by the House earlier this month, would make it a misdemeanor offense for a federal security agent to “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.” Two TSA officials visited Patrick at the Capitol earlier today to discuss the legislation. They warned him that the legislation “could close down all the airports in Texas,” he said…

This blogger encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to find out more.

Clearly, the issue of TSA “pat downs” is controversial and can raise tempers. This blogger encourages readers to keep abreast of the stories above at it seems likely that the underlying issues will continue to be poignant in the days and weeks ahead. This may be especially true in the context of an upcoming election as issues pertaining to U.S. immigration and the 4th amendment may be of concern to prospective voters.

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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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25th March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) may be changing some of the procedures associated with the processing of immigration petitions pertaining to the application for issuance of the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, K-1 visa, and K-3 visa filed by United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. To quote directly from a recent USCIS Memo posted on ILW.com:

This memorandum provides guidance to USCIS service centers regarding changes in the handling of all stand-alone I-130 and I-129F petitions filed by petitioners who have been convicted of any “specified offense against a minor” under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (“Adam Walsh Act” or “AWA”) and related issues.1 This memorandum applies only to petitions that are adjudicated at the service centers and not to petitions adjudicated at USCIS field offices.

Generally I-130 petitions (the categorical designation used to refer to the petition for a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa) are processed by the USCIS Service Center designated by the lockbox upon receipt. In some cases, it may be possible to process an I-130 petition at one of the various USCIS field offices located abroad, such as the USCIS office in Bangkok. The I-129f petition (categorical designation used to denote the US fiance visa or K1 visa) can only be processed at a USCIS Service Center in the USA as the field offices overseas do not process such petitions as of the time of this writing. To quote further from the previously mentioned memorandum:

USCIS will centralize at VSC all files currently at service centers if the service center adjudicator has made a preliminary determination that the petition warrants review as an AWA-related case. The VSC will serve as a central clearinghouse for inquiries from Federal, State, and local agencies regarding AWA-related cases that are pending or were recently adjudicated at one of the four service centers [hereafter referred to as “originating service center” or “sending service center”]. While AWA-related cases require special handling, the decision to centralize AWA-related adjudications at the VSC will affect caseloads at other service centers only minimally.

Clearly, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is making policy changes in an effort to take steps to more efficiently process cases requiring further scrutiny pursuant to the Adam Walsh Act (AWA). In a way, the Vermont Service Center’s role in AWA-related cases is somewhat similar to the role of the National Visa Center in the overall US visa process as that agency is tasked with acting as a sort of clearinghouse for visa applications arriving from USCIS and being processed out to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. Although, NVC is under the authority of the Department of State whereas the Vermont Service Center (like the other USCIS Service Centers) is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS.

For related information please see: Adam Walsh Act.

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18th March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Cambodian government has changed some of the regulations regarding registration of marriage in that Kingdom. To quote directly from a recent posting on the blog United Khmer:

MALE foreigners over the age of 50 have been outlawed from marrying Cambodian women in the country under new rules designed to crack down on sham marriages and human trafficking, the government said today.

Human trafficking is a serious issue in many Asian nations including those comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The posting went on to further note:

Foreigners who earn less than $2,580 per month are also barred from wedding local women, foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told AFP, but the restrictions do not apply to weddings taking place overseas.

It would seem as though the Cambodian government is also attempting to make rules in an attempt to ensure that those Cambodian women marrying foreign men are more likely to be materially provided for.

It is increasingly common for both men and women from the United States of America to travel to Southeast Asian nations such as Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore for both business matters and pleasure. In some cases, American Citizens traveling abroad meet someone special and decide to bring their loved one back to the United States. Under such circumstances, it will likely be required that the foreign loved one obtain a United States visa.

Depending upon the unique facts of each given case couples may opt to apply for a US fiance visa (officially classified as a K-1 visa) or a spousal visa such as a CR-1 visa or, less commonly, a non-immigrant K-3 visa. Those couples who have been married for more than 2 years at the time of their admission to the United States are likely to see the prospective immigrant spouse admitted into the USA in IR-1 visa status.

The immigration process is a different experience for each couple and as the process evolves it also constantly changes. For this reason (likely amongst many others)  some couples opt to retain the assistance of a professional to provide insight into the protocols associated with United States immigration. Under those circumstances, those seeking advice and counsel are well advised to ascertain the credentials of anyone claiming to be an American attorney as only a licensed attorney from the United States is permitted to practice United States Immigration law.

For related information please see: US tourist visa.

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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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1st February 2011

In recent postings on this web log the administration has posted news and information pertaining to the ongoing situation in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (also referred to as Burma). In a recent report, it was noted that the Burmese government was discussing the idea of setting up a stock exchange. Meanwhile, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has informally called for an end to the American (as well as international) sanctions being imposed upon Myanmar. To quote directly from a recent posting on the Voice of America’s official website:

The United States is among a handful of countries that have imposed targeted economic sanctions on those most responsible for denying democracy and disregarding human rights in Burma. As the time approaches for the parliaments to convene, some of Burma’s neighbors have called on the West to lift sanctions. They say U.S. policy hampers important areas of trade, prevents investment and technology from helping to develop Burma’s hard-pressed ethnic regions, and hurts the Burmese people.

The United States is deeply concerned about the plight of ordinary citizens of Burma. But it is the regime that is responsible for the country’s dire economic situation. The record is clear on how the military regime has mismanaged the economy, institutionalized corruption and plundered valuable national resources for private gain.

Our two nations have been in talks about improving relations since 2009 and we will continue to engage the government on our mutual concerns. Until the government undertakes fundamental change in Burma, including releasing the more than 2,100 political prisoners and beginning a meaningful and time-bound dialogue with the democratic opposition and ethnic minorities, U.S. sanctions will remain in place.

The issue of Human Rights in Burma is not intended to be the topic of this posting as this blogger sincerely does not feel qualified to address such issues. Exploitation, murder, and human rights abuses in Burma (Myanmar) are all issues which should concern anyone living in modern times, but there is a rather strong argument in favor of lifting sanctions such as these as there are those who would argue that these sanctions fail in their objective and may actually worsen the plight of the common people who are sometimes more adversely impacted by such measures than are those at whom the sanctions were originally aimed. In a piece written on this issue by Leon T. Hadar entitled U.S. Sanctions Against Burma: A Failure on All Fronts these issues were more eloquently elaborated:

The U.S. policy of imposing unilateral trade and investment sanctions against Burma has proven to be a failure on all fronts. By forcing U.S. firms to disengage from Burma, that policy has harmed American economic interests and done nothing to improve the living conditions or human rights of the people of Burma.

Sanctions have denied Burmese citizens the benefits of increased investment by American multinational companies–investment that brings technoloygy, better working conditions, and Western ideas.[sic]

State and local sanctions against Burma have compounded the problem caused by federal sanctions and raised troubling constitutional questions.

Unilateral sanctions have alienated our allies in the region and strengthened the hand of China but achieved none of the stated foreign policy aims. If Washington had allowed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take the lead in setting policy toward Burma, the United States could have enjoyed a “win-win” situation–better relations with our allies and more influence over the regime in Rangoon.

As an alternative to the failed policy of sanctions, the United States should allow U.S. companies to freely trade with and investment in Burma. A pro-business approach to engagement would more effectively promote political, civil, and economic freedom around the world. Congress should enact legislation requiring a full accounting of the cost of sanctions and explicit justification on national security grounds before they can be imposed.

It has always been this blogger’s personal opinion that the Burmese sanctions were neither well promulgated nor well executed as the imposition of sanctions has resulted in a situation in which the people at the lowest echelons of Burmese society are not able to enjoy the technological and monetary benefits that come with increased investment and the increased economic activity springing therefrom. The policy reasons underlying the sanctions against Burma would seem to originate in a belief that such sanctions will result in better conditions for the dispossessed currently living in Burma. Although this is pure speculation, it would seem that there is at least some room for reasonable people to disagree about the effects of the Burmese sanctions. Hopefully increased dialogue on this issue will result in new strategies which can be implemented to the benefit of the Burmese people and those seeking investment opportunities in Southeast Asia.

For related information please see: US Visa Myanmar.

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