Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Adjustment of Status’

5th September 2016

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Consulate-General in Chiang Mai will be suspending services from September 12, 2016. It may be best to quote directly from the US Consulate’s website:

Except for U.S. citizen emergencies, consular services at the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai will be suspended from September 12, 2016 to November 1, 2016, due to necessary renovations to the Consular Section…All nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applicants who intend to travel during this period should make appointments with the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok…The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit will remain available by email and phone for emergency U.S. citizen services such as death and welfare/whereabouts cases; and we will continue to accept voter registration, absentee ballot requests, and absentee ballots.  Also, please note that the ACS Unit will conduct several U.S. citizen outreach events in and around Chiang Mai during this period…

Those wishing to learn more are well advised to click the link above.

Those seeking non-immigrant visas such as US Tourist visas and US student visas will, at least for the time being, be required to interview for such travel documents in Bangkok. It should be noted that this announcement has no impact upon those seeking immigrant visas such as the IR-1 visa or the CR-1 visa nor does it change the current processing protocols of the K-1 fiancee visa as although such fiance visas are considered non-immigrant visas they are processed in much the same manner as immigrant visas. As dual intent visas, holders of the K-1 visa may enter the United States in non-immigrant status with the intention of remaining and thereby use the adjustment of status process in order to convert into lawful permanent resident status (aka Green Card holder status) once in the USA. All of the aforementioned visa categories are initially adjudicated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security; before undergoing further Consular Processing at the United States Embassy in Bangkok, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of State.

Notwithstanding the continuation of regular immigration services for those wishing to permanently move to the USA. It would appear that this situation may cause inconvenience for those in the North of Thailand seeking American Citizen Services such as passport renewal, notarization, and issuance of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Other than occasional Consular outreach, many of these services will apparently need to be obtained from the Post in Bangkok during this renovation period.

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8th August 2013

Many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) couples have questions regarding United States Immigration in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s finding in the Windsor case that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unConstitutional. Both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of State have previously issued answers to frequently asked questions on this topic. In a previous posting on this blog, USCIS’s answers to these FAQs were discussed. However, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the USCIS has issued further answers to such FAQs to further clarify their position on this issue. To quote directly from these new answers to FAQs on the official website of the USCIS:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa? NEW
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may petition for an immigrant spouse visa such as an IR1 visa, CR1 visa, or by extension a K3 visa (as the K-3 visa petition is a supplementary petition based upon the initial petition for an immigrant visa). Furthermore, when applying for the visa at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad during the Consular Processing phase of the US immigration process the application will be viewed in the same way as an application based upon a different-sex marriage. Also, adjustment of status applications for the same sex spouse of a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident will be adjudicated in the same manner as a similar application for a different-sex spouse.

A question for many same sex and LGBT couples concerns the State of the couple’s residence versus the State of marriage since there are only a few States which allow such marriages while other states either do not recognize such unions or specifically forbid such unions. USCIS issued further clarification on this issue in their recently updated FAQ section:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state or a foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse? NEW
A3: Yes. As a general matter, the law of the place where the marriage was celebrated determines whether the marriage is legally valid for immigration purposes.  Just as USCIS applies all relevant laws to determine the validity of an opposite-sex marriage, we will apply all relevant laws to determine the validity of a same-sex marriage..

There may be some limited circumstances where the law of the couple’s residence may determine their legal standing on certain issues. However, as can be seen from the above quoted FAQ, the USCIS appears to primarily defer to the law of the State which legalized the marriage when determining whether the couple is eligible for immigration benefits.

Finally, this blogger does not recall the USCIS previously answering questions regarding immigration petitions which were filed with USCIS prior to the Supreme Court’s holding that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution. The following section of USCIS’s recently expanded FAQ section would appear to respond to this inquiry:

Q5. My Form I-130, or other petition or application, was previously denied solely because of DOMA.  What should I do?
A5.  USCIS will reopen those petitions or applications that were denied solely because of DOMA section 3.  If such a case is known to us or brought to our attention, USCIS will reconsider its prior decision, as well as reopen associated applications to the extent they were also denied as a result of the denial of the Form I-130 (such as concurrently filed Forms I-485).

  • USCIS will make a concerted effort to identify denials of I-130 petitions that occurred on the basis of DOMA section 3 after February 23, 2011.  USCIS will also make a concerted effort to notify you (the petitioner), at your last known address, of the reopening and request updated information in support of your petition.
  • To alert USCIS of an I-130 petition that you believe falls within this category, USCIS recommends that you send an e-mail from an account that can receive replies to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov stating that you have a pending petition.  USCIS will reply to that message with follow-up questions as necessary to update your petition for processing.  (DHS has sought to keep track of DOMA denials that occurred after the President determined not to defend Section 3 of DOMA on February 23, 2011, although to ensure that DHS is aware of your denial, please feel free to alert USCIS if you believe your application falls within this category.)
  • For denials of I-130 petitions that occurred prior to February 23, 2011, you must notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, in order for USCIS to act on its own to reopen your I-130 petition.  Please notify USCIS by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov and noting that you believe that your petition was denied on the basis of DOMA section 3.

Once your I-130 petition is reopened, it will be considered anew—without regard to DOMA section 3—based upon the information previously submitted and any new information provided.   USCIS will also concurrently reopen associated applications as may be necessary to the extent they also were denied as a result of the denial of the I-130 petition (such as concurrently filed Form I-485 applications).

Additionally, if your work authorization was denied or revoked based upon the denial of the Form I-485, the denial or revocation will be concurrently reconsidered, and a new Employment Authorization Document issued, to the extent necessary.  If a decision cannot be rendered immediately on a reopened adjustment of status application, USCIS will either (1) immediately process any pending or denied application for employment authorization or (2) reopen and approve any previously revoked application for employment authorization.  If USCIS has already obtained the applicant’s biometric information at an Application Support Center (ASC), a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be produced and delivered without any further action by the applicant.  In cases where USCIS has not yet obtained the required biometric information, the applicant will be scheduled for an ASC appointment.

  • If another type of petition or application (other than an I-130 petition or associated application) was denied based solely upon DOMA section 3, please notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov as directed above.  USCIS will promptly consider whether reopening of that petition or application is appropriate under the law and the circumstances presented.

No fee will be required to request USCIS to consider reopening your petition or application pursuant to this procedure.  In the alternative to this procedure, you may file a new petition or application to the extent provided by law and according to the form instructions including payment of applicable fees as directed.

Clearly, USCIS is committed to implementing policies and regulations based upon the US Supreme Court’s recent finding. By reopening previously denied petitions and taking steps to provide same sex couples with the same standing as different-sex couples in future immigration adjudications this agency is making great strides toward equalizing the US family immigration process for families of all kinds.

To review the recently released information on this topic from the Department of State please see: Consular Processing.

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26th July 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new set of answers to frequently asked questions stemming from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In previous postings on this blog the fact that lawful permanent residents and American Citizens with same-sex spouses can now file for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse has been discussed at length. That said, USCIS discussed this issue in their recently issued FAQ release, to quote directly from the USCIS website:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. [italics added]

As previously pointed out on this blog, the ability of American Citizens to file for immigration benefits for a same-sex foreign spouse is a fairly clear cut result of the recent Supreme Court decision finding Section 3 of DOMA unConstituional. It should be noted that the USCIS seems to also imply that a K3 visa would also now be a possibility for same sex couples as it could be construed to be an “applicable accompanying application”. However, an issue that was not so clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court’s decision pertains to the K-1 visa (US fiance visa). As Fiance visas are, by  definition, not based upon a marriage, but an intended marriage; further clarification from USCIS on these types of visas post-DOMA is considered by some to be quite helpful. To quote further from the aforementioned USCIS FAQ section:

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes.  You may file a Form I-129F.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. [italics added]

This clarification from USCIS regarding the fiance visa in the context of same sex marriage, while helpful, is slightly qualified by the next section of the same FAQ page:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. [italics added]

Clearly, the US fiance visa is now a viable option for same sex couples with a bona fide intention to marry in those jurisdictions of the United States which recognize same sex marriage. Since the jurisdiction of the celebration of the intended marriage is USCIS’s primary concern it would appear that a K1 visa itself will be a possibility for same sex couples in the future. However, it would appear that some ancillary immigration benefits may or may not be available at this time for some same sex bi-national couples depending upon the unique residency circumstances of those couples.

Of further interest to some same sex couples will likely be the fact that there are benefits for the foreign same sex spouse of an American Citizen with respect to naturalization:

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?
A8. Yes.  As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident.  But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen.  For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Therefore, the same sex spouse of an American Citizen will be treated the same way as the opposite sex spouse of an American for purposes of obtaining US Citizenship based upon the couple’s marriage and lawful permanent residence obtained thereby. Finally, of further note in this recently issued USCIS FAQ page relates to the I-601 waiver process:

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances.  For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident.  In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?
A9.Yes.   Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Waivers of inadmissibility can be difficult to obtain under certain circumstances as they are, by definition, a discretionary waiver. However, one major hurdle for many same-sex bi-national couples in the US immigration sphere has been cast aside by the comendable decision of the United States Supreme Court. USCIS deserves comendation as well for their efforts to quickly and decisively implement policies which bring immigration regulations in line with changes in the law.

Readers are encouraged to read the USCIS website and the FAQ section quoted above to find out further details regarding immigration regulations pertaining to same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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21st May 2011

Those conducting research with regard to United States Family Immigration often look at either the K-1 visa or a CR-1 visa for a recent or prospective spouse. That stated, an acute concern for many American Citizens is the speedy admission of the foreign fiance or spouse to the United States of America. Under many circumstances in places such as the Kingdom of Thailand or the Kingdom of Cambodia, virtually the only means to lawfully bring a Thai or Khmer fiance or spouse to the USA involves a US Marriage Visa (such as the CR-1 visa or the IR-1 visa) or a US fiance visa (officially categorized as a K-1 visa). The question then becomes: which visa can be obtained in a more timely manner?

Currently, it usually takes less time to obtain a K-1 visa compared to a CR-1 visa. That stated, it is this blogger’s opinion that the once large gap separating the processing times of these respective visa categories has closed somewhat, from a practical perspective; and, as a result, it may be best for those researching these issues to ponder the notion of applying for a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa from the outset rather than undergoing the K1 visa process. Bearing this in mind, the reader should note that the process is unique to every couple as circumstances tend to dictate the timing of various stages of the process.

Although the K-1 visa does usually result in a foreign fiancee arriving in the United States more quickly than a foreign spouse under the CR-1 visa category, readers should be aware of the fact that CR-1 visa holders are admitted into the United States in Lawful Permanent Resident status. Conversely, those admitted into the United States of America in K-1 visa status must undergo the adjustment of status process in order to obtain their Green Card.

Regardless of the fact that the current USCIS Processing Times note little change in the time it takes to receive adjudication of a K-1 visa petition compared to years past, the plain truth of the matter is that the overall K-1 visa process has lengthened for many in recent months. This increased wait time may be attributable to the fact that the National Visa Center and each and every US Embassy or US Consulate has its own backlog of cases to either process or adjudicate. As the ebb and flow of American immigration continues the consular processing times are likely to increase and/or decrease depending upon the circumstances at the various US Posts abroad. At present, it is difficult to calculate with any specificity what the time frame is for Consular Processing in Asia as many factors must be taken into consideration. It is this blogger’s current opinion that under the totality of the circumstances it may be prudent for prospective family visa petitioners to conduct thorough research into the immigration process before making an irrevocable immigration decision as a visa category that looks more efficient at first glance may, in fact, turn out to be an inefficient travel document if one takes into consideration all of the factors which must be addressed in order to ultimately receive lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.A.

For related information please see: Legal.

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5th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has recently updated some of the information with regard to that agency’s official fact sheet pertaining to I-864 affidavits of support. To quote directly from the official website of USCIS:

In determining inadmissibility, USCIS defines “public charge”as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” See “Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” 64 FR 28689 (May 26, 1999). In determining whether an alien meets this definition for public charge inadmissibility, a number of factors are considered, including age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. No single factor, other than the lack of an affidavit of support, if required, will determine whether an individual is a public charge.

Those reading this blog are encouraged to click on the hyperlinks above to read more and gain insight into the issues associated with the I-864 affidavit of support.

It should be noted that the issues associated with the I-864 affidavit of support are significant and should not be overlooked by those seeking immigration benefits. Furthermore, the issues associated with the I-864 affidavit of support pertain not only to USCIS in the United States, but also impact the Consular processing phase of U.S. Immigration process for those who are seeking United States immigrant visas, such as the IR-1 visa and the CR-1 visa, abroad. Meanwhile, seekers of visas such as the K-1 visa (for fiancees of US Citizens) must submit a similar document to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad in the form of an I-134 affidavit of support. Bearing this in mind, the reader should take note of the fact that the issues surrounding the I-864 affidavit of support are likely to come to the forefront for K-1 visa holders when they eventually apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.

There was an interesting notation on the aforementioned website:

Note: In general, lawful permanent residents who currently possess a “green card” cannot be denied U.S. citizenship for lawfully receiving any public benefits for which they are eligible.

The reader is encouraged to bear in mind the fact that the above quotation is speaking in generalities, but the issue of naturalization in the context of the affidavit of support may be of interest to Americans thinking about bringing a loved one to the USA. The reason that Americans may find the issue of naturalization interesting when discussing family immigration stems from the fact that upon a foreign spouse’s naturalization to US Citizenship, the encumbrances placed upon the American Citizen within the provisions of the affidavit of support are extinguished as upon becoming a United States Citizen a previous foreign national becomes eligible in their own right for government benefits (where applicable). Therefore, the previous sponsor(s) are no long liable to the United States government should the newly-naturalized citizen take government benefits.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Child Citizenship Act.

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1st March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will be changing their procedures in matters pertaining to address changes. To quote directly from the website of the Division of International Services NIH Office of Research Services:

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced new mailing addresses for submitting the Form AR-11. The form must now be mailed to an office in Kentucky, and not to the USCIS Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Forms submitted via the U.S. Postal Service should be sent to:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Change of Address
P.O. Box 7134
London, KY 40742-7134

Forms submitted via commercial overnight or freight services should be sent to:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Change of Address
1084-I South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744

Any forms previously mailed to the USCIS Headquarters will be forwarded to the Kentucky office. A new version of the Form AR-11, which includes the new mailing addresses, has been issued and is now available on the usCIS website (click here to download a copy of the form). Additional information on the change of address is available here on the USCIS website.

The administration of this blog highly recommends that readers click on the above link to read the full announcement.

This issue could be of particular importance for those who have recently filed a petition for immigration benefits and subsequently moved their place of residence. Also, those who enter the United States of America in K-1 visa status (the categorical name for the US fiance visa) should take note of the above announcements as K-1 visa holders are required to submit an application for adjustment of status in order to be granted lawful permanent residence in the USA. In some cases, a bi-national couple may find that they need to change their address while the adjustment of status is pending. Failure to advise the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) of such a change could result in processing delays or a situation in which a couple is not notified of an upcoming adjustment of status interview. This could result in the couple missing said interview and the K-1 fiancee falling out of status due to a deficient adjustment. For these reasons, keeping USCIS abreast of one’s address while a petition is pending is very prudent.

In a recent posting on this blog it was also noted that the USCIS has recently changed their policy regarding employment authorization and advance parole. The service is apparently issuing advance parole on the same document that grants employment authorization prior to adjustment. Advance parole is a benefit that can be granted to those holding K-1 visa status which allows the visa holder to leave the country while an adjustment is pending. Failure to obtain advance parole prior to leaving the USA could result in the K-1 visa beneficiary falling out of status and thereby requiring the process to be restarted all over again.

For related information please: K1 Visa Thailand.

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14th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has implemented a program to issue advance parole authorization on the same document as that of employment authorization. To quote directly from the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS):

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it is now issuing employment and travel authorization on a single card for certain applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. This new card represents a significant improvement from the current practice of issuing paper Advance Parole documents.

The card looks similar to the current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) but will include text that reads, “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” A card with this text will serve as both an employment authorization and Advance Parole document. The new card is also more secure and more durable than the current paper Advance Parole document.

For those who are unfamiliar with the K-1 visa process, the adjustment of status occurs after a foreign fiancee arrives in America, marries the American petitioner, and files to have their status regularized to that of Lawful Permanent Resident. The card that is given to the foreign spouse is often colloquially referred to as a “Green Card”. Prior to adjustment of status, if a foreign fiancee leaves the USA, then they will need to obtain an advance parole travel document in order to keep their visa status alive and thereby permit reentry to the USA. Failure to obtain advance parole could result in a foreign fiancee losing his or her visa upon departure from the USA and thereby compelling them to go through the whole process anew.

An employment authorization document permits foreign fiancees in the United States on a K-1 visa to work prior to being approved for Green Card status. In many instances, couples opt not to apply for employment authorization and simply await the foreign fiance’s adjustment to Lawful Permanent Residence.

Once a foreign fiance is adjusted to lawful permanent residence, he or she may still be required to eventually apply for a lift of conditions. Those in the USA as a lawful permanent resident based upon marriage are placed in conditional status for the first two years of their presence in the USA if the couple was married less than 2 years at the time they acquired lawful permanent residence.

The above analysis could be utilized for K3 visa purposes as well. However, as the K-3 visa is currently being issued in very rare instances due to administrative closure policies at the National Visa Center, this blogger only mentions this issue as an aside.

For related information please see: K-1 Visa Thailand.

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10th January 2011

The following is the holiday closing schedule of the United States Consulate in Shanghai, China as quoted directly from the Post’s official website:

The Consulate, including the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit, is scheduled to be closed on the following dates in observance of year 2011 official American and Chinese holidays.

**        January 3          Monday          New Year’s Day
*          January 17        Monday          Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
**        February 2-6     Wed-Sun        Chinese (Lunar) New Year
*          February 21       Monday          President’s Day
**        April 5                Tuesday         Tomb Sweeping Day
**        May 1-2             Sun-Mon         International Labor Day
*          May 30               Monday          Memorial Day
**        June 6                Monday          Dragon Boat Festival
*          July 4                 Monday          Independence Day
*          September 5      Monday          Labor Day
**        September 12    Monday          Mid-Autumn Festival
**        October 1-5       Sat-Wed         Chinese National Day
*          October 10        Monday          Columbus Day
*          November 11     Friday             Veteran’s Day
*          November 24     Thursday        Thanksgiving Day
*          December 26     Monday          Christmas Day

*          Americans Holidays
**        Chinese Holidays
***      Chinese and American Holidays

Those who have read through this blog with any frequency may have already noted that the author routinely posts holiday closing schedules of US Posts as a courtesy to travelers abroad. Although the various websites of many US Missions post this information themselves, it can sometimes prove difficult to find for those who are in a rush or for those who have not previously used a US Embassy website. Furthermore, the administration hopes that by gathering many of these schedules together in one place it will prove beneficial for those American travelers and expatriates who routinely travel throughout Asia.

To visit the official homepage of the US Consulate in Shanghai please click HERE.

Those seeking services such as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, US Passport, or new visa pages for a previously issued US Passport are well advised to contact the American Citizen Services Section of the nearest US Consulate. Please note that some US Consulates abroad allow individuals to make an appointment with the Post to process their request. Making an appointment in advance can greatly streamline the processing of requests since Consular Officers can anticipate some of the needs of the customer prior to their arrival at the Post.

Those seeking visas such as the B-2 tourist visa, F-1 student visa, J-1 exchange visitor visa, or the B-1 business visa are likely to process their application through a Non-Immigrant Visa Unit abroad. Meanwhile, those seeking United States Lawful Permanent Residence for Chinese family members are likely to process their application through an Immigrant Visa Unit at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. For processing purposes, the K-1 visa, a non-immigrant US fiance visa, is generally treated as if it were an immigrant visa since the applicant is entitled to file for adjustment of status within 90 days of entering the USA and after legally marrying the petitioner.

Employment based visa categories such as the L-1 visa or Investor visa categories such as the EB-5 visa generally require the filing and approval of a US immigration petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) before a visa application can be processed abroad.

For related information please see: US Visa China.

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20th October 2010

This blog frequently discusses American Immigration matters in a country-specific context in order to provide insight to those researching US Immigration issues for the first time. Some are not aware that in 2010 the United States National Visa Center (an agency under the jurisdiction of the US Department of State) promulgated the policy that K3 visa applications would be “administratively closed” if the underlying immigrant visa petition arrived at NVC prior to, or at the same time as, the K3 Visa petition.Those researching this issue for the first time may find a brief overview of the K3 visa’s history insightful as this may shed light upon the possible reasoning behind the “administrative closure” policy.

At one time, there was a rather large backlog of Immigrant spouse visa petitions (petitions for visas now classified as either a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa) at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Therefore, the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton promulgated and executed legislation colloquially referred to as the “Life Act”. This statute effectively created the visa category known as the K-3 (for derivative dependents the visa category is a K-4 which is similar to the K-2 derivative visa associated with a K1 visa or fiance visa). Since the creation of the K-3 visa, the USCIS has cut down their backlog to the point where immigrant visa petitions are being adjudicated within a matter of months. As a result, there was a rather brief period of time in which USCIS was adjudicating immigrant visa petitions faster that K3 visa petitions. In any case, once USCIS has made their adjudication, such petitions are then sent to the NVC where they are the forwarded on to the US Mission, US Embassy, or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction for Consular Processing. At some point, a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the underlying immigrant visa petition arrives at NVC before, or contemporaneously with, the immigrant visa petition. In practical terms, this means that if the adjudicated immigrant visa petition arrives at NVC before the K3 petition, the K3 will be effectively set aside and the bi-national couple will be compelled to proceed with the immigrant visa process.

In a way, this policy makes some sense as the K3 visa’s utility is somewhat negated by the contemporaneous processing of an immigrant visa. As a result, at the time of this writing, there are many who feel that the K3 visa is not a particularly viable option for those Americans wishing to bring their Taiwanese husband or wife to the USA. It should be noted that the K3 visa was always a non-immigrant visa meaning that it did not confer lawful permanent residence upon the bearer when admitted to the USA. Those arriving in the USA on a K3 could choose to either consular process their immigrant visa application or file for adjustment of status in the USA.

For related information please see:  K1 Visa Taiwan or US Marriage Visa.

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23rd August 2010

Laypeople sometimes confuse the process of adjustment of status with the change of status process. This confusion is directly related to the subject of this post: change of status from US Tourist Visa status to US Student Visa status. Many are under the mistaken impression that it is legal to attend school in the USA on a tourist visa. This is not the case. In a recent announcement promulgated by the US Department of Homeland Security and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the question was posed: “Is it permissible to enroll in school while in B-1/B-2 status?” The answer is quoted directly from the aforementioned announcement:

No, it is not. The regulations, at 8 CFR 214.2(b)(7), specifically prohibit study in the United States while in B-1 or B-2 status.


Before enrolling in classes, individuals who are in B-1 or B-2 status must first acquire F-1 (academic student) or M-1 (vocational student) status. Enrolling in classes while in B-1/B-2 status will result in a status violation. Individuals in B-1 or B-2 status, who have violated their nonimmigrant status by enrolling in classes, are not eligible to extend their B status or change to F-1 or M-1 status. Theseregulations provide no exceptions.

If you currently hold B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status and would like to enroll in classes, you may apply for a change of status to F-1 or M-1, as appropriate, if:


You have not yet enrolled in classes
Your current status has not expired
You have not engaged in unauthorized employment


To change your nonimmigrant status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 or M-1, you must file an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539), and include the required fee and documents listed in the filing instructions.

Please Note:


If you enroll in classes before USCIS approves your Form I-539, you will be ineligible to change your nonimmigrant status from B to F or M. If you are applying to extend your B-1/B-2 stay and you have already enrolled in classes, USCIS cannot approve your B-1/B-2 extension because of the status violation.

For some, the change of status process can be confusing and difficult as few are familiar with DHS forms and protocols, but for those who obtain an F1 visa, the educational rewards can offset the time and resources expended obtaining the visa. Those who are not eligible to receive a change of status may find the following excerpt from the previously mentioned announcement helpful:

If you are not eligible to change your nonimmigrant status to F-1 or M-1, you may apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa at a consular post abroad…We encourage all students and prospective students to work closely with their designated school official (DSO) to coordinate the timing of applying for change of status and enrolling in classes.

Those staying in the United States on any type of visa are required by law to fully comply with the terms of their visa. Failure to do so could lead to severe civil and criminal penalties. Those wishing to travel to the United States of America are well advised to seek the type of visa that truly comports with proposed activity in the USA. As extraneous circumstances can cause unforeseen problems it may be necessary to apply for a change of status if one’s current visa does not provide proper benefits.

Adjustment of status, which can be confused with changing status, is the process of switching a foreign national from a non-immigrant visa to Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card). Those traveling to the United States of America on a K1 visa must adjust their status within 90 days of their arrival after their marriage to the US Citizen petitioner.

For more about adjusting status please see: adjustment of status.

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