Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘CR1 Visa’

6th December 2017

Khmer language translation of video found here: ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​រៀបការសំរាប់​ពលរដ្ឋ​កម្ពុជា​ទៅ​រស់​នៅ​សហរដ្ឋអាមេរិក

សួស្ដី! ខ្ញុំឈ្មោះ Benjamin Hart ។ ខ្ញុំគឺជាមេធាវី និងជានាយកគ្រប់គ្រងនៃក្រុមហ៊ុនIntegrity Legal នៅក្នុងទីក្រុងបាងកកនៃប្រទេសថៃ ។

នៅក្នុងវីដេអូថ្ងៃនេះ យើងនឹងពិភាក្សាអំពីទិដ្ឋាការប្រភេទរៀបការ​ ដោយផ្តោតទៅលើបរិបទនៃ​ស្ថាន​ទូត​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិកប្រចាំ​នៅ​រាជធានី​ភ្នំពេញនៃប្រទេសកម្ពុជា ។

ដូចដែលយើងបានលើកឡើងខាងលើ យើងស្ថិតនៅក្នុងទីក្រុងបាងកក ។ ខ្ញុំ​គឺ​ជា​មេធាវី​ជនជាតិ​អាមេរិកាំង ប៉ុន្តែ​ក្រុមហ៊ុន​របស់​យើង​គឺ​ស្ថិត​នៅ​ក្នុង​ទីក្រុង​បាងកក ។ ការ​ងារ​របស់​យើង​ជា​ច្រើន​ដែល​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ការ​ធ្វើ​អន្តោប្រវេសន៍​ទៅ​កាន់​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក គឺ​កើតឡើង​នៅ​ជុំវិញ​ទីក្រុង​បាង​កក និង​ការិយាល័យ​កុងស៊ុល​នៃស្ថាន​ទូត​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក ហើយ​ជាពិសេស​ ​សំណុំរឿង​របស់​យើង​ គឺ​នឹង​ត្រូវ​បញ្ចប់​នៅ​ក្នុង​កុងស៊ុល​នៃស្ថាន​ទូត​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិកនៅ​ទី​នេះ ។ ជាមួយ​គ្នា​នេះ​ យើង​ក៏​ទទួល​យក​សំណុំរឿង​ផ្សេងៗ​នៅ​ក្នុង​តំបន់​ផង​ដែរ ។ ខ្ញុំ​បាន​រត់ការ​សំណុំរឿង​ផ្សេងៗទាំង​នោះ​ញឹកញាប់​គួរសម​ដែរ ។ បើ​និយាយ​អោយ​ជាក់​លាក់ទៅ កម្ពុជា​គឺ​ប្រទេស​មួយ​ដែល​ខ្ញុំ​បាន​ធ្វើ​ការ​ជាមួយ​ញឹកញាប់​ជាង​គេ​នៅ​ក្នុង​តំបន់នេះ ។ ខ្ញុំ​គិត​ថា​ វា​អាស្រ័យ​ទៅ​លើ​ឆ្នាំផ្សេងគ្នា ។ ប៉ុន្តែ​យើង​បាន​ពិភាក្សា​អំពី ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​ K-1 នៅ​ក្នុង​វីដេអូ​ផ្សេង​មួយ​ទៀត ដែលជា​​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​គូដណ្ដឹង ។ នៅ​ក្នុង​វីដេអូ​នេះ យើង​នឹង​ពិភាក្សា​ជា​ពិសេស​អំពី​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទរៀប​ការ ។ ដូច្នេះ​ក្នុង​ពេល​នេះ ខ្ញុំ​នឹង​និយាយ​អំពីទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​ CR-1, IR-1 ឬ​ K-3 ។ មាន​វីដេអូ​មួយ​ផ្សេងទៀត​នៅ​ក្នុង​ទំព័រ​នេះ ដែល​និយាយ​ជា​ពិសេស​អំពីទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​ K-3 ហើយ​ខ្ញុំ​នឹងទុក​អោយ​វីដេអូ​នោះ​​ពិភាក្សា​លំអិត​ ឬ​ជាក់លាក់​អំពី​ទិដ្ឋាការ​នេះ​ ។ ទោះ​បី​ជា​យ៉ាង​ណា​ក៏​ដោយ ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​ CR-1 និង IR-1 ដែល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​ CR-1 គឺ​ប្រភេទ​អ្នក​រស់​នៅជា​អចិន្ត្រៃយ៍​ដោយ​មាន​លក្ខខ័ណ្ឌ និង IR-1 ជា​ប្រភេទ​សាច់ញាតិ​ផ្ទាល់ ហើយ​អ្នក​ដែល​ចូល​ទៅកាន់​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក​តាម​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​ IR-1 គឺ​ជា​អ្នក​រស់​នៅ​ជា​អចិន្ត្រៃយ៍​ដោយ​ស្របច្បាប់​ដោយ​មិនមាន​លក្ខខ័ណ្ឌ ដែល​ខុស​ពី​​អ្នក​រស់​នៅ​ជា​អចិន្ត្រៃយ៍​ដោយ​ស្របច្បាប់​តែមាន​លក្ខខ័ណ្ឌ ។ និយាយ​ជា​រួម គឺ​ខ្ញុំ​និយាយ​អំពី​ជន​បរទេស ដែល​បាន​រៀប​ការ ហើយ​ខ្ញុំ​និយាយ​ជា​ពិសេស​អំពីពលរដ្ឋ​ខ្មែរ ដែល​រៀបការ​ជាមួយ​នឹងពលរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក ។ ទោះ​បី​ជា​ការ​វិភាគ​នេះ​អាច​យក​ទៅអនុវត្ត​បានចំពោះ​​​​អ្នក​រស់​នៅ​ជា​អចិន្ត្រៃយ៍​ដោយ​ស្របច្បាប់​នៅ​ក្នុង​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក​ដែល​មាន​បំណង​ចង់​យក​ប្ដី​ឬ​ប្រពន្ធ​ជនជាតិ​ខ្មែរ​របស់​ពួក​គេទៅ​កាន់​​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិកក៏​ដោយ​ ក៏​ប៉ុន្តែ​ខ្ញុំ​នឹង​ព្យាយាម​និយាយតែ​​អំពី​ពលរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក ដែល​មាន​បំណង​ចង់​យក​ប្ដី​ឬ​ប្រពន្ធ​ជនជាតិ​ខ្មែរ​របស់​ពួក​គេទៅ​កាន់​​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិកតែ​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។

ដូចនេះ អ្វី​ដែល​ត្រូវ​គិត​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ពលរដ្ឋ​ខ្មែរ​ដែល​ចង់​ដាក់​ពាក្យ​សុំ​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​រៀបការដើម្បី​ទៅ​រស់​នៅ​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក គឺ​ថា​វា​គឺ​ជា​ដំណើរ​ការ​ដែល​មាន​៣​ផ្នែក ដែល​អ្នក​ត្រូវ​តែ​ចាប់​ផ្ដើម​ដោយ​រត់ការ​ដាក់​ពាក្យ​នៅ​​ក្រសួង​សន្តិសុខ​មាតុភូមិ​ និង​ភ្នាក់ងារ​សេវាអន្តោប្រវេសន៍ និង​ពលរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក ។ បន្ទាប់​មក​ទៀត អ្នក​ត្រូវ​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​ជាមួយ​នឹង​មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិ ដែល​នៅ​ក្នុង​បរិបទ​ទិដ្ឋាការ​អន្តោប្រវេសន៍ប្រភេទ​ប្ដីឬ​ប្រពន្ធ​ មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិមាន​តួនាទី​ផ្សេងពីតួនាទីរបស់​ខ្លួន​ពាក់​ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ទិដ្ឋាការ​​ប្រភេទ K គឺ​ប្រភេទ K-1 និង K-3 ។ នៅ​ក្នុង​សំណុំ​រឿង​សុំ​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ K-1 និង K-3 ដែល​ក្នុង​ករណី​ទាំង​នោះ​​​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ K-3 ត្រូវ​បាន​សំរេច​យល់​ព្រម នោះ​មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិគ្រាន់​តែ​ដើរ​តួ​ជា​ទី​កន្លែង​លាង​សំអាត​ឯកសារ ឬ​កន្លែង​បញ្ជូន​ឯកសារ ដើម្បី​ធានា​អោយ​ប្រាកដ​ថា​សំណុំ​រឿង​នោះ​ចាក​ចេញ​ពី​ភ្នាក់ងារ USCIS ទៅ​កាន់​ស្ថានទូត​ក្រៅ​ប្រទេស​ដែល​សមស្រប ។ ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ទិដ្ឋាការអន្តោប្រវេសន៍​ទៅ​រស់​នៅ​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក វិសាលភាព​នៃ​ការ​ងារ​របស់​មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិគឺ​មាន​លក្ខណៈ​ទូលំទូលាយ ។​ ពួក​គេ​ធ្វើ​ការ​ប្រមូល​ឯកសារ​ជា​ច្រើន ពួក​គេ​នឹង​ទាក់​ទង​ទៅ​អ្នក​ដាក់​ពាក្យ​ប្រសិន​បើ​ពួក​គេមាន​អារម្មណ៍​ថា​ខ្វះឯកសារ​ណាមួយ ឬ​ពួកគេ​មាន​អារម្មណ៍​ថាត្រូវ​ការ​ពត៌មាន​ចាំបាច់​បន្ថែម​ទៀត ។ នៅ​ក្នុង​វីដេអូ​មួយ​ផ្សេង​ទៀត​នៅ​ក្នុង​ទំព័រ​នេះ​យើង​បាន​ពិភាក្សាអំពីអ្វី​ដែល​គេ​ហៅ​ថា និតិវិធី​នៃ​ការ​ត្រួតពិនិត្យ​ដ៏​ខ្លាំង​បំផុត​របស់​រដ្ឋបាល​ប្រធានាធិបតី​ Trump ក្នុង​ពេល​ឥឡូវ​នេះ ។ ខ្ញុំ​មិន​ដឹង​ដែរ ហើយ​​ខ្ញុំក៏​​មិន​ទាន់​បាន​ឃើញ​ការ​​ត្រួតពិនិត្យ​ដ៏​ខ្លាំង​បំផុត​ណាមួយ​ត្រូវ​​បានធ្វើ​ឡើង​នៅ​មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិនៅ​ឡើយ​ទេ ប៉ុន្តែ​ខ្ញុំ​អាច​មើល​ឃើញ​ថា​នៅ​ក្នុង​ពេល​ណា​មួយ​នៅ​​ថ្ងៃ​អនាគត មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិ​នឹង​អនុវត្ត​និតិវិធី​នៃ​ការ​ត្រួតពិនិត្យ​ដ៏ខ្លាំង​បំផុតនេះ ។ ទោះ​បី​ជា​យ៉ាង​ណា​ក្ដី ពួក​គេ​មាន​តួនាទី​យ៉ាង​សកម្មក្នុង​សំណុំ​រឿង​ទិដ្ឋាការ​អន្តោប្រវេសន៍ ។ នៅពេ​ល​ដែល​មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិយល់​ថា​ឯកសារ​មាន​គ្រប់​គ្រាន់​ហើយ ពួកគេ​នឹង​បន្តដំណើរ​ការ​សំណុំរឿង​ទៅ​កាន់​ស្ថានទូតសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិកប្រចាំនៅរាជធានីភ្នំពេញ ហើយ​ថ្ងៃ​សំភាស​នឹង​ត្រូវ​កំណត់​នៅ​ស្ថានទូត ។ នៅ​ពេល​សំភាស មាន​រឿង​ជា​ច្រើន​ដែល​អាច​កើត​ឡើង ដែល​មាន​ដូច​ជា​អ្វី​ដែល​គេ​ហៅ​ថាសំណើ 221-G ដើម្បី​ស្នើសុំ​អោយ​បេក្ខជន​ដាក់​ឯកសារ​បន្ថែម ដែល​មន្ត្រី​ដែល​ធ្វើ​ការ​សំភាស​ចង់​ឃើញ​ពាក់​ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ករណី​នោះ ។ ជា​ទូទៅ បន្ទាប់​ពី​មាន​ការ​ត្រួត​ពិនិត្យ​ពីមជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិហើយ ការ​ស្នើ​សុំ​ឯកសារ​បន្ថែម​នេះ​មិន​សូវ​ជា​មាន​ញឹក​ញាប់​ទេ ប៉ុន្តែ​វា​អាច​កើតឡើង​បាន ។ ខ្ញុំមិន​គួរ​និយាយ​ថា​វា​កំរ​កើត​ឡើង​នោះ​ទេ ។ នៅ​ក្នុង​ករណី​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ​ K-1 វា​អាច​កើត​ឡើង​ជា​ញឹកញាប់​ ដោយ​សារ​តែ​ស្ថានភាព​នីមួយៗ​គឺ​ផ្សេងៗគ្នា ។ ទិដ្ឋាការប្រភេទ​រៀបការ ហាក់​ដូច​ជា​មាន​ភាព​ច្បាស់​លាស់ និង​ងាយ​យល់ ហើយ​ខ្ញុំ​គិត​ថា​វា​ជា​រឿង​ដែល​ត្រឹម​ត្រូវ​ក្នុង​ការ​មើល​ទៅ​លើ​ករណី​នេះ​តាម​បែប​​ហ្នឹង ។ ប៉ុន្តែ​អ្វី​ដែល​ខ្ញុំ​ចង់​និយាយ​នៅ​ពេល​នេះ​គឺថា មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិនឹង​កំណត់​ថ្ងៃ​សំភាស ហើយ​កាល​កំណត់​នោះ​នឹង​ត្រូវ​បញ្ជូន​ទៅ កាន់​ស្ថានទូត​នៅ​រាជធានី​ភ្នំពេញ បន្ទាប់​មក​អ្នក​ត្រូវ​តែ​ចូល​សំភាស ។ ជា​រឿយៗ យើង​ធ្វើ​ការ​ត្រៀម​សំភាស​ជាមួយ​អតិថិជន​របស់​យើង ដើម្បី​អោយ​ពួកគេ​មាន​ការ​យល់​នូវ​អ្វី​ដែល​មន្ត្រី​កុងស៊ុល អាច​នឹង​ចង់ដឹង​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ពាក្យ​សុំ ឬ​ពាក់​ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ចំណុច​ជាក់លាក់​ណា​មួយ​នៃ​អ្នក​ដែល​ដាក់​ពាក្យ​សុំ ។​ រឿង​ផ្សេង​ទៀត​ដែល​យើង​ធ្វើ​គឺ​ផ្ដល់​នូវ​ការ​យល់​ដឹង​ខ្លះៗ​ពាក់​ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​និតិវិធី​ដែល​សំណុំ​រឿង​នឹង​ត្រូវ​ដំណើរ​ការ​នៅ​ស្ថាន​ទូត ។

ជា​រួម​ ខ្ញុំ​គិត​ថា​វិធីមើល​ទៅ​លើ​ដំណើរ​ការ​ទូទៅ​នៃ​ការ​ដាក់​ពាក្យ​សុំ​ទិដ្ឋាការអន្តោប្រវេសន៍​ទៅរស់​នៅ​សហរដ្ឋអាមេរិក​គឺដូចនេះ៖ វា​ចាប់​ផ្ដើម​នៅ​ក្រសួង​សន្តិសុខមាតុភូមិនៃ​សហរដ្ឋ​អាមេរិក ហើយ​បន្ត​ទៅ​មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិដែល​ខុសពី​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ប្រភេទ K មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ទិដ្ឋាការ​ជាតិ​ មាន​តួនាទី​យ៉ាង​សកម្ម​ក្នុង​ដំណើរ​ការ​នេះ ហើយ​បន្ទាប់​មក​វា​នឹង​ត្រូវ​បញ្ជូន​ទៅ​កាន់​ស្ថានទូតសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិកប្រចាំនៅរាជធានីភ្នំពេញ ។ នៅ​ពេល​នោះ ការ​សំភាស​នឹង​ត្រូវ​ធ្វើ​ឡើង ហើយ​ឯកសារ​បន្ថែម​ផ្សេងៗ​អាច​នឹង​ត្រូវ​ស្នើសុំ ដែល​អ្នក​នឹង​ត្រូវ​ ​រក​ឯកសារ​ដើម្បី​ដាក់​ជូន​ទៅ​កុងស៊ុលមុនពេល​ដែល​ ទិដ្ឋាការ​អាច​នឹង​ត្រូវ​សំរេច​យល់​ព្រមចេញ​អោយ​អ្នកនៅ​ចុង​បញ្ចប់ ។

more Comments: 04

21st November 2017

The following is a transcript of a video which can be found here: US Marriage Visa Cambodia

In this video today, we are going to be discussing marriage visas in the specific context of the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

As you can see from the aforementioned preamble to this video, we are based here in Bangkok. I am an American attorney but the firm is based here in Bangkok. The bulk of our work in US immigration matters does revolve around Bangkok and the Consular section of the US Embassy here primarily our cases that are going to end up at the US Consular Section here. That being said, we do take other cases in the region, I do deal with a fair number of these rather frequently. Cambodia is one I deal with probably more often than any other country in the region if I ‘m being very specific. It kind of depends on the year, I guess. But that being said, the K-1, we discussed specifically in another video, that’s a fiancée visa. In this video, we are discussing US marriage visas specifically. So for now, I’m talking about the CR-1, IR-1 or the K-3 visa. There’s another video on this channel which goes specifically into the K-3 visa and I am going to sort of leave it to that video to discuss that directly if there’s specific things to think about with respect to the K-3. But suffice it to say, the CR-1 and the IR-1, CR-1 is Conditional Resident category, IR-1 is Immediate Relative and the person that enters on an IR-1 enters in unconditional lawful permanent residence as opposed to conditional lawful permanent residence to the United States. Generally speaking, I am talking about foreign nationals married, and I am specifically talking about Khmer, Cambodian Nationals married to an American citizen. Although some of this analysis could apply to a lawful permanent resident in the United States trying to bring their Cambodian spouse over as well but I’m going to try to keep it more on point with respect to an American citizen, seeking to bring a Cambodian female or male spouse to the United States.

So the thing to think about with respect to Cambodian nationals applying for marriage visa benefits to the US, it’s kind of a 3 part process in so far as you have to initially deal with the Department of Homeland Security and their United States Citizenship and Immigration Service  apparatus. Then you have got to go ahead and deal with the National Visa Center which in the context of Immigrant Spousal Visas, the National Visa Center is a very different animal than when you compare it to the K categories, the K-1 and the K-3. In the K-1 and the K-3 cases, in those cases where the K-3 gets processed through, in a way NVC just acts as a sort of clearing house or sort of a postal hub, if you will, to make certain that the case gets from USCIS over to the correct embassy abroad. With respect to US Immigrant visas the NVC’s job is much more broad in scope, and depth for that matter. They do a lot of document collection, they will do follow ups if they feel there’s a document deficiency or they feel that more information is necessary. In another video on this channel we discussed the so called extreme vetting protocols of the Trump Administration right now. I don’t know, specifically I haven’t seen anything with extreme vetting happen yet at NVC but I can see theoretically, sometime in the future, extreme vetting protocols may pertain directly to NVC at some point as well.  But that being said, they have a much more active role in the immigrant visa cases.  Once they are satisfied documentarily at National Visa Center, they will then go ahead and process the case out over to the embassy in Phnom Penh and an interview date will be set at the embassy. At the interview, things can happen like what are called the 221-G request for further documentation where basically the interviewing officer determines that they would like to see something more with respect to the case. Generally speaking, after an NVC vetting, this isn’t very frequent, but it does happen. I shouldn’t say that it’s infrequent. In K-1s, it can happen quite frequently because the circumstances are different. Marriage visas, the cases tend to be more clear-cut, I guess is the right way to look at it.  But that being said, basically the point I want to get across is, NVC will set that interview appointment, it will get over to the embassy in Phnom Penh and you have got to get in for an interview. We oftentimes do an interview prep with our clients so that they have an understanding, generally speaking, what the officer is probably going to want to know regarding the application or regarding the specifics of the person making the application and the other thing is we provide some insight with respect to the protocols for how the case is going to be taken in and dealt with at the post.

So to sort of sum up, I think the way to look at the overall process of applying for a US immigrant is this: it starts in the United States with the Department of Homeland Security, it moves over to the NVC which unlike the K categories, the NVC has a very active role in this process and then finally, it’s going to end up at the US Embassy at Phnom Penh and at that point the interview is going to take place and it’s possible more documentation could be requested and you may have to deal with a follow on submission before hopefully, the visa is ultimately approved.

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27th January 2014

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that Vietnam has legalized same sex wedding ceremonies performed in that Southeast Asian nation. Prior to this announcement it was illegal for same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony performed in Vietnam and also illegal for same sex couples to cohabit without fear of government reprisal. It should be noted that these recent measures only allow same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony, notwithstanding the fact that such ceremonies will have no legal recognition in Vietnam (or elsewhere). However, many LGBT rights activists believe that this is a significant step towards eventual marriage equality in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Thailand the struggle still continues to see the full marriage equality. Unlike Vietnam, Thailand has allowed same sex marriage ceremonies within their jurisdiction for some time. It should also be noted that Thailand is one of the most tolerant nations in Southeast Asia when it comes to LGBT issues. However, the law in Thailand still stipulates that a legally recognized marriage is a union between one man and one woman. There are many activists in the Kingdom hoping to change these rules in order to allow same sex couples the right to get married. With recent political turmoil in the Kingdom and uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections it remains to be seen whether any change to the current law will speedily occur, but some believe that the tolerant attitude in Thailand will lead to changes in the law especially in light of the fact that recent proposals in the Thai parliament would, if adopted, allow same sex couples to legalize their marriages.

The issue of same sex marriage legalization is of concern to many same-sex bi-national couples since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision granting federal recognition of same sex unions. One result of this decision was that same sex couples and spouses are now eligible to receive United States visa benefits in the same manner as different sex couples. Therefore, visas such as the CR-1 visa and IR-1 visa are now available to same sex couples who are already married. Although this may not be a highly sought after category in Southeast Asia at this time as no jurisdiction in the region currently recognizes same sex marriage, it could be of substantial importance in coming years as laws may be amended to equalize marriage laws for the LGBT community. Meanwhile, officials at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as well as the Department of State have noted that same sex couples, where one of the partners is American, who maintain a bona fide intention to marry in the USA may be eligible for the K-1 visa (more commonly referred to as a fiance visa). This type of visa allows the foreign fiance of an American citizen to travel to the United States for 90 days for the express purpose of getting married and filing for adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Residence.

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13th October 2013

A frequently asked question from those wishing to sponsor a foreign fiance or spouse for a US Fiance Visa or US Marriage Visa is: do I make enough income to act as a sponsor for my loved one? The answer to this question involves the affidavit of support which is a primary component of the visa application process. When a fiance or spouse visa application is adjudicated by a Consular Officer at a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas part of the application includes either and I-134 or I-864 affidavit of support. This document allows the adjudicating Consular officer to make a determination as to whether or not the US Citizen spouse or fiance has the income necessary to support their fiance or spouse in the United States. This affidavit also acts as a sort of third party beneficiary contract between the American spouse and the United States government in order to make certain that the American spouse pays the US government for any means tested benefits that the foreign spouse may acquire while in the USA.

When determining whether or not an American spouse or fiance can support a foreign spouse or fiance the adjudicating officer will first look to the American’s adjusted annual income on his or her income tax return. In order to meet the minimum eligibility requirements the American spouse or fiance must earn 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for a family of their size. The current federal poverty guidelines for the 48 contiguous States as well as Alaska and Hawaii can be found below (as quoted from the official website of Housing and Human Services):

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES
AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,020 for each additional person.
1 $11,490
2 15,510
3 19,530
4 23,550
5 27,570
6 31,590
7 35,610
8 39,630

 

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR ALASKA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,030 for each additional person.
1 $14,350
2 19,380
3 24,410
4 29,440
5 34,470
6 39,500
7 44,530
8 49,560

 

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR HAWAII
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,620 for each additional person.
1 $13,230
2 17,850
3 22,470
4 27,090
5 31,710
6 36,330
7 40,950
8 45,570

SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 16, January 24, 2013, pp. 5182-5183

Those wishing to ascertain whether they are eligible to sponsor their foreign fiance or spouse should use the above figures to determine 125% of the poverty guidelines for a family of their size (including the foreign family member(s)). It should be noted that active duty members of the United States Armed Forces must only meet 100% of the federal poverty guidelines in order to be eligible to sponsor a foreign fiance or spouse. Those unable to meet the 125% income level noted above may be able to use assets to offset the difference between their level of income and the 125% requirement. For affidavit of support purposes, a prospective sponsor of a Thai fiancee or wife can make up the difference in income between what is actually earned and what is legally required by providing evidence of assets which equal 5 times the difference between what a prospective sponsor earns and the level required by law. Thus, if a prospective sponsor fall short of the 125% level by 5,000 USD, then the prospective sponsor can show proof of assets in the amount of 25,000 USD in order to overcome the disparity.

It may also be possible to use the income and assets of a joint sponsor if the person petitioning for the foreign national’s visa is unable to overcome the income and asset requirements. It should be noted that only the I-864 affidavit of support (that used in cases involving the application for a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa) may utilize a joint sponsor. Those seeking a K-1 visa are not eligible to use a joint sponsor, therefore, only the American Citizen fiance’s income and assets will be adjudicated during the K1 visa application process. In the past, Consular Officers at the US Embassy in Bangkok were known to accept joint sponsors in K-1 visa application adjudications. However, as of the time of this writing that practice has ceased.

Those interested in learning more on these topics are encouraged to click on the following link: Affidavit of Support.

more Comments: 04

17th September 2013

Since the relatively recent decision from the United States Supreme Court known colloquially as the Windsor decision, there have been a few lingering questions from members of the LGBT community regarding the United States immigration options now available for same sex couples.

Due to section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the past it was not possible for same sex married couples (even those with a valid marriage in one of those American jurisdictions permitting same sex marriage) to receive federal benefits based upon their marriages. This lack of federal recognition precluded the possibility of a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident sponsoring a foreign spouse or fiance for a US marriage visa or a US fiance visa. With the high Court’s pronouncement that same sex marriage should be accorded the same recognition as different sex marriage this all changed.

Section 3 of DOMA reads as follows:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

From the moment the Supreme Court ruled this section unConstitutional, the Federal government was instantly required to allot the same benefits to lawfully married same sex and LGBT couples as would be allotted to different sex couples in similar circumstances. What does this mean from an immigration standpoint? LGBT and same sex couples are now permitted to petition and apply for the same types of visas as their different sex counterparts. Therefore, a couple of the same sex who is already married in the U.S. or a foreign jurisdiction recognizing such unions may now apply for a U.S. marriage visa such as the CR1 visa, the IR1 visa, or the K3 visa. Furthermore, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has made it clear that they will also adjudicate K1 Visa petitions (petitions for immigration benefits for foreign fiances of U.S. Citizens) for same sex couples in the same way that such petitions are adjudicated for different sex couples.

The Catch Section 2

One issue that has been of concern for experts studying this issue is the practical impact of the Court’s seeming unwillingness to speak to the issue of the Constitutionality of Section 2 of DOMA. Section 2 of DOMA reads as follows:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

The fact that Section 2 of DOMA has not been overturned means that same sex couples may NOT receive the same STATE benefits as their different sex counterparts depending upon the local laws of the couples’ State of residence and notwithstanding the fact that the couple may have a perfectly legal marriage in one of those U.S. jurisdictions allowing such marriages. An example of how this could work in a practical sense would be a situation where the same sex couple is married legally in one state, but resides in a state which forbids same sex unions, a spouse having state retirement benefits may not be able to fully pass on their retirement benefits to their same sex spouse. How would this work in an immigration context? USCIS and the Department of State have already issued answers to a series of frequently asked questions regarding LGBT immigration. On the question of US fiance visas, the USCIS as well as the State Department have noted that so long as the couple has a bona fide intention to celebrate their marriage in one of those states which permit such unions then the immigration petition and application will be adjudicated no differently than a similarly situation petition or application for a different-sex couple.

One issue which may be concerning for same sex partners in the Kingdom of Thailand arises from the fact that, at present, same sex marriage is not legal under Thai law and therefore authorities in Thailand will not register a marriage to two people of the same sex. That stated, there is currently legislation being drafted to allow same sex marriage in Thailand. However, as of the time of this writing it is not clear whether the Thai government will ultimately pass said legislation. As there is not another jurisdiction in the region which recognizes same sex unions, it may not be feasible for same sex partners to marry prior to submitting a US marriage visa petition. This leaves many same sex Thai-American couples in a position where their only option is to apply for a K-1 fiance visa and marry in the United States.

For related information, please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

more Comments: 04

23rd August 2013

The administration of this blog routinely posts the estimated processing times of the various service centers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The following was quoted directly from the official USCIS website:

Field Office Processing Dates for California Service Center as of: June 30, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker E – Treaty traders and investors 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad April 16, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 16, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. April 16, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2A – Temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation 5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional 2 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 November 15, 2011
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 February 4, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 October 4, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 21, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister February 11, 2010
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Religious workers 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications May 30, 2012
I-526 Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States March 16, 2012
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications 2.5 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement based on exceptional hardship or persecution 4 Months
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents 6 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition 3 Months
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) May 16, 2012
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) based on PL107-273 September 12, 1997
Field Office Processing Dates for Nebraska Service Center as of: June 30, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Refugee or asylee applying for a refugee travel document 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Permanent resident applying for a re-entry permit 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) dependent applying for advance parole 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) principal applying for advance parole 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability January 2, 2013
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager February 2, 2013
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses 4 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Indochinese Adjustment Act 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on grant of asylum more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on refugee admission more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition Petition for accompanying family members of a refugee or an asylee 5 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved asylum application [(a)(5)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] June 8, 2013
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition February 15, 2013
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Texas Service Center as of: June 30, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses 4 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants April 16, 2011
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on grant of asylum more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition Petition for accompanying family members of a refugee or an asylee 5 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition January 20, 2013
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Vermont Service Center as of: June 30, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 April 2, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad April 10, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 10, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. April 10, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation 5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional 2 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 June 4, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 October 22, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 16, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 9, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 March 19, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister March 20, 2011
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) June 4, 2012
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications November 19, 2012
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications April 10, 2013
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement based on exceptional hardship or persecution 4 Months
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents 6 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition March 20, 2013
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement 3.5 Months
I-90A Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement for Special Agricultral Workers (SAW) 3.5 Months
I-914 Application for T Non-immigrant Status Provide temporary immigration benefits to an alien who is a victim of trafficking in persons, and immediate family 4 Months
I-918 Petition for U Non-immigrant Status Provide temporary immigration benefits to an alien who is a victim of qualifying criminal activity, and their qualifying family May 28, 2012

Those reading these estimates should bear in mind that these estimates do not necessarily provide an accurate estimate of the overall US visa process. Those seeking a United States visa from outside the United States will likely be required to undergo Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. Furthermore, before an immigration petition even reaches a US Embassy overseas the file must first be processed by the National Visa Center. All of these facts are likely to cause the overall US visa process to be significantly longer than the time it takes for USCIS to merely adjudicate an immigration petition.

more Comments: 04

8th August 2013

Many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) couples have questions regarding United States Immigration in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s finding in the Windsor case that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unConstitutional. Both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of State have previously issued answers to frequently asked questions on this topic. In a previous posting on this blog, USCIS’s answers to these FAQs were discussed. However, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the USCIS has issued further answers to such FAQs to further clarify their position on this issue. To quote directly from these new answers to FAQs on the official website of the USCIS:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa? NEW
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may petition for an immigrant spouse visa such as an IR1 visa, CR1 visa, or by extension a K3 visa (as the K-3 visa petition is a supplementary petition based upon the initial petition for an immigrant visa). Furthermore, when applying for the visa at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad during the Consular Processing phase of the US immigration process the application will be viewed in the same way as an application based upon a different-sex marriage. Also, adjustment of status applications for the same sex spouse of a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident will be adjudicated in the same manner as a similar application for a different-sex spouse.

A question for many same sex and LGBT couples concerns the State of the couple’s residence versus the State of marriage since there are only a few States which allow such marriages while other states either do not recognize such unions or specifically forbid such unions. USCIS issued further clarification on this issue in their recently updated FAQ section:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state or a foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse? NEW
A3: Yes. As a general matter, the law of the place where the marriage was celebrated determines whether the marriage is legally valid for immigration purposes.  Just as USCIS applies all relevant laws to determine the validity of an opposite-sex marriage, we will apply all relevant laws to determine the validity of a same-sex marriage..

There may be some limited circumstances where the law of the couple’s residence may determine their legal standing on certain issues. However, as can be seen from the above quoted FAQ, the USCIS appears to primarily defer to the law of the State which legalized the marriage when determining whether the couple is eligible for immigration benefits.

Finally, this blogger does not recall the USCIS previously answering questions regarding immigration petitions which were filed with USCIS prior to the Supreme Court’s holding that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution. The following section of USCIS’s recently expanded FAQ section would appear to respond to this inquiry:

Q5. My Form I-130, or other petition or application, was previously denied solely because of DOMA.  What should I do?
A5.  USCIS will reopen those petitions or applications that were denied solely because of DOMA section 3.  If such a case is known to us or brought to our attention, USCIS will reconsider its prior decision, as well as reopen associated applications to the extent they were also denied as a result of the denial of the Form I-130 (such as concurrently filed Forms I-485).

  • USCIS will make a concerted effort to identify denials of I-130 petitions that occurred on the basis of DOMA section 3 after February 23, 2011.  USCIS will also make a concerted effort to notify you (the petitioner), at your last known address, of the reopening and request updated information in support of your petition.
  • To alert USCIS of an I-130 petition that you believe falls within this category, USCIS recommends that you send an e-mail from an account that can receive replies to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov stating that you have a pending petition.  USCIS will reply to that message with follow-up questions as necessary to update your petition for processing.  (DHS has sought to keep track of DOMA denials that occurred after the President determined not to defend Section 3 of DOMA on February 23, 2011, although to ensure that DHS is aware of your denial, please feel free to alert USCIS if you believe your application falls within this category.)
  • For denials of I-130 petitions that occurred prior to February 23, 2011, you must notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, in order for USCIS to act on its own to reopen your I-130 petition.  Please notify USCIS by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov and noting that you believe that your petition was denied on the basis of DOMA section 3.

Once your I-130 petition is reopened, it will be considered anew—without regard to DOMA section 3—based upon the information previously submitted and any new information provided.   USCIS will also concurrently reopen associated applications as may be necessary to the extent they also were denied as a result of the denial of the I-130 petition (such as concurrently filed Form I-485 applications).

Additionally, if your work authorization was denied or revoked based upon the denial of the Form I-485, the denial or revocation will be concurrently reconsidered, and a new Employment Authorization Document issued, to the extent necessary.  If a decision cannot be rendered immediately on a reopened adjustment of status application, USCIS will either (1) immediately process any pending or denied application for employment authorization or (2) reopen and approve any previously revoked application for employment authorization.  If USCIS has already obtained the applicant’s biometric information at an Application Support Center (ASC), a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be produced and delivered without any further action by the applicant.  In cases where USCIS has not yet obtained the required biometric information, the applicant will be scheduled for an ASC appointment.

  • If another type of petition or application (other than an I-130 petition or associated application) was denied based solely upon DOMA section 3, please notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov as directed above.  USCIS will promptly consider whether reopening of that petition or application is appropriate under the law and the circumstances presented.

No fee will be required to request USCIS to consider reopening your petition or application pursuant to this procedure.  In the alternative to this procedure, you may file a new petition or application to the extent provided by law and according to the form instructions including payment of applicable fees as directed.

Clearly, USCIS is committed to implementing policies and regulations based upon the US Supreme Court’s recent finding. By reopening previously denied petitions and taking steps to provide same sex couples with the same standing as different-sex couples in future immigration adjudications this agency is making great strides toward equalizing the US family immigration process for families of all kinds.

To review the recently released information on this topic from the Department of State please see: Consular Processing.

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7th August 2013

The administration of this blog routinely posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Embassies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region to provide a single source for such information to Americans who frequently travel in the region as well as foreign nationals who may be seeking services at such posts. The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Vientiane, Laos:


Date Day Holiday
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day
January 21 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
February 18 Monday Presidents’ Day
March 8 Friday International Women’s Day
April 15-17 Monday – Wednesday Lao New Year
May 1 Wednesday Lao Labor Day
May 27 Monday Memorial Day
July 4 Thursday Independence Day
September 2 Monday Labor Day
October 14 Monday Columbus Day
October 21 Monday Boat Racing Festival
November 11 Monday Veteran’s Day
November 18 Monday That Luang Festival
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day
December 2 Monday Lao National Day
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day

Substitution days. Please note: According to the prevailing practice in Laos, official holidays which fall on Saturday will be observed on the preceding Friday and Sunday on the following Monday.

Each year, a significant number of Americans travel to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad in order to request services such as Passport renewal, additional visa pages, notarization, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA), and much more. Those wishing to avail themselves of these services are encouraged to contact American Citizen Services at the US Embassy or US Consulate concerned. In most cases, Americans are well-advised to make an appointment prior to traveling to the post as some Embassies and Consulates require a prior appointment while others can process a request much more quickly if an appointment has been made before arrival at the post.

Foreign nationals, especially those wishing to apply for a US visa, are also occasionally in need of access to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. In circumstances where a US visa is being sought it is generally a requirement that the foreign national schedule an appointment for visa interview prior to traveling to the post. Applicants for a US Tourist Visa (B-2 visa), US Business Visa (B-1 visa), US Student Visa (F-1 visa), or an Exchange Worker Visa (J-1 visa) are usually interviewed by a Consular Officer with a Non-immigrant visa unit. Meanwhile, those seeking an IR-1 visa (immigrant relative visa), CR-1 visa (conditional immigrant visa for an immigrant relative), K-3 visa (non-immigrant spouse visa), or a K-1 visa (US fiance visa for the fiance or fiancee of an American Citizen) are usually required to undergo an interview before a Consular Officer under the Immigrant Visa Section of the Consular Post.

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5th August 2013

In a previous posting on this blog, the recently released answers from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to frequently asked questions regarding same sex immigration petitions were analyzed. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American State Department has released a similar set of answers to FAQs regarding this topic.  To quote directly from the official website of the U.S. State Separtment:

Q: How does the Supreme Court’s Windsor v. United States decision impact immigration law?

A: The Supreme Court has found section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Effective immediately, U.S. embassies and consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses.   This means that the same sex spouse of a visa applicant coming to the U.S. for any purpose – including work, study, international exchange or as a legal immigrant – will be eligible for a derivative visa.  Likewise, stepchildren acquired through same sex marriages can also qualify as beneficiaries or for derivative status. [italics added]

As previously discussed on this blog, the fact that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been found unConstitutional by the United States Supreme Court means that an American Citizen, or lawful permant resident, can now petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for imigration benefits for a same sex spouse (or fiance, so long as the petitioner is an American Citizen). However, the US State Department, which is responsible for Consular Processing of visa applications, had yet to make specific comments regarding adjudication of visa application based upon a same sex marriage (or fiance) immigration petition. As can be seen from above, the Department of State has brought their procedures into line with the recent Supreme Court decision.

Of interest to many same sex couples is the issue of jurisdiction as same sex marriages are only recognized by a limited number of US States. The following portion of the aforementioned FAQ focuses on this point:

Q: Do we have to live or intend to live in a state in which same sex marriage is legal in order to qualify for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa?

A: No. If your marriage is valid in the jurisdiction (U.S. state or foreign country) where it took place, it is valid for immigration purposes.  For more information, please review the following page on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) website. [italics added]

As there are a limited umber of U.S. jurisdictions which recognize and solemnize same sex marriage as well as a number of States in which such marriages are forbade, there have been questions among legal professionals as well as same sex couples regarding whether the U.S. Immigration officers and Consular Officers at various U.S. posts abroad would fail to approve visa applications and immigration petitions based upon the fact that an LGBT couple may be married in one State and residing in another. In a previous posting on this blog, the USCIS’s answer to this question rested on the “law of the place where the marriage took place“. Basically, USCIS appears willing to approve an otherwise valid immigration petition based upon a same sex marriage if the same sex marriage is performed in a State which allows such unions. Apparently, the Department of State has set a similar policy, thereby allowing an otherwise valid same sex marriage visa application, based upon an USCIS-approved immigration petition, to be approved. However, there are some jurisdictions around the world which may recognize same-sex unions, but do not necessarily categorize them as “marriages”. In those circumstances the Department of State had the following to say:

Q: I am in a civil union or domestic partnership; will this be treated the same as a marriage?

A: At this time, only a relationship legally considered to be a marriage in the jurisdiction where it took place establishes eligibility as a spouse for  immigration purposes. [italics added]

Although the above answer appears to be rather straightforward, there is one question, of possibly more significance, that many unmarried same sex couples may be pondering:

Q: I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  We cannot marry in my fiancé’s country. What are our options? Can we apply for a fiancé K visa?

A: You may file a Form I-129F and apply for a fiancé(e) (K) visa.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for the purpose of marriage.  For information on adjusting status, please review the following page on USCIS’s website:

Since same sex unmarried couples are now permitted to apply for a K-1 visa, it would now appear possible for the LGBT fiance of an American Citizen to apply for a US fiance visa with the intention of marrying in one of those jurisdictions in the United States which recognize same sex marriages.

Another issue which may arise in the context of same sex marriage is the issue of non-immigrant visas (also known as NIVs). These are visa categories which do not confer immigrant status upon those who use them. The Department of State website posted the following information regarding NIVs for same sex married couples:

Q: Can same sex couples now apply for visas in the same classification?

A: Yes. Starting immediately, same-sex spouses and their children are equally eligible for NIV derivative visas.  Same-sex spouses and their children (stepchildren of the primary applicant when the marriage takes place before the child turns 18) can qualify as derivatives where the law permits issuance of the visa to a spouse or stepchild.  In cases where additional documentation has always been required of a spouse applying with a principal applicant, such documentation will also be required in the case of a same-sex spouse… [italics added]

Finally, a point to note for those LGBT couples who are in a situation in which the foreign spouse has children:  

Q: My foreign national spouse has children. Can they also be included with my spouse’s case?

A: Yes, the children of foreign national spouses can be considered “step-children” of the U.S. citizens and can therefore benefit from a petition filed on their behalf in the IR2 category.    In other categories, stepchildren acquired through same sex marriage can qualify as beneficiaries (F2A) or for derivative status (F3, F4, E1-E4, or DV).  You and your spouse must have married before the child turned 18. [itlaics added]

Clearly, the Department of State allows for step-children of Americans or lawful permanent residents to immigrate where the LGBT couple was married prior to the step-child’s 18th birthday. From the information posted on the State Department’s website regarding non-immigrant visas one could infer that an American Citizen’s prospective step-children (i.e. the children of a foreign fiance) may also be eligible to obtain a K-2 visa based upon the bona fide intention of the American Citizen and his or her foreign fiance to marry in the United States.

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31st July 2013

The administration of this blog periodically posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Embassies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region in order to provide a level of convenience to Americans traveling in the area. The following holiday closing schedule was quoted directly from the official website of the US Embassy in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar):

Date Day U.S.* Burmese**
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day
January 4 Friday Independence Day
January 21 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday
February 12 Tuesday Union Day
February 18 Monday President’s Day
March 27 Wednesday Armed Forces Day
April 15 Monday THINGYAN (Water Festival)
April 16 Tuesday THINGYAN (Water Festival)
April 17 Wednesday Burmese New Year
May 1 Wednesday Workers’ Day
May 27 Monday Memorial Day
July 4 Thursday Independence Day
July 19 Friday Martyrs’ Day
July 22 Monday Full Moon of Waso
September 2 Monday Labor Day
October 14 Monday Columbus Day
November 11 Monday Veteran’s Day
November 27 Wednesday National Day
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day Christmas Day

Many Americans traveling abroad find that it is necessary to travel to an American Embassy or Consulate in order to request services such as Passport renewal, adding of visa pages, notarial services, or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Many of these requests can be made at an American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy or US Consulate-General.

Meanwhile, every year many foreign nationals from around the globe travel to American posts abroad to apply for visas and other travel documents granting permission to travel to the United States. Some visa seekers only wish to remain temporarily in the US on non-immigrant visas such as the B-1 visa (Business Visa), the B-2 visa (Tourist Visa), the F-1 visa (Student Visa), or the J-1 visa (Exchange worker visa). Generally, applications for the aforementioned visa categories can be made at a non-immigrant visa unit within the Consular Section of the US Embassy or US Consulate-General. Applicants are usually required to make an appointment in advance to apply for these types of visas.

Some foreign nationals wish to travel to the United States for business purposes. Depending upon the circumstances of the individual applying for admission to the USA, a business traveler may be issued a non-immigrant or an immigrant visa. The L-1 visa, the E-1 visa, the E-2 visa, the EB-5 visa, the EB-4 visa, the EB-3 visa, the EB-2 visa, the EB-1 visa, and the H-1B visa are all business visa categories commonly sought by foreign nationals. Generally, a business travel unit  within the Consular Section of a US Embassy or Consulate-General abroad is responsible for adjudicating such applications.

Some foreign nationals seek visa benefits based upon a relationship to a US Citizen or lawful permanent resident. One of the most commonly sought US family based visas is the immigrant visa based upon marriage to an American Citizen, these types of visas are generally classified as a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa. Fiancees of US Citizens may be eligible to apply for a K-1 visa (US fiance visa). Furthermore, those married to Americans sometimes seek a US K-3 visa. K-1 visas and K-3 visas are generally adjudicated by an Immigrant visa unit, notwithstanding the fact that they are non-immigrant visa categories as they are treated as immigrant visas since the applicants have immigrant intent.

For related information please see: US Immigration Asia.

 

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