Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘DOS’

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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9th February 2017

In the aftermath of the new year, there have been many announcements which have had significant impacts upon those living outside the USA. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States is poised to begin certifying delinquent taxes and communicating such certification to the United States Department of State. To quote the official IRS website directly:

The IRS has not yet started certifying tax debt to the State Department. Certifications to the State Department will begin in early 2017…If you have seriously delinquent tax debt, IRC § 7345 authorizes the IRS to certify that to the State Department. The [State] department generally will not issue or renew a passport to you after receiving certification from the IRS…Upon receiving certification, the State Department may revoke your passport. If the department decides to revoke it, prior to revocation, the department may limit your passport to return travel to the U.S.

As of January 1, 2016 US Federal statutes were amended to allow US passport revocation for those individuals who were delinquent in taxes under statutorily defined circumstances. Notwithstanding the fact that this law had been promulgated, it appears that until now the IRS had not put a frame work in place for notifying the State Department that an individual had tax delinquency issues. As can be seen from the IRS’s own website, that is no longer the case moving forward. For this reason it is prudent for those who may have tax delinquency issues to retain the services of a competent professional in order to rectify such issues before a situation arises where one is unable to get a passport issued, or a passport is revoked either in the USA or while traveling abroad.

Meanwhile, it appears that authorities in Thailand have adjusted the tax structure for certain taxpayers in Thailand. To quote directly from the Bangkok Post:

A revamped personal income tax structure aimed at increasing disposable incomes for taxpayers has officially come into effect…The amendment to the Tax Code, published in the Royal Gazette on Jan 27, applies to incomes received from Jan 1, 2017 to be filed in 2018…

It appears that under the restructure individuals will be able to make larger deductions for certain expenses while certain filing requirements have been changed requiring a larger number of individuals to file taxes. Those interested in these developments are strongly encouraged to read the article cited above and consult appropriate professionals in order to be apprised of the posture of a given tax situation.

Finally, The United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand has recently increased their official exchange rate to 37-1 (baht to dollars). This change reflects the fact that the Baht has been weakening against the US dollar in recent months and may be a signal that said currency may weaken further. The US Embassy in Thailand utilizes a set exchange rate which provides a level of certainty regarding the cost (in baht terms) of service fees for services provided by the US Embassy personnel.

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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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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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10th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that reports have come out regarding the possibility of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heading the World Bank. To quote directly from the official website of The Telegraph, Telegraph.co.uk:

Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, has been in discussions with the White House about stepping down from her foreign policy job next year to becoming head of the World Bank, it has been reported. Mrs Clinton, the former First Lady, Senator for New York and rival to Mr Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary race, is said to be eager to become the first female president of the World Bank should the post become vacant next year.”Hillary Clinton wants the job,” a source close to Mrs Clinton told Reuters, which broke the news of the possible move.

The administration of this blog encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more.

Issues associated with international banking have been making headlines in recent weeks. Such reports became more acute following the arrest of the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in the sovereign State of New York on sexual assault charges. Readers are asked to keep in mind that Mr. Strauss-Kahn has not been convicted of any crime as of the time of this writing and therefore, in the eyes of American law, he is innocent until proven guilty.

Readers may note that leadership of the international banking community made news in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after calls were made to consider an Asian candidate for the top IMF posting. Officials in China also have been reported to have made statements regarding the position of IMF head. It remains to be seen just how these issues will ultimately play out and who shall eventually be at the helm of international banking, but for observers of global relations, economics, finance, and politics this is certainly a very interesting time.

In rather unrelated news (but pertinent to this blogger), it was recently reported that the Great State of Kansas has experienced a very uncommon weather phenomenon. For further elucidation it may be best to quote directly from the official website  of KSN News, KSN.com:

WICHITA, Kansas — Last night Wichita experienced a very rare weather phenomenon known as a “Heat Burst.” At 12:22 a.m. the temperature at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport was 85 degrees. At 12:44 the temperature spiked to 102 degrees. This was a 17 degree increase in only 20 minutes. Winds also gusted between 50 and 60 MPH. The heat burst winds and temperatures rapidly dissipated as they spread across Sedgwick and Southern Butler Counties…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read more from this insightful report.

Kansas is often the scene of incredible meteorological phenomenon, but an increase of 17 degrees in a time span of 20 minutes is tremendous by anyone’s estimation. Hopefully, such developments will not have an adverse impact upon the people, agriculture, and ecology of that jurisdiction.

For other relevant information please see: Department of State.

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14th April 2011

This blogger recently came across a great deal of interesting information pertaining to issues surrounding the consular processing of United States visas and visa applications.

The first item of note involves a recent United States Federal Court decision which spoke to the issue of the Doctrine of Consular Non-Reviewability (sometimes referred to by the somewhat draconian sounding: Doctrine of “Consular Absolutism”). It would appear that one issue in that case revolved around the procedural usage of administrative designations made by interviewing Consular Officers at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) which were then utilized as a basis for administratively establishing findings of misrepresentation by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) thereby creating a grounds for revoking the underlying petition. It seems that the Judge in this case did not agree with the plaintiff that usage of so-called “P6C1” tags caused any “actual injury” as “natural expiration” of immigration petitions apparently does not rise to the level of “revocation” under the circumstances in that case. To quote directly from the PDF version of the official order dated March 29, 2011 as found on the Entry Law website at EntryLaw.com:

The F&R concludes that plaintiffs have stated a claim under the APA challenging 9 F.A.M. 40.63 N10.1 as unlawful and in excess of the agency’s statutory authority. F&R 25. That provision states that where a consular officer finds what she believes to be misrepresentation with regard to a family-based immigrant visa petition, the consular officer “must return the petition to the appropriate USCIS office. If the petition is revoked, the materiality of the misrepresentation is established.” 9 F.A.M. 40.63 N10.1. Plaintiffs allege that by placing a “P6C1” marker in a visa beneficiary’s record—indicating a perceived misrepresentation—the State Department saddled plaintiffs with a “permanent misrepresentation bar to any future immigration possibility” if USCIS revokes the petition. First Am. Compl. ¶ 158.4

I reject plaintiffs’ argument, and decline to follow the F&R, because plaintiffs have not properly alleged that a P6C1 marker has any effect on them. Importantly, 9 F.A.M. 40.63 N10.1 states that the materiality of a misrepresentation is only established “[i]f the petition is revoked,” and plaintiffs have not alleged that USCIS revoked the petitions. Therefore, plaintiffs have not stated a plausible claim that any future bar to immigration possibility would attach to plaintiffs as a result of the P6C1 marker. The F&R concludes that because USCIS does not act on petitions, and allows them to expire after denials, that inaction is equivalent to a revocation, and therefore would trigger the permanent misrepresentation bar. F&R 26. However, plaintiffs do not cite any authority for the proposition that the word “revoked” in 9 F.A.M. 40.63 N10.1 includes inaction that allows a petition to expire naturally. Nor have plaintiffs offered any support for the allegation that they are in fact barred from any future action. Thus, plaintiffs have not yet alleged any actual injury with respect to the P6C1 marker. Plaintiffs argue that they should not be required to show actual injury because they are entitled to assume the defendants will “enforce the law as written,” and any future action by plaintiffs would therefore be futile. F&R 27. Because I conclude that the law as written only bars petitioners whose petitions were “revoked,” and not those whose petitions expired naturally, I find no basis upon which to exempt plaintiffs from showing injury. Plaintiffs therefore do not have standing, and have not stated a claim, regarding the Department of State’s use of the P6C1 marker.

Those interested in learning more about the detailed facts of this case as well as issues pertaining to Consular Processing in general are well advised to click on the hyperlinks above to learn more about the seemingly ever evolving issues associated with the US Immigration process and the process of obtaining so-called “hybrid” family-based visas such as the K-1 visa or the K-3 visa as well as classic immigrant visas such as the CR-1 visa and the IR-1 visa from the various US Embassies, Consulates and Missions abroad.

These so-called “P6C1″ markers are not necessarily disagreeable to this blogger per se, but their usage can be troubling to those who study how the visa process works in a real-world environment. This blogger fully believes that Consular Officers are entitled to make factually based decisions which may have legal ramifications either in the form of a finding of a legal grounds of inadmissibility which may or may not be waivable through application for an I-601 waiver and/or an I-212 waiver (depending upon the situation). That said, why all of the redundancy? Where applicable, why not simply make the material misrepresentation finding of inadmissibility at the American Consulate or American Embassy abroad thereby providing a more streamlined opportunity for applicants to seek a remedy in the form of a waiver from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), if applicable? Why would the application package be sent back to USCIS with a so-called marker? The Consular Officers at US Missions abroad are adjudicators of visa applications and both the wide latitude of their discretion as well as the virtually non-reviewable nature of their factual findings are legal creations designed to lend efficiency to visa processing because the Consular Officers are in the best position to make factual determinations. Why send the petition back to USCIS with the “misrepresentation marker” at all? The USCIS is not in any discernably better position to make a determination regarding the veracity of the application. Therefore, DOS is failing to make an actual decision while simultaneously placing USCIS in a position where they cannot really claim to be able to better review the facts of the case as it was the Consular Officer who actually interviewed the applicant and adjudicated the posture of the overall application. It has been this blogger’s experience that visa applicants and petitioners are looking for some degree of certainty in the visa process. If an applicant is possibly legally inadmissible to the USA do not the notions of efficiency and equity seem to dictate quick adjudication of a finding of inadmissibility, if applicable, and visa denial, if appropriate? From the point of view of the inadmissible applicant the argument in favor of quick visa denial may possibly stem from the desire to seek a waiver in a timely manner thereafter.

Many of the Founding Fathers who drafted the United States Constitution were involved in the creation of legislation which would lead to the establishment of the Department of State. It would seem to this blogger as though these gentlemen did so because they recognized that America would need a governmental entity to deal with affairs of State, international trade matters, and Consular affairs so that average Americans could get on with their personal business and so that those of foreign origin would have an organ by which to entreat with the government of the United States of America. In an effort at providing more clarity on this topic it may be best to quote directly from Wikipedia:

The U.S. Constitution, drafted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787 and ratified by the states the following year, gave the President the responsibility for the conduct of the nation’s foreign relations. It soon became clear, however, that an executive department was necessary to support the President in the conduct of the affairs of the new federal government.

The House of Representatives and Senate approved legislation to establish a Department of Foreign Affairs on July 21, 1789, and President Washington signed it into law on July 27, making the Department of Foreign Affairs the first Federal agency to be created under the new Constitution.[2] This legislation remains the basic law of the Department of State. In September 1789, additional legislation changed the name of the agency to the Department of State and assigned to it a variety of domestic duties.

These responsibilities grew to include management of the United States Mint, keeper of the Great Seal of the United States, and the taking of the census. President George Washington signed the new legislation on September 15. Most of these domestic duties of the Department of State were eventually turned over to various new Federal departments and agencies that were established during the 19th century. However, the Secretary of State still retains a few domestic responsibilities, such as being the keeper of the Great Seal and being the officer to whom a President or Vice-President of the United States wishing to resign must deliver an instrument in writing declaring the decision to resign.

Those wishing to better understand the history of the American State Department are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read more on this engrossing topic.

Bearing the above legal opinion from the Federal Court for the District of Oregon’s Portland Division in mind, the reader may be interested to take note of the fact that some students of issues associated with Consular Processing of American visas are taking exception with some of the Department of State’s practices and proposing measures in an attempt to provide some sort of notification mechanism for complaints regarding Consular Officers at US Missions abroad seemingly aimed at curtailing what some feel are negative aspects of Consular discretion. To quote directly from Kenneth White in an article posted on ILW.com:

In contrast to other immigration-related agencies such as USCIS and CBP, the Department of State (“Department”) has no formal complaint system. The Department has a Customer Service Statement to Visa Applicants on its website,1 yet does not indicate how to pursue a complaint for a violation of the rights specified. The “How to Contact Us” page of the Department’s website mentions “inquiries” but not complaints. The Glossary page of the Travel.State.gov/visa section of the Department’s website indicates how to file a complaint with CBP, but not the State Department. Consular websites are silent on the issue of filing complaints.

In October 2009, the Department announced to the American Immigration Lawyers Association an address2 within the Visa Office to send complaints. However, the Visa Office does not investigate the complaints: it merely recites the consular officer’s version of events. Further, the mandate of the Department’s Office of Inspector General is limited to instances of fraud, waste, and mismanagement. It is abundantly clear that a genuine Complaint Procedure must be implemented.

The administration of this web log highly encourages readers to click on the above cited hyperlinks for further detailed information about consular processing and Mr. White’s opinions thereon. This blogger agreed with a great deal of the analysis presented in this article such as the author’s somewhat economic rationale in favor of at least the argument that some sort of complaint system may be beneficial to Consular processing, to quote further from the aforementioned posting:

dollars and sense – International visitors and students spend billions of dollars every year in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of American jobs are dependent on this spending by foreigners. Competition for the travel dollar is intense, with other countries not requiring visa interviews and utilizing visa procedures that are faster and cheaper than the US. Thus, it is incumbent upon the US government to ensure that consular officers treat applicants respectfully and professionally;

The American People in general, the States as well as all sectors of the Federal government should always be aware of the tremendous amount of economic activity that occurs as a result of foreign direct investment in the United States as well as tourist dollars spent in the United States of America. Streamlined visa processing and professional Consular staff are always a good idea, but this blogger did take some exception with at least one passage in the aforementioned article:

doctrine of consular nonreviewability – There is no formal administrative or judicial review of the overwhelming majority of visa decisions, meaning that consular officers are not accountable to applicants for the decisions they make. In the view of many, this non-accountability consciously or subconsciously emboldens consular officers, leading to a fiefdom mentality;

The administration of this blog highly recommends that readers click upon the above hyperlinks to read further from this detailed and well researched article so that all quotes cited above can be understood in context. This blogger would not say that he is unequivocally in favor of the Doctrine of Consular Non-Reviewability (also colloquially referred to as the Doctrine of “Consular Absolutism“) per se, as any time a significant amount of discretion is vested in a non-elected officer of the American government one should ponder the implications of such a state of affairs, but the argument for such a doctrine within the factual context of consular processing has to take into consideration the notion of “efficiency” which would seem to presuppose that there are some decisions which given the totality of the circumstances can only be efficiently made by an adjudicator on the ground in the applicant’s home country or country with appropriate consular jurisdiction. Presumably, there are unlikely to be a great many such adjudicators and those who do exist are likely to have a great many cases and/or applications to adjudicate. Therefore, there are reasonable arguments in favor of granting wide discretion to Consular officers in matters pertaining to factual adjudication of applications, but readers should not mistake this blogger to mean that he is in favor of unlimited discretion on the part of Consular Officers. The Doctrine of Consular Non-Reviewability provides that a great deal of deference will be paid to Consular Officers’ factual decisions by the US Courts, but that is not to say that the Courts do not have jurisdiction over visa denials especially when such denials are “facially illegitimate“. Bearing this in mind, as can be seen from the case above, American Courts are generally loathe to review visa denials as doing so could be viewed by some as a waste of Court resources and because it currently appears somewhat difficult for most Courts to sufficiently review a Consular Officer’s decision in a given case from a position that is qualitatively better than the unique perspective of the Officer on the ground in the country where the application is taking place. Proving that a Consular Officer’s decision is “facially illegitimate” could seem like a virtually insurmountable standard of proof, but fortunately it is not wholly impossible to receive judicial review of visa decisions as doing so would be a truly frightening concept from a due process perspective. That stated, having all Consular Officers’ decisions reviewed by the Court system seems equally as frightening if one considers how much time, energy, and resources would need to be expended in order to maintain such a docket.

To be clear, this blogger agrees with a great deal of Mr. Kenneth White’s analysis on many of the issues associated with Consular Processing, but where this blogger takes some degree of exception relates to the notion that officers have a “fiefdom” mentality. Although this blogger certainly cannot speak for everyone who has undergone Consular Processing, it has never been this blogger’s personal opinion that Consular Officers have a “fiefdom-mentality”. That stated, as an American Resident Abroad, this blogger must say that it does not seem like such a bad thing for American civil servants abroad, Consular Officers included, to take some pride in their position as a representative of America and the American people. As such, an Officer taking an interest in the efficiency and business of their US Embassy or US Consulate may also be prudent to take a personal interest in the overall impact of Post policies and procedures upon applicants, petitioners, and their families.

The notion of a Consular Complaint Box is something that should be pondered by interested parties long and hard especially in light of the fact that the Doctrine of Consular Non-Reviewability appears to still be as virtually unshakable as it ever has been. Therefore, the main question regarding a Consular Complaint Box that this blogger feels should be posed is: what benefit will the public receive from such an undertaking? If the Consular Officers continue to be endowed with virtually non-reviewable authority what good is it to be able to complain about it? What good would this do? This does not provide a tangible remedy to the applicant in the event of an adverse decision. Furthermore, would not the implementation of such a policy result in simply further paperwork for Department of State employees, but under such circumstances to no particularized end? In this blogger’s opinion, it is probably better that DOS use what resources it has with regard to Consular Processing to one end alone: efficiently adjudicating visa applications as that is clearly within their mandate. That stated, a complaint system to deter truly rude behavior as noted in Kenneth White’s article above may ultimately prove appropriate, but this blogger might make further suggestions. For example, how about something akin to an “Alien Miranda Warning”. Where American peace officers are required to Mirandize suspects so as to put them on constructive notice of rights like the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney it could prove beneficial for all concerned in the immigration process if Consular Officers made it clear that foreign applicants could seek the advice and counsel of licensed American attorneys regarding pending or prospective immigration matters pursuant to section 8 CFR 292.1, as amended. Such a suggestion should not be construed to be advocating attorney consultation regarding submission of complaints. Instead, attorneys may be best equipped to apprise prospective visa seekers of relevant immigration law as well as the regulations pertaining to application for various United States visa categories. One aspect of the issues surrounding Consular Processing that seems to be of little concern to the public-at-large involves doomed applications made by those who truly cannot overcome statutory presumptions such as that enshrined in section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. The time and resources expended by Posts to adjudicate and deny visa applicants pursuant to section 214(b) of the INA and the time and resources needlessly expended by the applicants who are denied under this section of the INA could often be saved through effective assistance of counsel in providing advice and information regarding the likelihood of visa application approval based upon the unique facts of a given case. In short, perhaps informing applicants and petitioners of the issues associated with US Immigration rather than creating a mechanism to complain to what appears to be rather overworked Consular Officers is the appropriate course of action at this juncture. Hopefully, by thus informing concerned parties regarding US Immigration matters the negative overall impact from so-called “visa companies”, notarios, visa agents, and fake lawyers can be diminished to the benefit of the prospective immigrant community and the American People.

more Comments: 04

11th December 2010

The issue of immigration fraud is a serious one. Authorities of the United States government within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State (DOS), the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP), and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE) are all tasked with the responsibility of screening and investigating matters pertaining to visa and immigration fraud. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, colloquially referred to as ICE, apprehended a Nigerian man in connection with US visa fraud. To quote directly from the ICE.gov website:

HOUSTON – A Nigerian man on Monday was stripped of his U.S. citizenship at his sentencing hearing for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud, naturalization fraud, and making a false statement to a federal agency. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Ibraheem Adeneye, 33, who is originally from Nigeria and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, was convicted of the charges May 7 by a jury. He has been in federal custody on these charges for about six months. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt sentenced Adeneye to the time he has already served in prison. The judge also granted the government’s motion to strip Adeneye of his U.S. citizenship. Adeneye is now subject to deportation.

Denaturalization is the process by which a person is stripped of United States Citizenship and returned to foreign national status. Regarding the issue of sham marriage and the United States Immigration process, the report went on to note:

The ICE HSI investigation was initiated in 2008. Adeneye indicated that he was engaged in brokering sham marriages between Nigerian nationals and U.S. citizens so that the Nigerians could obtain immigration benefits, ultimately leading to U.S. citizenship. In return, the U.S. citizen “spouses” received cash payments to assist the Nigerians in the deception.

Incorporating a sham marriage into an effort to obtain United States visa benefits is a serious crime as can be seen from the above cited report. Those thinking of filing for American Immigration benefits should note that it is NEVER a wise course of action to lie to immigration authorities or attempt to deceive the United States government or its officers. Even if one becomes a United States Citizen, then previous fraudulent activity during the visa process could result in possible de-naturalization and criminal charges.

It should further be noted that those seeking American visa benefits should consult a licensed attorney in an effort to gain insight into the immigration process as only an American attorney licensed and in good standing in at least one US state is entitled to provide advice, counsel, and/or possible representation before the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.

For related information please see: K1 visa Thailand or K1 Visa Singapore.

more Comments: 04

6th November 2010

การที่ผู้ตรวจการของการบริการคนเข้าเมืองและพลเมืองสหรัฐ (USCIS)มีข้อแนะนำเกี่ยวกับกระบวนการละเว้นของ I-601 เป็นเรื่องที่สร้างความน่าสนใจให้แก่ผู้ที่ติดตามบล็อก อ้างโดยตรงจากบันทึกความเข้าใจที่ผู้อำนวยการ USCIS คือ อเลเจนโดร์ เอ็น มาโยกาส ส่งไปยัง ผู้ตรวจการ CIS เมื่อเดือนมกราคม

ผู้ตรวจการ CISแนะนำว่า USCIS :

รวมศูนย์กลางการดำเนินการในทุกแบบฟอร์มI-601 เพื่อที่จะส่งให้เร็วขึ้นและมีคำวินิจฉัยที่เป็นมาตรฐาน;

จัดให้มีการกรอกแบบฟอร์ม I-601และฟอร์ม I-130 คำขอสำหรับญาติของคนต่างด้าว

จัดลำดับความเสร็จสมบูรณ์ของการจัดการเรื่องที่อยู่ต่างประเทศ (การพัฒนา) เพื่อที่จะรายงานทางสถิติที่ถูกต้องของฟอร์ม I-601 ในการอนุญาต (1) เขียนขั้นตอน (2)การติดตามโดยทาง “สถานะเรื่องของฉัน” ทางเว็บไซต์ USCIS

เผยแพร่คำแนะนำที่จะเสนอแนะแนวทางแก่ลูกความที่มีความประสงค์จะทำให้ขั้นตอนของฟอร์ม I-601เป็นไปอย่างรวดเร็ว

พัฒนาการทำงานร่วมกันระหว่าง DOS เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล และ ผู้ที่มีอำนาจตัดสินที่จัดการเกี่ยวกับฟอร์มI-601 ที่ CDJ และ

แก้ไขนโยบายของสำนักงาน CDJที่อนุญาตให้ลูกจ้างUSCIS เรียกร้องแฟ้มของชาวต่างชาติแปลงเป็นรูปแบบดิจิตอล(A-files)โดยขึ้นอยู่กับใบเสร็จรับเงินของตารางการสัมภาษณ์

บางประเด็นนั้นอาจเป็นเรื่องที่เกิดก่อนการจัดตั้งการบริการคนเข้าเมืองและพลเมืองสหรัฐ หรือสถานทูตสหรัฐ หรือสถานกงสุลสหรัฐในต่างประเทศ บันทึกที่ได้กล่าวมาแล้วค่อนข้างครอบคลุมและหากต้องการข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมสามารถหาได้จากบันทึกออนไลน์ อาจกล่าวได้ว่า USCIS ได้โต้ตอบในหลายๆประเด็นที่ผู้ตรวจการยกขึ้นมา ตามตัวอย่างข้างล่างนี้

รวมศูนย์กลางการดำเนินการในทุกแบบฟอร์มI-601 เพื่อที่จะส่งให้เร็วขึ้นและมีคำวินิจฉัยที่เป็นมาตรฐาน;

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วยในบางส่วน

USCIS กำลังประเมินความแตกต่างของรูปแบบการจัดระบบของกระบวนการจัดการฟอร์ม I-601 ข้ามประเทศ ด้วยวัตถุประสงค์ที่สร้างความต่อเนื่องและมีประสิทธิภาพ การใช้ทรัพยากรที่เหมาะสม และลดขั้นตอนการทำงานของเรื่องที่ไม่สามารถได้รับการอนุมัติอย่างรวดเร็ว ในขณะที่การรวมศูนย์กลางเป็นรูปแบบหนึ่งที่จะนำไปสู่เป้าหมาย รูปแบบอื่นๆ ตัวอย่างเช่น สองวัตถุประสงค์เฉพาะ (เช่นกระบวนการเฉพาะสำหรับฟอร์มในสองประเทศเท่านั้น) อาจจะได้รับประโยชน์บางอย่าง

บันทึกได้รับการตอบเพิ่มเติม:

จัดให้มีการกรอกแบบฟอร์ม I-601และฟอร์ม I-130 คำขอสำหรับญาติของคนต่างด้าว ร่วมกัน

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS กำลังพิจารณาข้อแนะนำนี้

ในเดือนเมษายน 2010, USCIS จัดตั้งคณะทำงานภายใต้การนำของสำนักงานนโยบายและโครงสร้างที่จะสำรวจการรวบรวมการกรอกฟอร์มและความเป็นไปได้ในการนำไปใช้ เพราะการเปลี่ยนแปลงในกระบวนการของเราสามารถส่งผลที่ไม่สามารถคาดล่วงหน้า ต้องทำให้เสร็จเรียบร้อยตามรูปแบบซึ่งเป็นไปด้วยความระมัดระวังในการจัดการความคาดหวังของผู้ยื่นคำขอและทรัพยากรของUSCIS คณะทำงานมุ่งเน้นไปที่การประเมินความเป็นไปได้และประโยชน์ที่ได้รับในการเปลี่ยนแปลงกระบวนการที่สำคัญ

คำแนะนำที่สามารถพิสูจน์ความน่าสนใจในทางปฏิบัติในขณะที่การรวบรวมการกรอกฟอร์มไว้ที่จุดเดียวอาจจะไม่มีความเป็นไปได้  ลักษณะของการกล่าวอ้างข้างบนนี้บอกเป็นนัยว่า ก่อนที่จะมีคำแนะนำนี้ได้มีการศึกษาอย่างจริงจัง ในขณะเดียวกัน ภายใต้กระบวนการในปัจจุบันมีผู้ที่ประสงค์จะละเว้นเรื่อง I-601 นอกสหรัฐอเมริกาต้องถือว่าไม่สามารถได้รับคำวินิจฉัยโดยเจ้าหน้าที่กงสุลตามปฏิบัติการของสหรัฐอเมริกา สถานทูตสหรัฐอเมริกา สถานกงสุลสหรัฐอเมริกา ดังนั้น การยื่นคำพร้อมกันตามที่กล่าวข้างต้นนั้นอาจจะไม่สอดคล้องกับกระบวนการในปัจจุบัน

จัดลำดับความเสร็จสมบูรณ์ของการจัดการเรื่องที่อยู่ต่างประเทศ (การพัฒนา) เพื่อที่จะรายงานทางสถิติที่ถูกต้องของฟอร์ม I-601 ในการอนุญาต (1) เขียนขั้นตอน (2)การติดตามโดยทาง “สถานะเรื่องของฉัน” ทางเว็บไซต์ USCIS

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วย

USCIS รายงานว่าระบบการจัดการเรื่องของ USCIS ในต่างประเทศซึ่งมีตัวแทนที่สำคัญในช่วง FY2010 ซึ่งใช้พนักงานปฏิบัติการระหว่างประเทศในวันที่ 16 สิงหาคม 2553

หวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า วิธีการนี้จะนำไปสู่การปรับปรุงกระบวนการเข้าเมืองของสหรัฐอเมริกาให้มีประสิทธิภาพมากยิ่งขึ้น

เผยแพร่คำแนะนำที่จะเสนอแนะแนวทางแก่ลูกความที่มีความประสงค์จะทำให้ขั้นตอนของฟอร์ม I-601เป็นไปอย่างรวดเร็ว

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วย

USCIS อยู่ในระหว่างการปรับปรุงคู่มือการปฏิบัติการของภาคส่วนที่ดำเนินการระหว่างประเทศเกี่ยวกับคำวินิจฉัยฟอร์ม I-601ที่จะจัดการกับคำร้องที่ขอให้ช่วยเร่งให้กระบวนการต่างๆเร็วขึ้น

หวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า คู่มือใหม่นี้ที่เกี่ยวกับการเร่งให้ขั้นตอนรวดเร็วขึ้นจะช่วยให้ผู้ยื่นคำขอและผู้ที่ได้รับผลประโยชน์เข้าใจถึงการยื่นคำร้องเพื่อที่จะทำให้กระบวนการรวดเร็วขึ้นในเรื่องที่สมควร

พัฒนาการทำงานร่วมกันระหว่าง DOS เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล และ ผู้ที่มีอำนาจตัดสินที่จัดการเกี่ยวกับฟอร์มI-601 ที่ CDJ

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วย

USCIS เห็นด้วยว่า DOS เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล และ ผู้ที่มีอำนาจวินิจฉัยของ USCIS ควรจะรักษาความร่วมมื่อที่แนบแน่นที่ CDJ และที่อื่นๆที่อยู่ต่างประเทศ สำนักงานของUSCISที่อยู่ต่างประเทศนั้นได้รับความร่วมมือจากผู้ร่วมงานDOS ใน CDJ เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล DOS และผู้ที่มีอำนาจวินิจฉัยของ USCISมีการปรึกษาหารือกันทุกวันผู้อำนวยการของ USCIS CDJ และหัวหน้าวีซ่าประเภทถาวรยังคงติดต่อกันอยู่ทุกวัน

.ในหลายๆวิธี ความร่วมมือระหว่างเจ้าหน้าที่ของตัวเทนของรัฐบาลที่แตกต่างกันเป็นตัวแทนที่ดีที่สุดของการการปรับปรุงพัฒนากระบวนการขอวีซ่าให้ดีขึ้น แม้ว่า ผู้ที่เข้าใจในกระบวนการละเว้นของกระบวนการ  I-601 นั้นต้องระลึกว่า เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุลและเจ้าหน้าที่USCIS ต้องยังคงต้องทำหน้าที่ต่อไป

แก้ไขนโยบายของสำนักงาน CDJที่อนุญาตให้ลูกจ้างUSCIS เรียกร้องแฟ้มของชาวต่างชาติแปลงเป็นรูปแบบดิจิตอล(A-files)โดยขึ้นอยู่กับใบเสร็จรับเงินของตารางการสัมภาษณ์

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วยบางส่วน

USCIS เห็นด้วยว่า กระบวนการวินิจฉัยควรจะเรียกร้องบันทึก A-file(ไม่ว่าจะอยู่ในรูปแบบดิจิตอล หรือต้นฉบับก็ตามและเป็นวิธีการประเมินเพื่อที่จะบรรลุเป้าหมายโดยปราศจากความล่าช้า

แม้ว่าบันทึกแบบดิจิตอลจะมีประสิทธิภาพมากกว่า แต่ต้องใช้เวลากว่าจะบรรลุผลตามคำแนะนำ

กระบวนการการขอวีซ่า หรือการขอละเว้นของการไม่สามารถได้รับ I-601นั้นเป็นเรื่องที่เข้าใจยากสำหรับผู้ที่ไม่คุ้นเคยกับกระบวนการคนเข้าเมือง ในหลายๆเรื่องที่เกี่ยวกับการขอละเว้นของ I-601 แต่ละคนหรือหลายๆคู่เลือกที่จะขอความช่วยเหลือจากทนายความอเมริกันที่มีประสบการณ์เกี่ยวกับการเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาและได้รับอนุญาตที่ให้คำแนะนำและคำปรึกษาที่เหมาะสมกับประเภทการเดินทางและการขอละเว้นการไม่สามารถเดินทางไปสหรัฐอเมริกาได้

To read this post in English please see: I-601 waiver.

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6th October 2010

Those familiar with this blog may note that the Diversity Visa Lottery is on the horizon. This is a no-cost application and our firm currently does not take clients for Diversity Visas. That said, there are many around the world who are eligible to submit an application to be entered in the Diversity Visa Lottery. The following is language from the Federal Register quoted directly from a posting on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website:

[Federal Register: October 1, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 190)]
[Notices]
[Page 60846-60854]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr01oc10-116]

—————————————

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

[Public Notice: 7184]

Bureau of Consular Affairs; Registration for the Diversity Immigrant (DV-2012) Visa Program

AGENCY: Department of State.

ACTION: Notice.

—————————————

SUMMARY: This public notice provides information on how to apply for the DV-2012 Program. This notice is issued pursuant to 22 CFR 42.33(b)(3) which implements sections 201(a)(3), 201(e), 203(c) and 204(a)(1)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, (8 U.S.C. 1151, 1153, and 1154(a)(1)(I)).

Instructions for the 2012 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2012)

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 and provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” Section 203(c) of the INA provides a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas (DV) each fiscal year to be made available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The annual DV program makes permanent residence visas available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. A computer-generated random lottery drawing chooses selectees for Diversity Visas. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the period of the past five years. Within each region, no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.

For DV-2012, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of

[[Page 60847]]

more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:

BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, the PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.

Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible. For DV-2012, no countries have been added or removed from the previous year’s list of eligible countries.

The Department of State implemented the electronic registration system beginning with DV-2005 in order to make the Diversity Visa process more efficient and secure. The Department utilizes special technology and other means to identify those who commit fraud for the purposes of illegal immigration or who submit multiple entries.

Diversity Visa Registration Period

Entries for the DV-2012 Diversity Visa Lottery must be submitted electronically between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 5, 2010, and noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5) Wednesday, November 3, 2010. Applicants may access the electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV) at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted. Applicants are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in Web site delays. No entries will be accepted after noon, EST, on November 3, 2010.

Requirements for Entry

To enter the DV lottery, you must be a native of one of the listed countries. See “List of Countries by Region Whose Natives Qualify.” In most cases this means the country in which you were born. However, there are two other ways you may be able to qualify. First, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible but your spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible; you can claim your spouse’s country of birth, provided both you and your spouse are on the selected entry, are issued visas, and enter the United States simultaneously. Second, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither of your parents was born there or resided there at the time of your birth, you may claim nativity in one of your parents’ country of birth, if it is a country whose natives qualify for the DV-2012 program.

To enter the lottery, you must meet either the education or work experience requirement of the DV program. You must have either a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR, two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine database will be used to determine qualifying work experience. For more information about qualifying work experience, see Frequently Asked Question 13. If you cannot meet either of these requirements, you should NOT submit an entry to the DV program. [AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 10100163 (posted Oct. 1, 2010)]

Those wishing to apply for a Diversity Visa should first ascertain if they are eligible. After determining eligibility an application must be submitted. Should an entrant be chosen to receive the visa, then Consular Processing will still be required. Therefore, applicants for a US diversity visa may still be required to submit themselves for interview at a US Embassy or US Consulate outside of the United States. Some find that attorney assistance is beneficial during the Consular Processing phase of this type of application while others choose to file pro se.

It should be noted that the Visa Lottery does not require payment of any fees  initially (although winners may need to pay Consular Processing fees and travel expenses). Therefore, those wishing to obtain this type of travel document should view anyone seeking an “application fee” with caution. Finally, as always, before retaining anyone to assist with any type of visa application it may be prudent to check the credentials of the individual to be retained in an effort to determine if he or she is a licensed American attorney who is able to practice US Immigration law.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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9th September 2010

The American Department of State’s website can be a useful resource for those interested in US Immigration. That said, there are many repositories of good information throughout the internet and some less-than-ideal resources. The following announcement was posted on the website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Due to technical software problems, the Department of State’s “Visa Policy Updates” page of their website is currently unavailable for updates. Please note: the webpage itself is currently available; however, it does not include recent updates by DOS. Until further notice, Visa Policy Updates will not be sent to subscribers, but many documents still can be found on the Department of State website at the Visa Policy Update page.

The Department of State is responsible for administering the various American Missions located abroad. These include American Embassies, Consulates, and Institutes located in Asia. Many find that information on the Department of State can be very helpful when trying to decide what type of visa is most suitable for an individual wishing to travel to the United States of America.

Some Embassies and Consulates are considered to be so-called “high volume” Posts.  In matters involving US Immigration, this appellation could be applied to the US Embassy Thailand or the US Consulate HCMC as these posts handle a larger caseload of American Immigration matters compared to some of their counterparts in Southeast Asia.  That said, adjudications of visa applications are conducted by an officer at the US Embassy or US Consulate with jurisdiction over the proposed beneficiary.  Such an adjudication is made pursuant to relevant US Immigration law and based upon the Consular Officer’s findings of fact. Each case is adjudicated based upon the unique set of facts in the case. Therefore, the rather general information which is provided on various websites throughout the internet, both government sponsored and privately funded, cannot necessarily be relied upon as definitive for every situation.

American Embassies and Consulates process a large number of visa applications each year. As each adjudication is different there is effectively no way of providing uniform information about the visa application adjudication process. Those interested in obtaining a visa to the USA are well advised to contact a US lawyer with experience dealing with United States Immigration as such an individual can provide relevant insight into the visa process and advise clients as to the appropriate visa category based upon the client’s circumstances.

For related information please see: USCIS Processing Times.

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