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Posts Tagged ‘American Embassy Cambodia’

6th February 2018

It has recently been announced that the Trump administration is creating a new “National Vetting Center”. The following article is intended to shed light on what this institution is designed to do and how it will fit into the overall immigration process.

It should first be noted that the National Vetting Center should not be confused with the preexisting National Visa Center which acts as a sort of clearing house and central repository for documentation pertaining to visa applications through the Department of State. The National Visa Center’s function is to gather relevant documentation and forward cases to the appropriate US Embassy or US Consulate for visa interview scheduling.

The National Vetting Center would seem to have a different mandate, although not altogether different as both institutions deal with matters pertaining to US Immigration. In an effort to provide further insight it is necessary to cite a recent article from the website of USA Today:

The National Vetting Center will be run by the Department of Homeland Security with assistance from the intelligence community and the departments of State, Justice and Defense. Its mission: To “collect, store, share, disseminate, and use” a broad range of information about people who seek to enter the United States, with a goal of identifying people who may be a threat to national security or public safety. “This is yet another step towards knowing who is coming to the United States — that they are who they say they are and that they do not pose a threat to our nation,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement.

Although disregarded by some at the time as overreacting, this blogger has noted in prior discussion of so-called extreme vetting policy that although it was initially discussed in a very narrow geographical and situational context the establishment of the National Vetting Center and the presumption that all future US Immigration processing will involve said institution shows that this policy will have broad ramifications for all visa applicants.

What does this mean for the timing of US visa applications? At this time it is too soon to say whether the addition of National Vetting Center protocols will result in slower processing times. However, it stands to reason that adding an entirely new institutional bureaucracy to the overall immigration framework will result in at least some delays in the processing of petitions and applications.

As has been discussed previously on this blog and through some of our firm’s videos: the Trump administration’s policies with respect to Immigration could have wide ranging and long lasting ramifications for those seeking visas in the future. Furthermore, if a deal can be reached with respect to Comprehensive Immigration Reform it looks as though the era of so-called “chain migration” (allowing extended family of Lawful Permanent Residents and American citizens to seek visa benefits)  and the visa lottery will likely come to an end.

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21st November 2017

The following is a transcript of the video which can be found here: K-3 Visas from Cambodia.

In this video today, we are going to specifically discuss one visa that is sort of an interesting little niche visa, the K-3 visa, in the specific context of a Khmer, Cambodian national who would be seeking that in connection with marriage to a US citizen. Let’s be clear, you have got to be married to a US citizen in order to apply for a K-3.

First things first. As previously noted in my preamble, we’re located here in Bangkok. We do deal with a large number of Thai cases but being fairly geographically close to Cambodia, over the years we’ve done a fair number of Cambodian cases or cases that arise with a Cambodian national, a Khmer national involved. That being stated, it should be noted that the K-3 is an interesting animal.

To provide a little background on what the K-3 visa is. The K-3 visa was created pursuant to the provisions of the LIFE act created under the Clinton presidency and it was created at a time when the back log associated with spousal visas, CR-1 and IR-1, and there’s another video on this channel specific to CR-1 and IR-1 visas, in Cambodia. Basically, at the time, it was taking multiple years to get finalized Department of Homeland secure the approval of the petition for marriage visas. Meanwhile, at the same time it was like 6 or 7 months, 8 months to get a fiancée visa petition approved. So you ended up with the sort of counter intuitive situation where fiancées were moving through the system more quickly than spouses and it should be noted that from a legal perspective there is no qualitative difference as far as the law is concerned, specifically Immigration law is concerned, with respect to a fiancée versus a spouse; from a legal standpoint they’re treated the same way.  From an administrative standpoint, they just had a high back log of marriage visas or marriage petitions, for whatever reason, were they were processing K-1s more efficiently or they just had a lower case load, I don’t know what the deal was, but at the time it was taking multiple years to get a petition for marriage to an American citizen process through and meanwhile it was taking a matter of months for fiancées. So what happened is they created this K-3 category and the K-3 category was created, basically they said “look if you have got a petition on file for a spousal visa benefits in the normal manner, the CR-1 or IR-1 category basically, you can take that filing and do a duplicative version of that and go ahead and file for this K-3 category. You just go ahead and file it again through the K line. That’s basically what they did. They just took these marriage visa cases and said – Okay, it’s been filed, you have got to prove it’s filed and you put it in the line that was processing for fiancées so what ended up happening is K-3 has kind of become the ubiquitous term for a US marriage visa but in point of fact, the traditional methodology of bringing someone into the United States is through a CR-1 or IR-1 visa.  The K-3 just sort of became rather common place in the lexicon of these matters because people got used to dealing with K-3s because that was effectively the way to get your spouse into the United States. It’s interesting because K-3 still requires adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.  Those of you who are interested in learning about that, in order to get a green card you have to undergo the adjustment of status process and I urge you to take a look at the video that specifically discusses the adjustment of status process on this channel, but something to bring up with respect to K-3s in the present context. Although they may be useful under present processing conditions, in the past there was an administrative ruling, it was a policy of administrative closure that was undertaken by the National Visa Center whereby they basically said – “Look, the K-3 was created for these situations where basically a marriage visa, an immigrant visa case got lost in the back log of USCIS. Not lost but stuck in the back log of USCIS. So if we got the K-3 position first we will process through on the K-3. But if we get the petition for the Immigrant Spouse Visa first, we’re going to process the Immigrant Spouse Visa benefits. We’re going to disregard the K-3”. This is important because NVC’s function is qualitatively different in an immigrant visa context that it is in a K Visa context. The K Visa context, NVC just shoots the case on to the embassy in question and the embassy sort of deals with all the nuts and bolts of the consular processing. In an immigrant visa context, the NVC process is slower because NVC deals with the nuts and bolts of document intake and in a way, I won’t say, adjudication but sort of pre vetting to make sure that they have generally what they need to go ahead and continue to process and get an interview scheduled. So in a way, the K-3 may still, if you can go ahead and get one through, the K-3 may still process more quickly compared to an immigrant visa but it’s my understanding that NVC still maintains the policy of administrative closure, where they get the immigrant case first and now processing of immigrant matters, immigrant spouse matters of American citizens, has reduced significantly. USCIS, to their credit, took significant substantial steps to make their process more efficient and they streamlined it, and I think they got more staff and things to deal with those matters and they put more resources on getting those cases processed, and as a result, in a way the K-3 is, I won’t say it’s obsolete, but its original reason for being there is not quite so pressing as it was at the time that it was created. And for that reason, I think it’s very probable that you are going to see fewer and fewer K-3 visas being processed in Cambodia or elsewhere.

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10th November 2017

The following is a transcript of the video found here: K-1 Fiance Visas From Cambodia:

In this video we are going to be discussing the K-1 Fiancee Visa specifically in the context of Consular processing in the Kingdom of Cambodia; specifically the US Embassy in Phnom Penh.

For those of you who have checked out this channel and seen some of the other videos, you probably know that we are based in Bangkok, Thailand, we do deal primarily with immigration matters arising with Thai-American nationality generally, we deal with a lot of US family immigration matters, fiancée visas, marriage visas etc.

Just because we’re located here, does not mean necessarily that this is our exclusive bailiwick with respect to US immigration.  It is sort of interesting in so far as immigration attorneys who practice in the United States tend to have a plethora of rather wide range of nationality of clientele that they deal with, whereas, it is sort of somewhat inverted by us being based in Bangkok we primarily deal with Thai nationals. But that being said, I have dealt with cases involving the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, quite a number of cases involving that particular post, mostly because of its nearby proximity to Thailand here.  But that being said, for those who are interested in sort of an overview of the process it’s best to sort of look at it in 2 phases: One involves the Department of Homeland Security.  The Immigration apparatus, USCIS under the auspices of DHS, Department of Homeland Security, is going to go ahead and adjudicate what is called an I-129 F petition. That petition is basically the starting point of the process if you will. You have got to file a petition and you have got to get approval from the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, before being able to proceed further with the K-1 visa. After the initial adjudication of the petition, and let’s go into some details of some requirements associated with the petition, most notably the couple in question must both be legally free to  marry at the time that the application is filed. Moreover, both parties need to have met physically, in person within a 2-year period of their initial filing of the petition for a K-1 visa status. The big things to keep in mind is that “You have got to be legally free to marry”, you can’t be getting a divorce, you have to already be divorced if you have a prior spouse; you have got to be legally free to marry and the other thing to keep in mind is this can sort of happen in certain common law jurisdictions or sometimes even in civil law jurisdictions. You can’t get married legally while the K-1 is processing, even if it’s to each other, you have to wait and remain fiancées until the foreign fiancée in this case Khmer, presumably coming out of Phnom Penh, comes to the United States and then you have 90 days to get married and file to adjust status. Adjustment of status is a different process. It comes subsequent to marriage, in the United States. There’s another video on this channel which specifically discusses the details of adjustment of status. Suffice it to say that basically that’s the process by which the foreign fiancée, and later spouse, becomes a lawful permanent resident, aka a green card holder in the United States.  So that’s sort of the back end of the process. Going back, petition, have to have met within 2 years of filing, need to be legally free to marry, there’s other details associated with this, I am not going to get too deep into that side of things, but presuming USCIS DHS approval, the matter is going to move quickly over to the National Visa Center which acts as a sort of clearing house or routing hub to send it to the appropriate Embassy or  Consulate abroad, in the case of Cambodia Nationals, presumably that’s going to be Phnom Penh , Cambodia and at that point, you need to deal with the specific Consular processing mandates of the visa section of the Embassy over there.

It is interesting to bring up with respect to K-1 visas, they are what is considered a dual intent visa. So technically speaking, they’re non-immigrant category but for purposes of consular processing, and sort of the application process, they are treated for all intents and purposes as Immigrant visas, just like a spouse visa, CR -1 IR -1 or “shades of grey” here but the K-3 visa. So basically to sum up, with respect to this video, the process for getting a fiancée of Cambodian nationality into the United States, begins in the United States, progresses through multiple agencies over there before getting to the US Embassy in Phnom Penh and then there’s various documentation associated with the overall process and various documents which need to be translated from Khmer to English etc. Our services, we can provide those translations, part and parcel with what we deal with on a regular basis. I oftentimes have to go over to Phnom Penh to deal with clients as well and that can sometimes come up. But just generally speaking, as sort of from an overview of how the process works and what we can do to assist if necessary is basically, it starts in the US, comes over to the Embassy and finally, I think it is pretty safe to say probably 8 months, 9 months on average, all in, the processing time for getting a K-1. It can move faster, it can move slower. The thing to keep in mind with respect to all US visa applications is they’re like snowflakes, every one of them is unique, every one of them is slightly different and you are going to see one case may move inordinately quickly, we actually had one process through quite quickly as far as sort of compared to averages and I think it sort of just hit the right desk at the right minute and just sort of went through whereas some cases they just move more slowly.  It’s going to differ, case to case, circumstance to circumstance but that being said, with respect specifically to Cambodia K-1 Visas again are going to start processing in the United States, they’re going to end up in Cambodia and then once the Cambodian national comes to the United States and marries their American citizen fiancée, they can go ahead and petition to adjust status and receive a green card in the US.

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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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22nd January 2011

The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Phnom Phen, Cambodia:

Month Day Holiday Khmer/U.S.
Dec 31, 2010 Fri International New Year’s Day U.S.
Jan 17 Mon Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S.
Feb 21 Mon George Washington’s Birthday U.S.
Mar 8 Tue International Women’s Day Khmer
Apr 14 Thu Khmer New Year’s Day Khmer
Apr 15 Fri Khmer New Year’s Day Khmer
Apr 18 Mon Khmer New Year’s Day Khmer
May 13 Fri King Sihamoni’s Birthday Khmer
May 30 Mon Memorial Day U.S.
Jun 20 Mon King Mother’s Birthday Khmer
Jul 4 Mon Independence Day U.S.
Sep 5 Mon Labor Day U.S.
Sep 26 Mon Pchum Ben Day Khmer
Oct 10 Mon Columbus Day U.S.
Oct 31 Mon King Father’s Birthday Khmer
Nov 9 Wed Independence Day Khmer
Nov 10 Thu Water Festival Khmer
Nov 11 Fri Veterans Day U.S.
Nov 24 Thu Thanksgiving Day U.S.
Dec 26 Mon Christmas U.S.

Those wishing to visit the official homepage of the US Embassy in Cambodia please click HERE.

Those seeking services such as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, US Passport, or the addition of visa pages to a previously issued US Passport are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section of a US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, or US Mission abroad. It should be noted that those seeking the aforementioned services may find processing streamlined when setting an appointment online in advance.

Those seeking a temporary visa such as a US B-2 visa (Tourist), F-1 visa (Student), J-1 visa (Exchange Visitor), B-1 visa (Business) are likely to see their visa application processed through a Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) Unit abroad. It should be noted that those seeking a United States non-immigrant visa are likely to have their visa application scrutinized pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

Those seeking immigrant family visa benefits such as an IR-1 visa or a CR-1 visa are likely see their visa application processed through an Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit of a US Post abroad. For processing purposes the K-1 visa (a non-immigrant US fiance visa) is treated in much the same way as the Immigrant visa categories. The same could once be said for the K-3 visa as well, but since the inception of the “administrative closure” policy K-3 visa applications are processed with far less frequency compared to years past.

Those seeking visas such as the EB-5 visa (Immigrant Investor Category) or the L-1 visa (intra-company transferees) are likely to only see their visa application processed after a positive adjudication of an immigration petition by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

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

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