Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘ASEAN Visa’

8th January 2016

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was initially formed in 1967 and now includes the jurisdictions of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Myanmar. Initially, ASEAN was a sort of loose coalition which generally acted in cooperation on matters of trade facilitation and various forms of international law and regulatory enforcement. The ASEAN Community which came into being on January 1, 2016 is a different type of entity. The AC is more akin to the European Union. Although, in many respects the AC and the EU are markedly different, most notably in the fact that the AC is unlikely to see anything resembling a unified currency any time soon. However, this blogger would posit that it is not an impossibility that a coordinated currency policy could come to exist in the AC region in the future.

One of the interesting aspects of the AC is the so-called ASEAN Economic Community or AEC. This is the economic infrastructure of the new community. At present completely free movement of people and labor is not being implemented by the community, but there are signs that such a scenario could come to pass in later phases of the AC. For example, there are 8 occupations which will be allowed freer movement within the AEC framework and they are: accounting, dental services, architecture, surveying, nursing, tourism, engineering and medical services. Those who hail from one of the ASEAN jurisdictions and engage in the aforementioned endeavors could see their career prospects improved as a result of new markets opening for their specific skill set. In Thailand it appears AC passport holders will still be required to obtain a Thai work permit, notwithstanding the creation of the AEC .

As can be seen from the various ceremonies marking the creation of the AC it is clear that many of the respective ASEAN governments welcome the establishment of the AC with open arms. In Thailand, the establishment of the AC coupled with the plans to make Bangkok the rail hub for trade between Eastern Southeast Asia, Western Southeast Asia, and Southern China could mean that Bangkok will become a central entrepot for trade and travel. Meanwhile, Thai officials are still studying the provisions of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

How the AC will ultimately function remains to be seen as the union brings together disparate political systems and jurisdictions with radically differing economies, but one thing is clear: the AC is poised to be the most dynamic economy worldwide as the region is a crossroads for trade and the economies throughout the region appear ready to significantly expand in the future.  As of the time of this writing there does not appear to be a coordinated plan to create unified ASEAN visa structure akin to the Schengen system, but in time such a development may come to fruition

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28th February 2014

As of the time of this writing, the “Shutdown Bangkok” campaign is scheduled to end on Monday, March 3rd. However, from initial reports it is not clear whether the movement will be fully dissolved in all locations. Apparently, leaders of the movement have scheduled an end to the blocking of key intersections throughout the city while consolidating the movement’s location at Lumpini Park. Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether the protest site at Chaeng Wattana will be closed as well.

Apparently, this decision was made as a result of concerns that the protest has had a dampening effect upon the Thai economy. As protests intensified many people from all sectors of the Thai business community raised concerns that the situation was causing losses in the tourism industry as well as possibly leading to decreases in future foreign direct investment.

The recent news will likely come as a welcome surprise to the Thai business community especially the tourism sector as it could be a portent of a future lasting compromise leading to a maintenance of stability in the country. Those living and working in Bangkok will likely also be glad to hear of the reopening of major intersections since doing so will undoubtedly lead to less traffic congestion in the city.

Hopefully, this announcement will encourage foreign governments around the world to lift their travel warnings and travel bans regarding Thailand. As a consequence, tourists will return to Thailand on a scale that is relatively commiserate with tourism numbers prior to the outset of protesting.

Notwithstanding recent political tension there are many who feel as though Thailand still represents one of the top tourism destinations in the world. Furthermore, Thailand is also considered a prime destination for foreign direct investment as the Kingdom remains one of the strongest economies in Southeast Asia. Couple this with the fact that as of January 2015 the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will come into being creating a wide range of business opportunities in Thailand and throughout the region, and there is good reason to believe that Thailand will remain strong economically. Should the AEC also herald the coming of a single unified ASEAN visa scheme Thailand as well as the rest of Southeast Asia could see an increase in the numbers of both business and leisure travelers. Only time will tell how all of these developments will play out, but cautious optimism is apparently called for under the present circumstances.

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13th September 2013

It appears that Thailand intends to implement an E-visa system by the year 2015, Thailand Television Channel 3 is reporting. Apparently, the plan will allow visa seekers to apply for a Thai visa online. Currently, those seeking tourist visas and non-immigrant visas (such as the Thai business visa, the Thai O visa, and the Thai ED visa) are required to apply at the nearest Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate in their country of origin or residence. As of the time of this writing, it is not clear which visa categories will be available online. It is also unclear whether passport holders from all countries outside of Thailand will be eligible to apply for an e-visa online, or if e-visa application will be restricted to foreign nationals from certain jurisdictions. In contrast to the current method of obtaining a Thai visa, which requires a physical visa stamp or visa sticker being placed in a traveler’s passport, the new system will not require any stamp or sticker in the passport itself. Instead, the proposed plan will create a system where the e-visa will be connected to the traveler’s passport number via computer and thereby accessible to Royal Thai Immigration officers as well as airline personnel.

The topic of e-visas was recently raised by officials at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a spate of incidents occurred which resulted in the disappearance of a number of Thai visa stickers destined for various Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad. It is thought that by creating an e-visa protocol the security of both the Thai Immigration and the Thai Foreign Service systems would be enhanced.  As pointed out  previously on this blog, Thai Honorary Consulates abroad have been in the process of changing their visa processing procedures as heavier scrutiny seems to be being placed upon long term Thai visa applicants. The proposed e-visa system may be implemented in order to provide prospective travelers with both a convenient avenue for obtaining a Thai visa as well as a system which maintains the integrity of the Thai visa application process.

Currently, it is possible for foreign nationals of some countries to enter the Kingdom of Thailand without applying for a visa since Thai Immigration officials routinely grant 30 day visa exemption stamps to many travelers arriving in Thailand by air, and 15 day visa exemption stamps to those being admitted into Thailand via a land border. Whether or not the new e-visa system will affect the current visa exemption system remains to be seen. Also, as noted previously, questions remain as to the types of visas which will be made available via online application. Thai Immigration officials have apparently noted that further information regarding specific aspects of the proposed e-visa program will be available in upcoming announcements.

On a regional level, many officials from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed a desire to promulgate a pan-ASEAN visa scheme which would allow holders of such visas to gain admission to multiple ASEAN countries on one travel document. As of now, the prospect of a single ASEAN visa scheme is still being discussed.

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9th August 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional bloc which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, celebrated it’s 46th birthday. To quote directly from the website thepeninsulaqatar.com:

DOHA: Ambassadors of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Qatar were in accord, saying Asean will meet its target to integrate the 10 nations’ economies by end of 2015, as they celebrated the 46th Asean Day yesterday at the Vietnam Embassy…Singapore Ambassador Wong Kwok Pun cited some areas that Asean has made progress on the implementation of the Asean Charter. In particular, he pointed out Asean has made headway on disputes settlement mechanism, has been working towards the implementation of the roadmap for the Asean community, and taken big steps toward an integrated and sustained economic development…

The implementation of policies which would create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has been an oft-discussed topic among business and legal professionals throughout Southeast Asia. This issue is such a significant topic because by creating a unified Southeast Asian marketplace the countries which comprise ASEAN would become one of the largest markets in the world virtually overnight. That stated, there is a great deal of debate as to whether or not the transition into a unified market will occur smoothly. Some argue that the disparate laws, regulations, and policies throughout the ASEAN member states will not easily coalesce into a workable framework for businesses to operate in the region until governments in ASEAN can implement local policies to bring their regulations in line with the other ASEAN nations. On the  other hand, some argue that because ASEAN leaders have adopted a slow approach to integrating the ASEAN economies the nations which comprise this trading bloc will be able to integrate within the larger body relatively quickly.

Of further concern to both foreign nationals as well as nationals from ASEAN member nations is the promulgation of a single ASEAN visa scheme. Presently, there is not a single visa which one can obtain which would allow the bearer to travel unfettered throughout the the whole of ASEAN. However, leaders in some of the ASEAN countries are looking to remedy this. To quote from the website aseanvisa.com:

Ministers and tourism authorities of the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia have expressed their intention to collaborate with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate travel in the region by developing a common smart visa system…According to www.smartvisa.travel, a smart visa is a digital paperless substitute for a traditional visa that can be obtained by a traveler from a travel agent or participating airline…

Clearly, steps are being taken to create some sort of travel document which would provide immigration benefits in multiple ASEAN nations simultaneously. The impetus behind the push for a single ASEAN visa seems to stem from two sources. First, many of the ASEAN nations would appear to view an ASEAN visa as a means of increasing tourism throughout ASEAN. This would appear to especially be a concern to officials in those Southeast Asian nations which do not benefit from high tourism as compared to their other ASEAN counterparts. By creating a visa which allows for access to more than one ASEAN jurisdiction tourist travel to some countries might increase as travelers are no longer deterred in making “side trips” to less popular destinations due to a desire to avoid the need to obtain another visa. Another consideration would appear to be business travel, as ASEAN economic integration continues to gather steam it stands to reason that more foreign nationals will need to visit multiple ASEAN jurisdictions in order to conduct business in the region. By implementing policies to provide for a single ASEAN visa, business travel may increase throughout the region.

The aforementioned article also mentions the recent decision by Thai and Cambodian Immigration authorities to provide a unified visa scheme for travelers wishing to visit those two countries. To quote further from the aseanvisa.com article:

It [the single ASEAN visa scheme] also builds on the single visa scheme for tourism travel between Cambodia and Thailand, which was implemented on January 1, 2013. Progressive relaxation and an Asean common visa would also benefit non-Asean nationals who intend to visit the Asean countries…

One can speculate whether or not the Thai-Cambodian visa scheme mentioned above will one day be consolidated into a pan-ASEAN visa scheme. There are certainly arguments as to the benefits of such an integration, most notably the probable increase in tourism to all of the ASEAN nations. However, one thing remains clear: it appears that virtually all leaders of the ASEAN nations are assiduously studying the ramifications of a single ASEAN visa scheme and should their findings prove that such a scheme would be a benefit to all of ASEAN; then it is likely that such a scheme will eventually come into existence.

For related information please see: Thailand visa.

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20th February 2012

In previous postings on this web log the issue of a single travel document for use throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been discussed. ASEAN includes many of the nations which comprise Southeast Asia including: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. At the present time, it is not possible to obtain a visa or travel document which would allow entry into all of these nations as travelers must obtain a visa for each individual country before traveling thereto (in some cases, visas on arrival or visa exemptions may be obtained depending upon the local immigration rules and the passport holder’s nationality). Many travelers find that this situation can make traveling in Southeast Asia rather difficult as obtaining multiple visas from multiple Embassies and/or Consulates can be a time consuming endeavor. In an effort to remedy this situation, many of the ASEAN nations have voiced support for a single ASEAN visa scheme. However, efforts to implement a single ASEAN visa program have yet to bear fruit. Recently, it came to this blogger’s attention that the Vice-President of Indonesia has made comments in support of further efforts to facilitate a single ASEAN visa program. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from a January 13th article posted on the website Philstar.com:

JAKARTA (Xinhua) – Indonesian Vice President Boediono asks the ASEAN to speed up implementation of a joint visa for the region in order to boost the number of foreign tourist arrivals and services in the industry in the region amid the global economic crisis threat, a statement from the vice presidential office said here on Friday…”The goal that we want to reach is not only the increasing number of tourist but also the improved quality of services and the sustainability of the visits,” Boediono said…ASEAN leaders had given commitment for the implementation of the facility during the 11th ASEAN Summit in Bali in Nov. 2011.

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlink noted above to read this article in full.

There is little doubt that a single ASEAN visa scheme would provide benefits to ASEAN members in the form of increased tourism especially for destinations that are sometimes overlooked by travelers put off by the prospect of processing more than one visa application. One could also speculate that a single ASEAN visa would be beneficial to business travelers wishing to visit more than one ASEAN jurisdiction.

Currently, it does not appear as though a single ASEAN visa scheme will be implemented in the near future, but there is room to hope that progress will be made as it appears there are many officials in the region who support the notion of a single ASEAN visa, at least conceptually. Meanwhile, issues associated with visa procurement in Southeast Asia are evolving. To shed further light upon recent developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website Eturbonews.com:

For now, non-ASEAN travelers have to play with different rules for almost each country…Myanmar just announced at the end of last month to implement e-visa facilities and relax entry into the country.

In an interview conducted by the Myanmar Times newspaper, Union Minister U Tint San declared on February 1 that the government will try to introduce an e-visa system from March that would allow international visitors to apply from anywhere via the Internet before visiting Myanmar. In parallel, the e-visa would allow travelers to enter or exit from any border crossing point. The web address for the proposed e-visa site is www.myanmarevisa.gov.mm . At ATF, Phyoe Wai Yarzar, Secretary of the newly-formed Myanmar Tourist Board, explained that e-visa facilities would, in fact, be the most efficient way for the government to balance the absence of diplomatic representations.

They are also rumors that Vietnam would work on a e-visa solution. There is already the possibility of getting a pre- E-visa clearance in certain cases. But the procedure remains expensive and on a case-by-case basis. Officials from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism admitted during the ATF that lengthy visa formalities are certainly a major handicap to the development of tourism. Nothing official has been announced so far, but it seems that the government seems to realize that it has to change the way visa is provided if Vietnam does not want to lose out tourists to other destinations.

The administration of this web log encourages readers to visit the hyperlink noted above to read this article in detail.

In the past, the process for obtaining a visa to enter Myanmar (Burma) could be quite cumbersome. It has been this blogger’s relatively recent experience that obtaining a Myanmar visa is somewhat time consuming, but not particularly difficult compared to visa procurement for other nations in the region. Hopefully, the developments mentioned above will lead to further streamlining of visa processing for those wishing to enter countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma).

Although it remains to be seen when a single ASEAN visa scheme will be fully implemented ASEAN members appear committed to such an endeavor which will likely provide benefits for all concerned.

For related information please see: Thailand visa

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27th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the question of ASEAN economic integration may be a topic of discussion at an upcoming forum. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Asia One, AsiaOne.com:

BRUNEI – Just how close is Asean to becoming “One Asian”? That’s one of the main questions, executives, government leaders and members of civil society will tackle in the upcoming Asean 100 Leadership Forum, said Dato Paduka Timothy Ong (pic), Asia Inc Forum founder and chairman. As the convenor of the Asean 100 forum, Dato Ong hopes the forum will provide an avenue for people to agree, or disagree to “learn from each other effectively”. The One Asean question is one of two questions that Dato Ong finds important in order to help Asean businesses and leaders advance further. “Some people will say we are close, some will say we are not close, but no one will say we are already there. So how close are we and what do we need to do to get to ‘One Asean’?” The second question was made to be “slightly provocative”, where Asean 100 asked if the Philippines can be the next “Asian Tiger”…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above in order to read this insightful article in detail.

As frequent readers of this blog may be aware, there has been much discussion pertaining to the jurisdictions which comprise ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) especially regarding the future ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In fact, there has been some speculation that a unified ASEAN visa scheme may be employed in order to streamline travel in the region, but such developments have yet to come to fruition. The future of ASEAN and Greater Asia is a matter of speculation for many, but there is reason to believe that the ASEAN economies will be robust in the coming years.

In matters pertaining specifically to the Kingdom of Thailand it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the amount of certain Condominiums in Greater Bangkok has apparently declined in recent months. For further clarity it is necessary to quote directly from the Property Report website, Property-Report.com:

The supply of new condominiums in Greater Bangkok has declined an estimated 10 per cent this year, while the number of new low-rise units is increasing, according to a report released by the Real Estate Information Center (REIC). Land allotment permits for low-rise units, excluding vacant land lots totalled 27,400 units in the first half of the year, up from 19,800 in the same period of last year. The increase in low-rise units is expected to equal the peak witnessed in 2005. According to the Bangkok Post, last year, low-rise permits totalled about 51,400 units, up from about 42,600 units in 2009. Meanwhile, the number of new high-rise housing construction permits in Greater Bangkok in the first quarter dropped to 260 buildings containing 1.51 million sqm from 302 buildings with 1.59 million sqm in the fourth quarter of 2010…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further.

Many foreign nationals in Thailand opt to purchase a Thai Condo since it may be possible to gain freehold title to such property. Such title is also referred to as Chanote Title in Thai. That stated, there are concerns among many foreign real estate purchasers regarding the conveyancing of such property so some opt to retain the services of an attorney in Thailand to assist with such an endeavor.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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23rd August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has apparently filed a memorandum noting un-Constitutional discrimination imposed pursuant to the provisions of section 3 of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further insight this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of Instinct Magazine, InstinctMagazine.com:

President Obama’s Department of Justice filed a memo in support of Edie Windsor’s case against the “Defense of Marriage Act” on Friday, marking the second time the Administration has officially stated its opposition to the discriminatory law.

Windsor, who was subjected to unjust federal taxes after her partner of 44-years passed away in 2007, filed a lawuit challenging DOMA. Last week, the DOJ added its weight of support to her claims.

Written in the memo:

Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates. Section 3 treats same-sex couples who are legally married under their states’ laws differently than similarly situated opposite-sex couples, denying them the status, recognition, and significant federal benefits otherwise available to married persons. Under well-established factors set forth by the Supreme Court to guide the determination whether heightened scrutiny applies to a classification that singles out a particular group, discrimination based on sexual orientation merits heightened scrutiny. Under this standard of review, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.

But the DOJ states in the brief:

-DOMA is discriminatory

-Sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic

-Anti-gay discrimination on religious grounds is unconstitutional

-LGBTs make good parents

-DOMA is harmful to children…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to learn more from this interesting article.

As DOMA is currently interpreted and enforced by the American government same sex married couples cannot obtain immigration and visa benefits such as a K-1 visa, a CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa. This current state of affairs may contravene notions of Full Faith and Credit as enshrined in the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, as there has yet to be a final resolution in the US Courts on the matter and as the United States Congress has yet to pass legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act or the Uniting American Families Act the ultimate fate of same sex bi-national couples in America remains to be seen.

In news related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN which includes the following jurisdictions: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that there are those noting the possibility of further ASEAN economic progress in the coming months and years. In order to provide further information on these issues it is necessary to quote directly from the website of the Bangkok Post, BangkokPost.com:

CIMB Thai Bank is developing an infrastructure base to cope with greater business opportunities offered by the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, said chief finance executive Narongchai Wongthanavimok. Its major shareholder, CIMB Group, expects the AEC will increase deals in the region. The group has a strong network across Asean that can support CIMBT’s expansion in the region. The bank developed a core banking system and improved its financial support to cope with international transactions, he said. The Malaysia-based CIMB Group has the largest branch network in Asean with 1,105 subsidiaries across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. It also has plans for branches in Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka. The financial group is helmed by people from the region and it reaches 81% of the Asean population, representing 89% of the region’s gross domestic product…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to view this insightful article in detail.

One could infer from the information above that the increasing economic integration of ASEAN and the emergence of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) may result in further economic benefits for the jurisdictions which comprise the organization and region. As noted above, the ramifications of these developments could have implications for economies such as those of India and Sri Lanka since the increasing business and trade occurring in Southeast Asia could “spillover” into those nations. Meanwhile, discussion pertaining to an ASEAN visa have yet to result in the creation of a tangible unified ASEAN travel document. How all of the developments noted above will evolve over time and the ultimate fate of ASEAN’s economy remains to be seen, but there is clearly a trend of increasing optimism regarding the future of Southeast Asia’s economy.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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20th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the chairman of the Malaysian Securities Commission was recently noted for comments regarding the future economic prospects of the ASEAN Community. In order to provide further information regarding these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Philippine Star, PhilStar.com

KUALA LUMPUR (Xinhua) – As global stock markets tumbled over the week in response to the US credit woes and the Europe debt crisis, Malaysia’s Securities Commission chairman, Zarinah Anwar holds a positive view that markets in Southeast Asia is strong enough to fend off the crisis…”Domestic demand is still strong and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) has to continue to look at its neighbours to pick up selective demands that may arise as a result of the economic woes in our traditional export markets,” she aded. ASEAN’s effort towards an integrated regional economy, with 2015 as a deadline, also contributed to ASEAN’s sound environment…Countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines are in the process of developing a cross-trading arrangement linking their trading system, giving investors direct access to other markets. Currently, Bursa Malaysia, Singapore Stock Exchange, Vietnam’s Hanoi Stock Exchange and Hochiminh Stock Exchange, the Indonesia Stock Exchange, the Philippines Stock Exchange Inc have already linked up on a website labelled as “ASEAN exchanges” which provides investors with access to check the top stocks in the region…[sic]

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this fascinating article in detail.

There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the future of the economies in the jurisdictions comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). In fact, there has even been discussion about a possibly unified ASEAN visa similar to that utilized by some of the members of Schengen area in Europe. As of yet, such discussion has yet to yield tangible results, but there are those who hope that further discourse on the topic may result in a unified visa of some kind coming into being. Hopefully, ASEAN continues along the path of economic growth to the benefit of all concerned.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American government appears to have noted the un-Constitutionality of certain provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in the US Courts. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of Metro Weekly, MetroWeekly.com:

Back on July 1, the Department of Justice took a big step in defining what its Feb. 23 decisionthat the federal definition of marriage found in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional would look like. In Karen Golinski’s case seeking equal health benefits for her wife, DOJ argued that the case should not be tossed out of court and should be allowed to proceed. On Aug. 19, DOJ went a step further, telling a judge in the Southern District of New York that Edith Windsor — who is seeking a refund of the more than $350,000 estate tax bill that she had to pay because her marriage to her deceased wife, Thea Spyer, was not recognized by the federal government — should be granted that refund because DOMA’s federal definition of marriage is unconstitutional…This is the first time the government stated affirmatively in court that a lawsuit requiring that Section 3 of DOMA be struck down as unconstitutional should succeed…[sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more about these developments in detail.

For those unfamiliar with the current immigration implications of DOMA it should be noted that said legislation precludes accordance of US visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, or the IR-1 visa to same sex couples even where the couple has entered into a same sex marriage in a American State jurisdiction which legalizes such unions. Currently, proposed legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Uniting American Families Act and the Respect for Marriage Act would rectify this current discrimination to one degree or another, but the ultimate fate of these bills remains to be seen.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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13th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision apparently found certain sections of the law enacting American health care reform to be unconstitutional. In order to provide further details this blogger is compelled  to quote directly from an article written by JENNIFER HABERKORN and posted to the website of Politico, Politico.com:

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that the health care reform law’s requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance is unconstitutional, a striking blow to the legislation that increases the odds the Supreme Court will choose to review the law…The 2-1 ruling marks the first time a judge appointed by a Democrat has voted to strike down the mandate. Judge Frank Hull, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, joined Chief Judge Joel Dubina, who was appointed by George H.W. Bush, to strike down the mandate…

The administration of this blog asks interested readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting and insightful article in its entirety.

Where governmental officials impose restrictions upon individual rights there may be an argument that said activity violates the United States Constitution. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether this case will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court and, if it is appealed; whether the Supreme Court will grant Certiorari. Even if the Supreme Court opts to review the matter it is difficult to speculate as to their decision since Supreme Court decisions should never be considered foregone conclusions. Hopefully the ultimate decision in the matter benefits all concerned while remaining in compliance the the law and principles of the United States Constitution.

In news pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community was noted for comments regarding ASEAN’s perspective on economic issues in the United States and Europe. To provide further elucidation on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website MYSinchew.com:

MANADO, Indonesia, Aug 12 (Bernama) — The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) learns a lot from debt crisis in Europe and the United States, looking ways to avoid such disaster, a high-ranking official at the Asean Secretariat told Xinhua news agency in an exclusive interview on the side lines of Asean Ministers Meeting in North Sulawesi provincial capital city of Manado. Deputy Secretary-General of Asean for Asean Economic Community Sundram Pushpanathan said that in term of the current situation in Europe, Asean has agreed to stay vigilant. “After experiencing two crises in the region (in the past), ASEAN recognizes the importance of coordination of policies and keeping each other informed, so that the region stays stable in the situation. And of course, I think that from the EU, we have learned a lot of lesson,” he said…[sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Many of the jurisdictions which comprise ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) have shown strong growth in economic terms. Meanwhile, further integration facilitated by trade is likely to lead to further economic advantages for the ASEAN region in the coming months and years. Discussion regarding a unified ASEAN visa could result in tangible benefits to business travelers and those wishing to streamline regional business operations.

For information about legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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9th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some media outlets are noting the comparatively positive aspects of the economies which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further insight to the reader it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:

JAKARTA—Investors and companies should look to Southeast Asia as they seek shelter from the world-wide markets meltdown, said the secretary general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Surin Pitsuwan noted that Southeast Asia is growing, it is nestled between India and China and it dealt with its own scary debt problems over a decade ago, making it an attractive alternative amid the global volatility triggered by concerns about how the U.S. and Europe will deal with their debt, as well as whether the U.S. economy will slide into recession again. “If they are looking for a safer haven, this is it,” he told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. “The Chinese and the Japanese that are worried will want to look around for better prospects for their investments and this is one of the hopeful regions…”

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this well written article by Eric Bellman in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the ASEAN region as a whole, and the component jurisdictions therein, have shown tremendous economic strength in recent months. Meanwhile, these jurisdictions are believed by some to have substantial economic potential in the future. There has been some discussion in recent weeks regarding the prospect of a possible ASEAN visa not unlike the Schengen system currently employed in Europe. Whether such a program will ultimately be implemented remains to be seen. In any case, there is certainly strong evidence to support the inference that the ASEAN jurisdictions will be increasingly important in a geopolitical and economic context moving forward.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality in the United States, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States appears to be refusing recognition of same sex marriages, even those legalized and/or solemnized in an American State jurisdiction. To provide further information this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of MSNBC at MSN.com:

For all those same-sex newlyweds in New York, Lawrence S. Jacobs has a message: Enjoy the Champagne and the honeymoon, but expect no gifts from the IRS. Jacobs, a lawyer in Washington, specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples — and in delivering the bad news that their unions aren’t legal in the eyes of the IRS, a policy that will cost them time and money during tax season.Same-sex couples in Washington, which last year legalized gay marriage, must fill out a federal return to make calculations required for their D.C. joint return. But then they must set that work aside and fill out separate federal returns because the IRS doesn’t regard their union as legal, Jacobs says. “You just spent decades getting your marriage recognized, and now the feds say, ‘No, you’re not,’” says Jacobs, who as a partner in a same-sex marriage has firsthand experience of the problem.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages interested readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to view this story in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the issue of same sex marriage has been a “hot button” issue in recent months as Senate Judiciary hearings have recently been held to scrutinize the Constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in light of proposed replacement legislation in the form of the bill colloquially referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). In an immigration context, the issue of federal recognition of same sex marriage is of substantial importance since agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and each and every US Embassy or US Consulate overseas is legally compelled to disregard a same sex marriage when adjudicating family visa matters pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. Therefore, bi-national same sex couples cannot obtain a travel document such as a K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or IR-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile, there is some hope that this current legal discrimination will be overcome as some US Courts have ruled that DOMA’s non-recognition, at least at the federal level, of State licensed same sex marriage is Un-Constitutional. Concurrently, the United States Bankruptcy Courts have begun allowing joint bankruptcies for same sex married couples.

It remains to be seen whether same sex couples will ever be accorded the same benefits as their different-sex counterparts in the eyes of American law, but the overall situation appears to be gradually improving.

For related information please see: Americans Resident Abroad.

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