Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘DHS’

12th November 2017

Below is a transcript of the video which can be found at the following link: K-1 Visas From Laos

In this video today we are going to be discussing K-1 visas but with the specific context of Laos. As previously mentioned, we’re based here in Bangkok and for those who have checked out this channel before, you can probably surmise that a lot of our activity with respect to, especially Immigration practice surrounds the US Embassy here in Thailand and a lot of our clientele are Thai nationals. But that being said, we do deal with cases that come up with respect to nationalities within this region rather frequently so it’s not uncommon for us to have a case or cases that may or may not end up, or will likely end up at the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos.

The overall process for those of you who are watching this video and have never really dealt with the K-1 before. The process has got to begin in the United States, you have got to deal with DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, petition needs to be filed for fiancée visa benefits and certain requirements that are inherent to the petition with some exceptions, the couple needs to have met within 2 years of initial filing for K-1 visa benefits, they have to physically have met in person at least once within 2 years of the filing. The other thing to keep in mind with respect to the K-1 visa or the petition thereof is both parties need to be legally free to marry and moreover have to remain that way throughout the process. So, this can kind of be a little bit confusing to folks; you can’t marry each other while you are going for a fiancée vise benefit because it’s specifically is a fiancée visa benefit. So you can’t get legally married to one another. Now having a party to celebrate impending nuptials or something like this, that’s a different story but something to keep clearly in mind with respect to the fiancée visa category.

The thing that’s interesting with respect to Laos is you often will see a little bit of, you’ll see the occasional Laos national living and working in Thailand who will process through the embassy down here in Bangkok because they’re living and working down here in Bangkok and where certain local jurisdictions requirements are met for consular processing here, a Lao national could theoretically process through the US Embassy in Bangkok rather than up in Laos. Depending on the circumstances of the given case, that may or may not be more or less convenient for the applicant in question but that being said, presumptively, consular processing jurisdiction is based on the nationality of the applicant so if they’re a Lao national that happens to live in Thailand, but would prefer to process up in Laos that is certainly acceptable and they can go ahead and do that.

So basically, once the case, let’s presume it gets approved, the petition gets approved by the Department of Homeland Security, the case will move over to the national visa center. The National Visa Center acts as a sort of clearing house, or routing hub if you will, for immigrant visas, or for cases going throughout the world on behalf of the Department of State. It will then go to the Embassy in Vientiane and the Consular Section, the Immigrant Visa section of the Embassy in Vientiane will go ahead and inform the applicant what needs to be undertaken in order to finish up the process to get the visa issued.  It should be noted, it’s rather an interesting aspect of the K-1 visa it that it is considered a dual intent travel document and the reason that this is interesting is because, as a dual intent travel document, it’s a non-immigrant visa category, but for practical purposes, for consular processing purposes, it is treated as if it was an immigrant visa category. So that’s something to sort of keep in mind and once the applicant obtains their K-1 visa, they can go to the United States within the window of time for the expiration of the underlying visa, and then once they arrive in the United States they can go ahead and remain in the US lawfully for 90 days but with the sole purpose of marrying their American citizen fiancée and then subsequently adjusting status to lawful permanent resident. There is another video on this channel, which specifically gets into adjustment of status. I recommend those who are interested in that topic,  to specifically go to that video to check that out but suffice it to say, once one has adjusted to lawful permanent resident, the Green Card status, that’s effectively sort of the end of the  process, in a way. Definitely, I look at is as a kind of conclusion  of what was being sought which was bringing ones Lao fiancée into the United States to live permanently with the American citizen counterpart. So to sum up, the thing to keep in mind with respect to how this process works, it starts at the Department of Homeland Security, proceeds to the National Visa center and then finally ends up at the Consular Section of the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos.

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27th May 2017

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the new administration in the USA has promulgated policies which will place more scrutiny upon those who may be applying for visas to the USA in the future. The proposed “extreme vetting” of US visa applications in a Consular Processing context appears to be aimed at narrow subsets of “red flagged” visa applicants. In order to best summarize this policy shift, it is necessary to quote directly from a relatively recent Reuters article:

The final cable seen by Reuters, issued on March 17, leaves in place an instruction to consular chiefs in each diplomatic mission, or post, to convene working groups of law enforcement and intelligence officials to “develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.” Applicants falling within one of these identified population groups should be considered for higher-level security screening…

The new administration appears keen to narrowly target those applicants which are deemed to be appropriate for “increased scrutiny”. However, a rather recent proposal has been submitted by the U.S. Department of State requesting implementation of the emergency review procedures of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. In short, the DOS is requesting expedited processing of a request to modify the forms associated with applications for US visas. To quote directly from the US government website Regulations.gov:

The Department proposes requesting the following information, if not already included in an application, from a subset of visa applicants worldwide, in order to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities:

  • Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
  • Address history during the last fifteen years;
  • Employment history during the last fifteen years;
  • All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
  • Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
  • Name and dates of birth for all children;
  • Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
  • Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and
  • Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.

 

Most of this information is already collected on visa applications but for a shorter time period, e.g. five years rather than fifteen years. Requests for names and dates of birth of siblings and, for some applicants, children are new. The request for social media identifiers and associated platforms is new for the Department of State, although it is already collected on a voluntary basis by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for certain individuals.

It is this blogger’s opinion that the long term implications of these policy changes will be broad. However, from reading the aforementioned notice, it appears that, at the present time, DOS personnel will only be seeking more detailed information on certain individual applicants, and not from all applicants seeking visas to the USA. How will the narrow subset of applicants subject to increased scrutiny be determined? To answer that it is necessary to quote further from the Regulations.gov website:

Department of State consular officers at visa-adjudicating posts worldwide will ask the proposed additional questions to resolve an applicant’s identity or to vet for terrorism or other national security related visa ineligibilities when the consular officer determines that the circumstances of a visa applicant, a review of a visa application, or responses in a visa interview indicate a need for greater scrutiny.

Notwithstanding the fact that enhanced scrutiny will apparently only be applied on a case by case basis and only upon those individuals who are deemed to be in need of such scrutiny it seems logical to infer that at some point these additional screening protocols may be applied on a broader basis; if for no other reason than the fact that applying such scrutiny across the board might save time and resources of Consular Officials making cases by case determinations. As it stands, as of the time of this writing, the new protocols add a degree of uncertainty to the visa application process and Consular processing in general as it is difficult to foresee what may be considered a trait which warrants heightened scrutiny. Therefore, planning for such an eventuality is problematic.

As this situation continues to evolve this blog will post further updates.

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2nd July 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a statement regarding the implementation of policies regarding adjudication of immigration petitions for same-sex bi-national married couples. To quote directly from the official website of DHS:

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

This statement is a significant moment in the long fight for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. In order to provide further information regarding these developments the DHS has posted some frequently asked questions on the same page as the aforementioned quotation. These FAQ’s are quoted below:

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?

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 automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly, the United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident same sex spouse of a foreign national can now submit an I-130 petition for Lawful Permanent Residence (also known as “Green Card” status) for their husband or wife. In fact, it would appear that a same-sex couple in Florida was recently granted immigration benefits for the same-sex spouse. This would especially be true in a case where the couple not only was married in State recognizing same-sex marriage, but also resides in that same State or another of the 13 States which recognize such unions. An issue which is, as of yet, not so clearly delineated hinges upon a situation in which a same-sex married couple has married in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage (and performs them), but resides in a State which does not recognize such unions. To shed further light upon this issue it is necessary to quote again from the same DHS webpage, quoted above, regarding this issue:

Q2:  My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not.  Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?

A2: Yes, you can file the petition.  In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.

For those wishing to visit the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to learn more please click HERE.

For those unfamiliar with the recent Supreme Court decision striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) it should be pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision did not impact section 2 of DOMA which 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.

Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that there are some who argue that section 2 of DOMA violates the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, no Court ruling nor Act of Congress has repealed section 2 of DOMA and, in the words of the DHS website itself, in those “fact-specific” situations in which Section 2 of DOMA may be relevant the provisions of Section 2 could prove detrimental to a same-sex bi-national couple. That being said, according to the DHS website, a petition could still be filed and it would be adjudicated accordingly.

One final point to ponder on this issue is the K-1 visa. Under current United States Immigration law it is possible for an American Citizen to apply for a Fiance Visa, also known as the K-1 visa, for a foreign fiance residing abroad, so long as the couple intends to marry in the United States within 90 days of the foreign fiance’s arrival (other regulations apply to K-1 visa holders, but for the purposes of this analysis they are not necessarily relevant). If a same-sex couple, who are not yet legally married, wishes to obtain a K-1 visa based upon their intention to wed in the United States, then it could be inferred from the DHS Secretary’s statement that they might be adjudicated in the same manner as the same petition for a different-sex couple. However, this should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion because the statements quoted above only pertain specifically to couples who are already married. Neither the Court, nor the DHS, have specifically dealt with the question of those same-sex couples who wish to seek a K1 visa based upon an intention to marry in the USA. It could be inferred from the Court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor that those same-sex couples with the intention to marry in a jurisdiction where same-sex unions are recognized should be granted the same treatment as those different-sex couples in similar circumstances; but the issue has yet to be clearly adjudicated and therefore no completely clear answer arises.

Meanwhile, one significant question remains: based upon the above information how will USCIS adjudicate K-1 visa applications for same-sex couples who wish to travel to the United States to marry in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage, but reside in a State which does not? Hopefully the answer to this question will come soon. Until then it would appear that although DHS clearly intends to adjudicate same-sex married couples’ petitions for immigration benefits in the same way as different-sex couples; it remains to be seen how same sex fiances will be treated in the eyes of U.S. Immigration law.

For information on immigrant visas please see: CR-1 Visa or  IR-1 Visa.

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19th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be poised to begin placing holds on some deportations. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of The Washington Times, WashingtonTimes.com:

The Homeland Security Department said Thursday it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria such as attending school, having family in the military or are primarily responsible for other family members’ care. The move, announced in letters to Congress, won immediate praise from Hispanic activists and Democrats who had chided President Obama for months for the pace of deportations and had argued he had authority to exempt broad swaths of illegal immigrants from deportation…

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

Although this blogger has been reluctant to support blanket amnesty per se, especially for those who have entered the United States illegally; there are often unique and extenuating circumstances which require adjudication in order to equitably administer American immigration law and regulation pursuant to legislative and executive plenary power. It remains to be seen how this policy will be practically implemented.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the federal delegation from the sovereign State of New York may be more supportive of DOMA repeal since a Congressional Representative from that State was recently noted for comments on this issue. In an effort to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website Towleroad.com:

After waiting for New York State to legalize gay marriage, Democratic Rep. Bill Owens now says he supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. “I indicated I would not become a co-sponsor until New York took action,” said Owens, who represents the Empire State’s 23rd Congressional district. “Once they did that, I felt I had an obligation to the citizens in the state to make sure they weren’t adversely impeded by federal law.” Owens continued, “I think that people should have the freedom to make those kinds of decisions…”

The administration of this web log asks readers to click on the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

For those who are unaware of the evolving nature of this issue it should be noted that the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude federal recognition of same sex marriage. This federal non-recognition is enforced even where one of the sovereign American States has legalized and/or solemnized the underlying same sex marriage. There are some who would argue that this activity violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution while others could argue that such discrimination violates the Equal Protection Clause. In any case, the result in an immigration context is that same sex bi-national couples (even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in a US State) cannot receive the same visa benefits (such as the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, or K-1 visa)  as their different-sex counterparts. Some federal legislators, such as New York delegation member Representative Jerrold Nadler, have attempted to remedy this problem through introduction of bills such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA: to address the specific issue of discrimination in an immigration context) and the Respect For Marriage Act (RFMA: a proposal which would accord federal “certainty” to State licensed same sex marriages). However, it remains to be seen whether such legislation will ultimately see passage.

In news related to the aforementioned issues it also came to this blogger’s attention that further “mainstream media” attention is being focused upon the case of the same sex bi-national couple who were married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but face the prospect of separation due to the fact that the American government may remove the foreign spouse since their marriage is not recognized pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. In an effort to provide further detail this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of The Washington Post, WashingtonPost.com:

Mr. Makk’s case illustrates the profound injustices meted out by DOMA, which was passed in 1996. The Obama administration this year denounced the Clinton-era law as unconstitutional because it deprives same-sex couples equal protection of the law. In April, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. put on hold the deportation of a British man who has lived in the United States since 1996 but who never obtained a green card or citizenship. The man, Paul Wilson Dorman, has been in a committed same-sex relationship for 15 years and entered into a civil union with his partner, a U.S. citizen, in 2009. Mr. Holder asked an immigration court to determine whether Mr. Dorman should be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law and thus entitled to stay in the country. Mr. Makk’s deportation should also be put on hold, as should those involving anyone in legally recognized same-sex relationships whose only infraction involves immigration status…

The administration encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail as this situation is poignant indeed.

Although this blogger can at times get caught up in the rather academic details of the debate on federal recognition of same sex marriage readers should be aware that this issue has a truly human context since couples like the one noted above could have their personal lives substantially disrupted as a result of federal policy with respect to same sex couples. There is some speculation that this matter may ultimately see resolution in the US Courts, but until such time as a final decision is made on the matter same sex couples and the Greater LGBT community in America are left to hope that their federal legislature will pass legislation akin to the RFMA or the UAFA. Perhaps in the meantime officers in the American immigration system can utilize their statutory authority and plenary powers to provide equitable relief to those who find themselves facing the prospect of being separated from their loved ones due to questionably Constitutional law.

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

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15th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a senior American diplomat was recently noted for discussing matters pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific region. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the DAWN website, DAWN.com:

Kurt Campbell, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, added in an interview with The Australian newspaper that there was more to US-Asia diplomacy than Washington’s relationship with Beijing. “One of the most important challenges for US foreign policy is to effect a transition from the immediate and vexing challenges of the Middle East to the long-term and deeply consequential issues in Asia,” Campbell said. He made clear this did not mean Washington would neglect its responsibilities in the Middle East, but was rather a desire to deepen relations with the Asian region. And while efforts were being made to enhance Washington’s dialogue with China, it was more than just relations with Beijing that were important. “I think what you see is an across-the-board effort (by the US) to articulate India as playing a greater role in Asia,” said Campbell, a key aide to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…

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

It was interesting for this blogger to note that there appears to be something of a shift in attitude toward the ASEAN region as Asia in general is viewed as playing an increasingly important role in the global economy. As the Asia-Pacific and ASEAN regions continue to show signs of future growth it stands to reason that countries such as China and India, or any of the so-called BRICS countries for that matter, will become economically more connected to the geographic area. Meanwhile, hopefully American policies in the region will be such that further Asian-American trade and business is generated.

In matters related to American immigration, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Bar Association has recently made resolutions regarding the unlicensed practice of law in an immigration context. In order to provide further details on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Law Professor Blogs, LawProfessorBlogs.com:

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association supports measures to combat the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL) and immigration practitioner fraud.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages federal, state, and local governments to adopt laws that:
(a) Create a private right of action for victims of UPIL or immigration practitioner fraud.
(b) Provide criminal penalties for engaging in UPIL or immigration practitioner fraud that would give federal and state authorities the right to investigate and prosecute those engaging in UPIL or immigration practitioner fraud.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to make accommodations for victims of immigration practitioner fraud, including:
(a) Allowing the withdrawal without prejudice of submissions in cases in which a noncitizen can establish that his or her immigration filings were created or submitted by an individual engaged in UPIL or immigration fraud or alternatively, developing a means for submitting corrected filings which will supersede the documents previously filed.
(b) Allowing the U non-immigrant visa to be available for victims of immigration fraud who cooperate with federal, state, or local law enforcement, as well as state bars…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read these resolutions in detail.

Clearly the ABA is taking policy stances in an attempt to reverse the trend of unlicensed legal practitioners preying upon an unsuspecting public in immigration matters. As previously noted in the pages of this web log, those seeking advice and counsel regarding US visa matters are well advised to check the credentials of anyone claiming qualification to practice American immigration law as only a licensed American attorney is permitted to accept client fees in order to engage in the practice of American law. Hopefully, policies will be officially promulgated to address the problem of unscrupulous individuals and organizations defrauding the public.

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

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10th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is apparently compelling an Australian man, who is currently a partner in a same sex marriage with an American Citizen, to depart the USA. In order to provide further clarity on this situation it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the San Fransisco Chronicle, SFGate.com:

Citing the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration denied immigration benefits to a married gay couple from San Francisco and ordered the expulsion of a man who is the primary caregiver to his AIDS-afflicted spouse. Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, a citizen of Australia, were married seven years ago in Massachusetts. They have lived together 19 years, mostly in an apartment in the Castro district. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk’s application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen, citing the 1996 law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples. The decision was issued July 26. Immigration Equality, a gay-rights group that is working with the couple, received the notice Friday and made it public Monday. Makk was ordered to depart the United States by Aug. 25. Makk is the sole caregiver for Wells, who has severe health problems…

The administration of this web log encourages interested readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this interesting story.

Frequent readers of this web log may recall that the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude the federal government from recognizing a same sex marriage for purposes of distributing federal benefits. Therefore, same sex bi-national couples cannot acquire the same travel documents and visa benefits (such as the K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa) as a different-sex couple notwithstanding the fact that the couple may be legally married in one of the State jurisdictions which legalize and/or solemnize such unions. It should be noted that legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) or the Respect for Marriage Act would rectify this situation to one degree or another. As of the time of this writing it remains to be seen whether this legislation will ultimately see enactment.

Meanwhile, in news of further interest to those who follow immigration matters; it recently came to this blogger’s attention that DHS has issued an announcement regarding a nationwide program to be administered by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, sometimes colloquially referred to as ICE). To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Washington Times, WashingtonTimes.com:

The District could be forced to participate in an immigration-enforcement program now that the federal government has issued a letter to states that voided their participation agreements and emphasized the program’s mandatory nature. The Department of Homeland Security sent the letter last week to governors of 39 states, including Maryland and Virginia, after three states expressed interest in opting out of their contracts with the federal Secure Communities program. The program allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to access fingerprints collected by state and local law enforcement and shared with the FBI. It was started in 2008 and has helped ICE identify and deport more than 86,000 convicted criminal aliens. “This is to avoid any further confusion,” ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said Monday. “We’ve made it clear. There’s no opting out.” DHS voided the agreements to clarify that they essentially served no purpose, and that states are required to remain in the program. Federal officials no longer will seek agreement with newly enrolled states and jurisdictions, and will simply notify them when they plan to implement the program…

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

Matters pertaining to immigration can be difficult to understand especially in the context of the United States Constitution since many of the immigration-related powers of the American Legislature and Executive are plenary in nature. How such powers interact with States’ Rights can be difficult to ascertain as the legal principles involved can be quite subtle. In any case, the ultimate resolution of this issue remains to be seen. Hopefully, a solution will present itself which will prove amenable for all concerned.

For information related to United States immigration from Thailand please see: Legal.

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12th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the often venerated alternative media outlet ZeroHedge.com has posted an analysis of issues pertaining to a proposed change to the forms used by those seeking a US Passport. To provide further insight it is necessary  to quote directly from the Zero Hedge website, ZeroHedge.com

In the US, the government now requires all citizens to have a passport in order to pass the border, even when driving into Mexico or Canada. Obtaining a passport, however, is neither free nor guaranteed.  You must apply, pay an ever-increasing fee, and wait for weeks to be approved and receive it. Recently, the State Department quietly proposed a new ‘biographical questionnaire’ in lieu of the traditional passport application. The new form requires you to provide things like:

- names, birth places, and birth dates of your extended family members
– your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth
– whether or not your mother received pre-natal or post natal care
– the address of your mother’s physician and dates of appointments
– the address of every place you have ever lived in your entire life
– the name and address of every school you have ever attended

Most people would find it impossible to provide such information, yet the form requires that the responses ‘are true and correct’ under penalty of imprisonment. Naturally, the privacy statement on the application also acknowledges that the responses can be shared with other departments in the government, including Homeland Security. If this proposal passes, then US citizens will have a nearly insurmountable hurdle to obtain a passport and be able to leave the country at will…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted prior to this excerpt. Also, it is advisable to click upon the hyperlinks contained within this quotation in order to understand this situation in context.

Each year, many Americans traveling abroad, or those Americans resident abroad, renew their passport at an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. It has always been this blogger’s opinion that personnel of the Department of State who handle such matters do so in an efficient and courteous manner. Meanwhile, many United States Citizens opt to seek passport renewal in the USA. This blogger has undertaken both endeavors and in each case the officers involved processed the request quickly and with little difficulty. Although it remains to be seen how the proposed questionnaire would actually impact the processing of passport issuance requests one can hope that the process will not become overly cumbersome.

In news pertaining to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a woman in the sovereign State of New York is challenging the legal status and Constitutionality of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide the reader with some relevant insight it is necessary to quote directly from an article by Mark Hamblett for the New York Law Journal posted on Law.com:

Challengers to the federal Defense of Marriage Act insist that every justification offered by Congress for defining marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman is contrary to logic and the law. In summary judgment papers filed in the Southern District of New York, lawyers for Edith Schlain Windsor argue that there is no good reason for treating her marriage to the late Thea Clara Spyer any differently than a heterosexual union. Read Ms. Windsor’s motion and memorandum. Ms. Windsor’s lawyers call the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a radical measure and a clear violation of the right to equal protection of the laws under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “DOMA is a sweeping statute that rewrites over one thousand federal laws and overturns the federal government’s long-standing practice of deferring to state determinations of marital status,” the lawyers claim in a memorandum asking Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV for summary judgment in the case of Windsor v. United States, 10-cv-8435. “Throughout history, the federal government has never married people, leaving that to the states…”

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

Those unfamiliar with the current predicament of the LGBT community should note that in immigration matters same sex bi-national couples, even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions, are unable to petition for the same immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts. In order to attempt to remedy this particular discrepancy Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The Respect for Marriage Act was also introduced by Representative Nadler in order to remedy the issue of “certainty” in such cases. As of the time of this writing, neither of these bills has seen enactment although there has been recent news that the Senate Judiciary Committee may be holding hearings pertaining to the Respect for Marriage Act soon. On a related note, the Reuniting Families Act, which apparently includes UAFA-like language, was lately introduced by Representative Mike Honda although passage of this legislation remains to be seen.

There is certainly an “equal protection” component to any argument against DOMA, but relatively few commentators seem to take note of the fact that the way DOMA is currently enforced may also violate notions of States’ Rights. Generally, matters pertaining to the prerogatives of the Several States are debated by the United States Congress before enactment of legislation which maintains interstate compliance with the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. In this case, Congress has arguably abrogated the notion of Full Faith and Credit inherent in the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause since section 3 of DOMA effectively renders the prerogatives of the sovereign States ineffective when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage.

The issues associated with DOMA have yet to be fully resolved, but it seems likely that these matters may remain contentious both inside the Courtrooms of America and elsewhere.

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9th June 2011

เมื่อเร็วๆนี้สิ่งที่น่าสนใจสำหรับผู้เขียนคือกระทรวงยุติธรรมของสหรัฐอเมริกา โดยความร่วมมือกับกระทรวงความมั่นคงแห่งมาตุภูมิและคณะกรรมการการค้าส่วนกลาง(FTC) มีมาตรการในการต่อสู้กับการฉ้อฉลที่เกี่ยวกับบริการการเข้าเมืองสำหรับผู้ที่ประสงค์จะเดินทางมาสหรัฐอเมริกา อ้างโดยตรงจากประกาศที่เผยแพร่ในเว็บไซต์กระทรวงยุติธรรมของสหรัฐอเมริกา Justice.gov

ตัวแทนส่วนกลางที่เผชิญกับการฉ้อฉลการเข้าเมือง DHS, DOJ และ FTC ซึ่งเกี่ยวข้องกับส่วนของรัฐและท้องถิ่นในความพยายามที่ไม่อาจคาดการณ์ได้

วอชิงตัน- รัฐบาลสหรัฐอเมริกาเปิดเผยข้อมูลเกี่ยวกับปฏิบัติการแห่งชาติที่จะต่อสู้กับการบริการการเข้าเมืองในวันที่ 9 มิถุนายน เวลาบ่ายโมงตรง กระทรวงความมั่นคงแห่งมาตุภูมิ (DHS)และกระทรวงยุติธรรม (DOJ) และคณะกรรมการการค้าส่วนกลาง (FTC)เป็นแกนนำในความพยายามครั้งประวัติศาสตร์

หน่วยบริการพลเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาและการเข้าเมือง(USCIS)ของกระทรวงความมั่นคงแห่งมาตุภูมิ (DHS) แกนนำตัวแทนมีหน้าที่รับผิดชอบในการควบคุมระบบกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาซึ่งจะมีการเริ่มต้นประกาศในขณะที่มีการจัดนิทรรศฏารในเจ็ดเมืองทั่วประเทศเช่นเดียวกับที่มีการจัดที่วอชิงตันดี.ซี.

การดำเนินการที่ไม่ได้รับอนุญาตเกี่ยวกับกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองเป็นเรื่องที่อันตรายต่อระบบความเชื่อถือของการเข้าเมืองและผู้ที่ตกเป็นเหยื่อของกลุ่มคนเข้าเมือง เพื่อความเข้าใจในพฤติกรรมที่หลอกลวง ส่วนกลาง รัฐ และส่วนท้องถิ่นมีส่วนร่วมกันในการที่จะเผชิญกับการบริการการเข้าเมืองในทุกๆทาง การเริ่มต้นได้วางมาตรรการสามอย่างดังนี้ การบังคับ การศึกษาและความร่วมมือ แต่ละฝ่ายต่างมีบทบาทสำคัญในการที่จะทำให้ความพยายามของชาติบรรลุเป้าหมาย การเป็นตัวอย่างในการเริ่มต้นของรัฐบาลและชุมชนสามารถที่จะจัดการกับปัญหาร้ายแรงร่วมกันได้อย่างมีประสิทธิภาพ

ผู้เขียนบทความนี้แนะนำให้ผู้อ่านหาข้อมุลเพิ่มเติมโดยการคลิกที่ลิงค์ด้านบนเพื่อศึกษาเกี่ยวกับการประกาศเริ่มต้นของกระทรวงยุติธรรม

เป็นเรื่องที่ไม่ดีที่มีหลายๆองค์กรได้ทำลายชื่อเสียงของตนเองในเขตอำนาจนั้นๆ เช่น การรวมกลุ่มของสมาคมเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้ (ASEAN) และในท้องถิ่นอื่นๆทั่วโลกที่จำเป็นต้องมีคุณสมบัติที่สำคัญที่จะให้คำแนะนำ คำปรึกษา และความช่วยเหลือในเรื่องวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกาและการเข้าเมือง

กระบวนการเกี่ยวกับวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกานั้นเป็นกระบวนการที่อาจสร้างความสับสนให้แก่กฎหมายและกระบวนการเข้าเมือง ผู้ที่กำลังมองหาทนายความอเมริกันในการที่จะช่วยดำเนินการเรื่องวีซ่าเช่น ซีอาร์-วัน, วีซ่าไออาร์-วัน,วีซ่าเค-วัน,วีซ่าอีบี-ไฟว์ หรือวีซ่าแอล-วัน (ชื่อแสดงถึงประเภทของวีซ่า) เพื่อที่จะให้มีความน่าเชื่อถือในการเลือกประเภทที่เหมาะสมกับสถานการณ์ต่างๆ สิ่งที่จะแนะนำเพิ่มเติมเกี่ยวกับทนายความที่ได้รับอนุญาตเท่านั้นจะมีสิทธิที่จะได้รับค่าธรรมเนียมในการที่จะปฏิบัติตามกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาตาม 8 CFR 292.1

โดยทั่วไปแล้ว ก่อนที่จะดำเนินการขอวีซ่าภายใต้กระบวนการกงสุลที่หน่วยการปฏิบัติภารกิจในต่างแดน (สถานทูตสหรัฐอเมริกา, สถานกงสุลสหรัฐอเมริกา,สถาบันอเมริกัน) หน่วยงานเหล่านั้นต้องได้รับการอนุมัติคำขอจากหน่วยบริการพลเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาและคนเข้าเมือง (USCIS)

To view this posting in English please see: US Visa Thailand.

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6th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Justice, in association with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is taking measures to combat scams involving immigration services for those wishing to travel to the USA . To quote directly from a recent announcement posted upon the official website of the Department of Justice, Justice.gov:

Federal Agencies Combat Immigration Services Scams
DHS, DOJ and FTC Collaborate with State and Local Partners in Unprecedented Effort

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government will unveil a national initiative to combat immigration services scams on June 9 at 1 p.m. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are leading this historic effort.
DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the lead agency responsible for administering the U.S. legal immigration system, will announce the initiative while hosting events in seven cities around the country as well as the national launch in Washington, D.C.

The unauthorized practice of immigration law is an exploitative practice that endangers the integrity of our immigration system and victimizes members of the immigrant community. Understanding the gravity of this deceptive practice, federal, state and local partners have come together to combat immigration services scams on all fronts. The initiative is set upon three pillars: enforcement, education, and continued collaboration. Each agency plays a critical role to ensure the success of this national effort. This initiative exemplifies how government and community can work together to effectively address a serious problem…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more about the Justice Department’s recently announced initiative.

Unfortunately, there are many less-than-reputable organizations in jurisdictions such as those which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other locales around the world falsely purporting to have the necessary qualifications to provide advice, counsel, and assistance pertaining to United States visas and immigration.

Processing a United States visa can be a cumbersome and overwhelming process for those unfamiliar with relevant immigration law and procedure. Those thinking about retaining an American lawyer to assist in the acquisition of visas such as the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, K-1 visa, EB-5 visa, or L-1 visa (to name just a few visa categories) are encouraged to ascertain the credentials of those claiming knowledge of such matters. This is encouraged because only properly licensed attorneys are permitted to accept fees to engage in the practice of U.S. immigration law pursuant to 8 CFR 292.1.

In general, before a visa applicant can undergo Consular Processing at US Mission abroad (US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, etc) they must first receive an approved petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand or Legal.

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31st March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued instructions to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to dispense with the hold on deportations of same sex spouses of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents which was announced approximately 2 days ago. To quote directly from an article posted on the Advocate.com entitled Official: No Hold On Gay Immigration Cases:

Wednesday morning USCIS press secretary Christopher S. Bentley told The Advocate that the agency had received legal guidance to lift the hold it had issued Monday. The guidance was issued in the form of written communications from the Office of the General Counsel at Department of Homeland Security (USCIS is a component of DHS).

Those interested in reading more about this information are highly encouraged to click on the hyperlinks immediately preceding the quotation to learn more.

Clearly, officials at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) were attempting to provide some relief to those in the LGBT community in the USA with their same sex bi-national partners who are stuck in the currently limbo-like immigration system, as it pertains to same sex marriages. The question this blogger has is: why all of this bureaucratic runaround? There is a clear venue for resolving this issue: the United States Supreme Court, but it would seem as though the administration would like solve this issue through internal bureaucratic rule making and unilateral executive actions, but this is not the way law is made and this is not the legal way of effecting change in situations such as the one currently facing the LGBT community. Even a Supreme Court decision on this issue is unlikely to be straightforward as there are many aspects of the Full Faith and Credit Clause which come up in the context of interstate recognition of same sex marriage. However, the decision of the Supreme Court, in this blogger’s opinion, on the issue of FEDERAL recognition of same sex marriages legalized and solemnized in the sovereign States is likely to produce an outcome whereby an avenue would be created to allow same sex bi-national couples to receive immigration benefits of the same quality as those granted to different sex bi-national couples.

The announcement from USCIS on Monday about placing a “hold” on deportations of same sex partners of US Citizens and Permanent Residents came as a relief to many in the United States who may only be subject to deportation due to the onerous (and possibly UnConstitutional) provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) since some same sex bi-national couples have legalized and solemnized a valid same sex marriage in one of the 6 States (along with the District of Columbia) that allows same sex marriage. The only thing precluding Federal recognition of same sex marriages performed within the jurisdiction of the sovereign States which recognize such unions is the questionably Constitutional so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which was promulgated and enacted under the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton.

In a recent memorandum from the Attorney General (Eric Holder) to the Speaker of the House of Representatives it was noted that the President’s administration has taken the position that same sex married couples ought to be granted the benefit of so-called “strict scrutiny” review from the Supreme Court and that the administration would discontinue in prosecuting DOMA cases against LGBT couples. This blogger has noted that such a position may not be beneficial to the overall cause of equal immigration rights as failure to get a “case or controversy” before the United States Supreme Court could lead to a situation in which this complex legal issue is not adjudicated by the Highest Court in the USA and therefore remains in the “limbo” in which this issue currently continues to languish. The Department of Homeland Security’s announcement further shows that until the provisions of DOMA, which preclude Federal recognition of same sex marriage, are overturned the position of the married LGBT community (at least in the eyes of the law and the immigration authorities) will remain precarious.

One point in the above cited article was of particular interest to this blogger. The following passage was quoted from the aforementioned article:

Bentley declined to release any of the written documents at this time, saying it was privileged communication. He emphasized that the official policy itself within DHS had never changed.

What PRIVILEGE!!!! So now the United States government, in the form of the Department of Homeland Security, invokes privilege (a legal principle generally reserved for individual natural persons when dealing with the US government) to keep their own policy memorandum regarding this issue secret? Why the secrecy? Why all of the pomp and circumstance about how important the administration’s memo was to the LGBT community when in reality it would appear to have done nothing substantive for the cause of LGBT equal rights and might have even placed the LGBT community in a less favorable position compared to their position prior to the administration’s memo to the Speaker of the House? So the Department of Homeland Security is claiming privilege when communicating with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), an American agency under DHS jurisdiction. Does anyone find it strange that the United States government now claims that civilian inter-agency memos regarding official policy which pertains to Americans and their families are privileged? It was this blogger’s belief that the United States governmental authorities are servants of the people and therefore required to provide transparency in their policy making endeavors especially when such policy making can impact a wide spectrum of the United States Citizenry and their families.

Clearly, the struggle to secure equal immigration rights for the LGBT community has yet to be won, but for those interested in this issue it is clear that there may be a long campaign to see equal treatment of same sex bi-national couples under the law of the United States of America. This blogger and this blog will continue to monitor this important and interesting issue.

Another method to gain equal immigration rights for same sex bi-national couples is through passage of legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would grant same sex bi-national couples the benefit of applying for an immigrant visa for a “permanent partner” thereby circumventing the immigration restrictions imposed by DOMA. Federal legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have introduced such legislation repeatedly in an effort to provide some kind of relief to those same sex bi-national couples who continue to be denied equal access to family immigration benefits. As of the time of this writing, Mr. Nadler has gone so far as to openly call for a repeal of DOMA and the promulgation of the Respect for Marriage Act a piece of legislation which would restore Federal recognition of State licensed marriage and restore, at least in part, the rights of same sex married couples who merely seek equal protection under the law.

For related information please see: same sex immigration.

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