Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Fiancee Visa’

23rd November 2017

The following is a transcript of the video which can be found here: K-1 Visas from Vietnam

In this video we are going to be discussing K-1 Visas specifically in the context of cases that will be processed presumably through the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City primarily.

As can be heard from the preamble to this video, I’m an American attorney but we’re located here in Bangkok. Primarily we do the vast majority of our cases do involve Thai nationals though we do deal with cases regionally and I sort of thought about it the other day and I said that you know, I really don’t do enough videos talking about some of the other posts and other nationalities we deal with in the immigration context within the immigration practice here. So I went ahead and decided to do this video.

The way to look at the K-1 process specifically and the K-1 fiancée process is slightly different than dealing with other family based petitions. First of all, you have to be intending to marry an American citizen unlike marriage visas where you can be married to a lawful permanent resident and process a case that way for one of the preference categories. K-1 Visas are only between a foreign national and an American citizen. Both parties have to be legally free to marry, that’s rather important. This can come up and cause some confusion, and cause some problems in a lot cases because folks think “oh, we filed and now we can marry”. “No, you have to remain fiancées throughout the whole process!”  You have to be legally free to marry up until the fiancée, the Vietnamese fiancée comes to the United States at which point it is then possible to go ahead and get married in the United States and file for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence. In another video on this channel I discuss specifically adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is the process by which an individual comes to the United States, in this case in K-1 status, gets married and goes ahead and  lawful permanent residence attached,  aka Green Card Status. Another thing to keep in mind with respect to the K-1 specifically, the couple in question needs to have met physically in person within 2 years of the filing of the petition for the visa benefits.  There are exceptions to this rule but they are very, very narrow in scope and for that reason it’s best to effectively just go ahead and say “look, I have to meet in person. That usually means they are going to have to travel at least once to, in the case of a Vietnamese fiancée, presumably Vietnam and meet physically in person, the Vietnamese fiancée before filing can be perfected or at least before an acceptable filing can be perfected.

Some things to think about as far as how it works.  Well the case starts off over at the Department of Homeland Security, specifically USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They go ahead and process the petition. If the petition is approved, the case moves to the National Visa Center which is under the auspices of the Department of State. The National Visa Center, they act as a sort of clearing house or sort of administrative hub for sending these cases out, making sure it gets from the approval at DHS and gets to the appropriate embassy or consulate. In the vast majority of cases involving Vietnam you’re  not going to be dealing with the post in Hanoi, in the vast majority of cases at least that we deal with, you’re dealing with the consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. It is a higher volume post, so processing can take a little bit longer. In Vietnam, as far as Consular processing goes, it can take a little bit longer when compared to other posts in the region, Bangkok included, but Bangkok is a pretty high volume post as well. Some of the other smaller posts, Cambodia, Laos definitely, even Yangon, don’t quite have the volume so things may move a little bit more quickly.  But that being said, it’s just the process you have to deal with and every case is sort of being unique and you have to deal with the circumstances as you take them.  So that being said, it will go to the Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and at that point the case, the Vietnamese fiancée will be informed of the protocols that he or she needs to undertake to go ahead and complete the consular processing portion. In the cases where we have been retained to assist in these matters, we often assist with translations, compilation of documentation, filling out of various forms, both online and physical forms cases and in a lot of cases going ahead and submitting the request for the actual visa application interview.  And then on top of that we go ahead and assist in preparing certain questions or I really hate to say we provide the questions that they are going to ask, we don’t; we provide an overview with respect to how, what is the process looking for? What kind of due diligence is the Consular Officer likely to be interested in conducting? In most cases it’s ascertaining that the couple is a genuine couple, they are legally free to marry, they’ve remained legally free to marry, they adhere to the law, they adhere to the Immigration policy, they don’t have any legal grounds of inadmissibility and all the documentation relevant to the case that that officer feels is pertinent is present and accounted for with respect to the underlying application. That’s basically what they’re looking to do. It’s not an exercise in “stump the applicant”, it’s an exercise in due diligence. They want to make certain that the couple is bona fide.  So for that reason, that is sort of a general overview of what the interview process is like. If the officer requests further documentation, they can issue what is called a 221-G request for further documentation.

In some cases they may feel that the case is denied for various reasons. They have to give a legal reason why they are denying the case. In most cases that I have dealt when you get a denial, you are looking at a legal ground of inadmissibility, and a legal ground of inadmissibility is defined in the Immigration Nationality Act and in some cases it’s often possible to overcome that legal ground of inadmissibility through use of an I-601 waiver. There are various videos on this channel with respect to the I-601 specifically but to sort of just sum up K-1 visa processing through Vietnam, you’re looking at a matter of months; I think you are looking at probably 8 or 9 months with respect to the overall “door to door” process with respect to processing a successful K-1 visa, on average.  There are outliers on both sides. Every case is unique; it’s like a snow flake. But that being said, that’s kind of a general overview with respect to timeline, the thing to keep in mind, just sort of in sum. It’s a 3 part process. It effectively begins in the US, goes through various offices in the US, finally to wind up, generally speaking, at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City where the matter will be adjudicated by the Consular Officer at the Immigrant Visa Unit. Again, K-1s are interesting because they’re a non-immigrant visa that has dual intent. You are actually a non-immigrant visa but to all intents and purposes, the consular section treats it as if it were an immigrant visa and you go ahead and undertake the interview and hopefully, presuming a successful interview, a visa will be issued shortly after the interview date.

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12th November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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21st October 2013

Updated USCIS Processing Times

Posted by : admin

The administration of this blog routinely posts the updated processing time estimates for the Service Centers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The following was quoted directly from the official website of USCIS:

Field Office Processing Dates for California Service Center as of: August 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker E – Treaty traders and investors 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2A – Temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation 5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional 2 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 March 11, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 November 3, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 21, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister February 11, 2010
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Religious workers 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications May 30, 2012
I-526 Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States March 16, 2012
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications 2.5 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement based on exceptional hardship or persecution 4 Months
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents 6 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] July 2, 2013
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program May 25, 2011
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition 3 Months
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) May 16, 2012
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) based on PL107-273 September 12, 1997
Field Office Processing Dates for Nebraska Service Center as of: August 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 June 16, 2013
I-131 Application for Travel Document Refugee or asylee applying for a refugee travel document 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Permanent resident applying for a re-entry permit 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) dependent applying for advance parole 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) principal applying for advance parole 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability March 2, 2013
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager April 2, 2013
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses 4 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Indochinese Adjustment Act 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on grant of asylum more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on refugee admission more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility April 2, 2013
I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition Petition for accompanying family members of a refugee or an asylee 5 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved asylum application [(a)(5)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program May 30, 2011
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition April 15, 2013
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Texas Service Center as of: August 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses 4 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants June 2, 2010
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications 4 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on grant of asylum more than 1 year ago May 2, 2013
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 4 Months
I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition Petition for accompanying family members of a refugee or an asylee March 16, 2013
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action 6 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition March 17, 2013
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Vermont Service Center as of: August 31, 2013
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad April 17, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 17, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. April 10, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers July 3, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers 2 Weeks
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation 5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional 2 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 March 27, 2013
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 October 22, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 30, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 30, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 April 9, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister March 27, 2011
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants February 20, 2013
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) October 8, 2012
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications November 19, 2012
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories April 17, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents April 17, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category April 17, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications April 17, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students April 17, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents April 17, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors April 17, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications April 17, 2013
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents 6 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Weeks
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] April 24, 2013
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] April 24, 2013
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on an approved, concurrently filed, I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (c)(33). 90 Days
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension April 24, 2013
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing April 24, 2013
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension April 24, 2013
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing April 24, 2013
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Request for Deferred Action February 28, 2013
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition 3 Months
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement 3.5 Months
I-90A Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement for Special Agricultral Workers (SAW) 3.5 Months
I-914 Application for T Non-immigrant Status Provide temporary immigration benefits to an alien who is a victim of trafficking in persons, and immediate family 4 Months
I-918 Petition for U Non-immigrant Status Provide temporary immigration benefits to an alien who is a victim of qualifying criminal activity, and their qualifying family June 25, 2012

It should be noted that these processing time estimates do not reflect the time it takes to obtain a US visa as the US visa application process can be time consuming even after an initial immigration petition receives approval since processing at the National Visa Center and/or a US Consulate or US Embassy abroad may also be required.

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29th October 2010

In recent postings on this blog, the administration has noted that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is poised to raise some of the costs and fees associated with American Immigration. To quote directly from the official website of USCIS:

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds customers that its new fee schedule goes into effect Nov. 23, 2010.  Applications or petitions postmarked or otherwise filed on or after this date must include the new fee, or they will be rejected.

USCIS published the new fee schedule in the Federal Register on Sept. 24, following a comprehensive review of public comments received after publication of the proposed rule this summer.

The new fee schedule increases application and petition fees by an average of about 10 percent but does not increase the naturalization application fee.

Although no one likes to see fee increases, there are some who argue that an increase in processing fees is a necessary consequence of both inflation and the rising cost of the services sought. It should be noted that USCIS recently posted a shortfall and the recent fee increase would seem to be one response to this issue.

The new policy will also usher in new fees that have not previously existed. As they did not exist before it is not really correct to call the new fees “increases,” but as they result in new overall costs, the term increase could be used since the fee was technically increased from nothing to the new fee. To quote from another page of USCIS’s website:

The final fee rule establishes three new fees, including a fee for regional center designations under the Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Pilot Program, a fee for individuals seeking civil surgeon designation, and a fee to recover USCIS costs to process immigrant visas granted by the Department of State. Additionally, the final rule reduces and eliminates several fees, including some for servicemembers and certain veterans of the U.S. armed forces who are seeking citizenship-related benefits. The final rule also expands the availability of fee waivers to additional categories.

It is interesting to note that one of the newly instituted fees involves the EB-5 visa (also referred to as an investor visa). There are those who posit that the EB-5 visa might become increasingly popular in the upcoming months as the American dollar remains somewhat low compared to other currencies. Therefore, some foreign nationals could invest in EB-5 programs at comparatively cheaper rates due to the current exchange rate with the dollar. This is a net benefit to the United States as influxes of foreign capital would likely prove beneficial in a monetary sense while the infusion of foreign investors with a stake in the American economy could prove to be a catalyst for future innovation, economic activity, and overall growth.

As noted in a previous posting, the USCIS fee associated with the K-1 visa is expected to decrease when the final rule in promulgated. Although, Department of State fees associated with the K1 visa interview have recently been increased.

For related information please see: EB-5 Visa Thailand or K1 Visa Thailand.

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5th August 2010

This blog routinely discusses both the US Marriage Visa and the US fiance visa as these are popular travel documents for the loved ones of Americans Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. The Fiancee visa is generally referred to as the K1 visa while many refer to the US Marriage Visa as the K3 Visa. Strictly speaking, this is not the correct appellation as the K3 Visa is a special non-immigrant marriage visa that has been phased out through the National Visa Center’s use of “Administrative Closure”.

Those who file for a classic US marriage visa are likely to have noted that the petition was sent to a “lockbox” of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). These “lockboxes” are used to receive documentation. In a way, they are something of a clearinghouse for visa petitions as they receipt the petitions in, assign them a number, and forward the file on to the appropriate service center.

In the recent past, this was not the way in which I-129f visa petitions were submitted to USCIS. In the past, the petitioner would submit the petition directly to the appropriate service center. However, a recent announcement from USCIS confirmed that this will no longer be the procedure for filing petitions for an American fiance visa. To quote directly from the USCIS press release:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a change in filing location instructions and addresses for the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (Form I-129F). The new instructions, dated 6/14/10, are part of an overall effort to transition the intake of forms from Service Centers to USCIS Lockbox facilities. Centralizing form and fee intake to a Lockbox environment allows USCIS to provide customers with more efficient and effective initial processing of applications/petitions and fees.

Many feel that utilization of a “lockbox” facility will help streamline the adjudication process for fiancee visa petitions. Every year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service processes a large number of fiance visa petitions. The caseload is currently rather bifurcated as these petitions are sent directly to a service center (currently there is one service center in Vermont and one in California). However, this method is rather cumbersome. Hopefully, by receiving all I-129f petitions in one centralized facility the process will be streamlined and made more efficient as cases can be sent to the service center with the capacity to handle the caseload.

For more about USCIS processing of K1 visa petitions please see: processing times.

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17th March 2010

Many people contact this author in order to ask questions about the United States Immigration process. Sometimes, a question becomes so common that I feel the need to post an article about the subject on this blog. The question that has been recently posed with great frequency is: Can I get my Thai girlfriend to the United States on a US tourist visa? Strictly speaking, yes, but this answer needs to be highly qualified. Anyone who is approved for a US tourist visa can go to the United States and request admission, but obtaining approval of a US tourist visa application can be difficult for the boyfriend or girlfriend of an American Citizen. The difficulty arises under the provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

Pursuant to Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer at a United States Embassy or United States Consulate-General is required to make a presumption that a non-immigrant visa applicant is actually an intending immigrant unless they can prove otherwise. This, in turn, leads to a factual analysis by the Consular Officer. The Consular Officer must believe that the applicant has “strong ties” to their home country, or any other country outside of the USA, and “weak ties” to the United States. In many cases, the mere existence of a US Citizen boyfriend or girlfriend will mitigate against any “strong ties” abroad and lead to a visa denial under section 214(b). This reasoning on the part of US Embassy personnel should not be misconstrued as a personal denial. Instead, the officer is legally compelled to deny a tourist visa application if the applicant cannot overcome the presumption imposed by section 214(b).

Many people then ask the question: can this visa denial be appealed? No, although an applicant may ask for a tourist visa application to be reopened. That being said, in virtually all cases, the denial will be upheld. A Consular Officer’s factual findings are not subject to appeal based upon the doctrine of Consular Absolutism. However, a legal finding may be subject to reversal. With that in mind, one should recognize that a visa denial under section 214(b) is a factual determination and therefore not generally subject to reversal.

If a couple truly has a bona fide intention to marry in the USA and apply for adjustment of status, then a tourist visa is really not the correct travel document as it specifically precludes immigrant intent (unlike a dual intent travel document such as a K1 visa or an L1 visa). Therefore, if the couple wishes to marry and adjust status, then a Fiance Visa is a more appropriate travel document. However, the couple must have a truly bona fide intention to marry and not simply a pretextual intention in order to pursue US Immigration benefits.

For further information for about visas in general and the complex issues surrounding family based petitions please see: US Visa Thai Girlfriend.

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7th March 2010

In a few previous posts of this blog we discussed the current posture of the K3 visa process. At present, K3 visa processing is becoming increasingly erratic as the National Visa Center will no longer process I-129f petitions for K3 visas if the underlying I-130 application arrives before, or at the same time as, the I-129f. It is a credit to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) diligence that they are processing I-129f applications as well as I-130 applications in a quick and efficient manner. However, for those looking for expedited marriage visa benefits this efficiency could end up creating an unwanted situation.

The National Visa Center has stated that they will “administratively close” aforementioned I-129f applications. This could lead to a difficult situation for those couples who specifically got married in a jurisdiction in order to process the foreign spouse’s visa application in that jurisdiction’s US Embassy. Under the provisions of the statute creating the K3 Visa, the visa must be processed by the Embassy in the country where the marriage took place. This allowed many couples to “Forum Shop” for the country where they wished the process their visa. For example, if a couple wished to process a visa application in Italy, they could ensure that the K3 visa application would be processed in Italy simply by getting married in Italy.

Now, because the future of the K3 Visa remains uncertain, there is a distinct possibility that visa interview “forum shopping” will become a thing of the past. That being said, Immigrant visa applications for documents such as the CR1 visa and the IR1 visa could be sent to the foreign spouse’s country of Nationality as Embassies and Consulates only process third country nationals as a courtesy and if inconvenient will send the application to the Post that must process the application.

Hopefully, these recent changes will not result in problems, but it remains to be seen if this will be the case. That being said, so long as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service continues to process the I-130 in such a quick manner, it remains likely that the National Visa Center will continue closing K3 cases and thereby forestalling the aforementioned practice of forum shopping. For those foreign fiancees in countries such as Burma (Myanmar) or Cambodia this change in policy could cause hardships as both of these countries’ bureaucracies can make it extremely difficult for a native born woman to marry an American man.

For information about how NVC policy may affect fiance visa processing please see: K1 visa.

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28th February 2010

In a recent posting on this blog we discussed a recent internal rule change at the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC announced that effective February 1, 2010 they will no longer process I-129f petitions for marriage visa benefits if the underlying I-130 petition arrives prior to, or at the same time as, the supplemental I-129f petition. There are those who are wondering what impact this will have upon visa seekers. For those seeking a K-3 visa, the impact of this recent announcement is very important because in many cases, the NVC will require couples to seek immigrant spouse visas such as the IR-1 visa and the CR-1 visa rather than the expedited K3 visa. However, some may be confused about how this new rule will impact those seeking a fiance visa.

In order to obtain a fiance visa, the US Citizen must file an I-129f petition for a K1 visa. If the initial petition is approved, then it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for a security clearance. After a security clearance, it will be forwarded to the US Embassy or US Consulate with proper jurisdiction. Confusion may arise because some may be placed under the mistaken impression that the I-129f petition will be administratively closed by NVC in a fiance visa case. This is not the truth, as administrative closures of I-129f petitions are only to happen in the context of applications for the K3 visa and not the K1 visa. This recent rule change will likely have no impact upon the K1 visa process as the rule is designed to change the K3 visa process exclusively.

One upshot of this recent development is that the resources that NVC was expending in processing I-129f petitions for K-3 visas may be diverted to processing Immigrant visas or K1 visas. That being said, it is this author’s opinion that the K1 visa process is quite efficient and NVC usually takes very little time to process K1 visa applications. In most cases where the visa application is to be processed by the US Embassy Thailand, there is a two week waiting time between I-129f petition approval by USCIS and the forwarding of the file from NVC to the US Embassy. By most people’s estimate, this is a reasonable period of time to wait. In the case of Immigrant visas, the NVC processing time is considerably longer as the NVC requires more documentation in Immigrant visa matters compared to non-immigrant visa cases.

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19th February 2010

The US visa process begins with an initial petition which is submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Below are the updated processing times for the two USCIS service centers which handle the vast majority of United States family-based visa petitions. The information below was updated by USCIS on February 17, 2010.

For those who are unfamiliar with the visa process, the I-129f petition is used when filing for K1 visa on behalf of a foreign fiancee. This petition can be used by those seeking K3 Visa benefits as well. The I-130 petition is also utilized by those seeking family visa benefits, but the I-130 is used to petition for Immigrant visa benefits.

Below are the current USCIS processing estimates for the California Service Center:

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 June 02, 2005
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 May 23, 2002
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister November 16, 2000
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 March 02, 2007
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 January 02, 2003
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal Readmission after deportation or removal 4 Months

Below are the current processing time estimates for the Vermont Service Center:

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 January 21, 2008
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 October 01, 2008
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister December 17, 2008
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 July 23, 2007
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 July 31, 2007
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal Readmission after deportation or removal 4 Months

Those researching the US visa process for the first time should be aware the USCIS processing is simply the initial phase of the overall process as the petition must be forwarded to the National Visa Center and eventually a US Consulate or Embassy abroad. In the case of Thai nationals seeking US visa benefits, virtually all family based applications are processed by the US Embassy Thailand.

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3rd February 2010

As with any large government agency, errors can occur in processing government documentation. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is not immune to human error and recently the Service issued some advance parole travel documents with incorrect dates. To quote a press release promulgated by the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) announced today that it will reissue Advance Parole documents (Form I-512) in response to documents that were mailed to applicants with an incorrect issue date of January 5, 1990. All affected documents have been identified and USCIS will automatically reissue documents to individuals who have received a document with the incorrect issue date.”

It is fortunate that USCIS caught this problem and took steps to remedy the situation. The aforementioned press release went on to say:

“All documents continue to be valid as the expiration dates remain accurate, therefore it is not necessary for applicants to contact USCIS regarding their pending application unless their application is outside the normal processing time of 90 days.”

Again, as USCIS took steps to quick deal with this problem the impact upon prospective immigrants or those with pending visa applications is likely to be blunted.  However, sometimes prospective immigrants or non-immigrants in the United States need to leave the country for an emergency, but do not wish to forfeit their immigration benefits by doing so, this press release went on to detail the steps that immigrants can take to obtain an emergency advance parole travel document:

“If you need to travel urgently and you have received a document with an invalid issue date, then you may travel using the incorrect document. U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has been alerted however, you may be questioned about the issuance date. Therefore, please print this explanation to share with CBP if necessary.”

For those unfamiliar with the subject of advance parole, it is the legal staus that a prospective immigrant or non-immigrant must obtain in order to leave the USA and return in status. This can be a particularly important issue for those present in the US on a K1 visa or a K3 Visa where the applicant has submitted an application for adjustment of status. Unlike an Immigrant Visa (CR1 or IR1), a K1 fiance visa or a K3 marriage visa requires that the applicant adjust status in order to obtain lawful permanent residence. Although this rarely comes up in the context of a K3 visa, the validity of a K1 visa is of such short duration that the underlying visa usually expires before the adjustment of status is approved. While the application is pending the K1 holder will be allowed to remain in the US, but if they leave before adjusting status they will fall out of status if they do not receive advance parole.

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