Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘dual intent’

20th December 2010

This blogger recently came upon a press release detailing the enactment of a final rule regarding E-2 visas for those wishing to invest and conduct business in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS):

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today posted a final rule in the Federal Register that creates a nonimmigrant investor visa classification in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The “E-2 CNMI Investor Visa” allows foreign long-term investors to reside in the CNMI through December 2014. Petitions for the E-2 CNMI Investor classification will be accepted beginning Jan. 18, 2011. Petitions received before Jan. 18, 2011, will be rejected.

Authorized by the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) of 2008, the E-2 CNMI Investor Visa will be issued for two years, is renewable, and is valid only in the CNMI. The investor’s spouse and children may also apply for status as dependents of the investor.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to the CNMI it should be noted that only recently was this jurisdiction folded into the group of jurisdictions which utilize the Department of Homeland Security to set and enforce immigration law and policy. In the past, the CNMI maintained relatively autonomous status when it came to immigration matters, but newly enacted rules have made CNMI Immigration rules very similar to those of the rest of the USA.

E-2 visas are very useful travel documents for those wish to go to the United States of America (or in this instance, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) for business or investment purposes. Strictly speaking, E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas, but unlike the B-2 visa (US Tourist Visa) the E-2 is effectively treated as if it were a dual intent travel document in the same vein as an L-1 visa. One of the benefits of dual intent travel documents is that the applicant does not need to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent as set forth in section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

The E-2 visa is sometimes confused with the EB-5 visa. The United States EB-5 visa is an Immigrant Investor visa. Pursuant to the provisions of relevant American Immigration law the applicant for an EB-5 visa is accorded Lawful Permanent Resident status upon lawful admission to the United States in EB-5 status. It should be noted that the EB-5 visa process can be rather cumbersome as a petition must initially be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Furthermore, the EB-5 visa seeker must also undergo Consular Processing at a US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, or US Mission with appropriate Consular jurisdiction. Finally, the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) is tasked with inspecting and making findings of admissibility when any foreign national requests admission to the USA. As stated above, upon lawful admission to the USA, an alien national in EB-5 status will be granted conditional lawful permanent residence in the USA.

For related information please see: E2 Visa Thailand.

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16th August 2010

The J1 visa can be an effective travel document for those seeking admission to the United States for cultural and educational exchange. It was recently announced that certain changes will be implemented which may have a significant impact upon J1 visa applicants. The American State Department has made rule changes which may effect J1 visa processing, to quote a recent press release distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

On June 19, 2007, the Department published an interim final rule amending its regulations regarding Trainees and Interns to, among other things, eliminate the distinction between “non-specialty occupations” and “specialty occupations,” establish a new internship program, and modify the selection criteria for participation in a training program.

This document confirms the Interim Final Rule as final and amends the requirements to permit the use of telephone interviews to screen potential participants for eligibility, to remove the requirement that sponsors secure a Dun & Bradstreet report profiling companies with whom a participant will be placed and also amends this provision to provide clarification regarding the verification of Worker’s Compensation coverage for participants and use of an Employer Identification Number to ascertain that a third-party host organization providing training is a viable entity, and to clarify that trainees and interns may repeat training and internship programs under certain conditions.

It would appear that the US State Department is making these changes in order to better enjoy the benefits of technological advances. The use of telephone interviews for eligibility screening purposes will likely decrease overall processing time. Furthermore, repealing the Dun & Bradstreet report requirement will likely save individuals as well as companies time and resources when they opt to file for J-1 visa benefits on behalf of a foreign national.

The J-1 visa is often utilized by those who travel to the USA as exchange visitors. Often, those applying for such a travel documents do so at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. As the J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, the Consular Officer adjudicating the application must ascertain whether the applicant should be granted the visa notwithstanding the provisions of section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act which requires that those seeking a non-immigrant visa show “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the United States. Some are under the mistaken impression that a J-1 visa is a “dual intent” travel document akin to the L1 visa. Due to the provisions of section 214b of the INA, the applicant for a J1 visa should not maintain an intention to remain in the USA indefinitely.

For related information please see: US Tourist Visa.

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6th August 2010

As stated in recent postings on this blog, Holiday Closing Schedules for US Embassies and US Consulates overseas are routinely posted on this site in order to provide insight to those American travelers abroad who may be seeking services from a US Embassy or US Consulate located in one’s host country. Also, foreign nationals seeking services at an American Mission abroad may benefit from information regarding Post closure. The following Holiday closing schedule is directly quoted from the official website of the United States Consulate in Chennai, India:

The U.S. Mission will officially observe only the holidays listed below.

Date Day Holiday Type
January 1 Friday New Year’s Day American
January 14 Thursday Pongal/Tamil New Year’s Day
(not for Karnataka)
Indian
January 15 Friday Thiruvalluvar Day Indian
January 18 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday American
January 26 Tuesday Republic Day Indian
February 15 Monday Washington’s Birthday American
April 2 Friday Good Friday Indian
April 14 Wednesday Dr. Ambedkar’s Birthday Indian
May 31 Monday Memorial Day American
July 5* Monday Independence Day American
September 1 Wednesday Krishna Jayanthi Indian
September 6 Monday Labor Day American
September 10 Friday Idu’l Fitr (Ramzan) Indian
October 11 Monday Columbus Day American
November 1 Monday Karnataka Rajyotsava Day
(for Karnataka only)
Indian
November 5 Friday Deepavali Indian
November 11 Thursday Veteran’s Day American
November 17 Wednesday Idu’l Zuha (Bakrid) Indian
November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving Day American
December 17 Friday Muharram Indian
December 24** Friday Christmas Day American

* in lieu of July 4, Sunday
** in lieu of December 25, Saturday

Generally, Americans seeking assistance at a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas are in need of services such as Passport replacement, retrieval of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, addition of visa pages, or signature notarization. For services such as this American Citizens are generally wise to check with the American Citizen Services (ACS) section of an Embassy or Consulate overseas in order to ascertain if appointments can be scheduled online. The reason why this is so important is due to the fact that many ACS sections have a great deal of demand placed upon their time. Therefore, scheduling an appointment in advance and specifying the services sought can assist the Consular Officers in streamlining their services in such a way that the customers needs are met quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

Those seeking a US visa abroad must check each Post’s policy regarding visa interview scheduling. Generally, non-immigrant visa interviews are conducted in a different manner compared to Immigrant visa interviews. It has been this author’s experience that for purposes of visa application adjudications abroad K1 visa applications are treated as Immigrant visa applications even though the visa itself is a non-immigrant quasi-dual intent travel document.

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1st March 2010

Those going through the US visa process may be aware of the I-864 affidavit of support. This document is used in order for the United States government to receive assurance that the prospective immigrant will not become a public charge in the United States. In family based immigrant visa cases involving visas such as the CR1 Visa or the IR1 visa the I-864 is used. The I-864 should not be confused with the I-134 affidavit of support which is often utilized by those seeking either a K1 visa or a K3 Visa. However, at the time of this writing, it is highly likely that use of the I-134 in K-3 cases will fall by the wayside as fewer K-3 visa applications will be forwarded on to US Embassies and Consulates abroad due to the administrative closure of new K-3 applications at the National Visa Center. That being said, non-immigrant dual intent travel documents such as the K1 fiance visa and the K3 marriage visa do not use the I-864, but use the I-134.

There are certain Immigrant visas which do not utilize the I-864 as the affidavit of support requirement is waived. These type of cases require the submission of the I-864w. To quote the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in their own instructions for the form itself:

“The Form I-864 is legally required for many family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants to show that they have adequate means of financial support and that they are not likely to become a public charge. Certain classes of immigrants are exempt from the I-864 requirement and therefore must file Form I-864W instead of Form I-864 or Form I-864EZ.”

Under the Child Citizenship Act of the year 2000, there are certain children who enter the United States and become United States Citizens by operation of law upon admission at a port of entry by the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP). These children may then apply for a certificate of citizenship which is somewhat similar to a naturalization certificate except for the fact that the child is not naturalized, but a citizen statutorily. In cases where the child would become a citizen upon entry, the obligations incurred by an I-864 would automatically extinguish upon entry since the child would be a US Citizen. Therefore, the need to adjudicate means of support are made somewhat redundant. This may be the policy reason underlying the promulgation of the I-864w.

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15th February 2010

A recently proposed rule would increase the fees charged by the US Department of State for services performed at Embassies and Consulates abroad. To quote the AILA website:

“This rule proposes adjustments in current fees for consular services. The Department of State is adjusting the fees in light of an independent cost of service study’s (“CoSS”) findings that the U.S. Government is not fully covering its costs for providing these services under the current fee structure. The primary objective of the adjustments to the Schedule of Fees is to ensure that fees for consular services reflect costs to the United States of providing the services.”

Although not exhaustive, the following quotes list the proposed fee increases for services that will likely have the biggest impact upon US Citizens resident abroad:

“Passport Book Application Services

The Department is increasing the application fee for a passport book for an adult (age 17 and older) from $55 to $70. The application fee for a passport book for a minor (age 16 and younger) will remain at $40. The CoSS estimated that the cost of processing first-time passport applications for both adults and minors is $105.80 based on a projected FY10 workload of 11.9 million. This cost includes border security costs covered by the passport book security surcharge, discussed immediately below. Because a minor passport book has a validity of just five years, in contrast with the ten-year validity period of an adult passport book, the Department has decided to leave the minor passport book application fee at $40, and allocate the remainder of the cost of processing minor passport book applications to the adult passport application fee.”

The proposed rule goes further as there will be further fee increases for new passport seekers:

“Passport Book Security Surcharge

The Department is increasing the passport book security surcharge from $20 to $40 in order to cover the costs of increased border security which includes, but is not limited to, enhanced biometric features in the document itself. The passport book security surcharge is the same for adult passport books and for minor passport books.”

The addition of visa pages to an American’s passport has always been a courtesy provided free of charge. However, the proposed rule would change this:

“Additional Passport Visa Pages

In the past, the Department provided extra pages in a customer’s passport, to which foreign countries’ visas may then be affixed, at no charge. The CoSS found that the cost of the pages themselves, of having the pages placed in the book in a secure manner by trained personnel, and of completing the required security checks results in a cost to the U.S. Government of $82.48 based on a projected FY10 workload of 218,000. Therefore, the Department will charge $82 for this service.”

For those American Citizens who have a child overseas a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is necessary in order to ultimately obtain a US passport for the child. That being said, the fee for a CRBA would be increased under the newly proposed rule:

“Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States

The CoSS found that the cost of accepting and processing an application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States is $197.28 based on an FY10 workload projection of 80,000 applications. The Department has decided to raise the fee from $65 to $100, still significantly less than cost, based on its view that too high a fee might deter U.S. citizen parents from properly documenting the citizenship of their children at birth, a development the Department feels would be detrimental to national interests.”

The Immigrant visa fees associated with the processing of Immigrant family based visa applications (such as IR-1 visas and CR-1 visas) are to be decreased pursuant to the proposed rule:

“Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee

The Department is changing the fee for processing an immigrant visa from $355 for all immigrant visas, to a four-tiered fee based on CoSS estimates for each discrete category of immigrant visa, as applications for certain applications cost more to process than others. Accordingly, the application fee for a family-based (immediate relative and preference) visa (processed on the basis of an I-130, I-600 or I-800 petition) will be $330.”

This being said, employment based application fees are to rise dramatically. Immigrant visa fees should not be confused with non-immigrant dual intent visa fees (such as those payable for the obtainment of a K1 visa or a K3 Visa) which are expected to rise in the future. Finally, an often overlooked service of the American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or a US Consulate involves document notarization and legalization:

“Providing Documentary Services

The CoSS found the cost to the U.S. Government of providing documentary services overseas is $76.36 per service based on a projected FY 2010 workload of 380,000 services. These are primarily notarial services, certification of true copies, provision of documents, and authentications. However, the Department is raising these fees only from $30 to $50, lower than cost, in order to minimize the impact on the public.”

The above changes in the fee structure for Consular services will hopefully result in increased funds which will provide Americans with better services when they need important documentation.

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2nd January 2010

For those interested in a detailed analysis of the K-3 Marriage visa please see: K3 visa Thailand. For general US Immigration information please see: US Visa Thailand.

K3 Visas in 2010

It is a new year in both Thailand and America and this author felt that this would provide a perfect opportunity to discuss the K3 visa and the obtainment process in 2010. At present, there is no reason to believe that the K3 visa process will dramatically change. That being said, Comprehensive Immigration Reform will likely be a major issue in the coming months and US Family Visas will probably be effected by any changes to the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Since any commentary regarding future changes to the process would simply be an exercise in speculation it may better to simply explain the current process and processing times in order to facilitate more informed decision making on the part of future applicants and petitioners.

Currently, the K3 visa application is submitted after the submission of an initial I-130 application. At present, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) estimates that an I-129f application (the application that must be submitted in order to obtain a K3 visa) will be processed in approximately 5 months. This figure is slightly misleading as a K3 application requires that one include a copy of the Notice of Action 1 receipt for the initial I-130. It usually takes a minimum of one week after I-130 submission to receive a Notice of Action 1 receipt. Therefore, one should take this into consideration when making plans and timing calculations regarding the K3 visa for a Thai spouse.

K3 visas are processed through the National Visa Center in a manner similar to K1 visa applications. The application is then sent to the United States Embassy in Bangkok where the applicant (or their attorney of record) is notified that they can submit an application and request a visa interview.

The major difference between the K1 visa and the K3 visa is the fact that the K3 visa is a 2 year multiple entry visa where the K1 visa only provides the bearer with 90 days of lawful status in the United States. They are both dual intent visas in that they allow the bearer to have both non-immigrant and immigrant intent. This could be viewed as a benefit as it does not require the Consular Officer interviewing the applicant to analyze the applicant’s intentions through the prism of section 214b of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 214b is commonly cited by Consular Officers when denying applications for a US tourist visa or other non-immigrant visa categories.

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19th December 2009

The United States Department of State wishes to amend the current rule regarding the fees to be charged to applicants for non-immigrant visas overseas. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has recently released information regarding the proposed rule change. Below is a direct quote from this announcement:

“This rule amends the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services (Schedule) for nonimmigrant visa application and border crossing card processing fees. The rule raises from $131 to $140 the fee charged for the processing of an application for most non-petition-based nonimmigrant visas…The Department of State is adjusting the fees to ensure that sufficient resources are available to meet the costs of providing consular services in light of an independent cost of service study’s findings that the U.S. Government is not fully covering its costs for the processing of these visas under the current cost structure.”

Although it is fairly self evident that this proposed rule change will affect non-immigrant visa categories such as the J1 visa, the F1 visa, the B1 visa, and the B2 visa (commonly referred to as the US Tourist Visa) there is some question as to whether or not this rule change will have an impact upon those seeking a K1 visa or a K3 visa. As can be read in the above quotation, the rule should only impact “non-petition based non-immigrant visas…” As K1 visa applications and K3 visa applications are both based upon an underlying visa petition made to USCIS this proposed rule begs the question: how will it impact K visa applicants?

The K1 visa and the K3 visa are non-immigrant dual intent visas. They are non-immigrant in that they do not allow the visa holder to remain in the United States indefinitely upon entry, but they allow for the bearer to apply for adjustment of status at a later date (provided certain prerequisites are met; in the case of the K1, marriage to the original petitioner).

This author believes that is is likely that the final rule will include a provisions raising the fees for the K visas as well as the other non-immigrant visa categories. Immigrant visa fees are in a separate category and for those filing a petition in the USA, these fess are paid directly to the National Visa Center (NVC). Many people are under the mistaken impression that in family visa cases the fees paid initially to USCIS are all-inclusive. This is not the case as the US Embassies and US Consulates are under the jurisdiction of DOS while USCIS is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) therefore, processing fees must be made to each agency at different stages.

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23rd November 2009

The K1 visa process is long and complicated. At the end of the process, the K1 visa holder is permitted to enter the United States one time for a duration of 90 days. Unlike a United States Tourist visa, the K1 fiance visa is a dual intent travel document. This means that the bearer is entitled to simultaneous immigrant and non-immigrant intent. Luckily, the K1 visa holder would likely not be placed in expedited removal proceedings based upon the notion that the alien is an undisclosed immigrant without proper documentation. That being said, there are still considerations which must be made before a Thai fiancee enters the United States of America.

The first major issue many American men ask about: Can My Thai fiancee leave the USA after she enters on her K1 visa? She can leave the United States, but doing so would cause her to fall out of K1 status and a new visa would need to be obtained. There is a document called an advance parole travel document which would allow the Thai fiancee to leave the USA and reenter in the same status. That being said, it is never wise to leave the USA after entering on a K1 until after the adjustment of status application is approved. It is wise to make certain the the Thai fiancee does not have any pressing concerns that must be dealt with abroad. Some circumstances cannot be foreseen, but it is not advisable to plan on turning around and leaving the USA shortly after entering on a K1.

Upon reaching a port of entry in the USA, the Thai fiancee will pass through Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This is the point at which she will need to present her visa. Most people do not realize that the visa is not merely the document in her passport, but also a large amount of documentation that the Embassy gives her after approving the application. This documentation is remitted in a sealed envelope which is not to be opened by anyone other than the CBP Officer. Generally, the CBP officer will ask some routine questions and usually admit the alien fiancee. In very extreme cases, it may be possible for a CBP officer to turn the entrant away. However, this author has yet to see a K1 visa holder turned away at the port of entry. With this in mind, couples should keep an eye upon the expiration date of the visa as this is critically important. If the visa expires before entry, then the entrant will need to reapply for a new visa at an Embassy or Consulate in Thailand.

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