- Legal Blog
- Integrity Legal Home
- Thai Visa
- Company in Thailand
- Real Estate Thailand
- US Visa
- Contact Us
Posts Tagged ‘American State Department’
14th August 2011
It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Consulate in Chennai, India has issued an apology statement pertaining to remarks made by a Consular Officer in that jurisdiction. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Yahoo News at Yahoo.com:
The United States has apologised for controversial remarks made by a US diplomat who spoke of “dark and dirty” Indians, calling the comments “inappropriate”. US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students on Friday that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey, according to Indian media — referring to people from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. During her speech in the Tamil Nadu capital, Chennai, Chao was quoted as saying: “I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to (the eastern Indian state of) Orissa. “But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination… and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians.” Following her speech, the US Consulate in Chennai on Saturday issued a “statement of apology”. “During the speech Ms. Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms. Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent,” the US Consulate said on its website…”As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently noted, the US-India partnership is based on our shared values of democracy, liberty, and respect for religious and cultural diversity,” the US consulate added…
The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.
Although the comments noted above are unfortunate, inappropriate, and downright impolite it should be noted that mistakes do happen. Notwithstanding the fact that the individual in question is a civil servant of the United States government she is also human and therefore not immune from making mistakes. It is admirable that the US Consulate noted above took the opportunity to quickly and maturely respond to the comments and issue an apology. Hopefully the whole situation will stand as an example to future American State Department personnel.
In news related to the continuing struggle for LGBT equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that there has been further analysis of the factual situation surrounding the story of a same sex married couple who may be compelled to separate due to enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further information it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of CNN, CNN.com:
Anthony Makk was trying to become a permanent U.S. resident – like many heterosexual couples do – so he could stay with his loved one who he married seven years ago in Massachusetts. Makk, who has been with Bradford Wells for 19 years, is also doing it because he is a caregiver for his husband who has AIDS.
Frequent readers of this web log may recall that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has allowed for the legalization/solemnization of same sex marriage through intra-State licensure protocols. Notwithstanding the fact that this sovereign American State and other jurisdictions such as the State of New York have legalized such unions they are neither recognized nor granted routine Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. There are currently cases pending in the US Courts which address these issues, but a final resolution has yet to come to fruition. To continue quoting from the aforementioned article on CNN.com:
..But the federal government denied his final appeal two weeks ago on the basis of the Defense of Marriage Act which doesn’t recognize their same-sex marriage. “The claimed relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is not a petitionable relationship,” the government’s ruling said. “For a relationship to qualify as a marriage for purposes of federal law, one partner must be a man and the other a woman.” The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services echoed the sentiment, saying as long as DOMA was in place, they will continue to operate under that standard…The couple is calling for the U.S. government to step in and allow Makk to stay and care for Wells. The couple said they feel the federal government is doing everything to keep them from being able to do what any other heterosexual couple already can do. “I feel that my government is trying to destroy my marriage,” Wells said. “And my government is trying to impose a great deal of harm on my life for no reason whatsoever. I feel like I’m being bullied by my government.” But the fight to stay together has strengthened the couple’s bond, Makk said. “We made a big commitment to each other and the harder they make it, the stronger our relationship is.” What’s more frustrating for Wells, who says that the couple never intended for this to become a public debacle, is that they make sure to do everything that all married couples are required to do – like pay joint taxes, but get none of the benefits. “We have all the responsibilities, do the penalty parts of marriage, but then when it gets to the same benefits, we’re told no, you don’t qualify,” Wells said. “The government has decided they don’t like who I marry. For the federal government to say this isn’t a marriage – it’s degrading.” Still, the couple holds out hope. Hope that President Obama could step in to the battle that’s already raging in Congress over a repeal of DOMA, which he said he would support…
This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.
The first question this blogger would pose under the circumstances is: Could the Attorney-General of the United States not issue a hold on this deportation in much the same way that a hold was placed on the removal of the New Jersey same sex civil union partner of an American Citizen? Notwithstanding the fact that the provisions of DOMA preclude the accordance of American visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, or the IR-1 visa to same sex couples the American Attorney-General has rescinded a deportation apparently to scrutinize the Constitutional issues at play where a State has licensed a marital union. Under the circumstances in this case it seems only prudent to infer that there may be even more significant Constitutional issues because the underlying union is a same sex marriage and not a civil union. As noted previously on this blog, it is this blogger’s opinion that once a State sovereign has exercised their prerogatives with respect to the licensure of marriage, then the imprimatur of that State’s recognition of the underlying marriage should be accorded both inter-State Full Faith and Credit and federal recognition. Under the current situation with respect to DOMA, the States’ Rights are being marginalized and the American Citizenry’s individual liberties are being infringed.
Meanwhile, American legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) to directly address the current discrimination being imposed upon same sex bi-national couples. Furthermore, the provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act would seem to deal with the Full Faith and Credit issue by according same sex marriages performed in those States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions with federal “certainty“. How this issue will ultimately be resolved in the American Congress or Courts remains to be seen.
–Benjamin Walter Hart
For related information please see: Consular Processing.
For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.
10th June 2011
It recently came to this blogger’s attention that reports have come out regarding the possibility of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heading the World Bank. To quote directly from the official website of The Telegraph, Telegraph.co.uk:
Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, has been in discussions with the White House about stepping down from her foreign policy job next year to becoming head of the World Bank, it has been reported. Mrs Clinton, the former First Lady, Senator for New York and rival to Mr Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary race, is said to be eager to become the first female president of the World Bank should the post become vacant next year.”Hillary Clinton wants the job,” a source close to Mrs Clinton told Reuters, which broke the news of the possible move.
The administration of this blog encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more.
Issues associated with international banking have been making headlines in recent weeks. Such reports became more acute following the arrest of the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in the sovereign State of New York on sexual assault charges. Readers are asked to keep in mind that Mr. Strauss-Kahn has not been convicted of any crime as of the time of this writing and therefore, in the eyes of American law, he is innocent until proven guilty.
Readers may note that leadership of the international banking community made news in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after calls were made to consider an Asian candidate for the top IMF posting. Officials in China also have been reported to have made statements regarding the position of IMF head. It remains to be seen just how these issues will ultimately play out and who shall eventually be at the helm of international banking, but for observers of global relations, economics, finance, and politics this is certainly a very interesting time.
In rather unrelated news (but pertinent to this blogger), it was recently reported that the Great State of Kansas has experienced a very uncommon weather phenomenon. For further elucidation it may be best to quote directly from the official website of KSN News, KSN.com:
WICHITA, Kansas — Last night Wichita experienced a very rare weather phenomenon known as a “Heat Burst.” At 12:22 a.m. the temperature at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport was 85 degrees. At 12:44 the temperature spiked to 102 degrees. This was a 17 degree increase in only 20 minutes. Winds also gusted between 50 and 60 MPH. The heat burst winds and temperatures rapidly dissipated as they spread across Sedgwick and Southern Butler Counties…
The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read more from this insightful report.
Kansas is often the scene of incredible meteorological phenomenon, but an increase of 17 degrees in a time span of 20 minutes is tremendous by anyone’s estimation. Hopefully, such developments will not have an adverse impact upon the people, agriculture, and ecology of that jurisdiction.
For other relevant information please see: Department of State.
20th May 2011
It recently came to the attention of this blogger that the United States Supreme Court may be hearing a case pertaining to issues surrounding the issuance of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Such documents are generally issued by Consular Officers of the Department of State at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. To quote directly from a May 2nd posting by Lyle Denniston on ScotusBlog at scotusblog.com:
Stepping into a significant test of the President’s foreign policy powers, the Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether Congress had the authority to dictate how the Executive Branch makes out birth certificates for U.S. citizens born abroad — in this case, in Jerusalem, a city that the U.S. government does not recognize as an official part of Israel. At issue is the validity of a nine-year-old law in which Congress aimed to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That dispute came in one of two cases the Court agreed on Monday to hear, at its next Term.
The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click the hyperlinks above to read this posting on ScotusBlog in its entirety as it cogently provides information about what could prove to be a very pertinent issue in the days and weeks ahead.
Although the issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad may seem innocuous, especially to American Citizens who do not have a great deal of international experience; but it should be noted that this document is very important as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad documents the fact that an American Citizen was born overseas. This document is thereby used to obtain a US passport as well as other documentation. To continue quoting from the aforementioned article:
After State Department officials refused to fill out a report on the foreign birth of a boy born in 2002 in a Jerusalem hospital to show that his birthplace was “Israel,” his parents sued, seeking to enforce the 2002 law that ordered the State Department to do just that, when asked to do so. A federal judge and the D.C. Circuit Court refused to decide the case, saying the controversy was a “political question” that the courts had no authority to resolve.
The law noted above attempts to deal with a somewhat difficult issue as Jerusalem is not technically considered to be part of the Greater State of Israel. In order to provide more insight on this complex issue it may be best to quote directly from the preamble to the opposition’s brief in this case:
Whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the dismissal of petitioner’s suit seeking to compel the Secretary of State to record “Israel” as his place of birth in his United States passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad, instead of “Jerusalem,” when the panel unanimously agreed that the decision how to record the place of birth for a citizen born in Jerusalem in official United States government documents is committed exclusively to the Executive Branch by the Constitution.
The administration urges readers to click on the hyperlink noted above to read the opposition’s brief in detail.
It would appear to this blogger as though the issues in this case are likely to result in any finding having tremendous ramifications. This is due to the fact that there really are two important notions in competition. Namely, the right of the individual or family to choose the manner in which a report of birth abroad is promulgated and the right of the Executive Branch to conduct foreign policy.
It remains to be seen how the Court will rule on these issues, but one this is certain: cases involving a “political question” often make for the most interesting decisions.
29th April 2011
It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the discretionary powers accorded to Consular Officers at United States Missions abroad with regard to visa issuance are to be expanded to provide further latitude to Consular Officers with regard to the revocation of US visas. To quote directly from Justia.com:
This rule changes Department regulations to broaden the authority of a consular officer to revoke a visa at any time subsequent to issuance of the visa, in his or her discretion. These changes to the Department’s revocation regulations expand consular officer visa revocation authority to the full extent allowed by statute. Additionally, this rule change allows consular officers and designated officials within the Department to revoke a visa provisionally while considering a final visa revocation.
Clearly, this rule would expand the authority currently granted to Consular Officers in adjudicating American visa matters. For those who are unfamiliar with this topic it should be noted that Consular Officers currently maintain virtually un-reviewable discretion in matters pertaining to US visa application adjudication. This discretion occurs pursuant to a doctrine referred to as Consular Non-Reviewability (or colloquially referred to as Consular Absolutism). Pursuant to the philosophy underlying this doctrine Courts in the United States are unlikely to review the decisions of a Consular Officer at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad unless the Consular Officer’s decision in the matter appears “facially illegitimate” to the Court of competent jurisdiction.
Bearing this in mind the announcement went on to point out the reasoning behind the recent decision to make this rule change:
On occasion, after a visa has been issued, the Department or a consular officer may determine that a visa should be revoked when information reveals that the applicant was originally or has since become ineligible or may be ineligible to possess a U.S. visa. Section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(i)) (INA) authorizes the Secretary and consular officers to revoke a visa in their discretion. Current regulations limit the circumstances in which consular officers may revoke visas. In light of security concerns, this amendment grants additional authority to consular officers to revoke visas, consistent with the statutory provisions of the INA. Although this rule eliminates the provisions that permit reconsideration of a revocation, it also allows for the provisional revocation of a visa when there is a need for further consideration of information that might lead to a final revocation. In cases where the person subject to a provisional revocation is found to be eligible for the visa, the visa will be reinstated with no need for reapplication. However, with the exception of provisional revocations, an applicant whose visa has been revoked must apply for another visa, at which time his or her eligibility for the visa will be adjudicated.
In this blogger’s opinion, this rule change could have significant ramifications for prospective visa applicants. That stated, it remains to be seen what the practical implications of this rule change will be. The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the above hyperlinks to learn more about this topic on Justia.com.
It should be noted that within the text of this memo it was pointed out that this rule is being promulgated pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. To quote one final time from the aforementioned document:
This regulation involves a foreign affairs function of the United States and, therefore, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553 (a) (1), is not subject to the rule making procedures set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553.
Those who have read this blog in the past may recall that the United States Department of State maintains a mandate to conduct the foreign affairs of the United States and one of the duties that is entailed within this mandate is the duty to adjudicate applications for a US visa. This can include applications for visas such as the B-2 visa (for those wishing to engage in recreational travel in the United States), the K-1 visa (a US fiance visa for the foreign fiance of a US Citizen), the CR-1 visa or IR-1 visa (for the spouse of an American Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident), or, in increasingly rare instances, a K-3 visa (which is a non-immigrant spouse visa for the husband or wife of an American Citizen). It is even posited that this new discretion could have an effect upon adjudication of L-1 visa and EB-5 visa applications, as well as the possible aftermath thereof. In any case, increased Consular discretion is likely to have an impact upon visa applications across the categorical spectrum of American travel documents.
8th December 2010
For those who frequently read this web log will undoubtedly note that a frequent topic discussed within these pages is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In a recent document promulgated by the Congressional Research Service and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the matter of legal inadmissibility was discussed in the context of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The following is a direct quotation from the document published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and distributed by AILA:
Legislation aimed at comprehensive immigration reform may take a fresh look at the grounds for excluding foreign nationals that were enacted in the 1990s. All foreign nationals seeking visas must undergo admissibility reviews performed by U.S. Department of State (DOS) consular officers abroad. These reviews are intended to ensure that they are not ineligible for visas or admission under the grounds for inadmissibility spelled out in the INA. These criteria are: health related grounds; criminal history; security and terrorist concerns; public charge (e.g., indigence); seeking to work without proper labor certification; illegal entrants and immigration law violations; ineligible for citizenship; and, aliens previously removed. Over the past year, Congress incrementally revised the grounds for inadmissibility. Two laws enacted in the 110th Congress altered longstanding policies on exclusion of aliens due to membership in organizations deemed terrorist.
Terrorism has been a key concern for American government officials across the entire spectrum of agencies associated with Immigration and travel to the United States. Public health and safety are also significant issues for American Immigration and Consular Officers. To quote the aforementioned publication further:
The 110th Congress also revisited the health-related grounds of inadmissibility for those who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. More recently, the “H1N1 swine flu” outbreak focused the spotlight on inadmissibility screenings at the border. Questions about the public charge ground of inadmissibility arose in the context of Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the 111th Congress.
Influenza has been concerning to many health officials in recent years. However, for many the removal of HIV/AIDS from the list of diseases which can result in a finding of inadmissibility was a relief as many individuals who were previously inadmissible to the USA may have immediately become admissible after HIV/AIDS was no longer a legal grounds for finding someone inadmissible to the USA. This issue was especially acute in the LGBT community as HIV and AIDS issues seem to have a disproportionate impact upon individuals and couples within that community. The report went on to note that issues pertaining to legal inadmissibility are likely to be discussed in the context of proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation:
While advocacy of sweeping changes to the grounds for inadmissibility has not emerged, proponents of comprehensive immigration reform might seek to ease a few of these provisions as part of the legislative proposals. The provision that makes an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States for longer than 180 days inadmissible, for example, might be waived as part of a legislative package that includes legalization provisions. Tightening up the grounds for inadmissibility, conversely, might be part of the legislative agenda among those who support more restrictive immigration reform policies.
Many people are found inadmissible to the United States every year. Among those found inadmissible are those who are unable to seek a remedy in the form of either an I-601 waiver or an I-212 waiver application for advance permission to reenter the USA. Individuals who have been found inadmissible and cannot seek a waiver are colloquially referred to as being unwaivably excluded from the United States. Bearing this in mind, many findings of legal inadmissibility can be remedied through use of a waiver. That said, the waiver process and the standard of proof for obtaining a waiver can be difficult to overcome. For this reason, many bi-national couples opt to utilize the services of an American immigration attorney to assist in matters related to United States Immigration. It is always prudent to ask for the credentials of anyone claiming expertise in United States Immigration law as only a licensed American attorney is permitted to provide advice, counsel, and representation in pending matters before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the American State Department.
For related information please see: US Visa Denial.
17th October 2010
Those familiar with this blog may have noticed that administrative closure of K3 visa applications has been a topic of discussion since the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) announced that K3 visa applications would be administratively closed if the underlying I-130 petition arrives at NVC prior to, or at the same as, the supplemental I-129f petition. Those who conduct research about the US visa process over the internet may have noticed that the buzzword used to describe a US Marriage Visa is: K3 visa. However, the K3 Visa is not the classic travel document used to bring a Vietnamese spouse to the United States of America. This is due to the fact that in the relatively recent past the only travel document available to the foreign spouse of a US Citizen, based upon the marriage alone, was either an IR-1 visa or a CR1 Visa both of which are only available to those filing an Immigrant visa petition.
The K-3 visa category’s creation was the result of a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act”. This bill was promulgated by the United States Congress and signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton. At that time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was processing Immigrant spouse visa petitions quite slowly due to a rather significant backlog of such petitions. The K-3 was designed to alleviate some of this backlog as well as reunite bi-national married couples as quickly as possible in the USA.
Recently, the USCIS has been processing Immigrant spouse petitions in a much more efficient manner. This has lead to many approved Immigrant petitions reaching the National Visa Center (NVC) at the same time or before the supplemental petition used to seek K3 visa benefits. As a result, the NVC made the policy that K3 visa applications would be “administratively closed” if the CR1 or IR1 visa petition arrived at NVC prior to or at the same time as the K3 petition. This has effectively compelled bi-national Vietnamese-American couples to seek Immigrant visa benefits rather than non-immigrant K3 visa benefits. That said, the Immigrant visa really is a preferable visa category to the K-3 as those Vietnamese spouses of American Citizens entering the USA on an Immigrant visa are granted Lawful Permanent Residence (either CR-1 or IR-1 status depending upon the couple’s circumstances) upon admission to the United States at a Port of Entry. Those entering the USA on a K3 visa are not granted lawful permanent residence upon admission, but instead must file for adjustment of status in the USA which can be costly and rather time consuming. Therefore, some have argued that NVC’s administrative closure policy has actually lead to an overall streamlining of the US Marriage Visa process.
6th October 2010
The Diversity Visa Lottery Program in 2010
Posted by : admin
Those familiar with this blog may note that the Diversity Visa Lottery is on the horizon. This is a no-cost application and our firm currently does not take clients for Diversity Visas. That said, there are many around the world who are eligible to submit an application to be entered in the Diversity Visa Lottery. The following is language from the Federal Register quoted directly from a posting on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website:
[Federal Register: October 1, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 190)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
[Public Notice: 7184]
Bureau of Consular Affairs; Registration for the Diversity Immigrant (DV-2012) Visa Program
AGENCY: Department of State.
SUMMARY: This public notice provides information on how to apply for the DV-2012 Program. This notice is issued pursuant to 22 CFR 42.33(b)(3) which implements sections 201(a)(3), 201(e), 203(c) and 204(a)(1)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, (8 U.S.C. 1151, 1153, and 1154(a)(1)(I)).
Instructions for the 2012 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2012)
The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 and provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” Section 203(c) of the INA provides a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas (DV) each fiscal year to be made available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
The annual DV program makes permanent residence visas available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. A computer-generated random lottery drawing chooses selectees for Diversity Visas. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the period of the past five years. Within each region, no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.
For DV-2012, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of
more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:
BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, the PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.
Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible. For DV-2012, no countries have been added or removed from the previous year’s list of eligible countries.
The Department of State implemented the electronic registration system beginning with DV-2005 in order to make the Diversity Visa process more efficient and secure. The Department utilizes special technology and other means to identify those who commit fraud for the purposes of illegal immigration or who submit multiple entries.
Diversity Visa Registration Period
Entries for the DV-2012 Diversity Visa Lottery must be submitted electronically between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 5, 2010, and noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5) Wednesday, November 3, 2010. Applicants may access the electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV) at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted. Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in Web site delays. No entries will be accepted after noon, EST, on November 3, 2010.
Requirements for Entry
To enter the DV lottery, you must be a native of one of the listed countries. See “List of Countries by Region Whose Natives Qualify.” In most cases this means the country in which you were born. However, there are two other ways you may be able to qualify. First, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible but your spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible; you can claim your spouse’s country of birth, provided both you and your spouse are on the selected entry, are issued visas, and enter the United States simultaneously. Second, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither of your parents was born there or resided there at the time of your birth, you may claim nativity in one of your parents’ country of birth, if it is a country whose natives qualify for the DV-2012 program.
To enter the lottery, you must meet either the education or work experience requirement of the DV program. You must have either a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR, two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine database will be used to determine qualifying work experience. For more information about qualifying work experience, see Frequently Asked Question 13. If you cannot meet either of these requirements, you should NOT submit an entry to the DV program. [AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 10100163 (posted Oct. 1, 2010)]
Those wishing to apply for a Diversity Visa should first ascertain if they are eligible. After determining eligibility an application must be submitted. Should an entrant be chosen to receive the visa, then Consular Processing will still be required. Therefore, applicants for a US diversity visa may still be required to submit themselves for interview at a US Embassy or US Consulate outside of the United States. Some find that attorney assistance is beneficial during the Consular Processing phase of this type of application while others choose to file pro se.
It should be noted that the Visa Lottery does not require payment of any fees initially (although winners may need to pay Consular Processing fees and travel expenses). Therefore, those wishing to obtain this type of travel document should view anyone seeking an “application fee” with caution. Finally, as always, before retaining anyone to assist with any type of visa application it may be prudent to check the credentials of the individual to be retained in an effort to determine if he or she is a licensed American attorney who is able to practice US Immigration law.
For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.
9th September 2010
US Department of State’s Website Having Technical Problems
Posted by : admin
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.
16th August 2010
Rule Changes Finalized for J-1 Visa Processing
Posted by : admin
The J1 visa can be an effective travel document for those seeking admission to the United States for cultural and educational exchange. It was recently announced that certain changes will be implemented which may have a significant impact upon J1 visa applicants. The American State Department has made rule changes which may effect J1 visa processing, to quote a recent press release distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):
On June 19, 2007, the Department published an interim final rule amending its regulations regarding Trainees and Interns to, among other things, eliminate the distinction between “non-specialty occupations” and “specialty occupations,” establish a new internship program, and modify the selection criteria for participation in a training program.
This document confirms the Interim Final Rule as final and amends the requirements to permit the use of telephone interviews to screen potential participants for eligibility, to remove the requirement that sponsors secure a Dun & Bradstreet report profiling companies with whom a participant will be placed and also amends this provision to provide clarification regarding the verification of Worker’s Compensation coverage for participants and use of an Employer Identification Number to ascertain that a third-party host organization providing training is a viable entity, and to clarify that trainees and interns may repeat training and internship programs under certain conditions.
It would appear that the US State Department is making these changes in order to better enjoy the benefits of technological advances. The use of telephone interviews for eligibility screening purposes will likely decrease overall processing time. Furthermore, repealing the Dun & Bradstreet report requirement will likely save individuals as well as companies time and resources when they opt to file for J-1 visa benefits on behalf of a foreign national.
The J-1 visa is often utilized by those who travel to the USA as exchange visitors. Often, those applying for such a travel documents do so at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. As the J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, the Consular Officer adjudicating the application must ascertain whether the applicant should be granted the visa notwithstanding the provisions of section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act which requires that those seeking a non-immigrant visa show “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the United States. Some are under the mistaken impression that a J-1 visa is a “dual intent” travel document akin to the L1 visa. Due to the provisions of section 214b of the INA, the applicant for a J1 visa should not maintain an intention to remain in the USA indefinitely.
For related information please see: US Tourist Visa.
27th July 2010
This author has recently been informed that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is poised to conduct a thorough policy review which will delve into USCIS’s customer service procedures and look for ways to improve the US immigration system. As a first step, USCIS announced that a public survey would be conducted. Below are excerpts from a USCIS press release (distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association [AILA]), which outlines the purpose of the policy review and provides guidance regarding further methods of information gathering in an effort to improve USCIS customer service policies:
WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the results of a public survey that launched the USCIS Policy Review, an unprecedented, top-to-bottom examination of the agency’s adjudication and customer-service policies. The survey results helped USCIS select the first 10 issue areas to address in the agency-wide review.
Informed by the survey responses, the agency’s needs, and input from the workforce, the USCIS Policy Review will begin by examining policies in the following issue areas: National Customer Service Center; Nonimmigrant H-1B; Naturalization and Citizenship; Employment-based Adjustment of Status; Family-based Adjustment of Status; Employment-Based Preference Categories 1, 2 and 3; Refugee and Asylum Adjustment of Status; Form I-601; General Humanitarian; and Employment
Authorization and Travel Documents.
“As an agency, we must achieve consistency in the policies that guide us and in how we implement them for the public benefit,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “To achieve that critical goal, we are partnering with the public in this major undertaking to review our adjudication and customer-service policies. We will work collaboratively toward the shared objectives of consistency, integrity, transparency and efficiency.”
In April 2010, USCIS issued a survey that asked any interested member of the public, as well as its own workforce, to help identify the issue areas that the agency should examine first. USCIS received approximately 5,600 survey responses from diverse stakeholders. Those results are now available, along with a summary developed by USCIS’s new Office of Performance and Quality.
Some have questioned the need for such a survey as there are those who feel that USCIS’s current policies do not need improvement. Clearly, this is not the official view of USCIS as can be evidenced by the following statement:
On April 15, 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched the USCIS Policy Review, an unprecedented, top-to-bottom examination the agency’s adjudication and customer service policies with the engaged participation of the USCIS workforce and the public. USCIS issued a survey that asked any interested member of the public, as well as its own workforce, to help identify the issue areas that the agency should examine first. Nearly 5,600 stakeholders responded to the survey, representing current immigrant and non-immigrant visa holders, employers, immigration attorneys and advocates, among others, in addition to responses from approximately 2,400 members of the USCIS workforce. Those responses helped USCIS select the first 10 issue areas to address in the agency-wide review. USCIS is now convening working groups to review the first 10 issue areas.
The press release went further than merely providing information regarding this important policy review. In an effort to provide the public with relevant information, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) also provided a “Q & A” component to the recent press release. The following are questions and answers arising in connection with USCIS’s policy review initiative:
Questions and Answers
Q. What is the USCIS Policy Review?
A. The USCIS Policy Review is a comprehensive review of policy, guidance, and procedures related to our adjudications and customer service. The Policy Review is divided into four stages: (1) assembling and categorizing existing policy documents; (2) deciding which issue areas to review first, with input from surveys of the workforce and external stakeholders; (3) completing a review of policies in each identified issue area; and (4) consolidating and publishing updated policy documents (as appropriate), once approved.
Q. How does the Policy Review advance major goals already established for USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?
A. In the 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), DHS identified the effective administration of the immigration system as a key priority. In particular, the QHSR emphasized the importance of a system that produces fair, consistent and prompt decisions for the public it serves. The Policy Review is designed to ensure that USCIS meets that standard in its work.
Q. How does the Policy Review relate to USCIS’s responsibilities and authority under federal law?
A. By law, USCIS is charged with setting policies and priorities for the administration of immigration services. USCIS will be reviewing those policies in our current effort. If the Policy Review identifies the need for proposed regulatory changes, we will fully engage in the federal rulemaking process. The purpose of the Policy Review is not to develop proposed changes to the immigration statutes established by Congress.
Q. Will the Policy Review change USCIS policy?
A. In many cases, yes. Working groups will evaluate policy based on USCIS goals, legal requirements and stakeholder concerns. These working groups will draft updated policy documents and proceed through USCIS’s policy-approval process. If the Policy Review identifies the need for proposed regulatory changes, USCIS will fully engage in the federal rulemaking process.
Q. What happens to existing policies during the course of the Policy Review?
A. While the Policy Review is underway, all policies already in place remain in full force and will be honored. From time to time in the course of the agency’s operations, policy issues may arise that require immediate attention outside the course of the formal Policy Review. We will continue to give these issues immediate attention as the need arises.
Q: What prompted the Policy Review?
A. USCIS is committed to ensuring that our policies are consistent and up to date. To that end, the agency has launched the USCIS Policy Review to examine our policies with input from the public it serves and from its workforce.
Q. Has USCIS previously undertaken a comprehensive review of its policies?
A: No. The effort to undertake a top-to-bottom review of our adjudication and customer service policies is an unprecedented initiative for USCIS.
Q. How will USCIS seek the public’s input during the Policy Review?
A. In keeping with our commitments to customer service and transparency, USCIS will engage practitioners, advocates, businesses, applicants, and other interested stakeholders throughout the course of the Policy Review. The survey was the first opportunity for stakeholders to participate. As we review policies in specific issue areas, we will offer a number of further opportunities for the public to offer input. For example, in some issue areas, we will conduct public meetings to solicit stakeholders’ views on specific policy matters. In many cases, we will also published drafts of new or revised policy memoranda on our website for public comment, now a regular step in USCIS’s policy development process.
Q. What did the survey ask?
A. The survey asked any interested member of the public, as well as the USCIS workforce, to help identify the issue areas that the agency should examine first. The survey also included comment sections.
Q. How many people responded to the survey?
A. Nearly 5,600 external stakeholders responded to the survey, representing current immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders, employers, immigration attorneys and advocates, among others. Nearly 2,400 members of the workforce from USCIS offices worldwide also participated in the survey.
Q. How has USCIS used the survey results?
A. The survey results helped USCIS identify which issue areas to address first in its agency-wide review. USCIS considered quantitative and qualitative feedback from the surveys along with operational and programmatic needs to develop the initial list of issue areas for review.
Q. In addition to the survey, what progress has USCIS made in the Policy Review?
A. USCIS has assembled thousands of existing policy documents and categorized them into issue areas. USICS is now convening internal working groups to begin examining and evaluating the policy documents in the first 10 issue areas.
Q. What is the expected length and scope of the Policy Review?
A. The Policy Review is a multi-year effort designed to work thoughtfully through thousands of policy documents, many of which overlap or complement each other, in collaboration with the USCIS workforce and external stakeholders. New policy documents, once drafted, will be submitted through the USCIS clearance process, with many posted on the USCIS website for public comment.
At the time of this writing, there have been relatively few changes in the law regarding US Family Visas. Although administrative and regulatory changes have had a significant impact upon processing of the US Marriage Visa and the US fiance visa. That said, the recent fee increase for Consular Processing of the K1 visa (fiance visa) and the administrative closure of K3 Visa applications by the National Visa Center were promulgated by the Department of State (DOS) as there has been little recent change in the fee structure and administration of USCIS’s adjudication of family based visa petitions.
This author is of the opinion that this unprecedented policy review should be welcomed as it may herald further improvements to the American Immigration system and provide immigrants and Americans with better overall service. One must applaud USCIS for taking the initiative and promoting positive change.
For related information from the perspective of Southeast Asia please see: K1 Visa Thailand.
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.