Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘American Attorney Thailand’

22nd June 2010

In the relatively recent past, there were some who felt that Thailand was something of a “safe haven” for those with a criminal record or a criminal warrant issued outside of the Kingdom. However, in recent years, this appellation would seem to be increasingly misapplied as Thai authorities take evermore stringent measures against criminals from other jurisdictions. For example, Pattaya One News recently reported the arrest of a Belgian National for falsification of official documents. The following is a direct quote from that story:

On Tuesday afternoon at the Chonburi Immigration Office located in Soi 5 off Jomtien Beach Road, Police Lieutenant Colonel Prapansuk, the Deputy Superintendant of Chonburi Immigration, held a press conference to announce the arrest of a Belgian man wanted by the Belgian Authorities. Mr. Justin Andre Cornelius Van Den Bussche aged 38, a part-owner of a bar here in Pattaya and a resident of 3 years, was arrested at his house within the Sabai Jai Village in Central Pattaya. According to information received by the Belgian Embassy in Bangkok, Mr. Van Den Bussche was recently sentenced to 1 year in prison by a Belgian Court in relation to a case involving the falsifying of official documents. He was able to flee to Thailand and Immigration Police were informed that his Belgian passport was going to be cancelled on 15th June. On 15th he was arrested and charged with not possessing a valid passport and will be deported to Belgium where authorities will be waiting for him.

Thai authorities in Pattaya are not the only law enforcement agents in Thailand who appear to be taking a firm line against foreign nationals committing crimes in Thailand. The following is a quote from the Pattaya Today blog:

An American man was arrested and alleged to have committed paedophilia, or having engaged in sex, with an underage child in this northern Thai province, according to provincial tourist police. Police found evidence that the man identified as Wilbert Willis Holley, 72, had sexually abused a ten-year-old female student at a local school in Chiang Mai’s provincial seat. The girl told officials that she had been sexually molested several times by Mr Holley at a local guesthouse. The suspect however denied the charge but the investigators are confidence that they have strong evidence to take legal action against him. Police brought Mr Holley to search his residence in order to find whether or not there was further evidence for human trafficking or any other offences.

Those who believe that Thailand is a “safe haven” for criminal elements would be wise to note Royal Thai Immigration’s recent efforts to integrate their database with that of the United States and other international criminal and terrorism databases. This would seem to indicate strong resolve on the part of the Thai government to both prosecute and/or commence extradition proceeding against foreign and domestic criminals in Thailand.

For related reading on arrest warrants and criminal matters please see: warrant for my arrest or American attorney.

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30th April 2010

Repeatedly, this author uses this blog as a platform to try to educate the public regarding the US visa process and the problems that can arise during that process. In many cases, people are simply unaware of the rules regarding US visa issuance and this blog attempts to provide relevant information that readers may find beneficial. That being said, another frequently discussed topic is the unauthorized practice of law by “visa companies” and “visa agents” or those claiming to be American attorneys. This is not simply a tirade against such practices, but is intended to provide information regarding the detrimental impact that these individuals can have upon the interests of their “clients”.

Under section 292.1 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations a licensed attorney is entitled to represent clients before the United States Department of Homeland Security, specifically the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which is tasked with adjudicating US visa petitions. Many are unaware of the fact that those who assist individuals in preparing visa petitions are engaging in the unauthorized practice of law if they are not: licensed to practice law in at least one US jurisdiction while being eligible to practice law in all US jurisdictions or certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Licensure is no small matter, especially for those individuals who are “represented” by those claiming to be attorneys who are not, in fact, licensed. For example, if an American talks to an unlicensed individual about sensitive matters, then such communications would not be confidential and also would not be protected under the attorney/client privilege. If one is communicating in confidence to a licensed attorney, then such communication is “out of bounds” for US Courts. However, the same communications with one who is unlicensed could be used as evidence in a US court proceeding. Therefore, licensure is extremely important particularly in US Immigration matters involving a legal ground of inadmissibility or an I-601 waiver as certain information could be very detrimental to clients’ interests and if imparted to a licensed American attorney would be confidential, but if imparted to an unlicensed “fly by night” operator such information could be used against the client at a later date.

For all of these reasons, when an American is outside of the USA it is always prudent to check the credentials of anyone claiming to be an attorney from the United States. An individual can provide adequate credentials if they can show their license to practice law before at least on State Supreme Court in the US, or a Federal license to practice law in the USA, or a license to practice law in one of the US territorial jurisdictions (Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, etc). Anyone who refuses to provide any such credentials and yet still asserts that they are an American attorney should be avoided until proof of credentials can be provided.

For further information about US Immigration from Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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29th April 2010

In a recent case that was heard and adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court, the issue of Immigrants’ right to counsel was taken up and the outcome of the case resulted in a landmark opinion and a watershed moment for the rights of Immigrants in the United States of America. The case is known as Padilla v. Kentucky, the following quote comes from an email from the Law Corporation of Alice M. Yardum-Hunter:

The case involved a 40-year permanent resident, Jose Padilla, whose criminal defense lawyer advised him not to worry about the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime. That advice was not only wrong but the guilty plea subjected Mr. Padilla to mandatory deportation from the United States. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that Mr. Padilla had no right to withdraw his plea when he learned of the deportation consequence. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and rejected the federal government’s position – also adopted by several other courts – that a noncitizen is protected only from “affirmative misadvice” and not from a lawyer’s failure to provide any advice about the immigration consequences of a plea. The Court held that Mr. Padilla’s counsel was constitutionally deficient and affirmed that immigrants should not be held accountable when they rely on incorrect advice from their lawyers or where counsel fails to provide any immigration advice at all.

The implications of this case are important for attorneys practicing in the United States as they will now be required to provide advice about the legal consequences of certain activities from an Immigration perspective.

This is also important for those American Immigration Lawyers practicing outside of the United States. For example, if an individual with lawful permanent residence in the United States is abroad and learns of a pending criminal warrant or fugitive warrant, then that individual may choose to retain the advice of a US lawyer outside of the United States. In that case, the lawyer would be required, under the provisions of this recently adjudicated decision, to provide advice regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea in a pending criminal matter.

This example illustrates one more reason why it is so important to retain the advice of an individual who is licensed to practice law in the USA. This is particularly important in a country such as Thailand where the existence of “visa companies,” “visa agents,” and unlicensed and non-accredited so-called “lawyers” and “attorneys” operate with little oversight. Many are unaware of the implications of a criminal pleading in an immigration context and this ignorance can lead to unforeseen difficulties for US Immigrants overseas.

For information about United States Immigration from Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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20th April 2010

In previous posts this author has discussed the I-130 petition for an immediate relative for a visa to the United States of America. For those present in countries that do not have an office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) it may be possible to file such a petition directly with the Consulate by utilizing a method known as Direct Consular Filing. However, in a country where an overseas office of USCIS is located it is incumbent upon to petitioner to file at the local USCIS office, provided he or she meets the residence requirements for the office to take jurisdiction. That being said, many are under the mistaken impression that only the petitioner and beneficiary, together, can submit an application. This is not necessarily the case.

8 CFR 292.1 states:

(a) A person entitled to representation [before USCIS] may be represented by any of the following:

(1) Attorneys in the United States. Any attorney as defined in §1.1(f) of this chapter.

Section 1.1(f), referenced above states:

“The term attorney means any person who is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any State, possession, territory, Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia, and is not under any order of any court suspending, enjoining, restraining, disbarring, or otherwise restricting him in the practice of law.”

In practical terms, this means that a licensed attorney in the United States is entitled to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. There is no geographical restriction placed upon this right. Therefore, those wishing to file an I-130 to travel to the United States are entitled, as a matter of law, to attorney representation.

This can provide a real boon to those who do not wish to deal with the petition submission process. Since an attorney in entitled to act on behalf of clients in matters involving petitions for the IR1 visa and the CR1 visa in Thailand, the Petitioner and Beneficiary need simply provide required documents to their attorney and the attorney can file the petition on their behalf. In some limited cases, USCIS officers require that a Petitioner or Beneficiary appear in person regarding a pending case. Should this situation arise, the Petitioner or Beneficiary is entitled to have their attorney present for such a meeting with USCIS officers.

Unfortunately, in Thailand there are many agencies and “fly by night” operations claiming to have the right and expertise to assist in visa matters. However, many of these so-called “lawyers” are not licensed to practice law in the United States, nor in any other jurisdiction. Therefore, they cannot present an I-130 submission on behalf of another. In a way, an I-130 local filing is a “litmus test” of whether or not an individual is really an American attorney. If a so-called “attorney” requires the Petitioner and/or Beneficiary to file the I-130 personally and the so-called “attorney” is unwilling to appear personally, then this may be a sign that they are an unlicensed operator and should be avoided.

For further information please see US Visa Thailand. For further information regarding USCIS local jurisdiction please see: USCIS Bangkok.

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15th March 2010

Fraud and white collar crime are significant concerns for any country as such activities can have a very harmful impact upon investors, consumers, and the overall economy. Apparently, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of certain types of white collar crime in the Kingdom of Thailand. Such schemes, called Pyramid schemes or Ponzi schemes have been prevalent in many western countries in the past and have seen a resurgence since the rise of the internet. In Thailand, such schemes appear to be on the rise. The website Thaivisa.com is reporting upon this issue in Thailand:

“Pyramid scheme businesses can survive at the expense of people being lured into the trap of hope to earn quick money although the authorities have been attempting to impede pyramid scheme swindlers by educating people about such incidents. Nonetheless, self-awareness to greed is the vital key to ensure that no one will fall into the trap, if we can change this value in each individual, pyramid scheme businesses will no longer appeal to anyone.”

Apparently, the Kingdom of Thailand has been a very popular place for those who specialize in Pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes. That being said, most such enterprises claim to be something other than simply a Pyramid Scheme:

“In the last few years, pyramid scheme businesses have gained significant popularity Thailand as people have been lured into making investments in some intangible businesses. Nowadays, some of pyramid scheme swindlers disguise themselves as either direct sales or tourism enterprises, making it even more difficult for innocent people to differentiate and for authorities to trace the frauds.”

Most people understand that the forces of greed, if left wholly unchecked, can result in major aberrations in capitalist countries. Most nations, Thailand included, take measures to place a check upon those who would harness unwitting individuals’ greed and use it for their own purposes. However, at the end of the day, the population at large must be educated about the dangers of Pyramid Schemes:

“Legal officials have cautioned people to check before deciding to invest and to do some research on whether the companies have legally registered with the OCPB or if previous complaints have been filed by consumers or not. Furthermore, Ms Sareeya admitted that some companies did not conduct their businesses according to the plan submitted to the OCPB. She stressed that pyramid scheme businesses would focus more on financial return and recruitment of more members instead of tangible goods or services while some companies only had their goods available in catalogs.”

Those foreign nationals interested in investing in Thailand may be wise to conduct serious due diligence with regard to certain investment vehicles. Due Diligence may even need to be conducted for what turns out to be a legitimate Thailand Company in order to ascertain whether the buyer will receive what they bargained for. In any case, if a potential investor believes that “it sounds too good to be true,” then there is apparently a good chance that it probably is.

For more information on legal issues in Thailand please see: American Attorney Thailand.

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