Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘expedited removal’

29th March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that it would appear as though the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is placing certain deportations on hold if such a proceeding pertains to the same sex spouse of a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. To quote directly from the website dailynews-update.net:

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service confirmed Monday that it has temporarily put some deportations of partners in same-sex marriages on hold if they could be affected by the recent Department of Justice decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Chris Bentley, Press Secretary for the USCIS said in a statement: “USCIS has issued guidance to the field asking that related cases be held in abeyance while awaiting final guidance related to distinct legal issues.”

The administration of this blog highly recommends that readers click on the above links to view this story in its entirety.

There are many “distinct legal issues” at play when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage and governmental recognition thereof. Those who read this web log with any frequency may have noticed that this blogger has dedicated a great deal of time to commenting and following this issue as it is truly a struggle for both the civil rights of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents as well as a struggle for Federal recognition of sovereign State prerogatives on the issue of marriage.

Throughout the struggle for equal marriage rights for the LGBT community there have been many legislators who have supported the cause of same sex bi-national couples. Most notably, Representative Jerrold Nadler has repeatedly introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) in an effort to make headway in securing immigration benefits for same sex bi-national couples in the same manner accorded to their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile, as noted on this blog, groups such as Immigration Equality and their Immigration Equality Action Fund Blog have recently announced a position regarding DHS issuance of Green Cards for foreign same sex partners of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. Announcements such as these are important because they illuminate the extent to which the political and immigration systems are evolving in an effort to deal with this issue. Clearly, the LGBT equal rights movement has an organic base committed to seeing real change in the immigration system.

It was recently noted on this blog that the Obama administration’s Attorney General Eric Holder issued a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives noting that the administration no longer felt that pursuing so-called “Defense of Marriage Act“  (DOMA) cases was Constitutional. There are some who would argue that this action is contrary to the administration’s duty pursuant to United States law. Some members of Congress, as well as apparent presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, have even made noises about impeachment regarding this issue. As of the time of this writing, such an action has not taken place.

This blogger personally disagrees with the American administration’s decision not to pursue DOMA cases because doing so could preclude Supreme Court adjudication due to lack of a “case or controversy” before that body. This blogger would also argue that the Supreme Court is the best adjudicator of this issue as there are many ramifications of same sex marriage recognition pursuant to the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

How the whole issue of same sex marriage, and American government recognition thereof; will ultimately be decided remains to be seen, but for advocates of equal LGBT immigration rights this recent USCIS decision is definitely a positive one.

For related information please see: LGBT visa.

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31st October 2010

In recent weeks there seems to have been some confusion related to the issue of overstaying one’s visa in Thailand. It would appear that there was a certain amount of consternation being created as a result of postings on the internet discussing Thai Immigration policies regarding overstay. Apparently, Thai Immigration authorities are heavily scrutinizing departing foreigners’ visas to ensure that those leaving the Kingdom of Thailand remained in lawful status for the duration of their stay and those not in lawful status at the time of departure must face legal consequences in the form of fines and possible incarceration. Penalties for overstay in Thailand have always been prescribed by relevant Thai Immigration law, but confusion seems to have arisen as a result of a posting on the internet stating that Thai Immigration procedures would be changing. However, the Phuket Gazette website phuketgazette.net subsequently reported that such speculation was incorrect. To quote directly from the Phuket Gazette:

Col Panuwat today told the Gazette, “I contacted the legal department at Immigration Bureau Headquarters on Soi Suan Plu in Bangkok, the Phuket Airport Immigration Superintendent and other authorities as well.”

“All have assured me that they are still following all the terms of the Immigration Act 1979, enacted on February 29 that year,” he said.

Under the Act, “any alien who stays in the Kingdom without permission, or with permission expired or revoked, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years, or a fine not exceeding 20,000 baht, or both.”

Penalties for Immigration violators can be rather severe, but in many cases individuals find that they have overstayed their visa by a matter of days. In a situation similar to this it is reasonable to believe that Immigration officers are unlikely to impose more than a fine on the offending party as they depart Thailand of their own accord. However, as the duration of one’s unlawful presence increases so too could one assume that the potential penalties might increase as well. Bearing that in mind, those pondering the overstay issue are wise to note that Royal Thai Immigration Officers have significant discretion in matters involving visas, admission to Thailand, and overstay in Thailand. As the aforementioned posting went on to note:

The Phuket Gazette notes that Immigration officers at checkpoints have always had complete discretion on what punitive measures to take with overstays, as specified above.

They can also deny entry to anyone arriving at a border checkpoint for any reason, even if the person arriving is in possession of a valid visa.

In the United States, Immigration matters are generally dealt with under Congressional plenary power and Immigration officers at the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) are empowered with the authority to place prospective entrants into expedited removal proceedings or to simply deny a foreign national, even if said individual has a valid visa, admission to the USA. Thailand’s immigration rules are different from those of the United States, but one thing remains constant: Immigration Officers at any checkpoint throughout Thailand retain a great deal of discretion in matters pertaining to overstay under Thai law. Therefore, foreign nationals in Thailand should expect for overstay matters to be handled on a cases by case basis as each case is unique and no one has a right to remain in the Kingdom of Thailand without being in lawful status.

For related information please see: Thailand visa or I-601 waiver.

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28th September 2010

A routinely asked question by many American Citizens who have been living overseas is: can I get an American tourist visa for my foreign girlfriend or boyfriend? In the context of Cambodia, the question is usually phrased as “Can I get my Cambodian girlfriend (or boyfriend) a US Tourist visa?” In most cases, the applicant cannot obtain a United States tourist visa pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

For those who are unfamiliar with the American Immigration process or the visa application process, the United States offers a recreational visa for foreign nationals under the category B-2. The B2 visa is highly sought after by those wishing to travel to the United States for recreational purposes. That said, the US Tourist visa application, and virtually all non-immigrant visa applications, requires that the applicant have true Non-Immigrant intent when traveling to the United States of America. Furthermore, pursuant to language contained in section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer is required to presume that all non-immigrant visa applicants are actually intending immigrants unless evidence can be produced to the contrary. This creates a so-called “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby an applicant must show that he or she has strong ties to, in this scenario, Cambodia (or another country outside of the USA) and weak ties to the United States. Oftentimes, the mere existence of an American Citizen significant other is a mitigating factor in favor of denial. Therefore, those boyfriends and girlfriends of US Citizens applying for US tourist visas find their applications rejected pursuant to 214b.

Those who wish to reside in the United States should not apply for a Tourist visa. However, in the past, some tried to use the US tourist visa as a method of circumventing the comparatively longer processing times of the K1 visa (for foreign fiancees) or the Immigrant visas (for the spouses of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents). Under US Immigration law it is illegal to intentionally mislead an interviewing officer when applying for a visa. Therefore, those who apply for a B2 visa (or an F1 visa, J1 visa, or B1 visa for that matter) with the preconceived intention to use it to immigrate to the US could be severely penalized if the deception is discovered. For this reason, those who wish to bring a foreign loved one to the United States to reside are well advised to apply for a family based immigration petition rather than attempt to deceive Consular Officers abroad.

Even if a US Citizen’s girlfriend or boyfriend obtains a US visa, this does not necessarily mean that they will gain entry into the United States. In recent years, this author has noted that the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Service has been increasingly vigilant in watching for those “immigrants” traveling to the United States without proper documentation. Pursuant to legislation passed in the 1990s, USCBP is authorized to place those traveling to the US on tourist visas with undisclosed immigrant intent into expedited removal. Those who are removed from the United States in this manner may be ineligible to return for a substantial period of time.

Those seeking non-immigrant visa benefits are well advised to be clear and honest on a visa application. While those who wish to bring a fiance or spouse to the USA to reside should seriously consider the status of their relationship and submit an application or petition that accurately reflects the parties’ intentions.

For related information please see: US Visa Thai Girlfriend or K1 Visa Cambodia.

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20th September 2010

The United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) is tasked with maintaining the security of America’s ports and overseeing the execution of customs regulations. In previous posts on this blog, it has been noted that there is a great deal of economic opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region. Some Americans are unfamiliar with a body known colloquially as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation). This body has become an increasingly important platform for discussion of various subjects pertaining to inter-jurisdictional matters arising in the Asia-Pacific region. To quote the APEC website directly:

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region .

APEC is the only inter governmental grouping in the world operating on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and equal respect for the views of all participants. Unlike the WTO or other multilateral trade bodies, APEC has no treaty obligations required of its participants. Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.

This consensus driven initiative has proven effective in facilitating international trade, cooperation, and dialogue. In a recent press release it was announced that the USCBP will likely be taking on a more hand-on role within the APEC framework. To quote the press release as distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that it will host the Subcommittee on Customs Procedures as part of the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings that will be chaired by the United States. The Sub-committee on Customs Procedures coordinates CBP’s efforts in customs, immigration and counter-terrorism with partner agencies throughout APEC member countries. The yearlong chairmanship will be handed over to CBP from the Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau today.

“CBP is proud to be hosting the distinguished members of the Sub-committee on Customs procedures for the 2011 APEC meetings,” said Commissioner Alan Bersin. “It is of vital importance to the security of our global economy for the members to coordinate and share
customs best practices.”

The subcommittee is a working level group within APEC. It brings Customs administrations of APEC Member Economies together to simplify and harmonize customs procedures and to ensure trade moves efficiently and safely across the Asia-Pacific region. APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The APEC region is home to more than 2.7 billion
people and represents approximately 60 percent of the world GDP and 44 percent of world trade.

Japan officially turns over the Chair of APEC to President Barack Obama at the November 13-14, 2010 Leader’s Meeting in Yokohama, Japan.

This is a very interesting development from an economic perspective as it would appear that the United States is taking a keener interest in Asia-Pacific affairs. This may be due to the recent downturn in the US economy as well as the rise of The Peoples’ Republic of China as a major player in global economic relations. Whatever the reason for this increasing interest in the region, this author welcomes further streamlining of Customs procedures in an effort to stimulate new transnational trade and facilitate preexisting trading relationships in an effort to increase the volume trade between the United States and the members of APEC.

Hopefully, through voluntary cooperation trade can be increased and the security of the USA and the other APEC member nations will be increased. To further quote the aforementioned press release distributed by AILA:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Hopefully, this new multilateral initiative will be beneficial for all concerned as US officials and Customs authorities from other participating nations can pool some resources in an effort to combat international crime and facilitate the execution of relevant immigration laws.

Many Americans and foreign nationals are under the mistaken impression that Customs and Border Protection simply “rubber stamps” entrants to the United states who are either from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program or have a US Tourist Visa. Nothing could be further from the truth as even those entering the USA with a valid visa could be turned away or placed in Expedited removal proceedings depending upon their travel history. Those interested in traveling to the USA from a country abroad may find the assistance of an American attorney beneficial as such an individual may be able to provide insight into the Immigration process and streamline the processing of visa applications and petitions.

For related information please see: US Visa China.

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8th September 2010

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE or more commonly referred to by the acronym: ICE) is tasked with enforcing American Immigration and Customs law. Often ICE officers are involved in programs aimed at apprehending those in the United States illegally or those who initially came to the United States legally, but later either dropped out of lawful status or committed a criminal offense which created a legal ground for removal. For the most part, ICE seems to primarily deal with immigration violations which occur along the Southern border of the United States as this has increasingly been an area where illegal immigration occurs frequently. However, their mandate includes all immigrants and foreign nationals from countries around the globe and in a recently promulgated announcement from  the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), it was noted that those from Asian countries who violate US law are just as susceptible to removal. To quote directly from the aforementioned announcement:

SEATTLE – In a chartered flight that originated in Seattle on Aug. 31, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) returned 96 immigration violators to the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and Cambodia; 66 of them had committed criminal offenses in the United States.


ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) coordinated the flight that returned 66 Filipinos, 18 Indonesians, 5 Cambodians, 4 Malaysians, 2 Japanese, and 1 Vietnamese nationals to their respective countries. The group included 79 males and 17 females. These individuals came into ICE custody from locations throughout the United States and were housed at various detention facilities across the country before being transported to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., shortly before the flight.


Among the 66 who had been convicted of criminal offenses while living in the United States, their crimes included homicide, felony drug trafficking and possession, rape and other sex crimes, aggravated assault, weapons possession, grand theft, and burglary.


“This year, ICE expects to remove a record number of criminal aliens from the country and charter flights like this are a big part of making that happen,” said ICE Director John Morton. “The United States welcomes law-abiding immigrants, but foreign nationals who violate our laws and commit crimes in our communities should be on notice that ICE is going to use all its resources to find you and send you home.”


ICE officers and medical staff with the Division of Immigration Health Services accompanied aliens on the flight.

Removal from the United States is a serious matter and those immigrants present in the USA on some sort of immigrant visa are well advised to adhere to US law and maintain lawful immigration status at all times. That said, those who have been deported from the US are generally not able to lawfully reenter the United States for a statutorily prescribed period of time. Those barred from the USA may be able to reenter after an approval of either an I-601 waiver or an I-212 petition for advance permission to reenter the USA. In some cases, those removed from the United States are indefinitely ineligible for readmission to the US. USICE offices overseas seem to be tasked with making certain that those removed from the United States actually return to their home country or remain abroad in an effort to prevent from them returning to the USA unlawfully.

United States Immigration law is a complex area of American jurisprudence. The existence of an American warrant on an alien’s record or prior criminal convictions in US Courts can have a serious impact upon one’s ability to immigrate to, and remain in, the United States.

Those seeking information about specific immigration issues are well advised to contact a US attorney in order to ascertain one’s options pursuant to American Immigration law.

For related information please see: Warrant For Arrest, US Visa Indonesia, or US Visa Vietnam.

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14th August 2010

This author recently came across the following information regarding petitions submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The following is a direct quotation from a press release from the Organization of American States distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

On December 27, 2002 and July 17, 2003, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Inter-American Commission” or the “IACHR”) received petitions from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the law firm of Gibbs Houston Pauw, and the Center for Human Rights and Justice (“the petitioners”) against the Government of the United States (“the State” or “United States”) on behalf of Wayne Smith and his children and Hugo Armendariz and his children, respectively, (hereinafter collectively the “alleged victims”) in relation to Mr. Smith and Mr. Armendariz’s deportation from the United States. According to the petitions, the State violated the alleged victims’ rights protected under Articles I (right to life, liberty and personal security), V (right  to private and family life), VI (right to family), VII (right to protection for mothers and children), IX (right to inviolability of the home), XVIII (right to fair trial) and XXVI (right to due process of law) of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (the “American Declaration”).

Deportation, also referred to as removal, is the process whereby foreign national(s) residing or remaining temporarily in the United States, either lawfully or unlawfully, are sent back to their home country (or another country outside of the United states) usually following proceedings in which a tribunal adjudicates the legality of a foreign national’s presence in the United States. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

Regarding the merits of the case, the petitioners allege that Messrs. Smith and Armendariz, both of whom were legal permanent residents in the United States, were subjected to deportation without permitting them to present a meaningful defense in administrative and judicial courts, including the following alleged internationally-required consideration of humanitarian equities to deportation: the alleged victims’ length of legal residency in the United States; the alleged victims’ family ties in the United States; the potential hardship on the family members left behind in the United States; the alleged victims’ links with their countries of origin; the extent of the alleged victims’ rehabilitation and social contribution to the United States; any medical or psychological considerations; and the gravity of the alleged victims’ offense and the age when it was committed.

Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) is a legal status in the United States also referred to as “Green Card” status. Those American Citizens married to a foreign national often seek a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa in order to obtain the benefits of lawful permanent residence for their foreign loved one(s). Under certain circumstances an alien present in the United States in lawful permanent resident status can be stripped of said status if they have committed certain “aggravated” criminal offenses or other acts which are deemed to be grounds for removal from the USA, or grounds of inadmissibility to the United States (if the LPR has been abroad and is seeking readmission to the USA or if State law allows activity which Federal law deems to be a legal grounds of inadmissibility) . To further quote the aforementioned press release:

In its response on the merits, the State asserts that under international law each sovereign nation has the right to establish reasonable, objective immigration laws that govern the circumstances under which non-citizens may reside in its country. From this principle, the State argues that the statutory scheme established by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (hereinafter “IIRIRA”) and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (hereinafter “AEDPA”) is a reasonable exercise of sovereign authority to protect U.S. citizens and other non-citizens alike who reside in the United States. Under IIRIRA and AEDPA, a legal permanent resident who has been convicted of an “aggravated felony,” is deportable without the opportunity of receiving a waiver of deportation from an immigration or federal judge. In addition, the State asserts that the petitioners interpret the relevant articles under the American Declaration too expansively and that they fail to recognize the proviso in Article XXVIII of the American Declaration, which permits Member States under certain circumstances to curtail a person’s individual rights in order to preserve the rights and security of others. The State asserts that the mandatory deportation of a non-citizen convicted of an “aggravated felony” is such a circumstance.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) is a significant piece of Immigration legislation in that it changed some of the procedures relevant to removal. Specifically, expedited removal, a comparatively quick removal proceeding often conducted by Officers of the Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP), was essentially created by the  provisions of the IIRAIRA. In recent years, some believe that deportation of “aggravated felons” in LPR status has increased, but that some of those removed from the USA have had certain due process rights violated in the course of their removal. The case in question seems to rely upon arguments based upon this supposition. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

After having reviewed the positions of the parties and their accompanying evidence, the IACHR concludes that the United States is responsible for violations of Wayne Smith and Hugo Armendariz’s rights protected under Articles V, VI, VII, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration. The Inter-American Commission further concludes that it is well-recognized under international law that a Member State must provide non-citizen residents an opportunity to present a defense against deportation based on humanitarian and other considerations, such as the rights protected under Articles V, VI, and VII of the American Declaration. Each Member State’s administrative or judicial bodies, charged with reviewing deportation orders, must be permitted to give meaningful
consideration to a non-citizen resident’s defense, balance it against the State’s sovereign right to enforce reasonable, objective immigration policy, and provided effective relief from deportation if merited. The United States did not follow these international norms in the present case. The IACHR presents its recommendations to the State regarding these violations of the American Declaration.

One can speculate as to the ultimate result of the above decision by the IACHR as the above finding could have implications  in future removal proceedings as agents of the United States government as well as Immigration adjudicators may be required to provide future prospective deportees with an opportunity to form a defense strategy based upon humanitarian considerations. The exact nature of future defenses based upon humanitarian grounds remains to be seen, but this finding may place more rights in the hands of those foreign nationals in American removal proceedings.

For related information please see: I-601 waiver.

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10th June 2010

A frequently discussed topic on this blog is the US Tourist Visa. The US Embassy Bangkok processes a significant number of US Tourist Visa applications each year. In the past, most non-immigrant visa applications required the submission of form DS-156. Recently, the US State Department announced that the DS-156 should no longer be used  by those seeking a US B2 Tourist Visa:

The new DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, is a fully integrated online application form that is used to collect the necessary application information from a person seeking a nonimmigrant visa. The DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State via the Internet. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

Apparently, the DS-160 has been introduced in an effort to streamline the visa process for those seeking non-immigrant visas outside of the United States of America. To quote the above announcement further:

All U.S. Embassies and Consulates that process nonimmigrant visas now use the new online DS-160. Therefore, visa applicants will need to apply using the online DS-160 for most, but not all, nonimmigrant visa categories. Review the [State Department] FAQs for exceptions and to find out which nonimmigrant categories continue to use the DS-156 at this time.

There are many who worry that these recent changes will impact other types of applications. This worry seems to be most prevalently felt by those seeking K1 visa benefits or K3 Visa benefits for a foreign fiancee or spouse. That said, consultation with an American legal professional may be necessary in order to determine which forms should be used when filing for certain visa categories. As always, it should be noted that only a licensed American attorney is entitled to assist in American Immigration matters. That said, many find that applying for a US Tourist Visa does not require the assistance of an American lawyer as such assistance would likely add little value to such an application. However, many applicants for US family immigration benefits find that attorney assistance is beneficial.

It should be noted that many applicants find their application for a visa denied pursuant to the Consular Officer’s application of Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Such a finding basically means that the applicant was unable to show requisite “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the United States. Those seeking a visa to the USA should be advised that if immigration is the ultimate goal, then a tourist visa is not the proper travel document. Even if a visa application is approved by a US Consulate overseas, the foreign national could still be placed in expedited removal proceeding upon arrival at the port of entry in the USA if the Customs and Border Protection officers have reason to believe that the applicant is an undisclosed intending immigrant attempting to enter the USA.

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10th April 2010

Visa denial is generally something that most bi-national couples do not wish to discuss, but it is something that should be researched by the prospective visa petitioner as legal grounds of inadmissibility and the I-601 waiver process could be relevant to an individual couple’s Immigration petition and visa application.

In a recent report from the Congressional Research service (distributed by AILA) the issue of visa denial was discussed as the report looked at the reasons for denial and the overall trends in inadmissibility findings:

“Most LPR [Lawful Permanent Residence] petitioners who were excluded on §212(a) grounds from FY1994 through FY2004 were rejected because the Department of State (DOS) determined that the aliens were inadmissible as likely public charges. By FY2004, the proportion of public charge exclusions had fallen but remained the top basis for denial. The lack of proper labor certification was another leading ground for exclusion from FY1994 through FY2004. By FY2008, however, illegal presence and previous orders of removal from the United States was the leading ground.”

The finding of a “public charge” grounds of inadmissibility is related to the affidavit of support. A finding that an alien is likely to be a “public charge” stems from a finding that the sponsor does not have the requisite income and assets necessary to support the alien for whom benefits are being sought. The report goes further to note that Comprehensive Immigration Reform may tackle some of the issues associated with the trends in visa application denials:

“Legislation aimed at comprehensive immigration reform may take a fresh look at the grounds for excluding foreign nationals enacted over the past two decades. Expanding the grounds for inadmissibility, conversely, might be part of the legislative agenda among those who support more restrictive immigration reform policies.”

It is interesting to note that the Immigration system may become more stringent or more lax depending upon the mood of legislators with regard to the issue of immigration. That being said, a more detailed look at the current trends provides insight into the dynamics of the system as a whole:

“[M]ost LPR petitioners who were excluded on §212(a) grounds in FY1996 and FY2000 were rejected because the DOS determined that the aliens were inadmissible as likely public charges. In FY2004, the proportion of public charge exclusions had fallen, but remained the top basis for denial. The lack of proper labor certification was another leading ground for exclusion in FY1996, FY2000, FY2004, and FY2008. By FY2008, however, illegal presence and previous orders of removal from the United States had become the leading ground.”

It is interesting to note that unlawful presence and previous removal had become the leading grounds of inadmissibility cited by the year 2008. This would seem to support the anecdotal evidence and personal experience of this author as more and more prospective entrants to the US seem to be placed in expedited removal proceedings with greater frequency. Also, there seems to be an increasing trend of increasingly zealous enforcement of Immigration law in the USA as illegal aliens are placed in removal proceedings more frequently.

For further information about visa denial please see: K1 visa. For general information about US Immigration from Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

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20th March 2010

Recently, this author came across an announcement that a new refugee bill was introduced in the United States Senate. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democratic Senator from the State of Vermont, introduced the “The Refugee Protection Act of 2010.” The provisions of the Act would supplement the Refugee Act of 1980.

In another recent announcement the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) discussed the ways that the proposed bill will improve conditions for American refugees. The following list of improvements was quoted directly from the AILA website:

“Increased Protections for Asylum Seekers:

  • Eliminate the requirement that asylum applicants file their claim within one year of arrival.
  • Protect particularly vulnerable asylum seekers by ensuring they can pursue a claim even where their persecution was not socially visible.
  • Ensure fair process by requiring an immigration judge to give notice and an opportunity to respond when the judge requires corroborating evidence of the asylum claim.
  • Give an applicant the opportunity to explain and clarify inconsistencies in a claim.
  • Enable minors who seek asylum to have an initial interview with an asylum officer in a non-adversarial setting.
  • Allow the Attorney General to appoint counsel where fair resolution or effective adjudication of the proceedings would be served by appointment of counsel.

Reforms to the Expedited Removal Process:

  • Require the referral of asylum seekers to an asylum officer for a credible fear interview, and, if credible fear is found, for an asylum interview.
  • Authorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to conduct a new study on the effects of expedited removal authority on asylum seekers.

Parole of Asylum Seekers:

  • Codify the current DHS policy that asylum seekers be considered for release (“parole”) and requires DHS to issue regulations establishing criteria for parole.
  • Establish a nationwide, secure “alternatives to detention” program.
  • Require changes in the immigration detention system to ensure asylum seekers and others have access to counsel, medical care, religious practice, and visits from family.

Terrorism Bar to Admissibility:

  • Modify definitions in the statute to ensure that innocent asylum seekers and refugees are not unfairly denied protection as a result of the material support and terrorism bars in the law, while ensuring that those with legitimate ties to terrorist activity will continue to be denied entry to the United States.

Protection for Refugees and Asylees:

  • Eliminate the one-year waiting period for refugees and asylees to apply for a green card.
  • Allow certain children and family members of refugees to be considered as derivative applicants for refugee status. All such applicants must pass standard security checks.
  • Authorize the Secretary of State to designate certain groups as eligible for expedited adjudication as refugees.
  • Prevent newly resettled refugees from slipping into poverty by adjusting the per capita refugee resettlement grant level annually for inflation and the cost of living.”

How this bill fares in the Senate remains to be seen, but one can hope that some new measure of protection will be accorded to foreign refugees seeking asylum in the United States of America, particularly in the context of expedited removal as this can cause a great deal of suffering for many of those trying to get into the United States in order to flee persecution.

United States Immigration for Refugees is a major concern in Southeastern Asia as there are many displaced ethnic and religious groups throughout the region. In most cases, refugees come from countries such as Burma or Laos, as Thailand sees few refugees departing for America. For further information regarding American visas from Southeast Asia and Thailand specifically please see: US Visa Thailand.

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7th November 2009

The passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (“IIRIRA”) has had ramifications that routinely affect immigrants and non-immigrant entrants attempting to enter the US even today. This legislation greatly changed United States Immigration law and procedure.  At the time, IIRIRA was intended to target illegal immigration to the USA. Unfortunately, many of the provisions contained in IIRIRAhave had a critical impact upon legal immigration to the US. This article will explain one of the major powers granted to Customs and Border Protection Officers under IIRIRA: Expedited Removal

When IIRAIRA was passed its provisions Amended section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow for the expedited deportation of foreign nationals who could be deemed inadmissible under either section 212(a)(6)(C) (fraud or misrepresentation) or section 212(a)(7) (lack of documentation) of the INA. The provisions do not call for the decision to be subject to appeal and as a result, a foreign national subjected to expedited removal does not enjoy the same level of due process that most American Citizens take for granted.

If one is subjected to expedited removal, then that alien cannot gain admission to the USA for a period of 5 years. If the alien is subsequently expeditiously removed, then they will be inadmissible to the USA for 20 years. If an alien is subjected to expedited removal, it may be possible for the alien to reenter the USA within their period of inadmissibility, but the alien must first apply for advance permission to reenter the USA, which is akin to an I-601 waiver in that the advance permission must be granted before the alien will be given leave to reenter the country.

Expedited removal should be of particular interest to those seeking to bring their Thai fiancee or spouse to the US on a tourist visa. It is a common misconception that tourist visas can be used to bring a significant other to the US to marry and apply for adjustment of status. Firstly, the US tourist visa is not a dual intent travel document. A tourist visa is intended strictly for those with non-immgrant intent. Therefore, it is unlawful for a foreign fiancee to travel to the USA with undisclosed immigrant intent. That being said, as a practical matter this does happen.  The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service can use expedited removal to turn away those attempting to enter the US on a tourist visa if they suspect that the entrant has undisclosed immigrant intent pursuant to section 212(a)(7) of the INA.

This author, along with colleagues in Southeast Asia, has noticed a recent rise in the number of expedited removals of Thais initiated by CBP. In nearly every case, the Thai being removed was the significant other of a US citizen. The Thai nationals removed in these cases were traveling to the US on either a tourist visa or a student visa. Due to this seemingly new trend, it is now more imperative than ever for Thai fiancees and wives of Americans to use the proper K1 fiance visa, K3 marriage visa, or Immigrant visa to travel to the United States.

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