Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘American Attorney’

5th June 2011

This posting discusses the issues associated with retaining an American attorney to assist with the K-1 visa process. Those thinking about retaining assistance in the K-1 visa process are well advised to conduct thorough research prior to making any irrevocable decisions.

The K-1 visa is a non-immigrant US fiance visa which was intended to be used solely by the foreign fiances of American Citizens. The K-1 visa allows the foreign fiancee of an American Citizen to enter the United States for a period of 90 days of the purpose of marriage. Those who do not marry their American fiance after 90 days in the USA will be required to depart from the USA. Readers should bear in mind that the entrant to the United States on a K-1 visa who marries their loved one must undergo the adjustment of status process in order to gain lawful permanent residence in the U.S.A.

The purpose of this article is to provide insight to Americans about the perils of dealing with non-licensed individuals who purport to be qualified to practice United States Immigration law (or any American law, for that matter) . Pursuant to 8 CFR 292.1 only a qualified lawyer licensed to practice law in at least one U.S. State or Federal jurisdiction is entitled to engage in the receiving of client fees in connection with the practice of United States immigration law. Therefore, those not so qualified must either fit within a narrow exception to the aforementioned rule lest their behavior be deemed to be illegal. It should be noted that attorney-client confidentiality is a significant issue which should be considered when ascertaining the credentials of those claiming qualification in United States immigration matters abroad as there are many so-called “visa agents” or “immigration consultants” claiming qualification to provide services in connection with U.S. immigration. Attorney-client privilege is not extended to those not qualified as an American attorney and therefore discussions with unqualified individuals are likely not privileged communications. Meanwhile, some individuals brazenly, albeit falsely, portray themselves as American attorneys when, in fact, this is simply not the case.

For all of the reasons outlined above it should be noted that only a competent licensed attorney from the United States should be retained to assist prospective clients. Readers should understand that this message is not conveyed as an advertisement of this particular blogger’s services, as this is not this blogger’s intention in creating this posting. Instead, this post should be viewed as a reminder to readers that this decision should be made by prospective clients after serious contemplation and thorough research of all possible candidates for an attorney position. Attorney-Client relationships are not “one size fits-all” and neither is quality legal service. Therefore, the public should conduct research before coming to an informed decision about hiring an attorney.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Thailand or K1 Visa Cambodia.

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16th February 2011

It has recently come to this blogger’s attention through anecdotal evidence that there may have been a relatively significant increase in the number of I-601 waiver petitions filed by American Citizens in both the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the greater area that comprises the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Apparently, the majority of these cases are being handled pro se (without attorney representation). It would appear that these pro se filings are being subjected to Requests For Evidence (RFE) which can be time consuming. Furthermore, there are some who also speculate that such petitions could see a higher denial rate.

Those who read this blog may have taken notice of the fact that this blogger takes the practice of United States Immigration law seriously. That said, there is nothing inherently wrong with American Citizens unilaterally petitioning their government for United States Immigration benefits pro se. This blogger has no problem with those who wish to seek immigration benefits without the assistance of counsel, but those pondering this course of action should be aware of the risks. First, the assistance of an American attorney in the US Immigration process can prove highly beneficial as such a professional can provide insight into the dynamics of immigration law as well as the regulations which are used to enforce that law.

Immigration law could be likened to dermatological medicine insofar as the routine cases that arise in an immigration context are sometimes easily taken care of by the petitioner or beneficiary themselves much the same way that a case of acne could be alleviated without the need to visit a dermatologist. Meanwhile, some issues which arise in immigration law can be extremely complicated and therefore such matters may require the assistance of one with a great deal of experience in matters pertaining to American immigration law. This state of affairs brings to mind a hypothetical situation involving dermatologists who specialize in skin cancers and various other skin maladies which are not commonly known to laymen. To take this hypothetical further, a patient afflicted with skin cancer is usually unable to treat themselves. To use this hypothetical as an analogy in an immigration context: those seeking an I-601 waiver are in a situation, similar to the skin cancer patient mentioned above, which may require professional assistance as failure to retain an attorney could increase the chances that an I-601 waiver (or for that matter an I-212 waiver) will be ultimately denied.

The standard of proof in an I-601 waiver is “extreme hardship” and this standard is not easily overcome. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has noted that “extreme hardship” does not mean “mere separation,” of the couple, but is, in fact, something more substantial. American Immigration lawyers expend a great deal of time and effort to see that I-601 waiver petitions are well founded. As a result, such petitions may be at a lower risk of being denied. Bearing this in mind, no attorney, or anyone else for that matter, can foresee what the outcome of a waiver petition will be. Those reading this posting should not misconstrue the author’s message by inferring that retaining an attorney will result in a guaranteed outcome as this is simply not the case. Should an I-601 waiver petition be denied, then it may be possible to have the case reconsidered in a Motion to Reopen or through an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Under such circumstances, the case will be adjudicated based upon an “abuse of discretion” standard which is not easily overcome. Therefore, submitting a well founded I-601 waiver petition the first time can be imperative for those wishing to have a legal grounds of inadmissibility waived.

As always, those seeking representation or counsel in matters related to American immigration should check the credentials of anyone in Southeast Asia claiming expertise in such matters. Only an attorney licensed to practice law in the United States is entitled charge fees to represent clients before the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, or American Missions abroad.

For related information about this issue please see: US Visa Denial.

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28th January 2011

Those who have read this web log with any frequency in the past may have noticed that the administration routinely posts information regarding attorney licensure and the practice of United States Immigration law. Recently, this blogger discovered some interesting information on this subject while researching the issue on the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). To quote some of that information directly:

If Then
You are filing within the United States Attorneys and accredited representatives may communicate with USCIS on your behalf and receive information from USCIS regarding your application or petition.
You are filing an application or petition at an office outside the United States Attorneys and accredited representatives may communicate with USCIS on your behalf and receive information from USCIS regarding your application or petition…

It should be reiterated that only a licensed American attorney has the unfettered privilege of practicing American immigration law before the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Although charitable organizations in the USA may be accredited to represent individuals before the USCIS and/or the US Immigration Courts, such representation is conducted on a not-for-profit basis. Licensed American attorneys are generally in a good position to provide advice and counsel regarding immigration matters due to education and experience. However, so-called “immigration consultants,” “visa agents,” and “visa companies” lack both the credentials and qualification to provide advice and representation of clients before USCIS, DHS, and/or the Department of State (DOS). To quote the USCIS website further:

Attorneys must be a member in good standing of the bar of a U.S. State (or U.S. possession, territory, Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia) and not be under any court order restricting their practice of law. Attorneys will check the first block on Form G-28 and must provide information regarding their admission to practice.

Only attorneys and accredited representatives may communicate on your behalf regarding your application with USCIS.

In choosing an attorney, you should:

  • Ensure that the attorney is a member in good standing of the “bar” of a U.S. State (or possession, territory, Commonwealth or District of Columbia)
  • Ensure that the attorney is not under any court order restricting their practice of law
  • Review the current attorney licensing document for the attorney and contact the relevant State bar admission authorities to verify the information.  See the “American Bar Association – State Bar Associations” link to the right for a list of state bar associations.
  • Review the “List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners” in the link to the right. This is where the Executive Office for Immigration Review lists if an attorney has been expelled or suspended from practice before USCIS/DHS
  • Review the “List of Previously Disciplined Practitioners” available from the “List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners”  page on the EOIR website

A lawfully admitted attorney should honor your request for this information, as State Bar practice rules require disclosure of this information to clients. Before you pay attorney fees for help with your immigration case, make sure that the individual is a licensed attorney.

You should also review the lists of currently disciplined and previously disciplined practitioners on the Executive Office for Immigration Review website. These lists will help you to determine whether the attorney has been expelled or suspended from practice before USCIS/DHS.  To review these lists, please see the links in the “External Links” section of this page.

Those wishing to retain professional assistance during the United States Immigration process are well advised to take note of the citation quoted above as this information is very useful for those seeking attorney assistance. That said, the forthcoming quote deals with the issue of fake lawyers, visa agents, notarios, and immigration consultants who have been known to imitate genuine American attorneys in an effort to further their own interests while simultaneously fleecing an unsuspecting public (both immigrants and American Citizens). To quote the USCIS website one further time:

Notarios, notary publics and immigration consultants may NOT represent you before USCIS.

Those wishing to bring their loved one from another country for family reunification in the USA should take note of the above quotation. In Thailand, for example, there are some fly-by-night operators claiming both expertise in immigration law as well as qualification, without actually possessing either. For this reason, it is always prudent to ask for the licensure information of those claiming the ability to represent individuals before USCIS, DHS, and DOS.

Licensed foreign lawyers may, under some circumstances, be able to provide some limited representation, but only upon authorization from USCIS, those interested should consult the USCIS website directly as this issue is not the intended topic of this posting.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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15th November 2010

As mentioned previously on this blog, the United States dollar is weakening relative to other currencies as other economies around the world strengthen. In a recent report from Reuters in India:

Foreign funds have so far in 2010 bought shares worth a record $28.3 billion, in addition to last year’s $17.5 billion. The rupee has gained 5 percent so far this year.

In terms of international trade, the announcement of a declining dollar could be viewed negatively. However, a comparatively weak United States dollar could turn out to be a boon for those Indian nationals interested in making a qualified investment in the USA while also accruing the benefit of United States Lawful Permanent Residence.

The EB-5 visa program was designed to provide a travel document and Lawful Permanent Residence to those who make an investment in the USA which meets the eligibility criteria set forth by American Immigration authorities such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State. Those interested in obtaining an EB-5 visa should note that the investment in the United States must be substantial and should exceed at least five hundred thousand United States dollars ($500,000), or one million dollars (1,000,000) if the investment is not a “targeted” investment. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status means that the Indian national in said status has the right to reside and work in the United States permanently. LPR status is highly sought after by those in countries outside of the United States since the benefit is substantial, but immigration law may preclude many visa seekers from obtaining a travel document that confers Lawful Permanent Residence (also referred to as “Green Card” status).

Some individuals have posed the question: “Does the United States allow Citizenship by investment?” The simple answer is: no. However, the EB-5 visa could be viewed as a means of setting oneself on the “path to citizenship” by investment. This is due to the fact that an EB5 visa holder, who meets the legal criteria, may be able to apply for naturalization to US Citizenship after remaining in the United States for a statutorily prescribed period of time in lawful permanent resident status.

The American immigration process and the laws which support the United States Immigration system are complex and can be frustrating to those who are unaccustomed to American law and procedure. For this reason, some individuals and families opt to utilize an American attorney to assist with the process. That said, those interested in retaining professional assistance are well advised to check the credentials of those claiming expertise in American immigrations matters as only a licensed American attorney is entitled to provide advice and counsel in matters pertaining to United States Immigration law.

For related information please see: EB-5 Visa India.

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22nd October 2010

Although the topic of K-3 visa applications and “administrative closure” by the United States National Visa Center has been a highly discussed topic in recent postings on this web log it is important to note as it can have a tremendous impact upon the K3 visa process. The K3 visa process is often researched by those United States Citizens wishing to obtain a US Marriage Visa for their Malaysian husband or wife. Although the term “K3 visa” has been used colloquially to describe an American spousal visa on the internet, this is not really the classic method of obtaining marriage visa benefits for the spouse of an American. In reality, submitting the petition to obtain CR1 Visa and/or the IR1 Visa benefits has historically been the commonly followed route to bringing a spouse to the USA.

At one time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had such a substantial backlog of marriage visa petitions that the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton enacted legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act” in an effort to create, among other things, an expedited marriage visa. As a result, the K3 visa category was promulgated. The K4 visa is a derivative visa category intended to be utilized by the children of a K3 visa holder, it is somewhat similar to the K2 visa in the context of the K1 visa process. Approximately ten years after the creation of the K3 visa, USCIS no longer had the processing backlog it once had for marriage visa petitions. This lead to a situation where the National Visa Center was receiving Immigrant visa applications before or with the supplemental K3 application. It would seem that a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications where the Immigrant visa application arrived before or with the supplemental application. The reason for this policy would seem to be that the K3 visa’s utility is rather negated if the Immigrant visa petition has already been adjudicated.

Those thinking about bringing their Malaysian husband or wife to the USA are well advised to conduct research in an effort to make an informed decision about which type of benefits best suit the needs of the parties. It should also be noted that only a licensed American attorney is qualified to provide US Immigration advice or represent clients before the Department of Homeland Security or its constituent agencies such as USCIS, USCBP, or USICE pursuant to the United States Federal Code. Therefore, those thinking of retaining professional assistance for the immigration process are well advised to check the credentials of anyone claiming expertise in American immigration matters.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Malaysia or K3 Visa Malaysia.

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20th September 2010

The United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) is tasked with maintaining the security of America’s ports and overseeing the execution of customs regulations. In previous posts on this blog, it has been noted that there is a great deal of economic opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region. Some Americans are unfamiliar with a body known colloquially as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation). This body has become an increasingly important platform for discussion of various subjects pertaining to inter-jurisdictional matters arising in the Asia-Pacific region. To quote the APEC website directly:

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region .

APEC is the only inter governmental grouping in the world operating on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and equal respect for the views of all participants. Unlike the WTO or other multilateral trade bodies, APEC has no treaty obligations required of its participants. Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.

This consensus driven initiative has proven effective in facilitating international trade, cooperation, and dialogue. In a recent press release it was announced that the USCBP will likely be taking on a more hand-on role within the APEC framework. To quote the press release as distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that it will host the Subcommittee on Customs Procedures as part of the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings that will be chaired by the United States. The Sub-committee on Customs Procedures coordinates CBP’s efforts in customs, immigration and counter-terrorism with partner agencies throughout APEC member countries. The yearlong chairmanship will be handed over to CBP from the Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau today.

“CBP is proud to be hosting the distinguished members of the Sub-committee on Customs procedures for the 2011 APEC meetings,” said Commissioner Alan Bersin. “It is of vital importance to the security of our global economy for the members to coordinate and share
customs best practices.”

The subcommittee is a working level group within APEC. It brings Customs administrations of APEC Member Economies together to simplify and harmonize customs procedures and to ensure trade moves efficiently and safely across the Asia-Pacific region. APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The APEC region is home to more than 2.7 billion
people and represents approximately 60 percent of the world GDP and 44 percent of world trade.

Japan officially turns over the Chair of APEC to President Barack Obama at the November 13-14, 2010 Leader’s Meeting in Yokohama, Japan.

This is a very interesting development from an economic perspective as it would appear that the United States is taking a keener interest in Asia-Pacific affairs. This may be due to the recent downturn in the US economy as well as the rise of The Peoples’ Republic of China as a major player in global economic relations. Whatever the reason for this increasing interest in the region, this author welcomes further streamlining of Customs procedures in an effort to stimulate new transnational trade and facilitate preexisting trading relationships in an effort to increase the volume trade between the United States and the members of APEC.

Hopefully, through voluntary cooperation trade can be increased and the security of the USA and the other APEC member nations will be increased. To further quote the aforementioned press release distributed by AILA:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Hopefully, this new multilateral initiative will be beneficial for all concerned as US officials and Customs authorities from other participating nations can pool some resources in an effort to combat international crime and facilitate the execution of relevant immigration laws.

Many Americans and foreign nationals are under the mistaken impression that Customs and Border Protection simply “rubber stamps” entrants to the United states who are either from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program or have a US Tourist Visa. Nothing could be further from the truth as even those entering the USA with a valid visa could be turned away or placed in Expedited removal proceedings depending upon their travel history. Those interested in traveling to the USA from a country abroad may find the assistance of an American attorney beneficial as such an individual may be able to provide insight into the Immigration process and streamline the processing of visa applications and petitions.

For related information please see: US Visa China.

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19th September 2010

This author has frequently discussed the myriad problems that Immigrants can face when dealing with an unlicensed American immigration “agent” or “specialist“. American law and Federal Regulations are clear regarding the issue of who is allowed to provide legal services in matters arising before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) specifically; or any of the other agencies which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only licensed attorneys from the United States of America are able to provide consultations about US Immigration matters for a fee. Furthermore, only an attorney licensed by the Highest Court of least one US State, Commonwealth, or outlying territory is allowed charge fees to represent clients before DHS, including USCIS.

Unfortunately, there are some unauthorized organizations throughout the world claiming to be able to provide advice and assistance in American Immigration matters. The internet has proven to be a great tool for those wishing to research matters pertaining to United States Immigration. Meanwhile, it has also provided a platform for some operations which claim legal expertise without appropriate training or licensure. Such individuals and entities ought to be avoided at all costs since information transmitted to such individuals and entities may not be protected by the usual legal protections accorded to communications conveyed between an American attorney and their client. Furthermore, one who is not legally trained or not licensed to provide legal services in a given jurisdiction or about a particular subject cannot provide effective counsel nor lawful confidentiality to those seeking their assistance. This can be especially important to those conveying sensitive information about a case pending before an immigration tribunal, agency, US Embassy, or US Consulate abroad. Those engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the aforementioned manner are thereby placing their own interests, as well as those of their unsuspecting “clients’”, in jeopardy.

When comparing the costs of legal service it is important to understand the pivotal role of licensure when making a decision to retain counsel. No licensed legal professional is likely to have a problem with prospective clients shopping for a reasonably priced service with a professional that they feel comfortable dealing with. In general, licensed American attorneys find that competition with other professionals makes for a healthy and prosperous business environment, but to compare the services of a licensed American immigration attorney with one who is not licensed to practice law creates a false comparison as US law is clear that those without licensure cannot provide the services which they claim they can provide in an immigration context. In short: one cannot compare a legal service with an illegal service from a price standpoint as an illegal service provider simply cannot provide such services at any price.

For further information please see: licensed lawyer. To learn more about US Immigration from Southeast Asia please see: US Immigration Law Thailand.

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9th September 2010

The American Department of State’s website can be a useful resource for those interested in US Immigration. That said, there are many repositories of good information throughout the internet and some less-than-ideal resources. The following announcement was posted on the website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Due to technical software problems, the Department of State’s “Visa Policy Updates” page of their website is currently unavailable for updates. Please note: the webpage itself is currently available; however, it does not include recent updates by DOS. Until further notice, Visa Policy Updates will not be sent to subscribers, but many documents still can be found on the Department of State website at the Visa Policy Update page.

The Department of State is responsible for administering the various American Missions located abroad. These include American Embassies, Consulates, and Institutes located in Asia. Many find that information on the Department of State can be very helpful when trying to decide what type of visa is most suitable for an individual wishing to travel to the United States of America.

Some Embassies and Consulates are considered to be so-called “high volume” Posts.  In matters involving US Immigration, this appellation could be applied to the US Embassy Thailand or the US Consulate HCMC as these posts handle a larger caseload of American Immigration matters compared to some of their counterparts in Southeast Asia.  That said, adjudications of visa applications are conducted by an officer at the US Embassy or US Consulate with jurisdiction over the proposed beneficiary.  Such an adjudication is made pursuant to relevant US Immigration law and based upon the Consular Officer’s findings of fact. Each case is adjudicated based upon the unique set of facts in the case. Therefore, the rather general information which is provided on various websites throughout the internet, both government sponsored and privately funded, cannot necessarily be relied upon as definitive for every situation.

American Embassies and Consulates process a large number of visa applications each year. As each adjudication is different there is effectively no way of providing uniform information about the visa application adjudication process. Those interested in obtaining a visa to the USA are well advised to contact a US lawyer with experience dealing with United States Immigration as such an individual can provide relevant insight into the visa process and advise clients as to the appropriate visa category based upon the client’s circumstances.

For related information please see: USCIS Processing Times.

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21st August 2010

The New York Times website reported the following:

BANGKOK — Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who is expected to face gun-running charges in the United States following his extradition from Thailand, expressed confidence on Friday that he would ultimately be exonerated.

Those who are unfamiliar with this case may remember an American film which is supposedly based upon Mr. Bout’s life. The aforementioned article went further to note that:

Mr. Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, is suspected of running a large-scale trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

As a general rule, international extraditions in cases which are covered heavily by the media can be exceptionally tense especially where two different countries wish to see differing outcomes. In this case, the extradition request could be viewed as highly complex, both from a legal as well as political standpoint, and this proceeding would seem to represent an important achievement for American officials as the article went on to observe:

The court decision on Friday… was a victory for the Obama administration, which summoned the Thai ambassador in Washington to the State Department this week to “emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States,” a spokesman said. “There have been a lot of conversations of senior administration officials with their Thai counterparts about this,” said one American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after staying up until 2 a.m. awaiting the news from Bangkok. American officials had feared that Russian pressure would prevail and Mr. Bout might be flying home. “This really was a welcome surprise,” the official said of the court’s decision.  Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Mr. Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily. “We regret what, in my view, is an illegal political decision taken by the appellate court in Thailand,” Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. “Based on the information we have at our disposal, the decision was made under very strong outside pressure. This is lamentable.”

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share a long and amicable relationship as the two countries have a history of friendly bilateral political and economic relations. One of the foremost examples of this relationship is the US-Thai Amity Treaty. That said, the recent decision would seem to have be made on legal grounds and not based upon political considerations. However, not everyone was happy to hear the Thai court’s decision:

After the ruling, Mr. Bout embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was led out in leg irons. The court ordered his extradition within three months… Mr. Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States’ reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Mr. Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of terrorist suspects by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the decision itself, this case may represent a major milestone in international jurisprudence as the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, and many other jurisdictions around the world continue to work together to bring international and multi-jurisdictional criminal suspects before lawful tribunals in both the USA and abroad. Extradition represents one area of international criminal law where cross border cooperation by authorities is leading to apprehension of suspected criminals all over the globe. In another posting on this blog, the issue of Royal Thai Immigration‘s decision to connect to American warrant databases was discussed. In an increasingly “globalized” world, it is becoming evermore difficult for international criminal suspects to evade government authorities. Meanwhile, American authorities’ efforts to apprehend those with an American criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, bench warrant, or arrest warrant continue unabated. Those who find that they have an outstanding American warrant are well advised to seek the assistance of competent counsel in the form of a licensed American attorney in order to deal with the matter in accordance with all applicable laws.

For further related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.

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26th July 2010

This blog usually focuses upon the international facets of US Immigration law. However, sometimes, there is news regarding internal immigration policy that impacts the entire field of  American Immigration law. The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (also known by the acronym USICE or more commonly referred to as ICE) is tasked with apprehending and detaining aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States of America. From an American attorney‘s perspective, an important part of the practice of law is knowledge of one’s client’s whereabouts. In a recent press release, ICE announced that a new locator system has be designed to provide interested parties with the current location of a detained alien. To quote the press release directly:

ICE announces launch of Online Detainee Locator System

WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today the launch of ICE’s Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS), a public, Internet-based tool designed to assist family members, attorneys and other interested parties in locating detained aliens in ICE custody. The creation and implementation of the ODLS is a concrete example of ICE’s commitment to detention reform.

The ODLS is located on ICE’s public website, http://www.ice.gov, and provides users with information on the location of the detention facility where a particular individual is being held, a phone number to the facility and contact information for the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations office in the region where the facility is located. A brochure explaining how to use the ODLS is also available on the website in the following languages: English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and Somali.


“The ODLS is an easy, accessible tool that allows family members and counsel to locate an individual in ICE custody in a matter of minutes,” said Phyllis Coven, acting director of ICE’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning. “ICE is making great strides in our effort to translate the principles of reform into innovative, practical and timely solutions.” ODLS users will be able to locate detained aliens by two different search methods. First, users can search by entering an individual’s alien registration number, also known as their “A” number, and their country of birth.

Users can also search by entering an individual’s first name, last name, country of birth and date of birth. Since the ODLS will be available for use on ICE’s public website, the agency is committed to ensuring detainee privacy while making ODLS a useful tool for family members, attorneys and other related parties.

With relatively recent advances in technology it is amazing to see how much more streamlined the American Immigration system can be. Hopefully, this new program will provide future immigration attorneys with more tools to better serve their clients.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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