Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘I601 Waiver’

26th July 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new set of answers to frequently asked questions stemming from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In previous postings on this blog the fact that lawful permanent residents and American Citizens with same-sex spouses can now file for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse has been discussed at length. That said, USCIS discussed this issue in their recently issued FAQ release, to quote directly from the USCIS website:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. [italics added]

As previously pointed out on this blog, the ability of American Citizens to file for immigration benefits for a same-sex foreign spouse is a fairly clear cut result of the recent Supreme Court decision finding Section 3 of DOMA unConstituional. It should be noted that the USCIS seems to also imply that a K3 visa would also now be a possibility for same sex couples as it could be construed to be an “applicable accompanying application”. However, an issue that was not so clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court’s decision pertains to the K-1 visa (US fiance visa). As Fiance visas are, by  definition, not based upon a marriage, but an intended marriage; further clarification from USCIS on these types of visas post-DOMA is considered by some to be quite helpful. To quote further from the aforementioned USCIS FAQ section:

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes.  You may file a Form I-129F.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. [italics added]

This clarification from USCIS regarding the fiance visa in the context of same sex marriage, while helpful, is slightly qualified by the next section of the same FAQ page:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. [italics added]

Clearly, the US fiance visa is now a viable option for same sex couples with a bona fide intention to marry in those jurisdictions of the United States which recognize same sex marriage. Since the jurisdiction of the celebration of the intended marriage is USCIS’s primary concern it would appear that a K1 visa itself will be a possibility for same sex couples in the future. However, it would appear that some ancillary immigration benefits may or may not be available at this time for some same sex bi-national couples depending upon the unique residency circumstances of those couples.

Of further interest to some same sex couples will likely be the fact that there are benefits for the foreign same sex spouse of an American Citizen with respect to naturalization:

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?
A8. Yes.  As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident.  But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen.  For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Therefore, the same sex spouse of an American Citizen will be treated the same way as the opposite sex spouse of an American for purposes of obtaining US Citizenship based upon the couple’s marriage and lawful permanent residence obtained thereby. Finally, of further note in this recently issued USCIS FAQ page relates to the I-601 waiver process:

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances.  For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident.  In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?
A9.Yes.   Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Waivers of inadmissibility can be difficult to obtain under certain circumstances as they are, by definition, a discretionary waiver. However, one major hurdle for many same-sex bi-national couples in the US immigration sphere has been cast aside by the comendable decision of the United States Supreme Court. USCIS deserves comendation as well for their efforts to quickly and decisively implement policies which bring immigration regulations in line with changes in the law.

Readers are encouraged to read the USCIS website and the FAQ section quoted above to find out further details regarding immigration regulations pertaining to same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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8th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued memorandum regarding the process of expediting the adjudication of I-601 waivers. To provide further insight it may be best to quote directly from the official website of USCIS, USCIS.gov:

Purpose
This Policy Memorandum (PM) provides guidelines on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes requests to expedite the adjudication of Forms I-601 filed by individuals outside the United States. These guidelines will be included in the AFM Chapter 41.7 and in the revised version of International Operations Division Field Guidance for Form I-601 adjudications.
Scope
Unless specifically exempted herein, this memorandum applies to and is binding on all USCIS employees adjudicating Forms I-601 filed by individuals outside the United States.
Authority
8 CFR 212.7 governs USCIS adjudication of Form I-601.
Background
It has been USCIS’s longstanding policy to accept requests to expedite processing of petitions or applications where the applicant or the petitioner demonstrates reasons that merit expedited processing of a petition or application. Consistent with this policy, an applicant may request that the adjudication of a Form I-601 be expedited. Requests to expedite in the Form I-601 adjudication context present unique challenges. Almost all Form I-601 applicants outside the United States have an interest in expeditious processing given that most are required to establish extreme hardship to a qualifying family member in order for USCIS to consider whether to exercise its discretion to waive the bar to an applicant’s entry into the United States. However, some applicants may be experiencing extraordinary circumstances that present the kind of compelling and urgent, time-sensitive reasons that merit expedited processing of a Form I-601. This memorandum provides guidelines on responding to requests to expedite Forms I-601 filed by applicants overseas. Policy Subject to case management requirements and resource constraints, USCIS managers overseas may, in extraordinary circumstances, exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to approve a request to expedite adjudication of a Form I-601.1 The strong desire to immigrate to the United States as soon as possible is not by itself “extraordinary.” The types of extraordinary circumstances that may, generally, merit expedited processing are those in which there are time-sensitive and compelling situations that necessitate the applicant’s presence in the United States sooner than would be possible if the application were processed under normal processing times…

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to United States Immigration it should be noted that the I-601 waiver is often utilized as a remedy for those who have been found inadmissible to the United States or ineligible to receive a US visa (such as a K-1 visa [fiance visa], CR-1 visa, or IR-1 visa) during Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad.

The I-601 waiver is sometimes confused with the I-212 waiver (also referred to as an application for advance permission to reenter the United States). However, the I-601 waiver and the I-212 waiver are two different application categories which are somewhat similar, but not exactly alike.

For related information please see: Legal.

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29th May 2011

In a previous posting on this blog the eligibility criteria for the EB-1 visa were briefly discussed. In that same vein, this blogger felt further elaboration on other Employment Based visa categories was warranted to provide insight to readers about issues associated with other employment based preference categories. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service‘s (USCIS) official website posted an enlightening chart to provide an overall glimpse of the eligibility criteria which this blogger felt could be of interest to readers. To quote directly from the official website of the USCIS, USCIS.gov:

Sub-Categories Description Evidence
Advanced Degree The job you apply for must require an advanced degree and you must possess such a degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years progressive work experience in the field). Documentation, such as an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree, or an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree and letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialty. 

Exceptional Ability You must be able to show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.  Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” You must meet at least three of the criteria below.*
National Interest Waiver Aliens seeking a national interest waiver are requesting that the Labor Certification be waived because it is in the interest of the United States.  Though the jobs that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined by statute, national interest waivers are usually granted to those who have exceptional ability (see above) and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the national.  Those seeking a national interest waiver may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them) and may file their labor certification directly with USCIS along with their Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. You must meet at least three of the criteria below* and demonstrate that it is in the national interest that you work permanently in the United States.

Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research into these issues as the chart above is merely presented to provide something of an overview regarding eligibility. The chart above should not be viewed as an exhaustive analysis of the issues at play in a EB-2 petition.

It should be noted that second preference Employment Based petitions are carefully scrutinized as issuance of such visas is intended for those foreign professionals holding an advanced degree or an alien national of “exceptional ability”. Therefore prospective visa seekers are encouraged to note the rather high standards by which those seeking this visa category will be compared during the adjudication process.

Those seeking the visa categorized as an EB-2 are well advised to remember that adjudication of a visa petition at the Department of Homeland Security‘s USCIS may be only one phase of the overall visa process as those residing outside of the United States may be required to undergo Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad.

For readers who have happened upon this blog in the past, the mention of the “national interest waiver” may bring to mind the I-601 waiver or the I-212 waiver which could be argued to be somewhat similar. Another type of waiver that could be construed as similar to the “national interest waiver” is the waiver sometimes granted by USCIS to permit the filing of multiple petitions for a K1 visa within a relatively short period of time notwithstanding the provisions of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA).

Frequent readers may recall that the EB-5 visa is also classified as an Employment Based Visa although the criteria for EB-5 visa issuance is different from those of the EB-2 most notably as the EB-5 visa petitioner must demonstrate that a substantial investment has been made in the United States in order to hope to attain eligibility for EB-5 visa status.

The United States visa process can be overwhelming at times and for this reason many opt to retain the assistance of counsel. That stated, when retaining the services of anyone purporting to be qualified to provide advice and/or assistance regarding immigration matters it may be prudent to ascertain credentials as, pursuant to relevant US law, only a licensed American attorney is permitted to take in client fees while engaged in the practice of United States immigration law.

For related information please see: Legal.

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16th February 2011

It has recently come to this blogger’s attention through anecdotal evidence that there may have been a relatively significant increase in the number of I-601 waiver petitions filed by American Citizens in both the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the greater area that comprises the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Apparently, the majority of these cases are being handled pro se (without attorney representation). It would appear that these pro se filings are being subjected to Requests For Evidence (RFE) which can be time consuming. Furthermore, there are some who also speculate that such petitions could see a higher denial rate.

Those who read this blog may have taken notice of the fact that this blogger takes the practice of United States Immigration law seriously. That said, there is nothing inherently wrong with American Citizens unilaterally petitioning their government for United States Immigration benefits pro se. This blogger has no problem with those who wish to seek immigration benefits without the assistance of counsel, but those pondering this course of action should be aware of the risks. First, the assistance of an American attorney in the US Immigration process can prove highly beneficial as such a professional can provide insight into the dynamics of immigration law as well as the regulations which are used to enforce that law.

Immigration law could be likened to dermatological medicine insofar as the routine cases that arise in an immigration context are sometimes easily taken care of by the petitioner or beneficiary themselves much the same way that a case of acne could be alleviated without the need to visit a dermatologist. Meanwhile, some issues which arise in immigration law can be extremely complicated and therefore such matters may require the assistance of one with a great deal of experience in matters pertaining to American immigration law. This state of affairs brings to mind a hypothetical situation involving dermatologists who specialize in skin cancers and various other skin maladies which are not commonly known to laymen. To take this hypothetical further, a patient afflicted with skin cancer is usually unable to treat themselves. To use this hypothetical as an analogy in an immigration context: those seeking an I-601 waiver are in a situation, similar to the skin cancer patient mentioned above, which may require professional assistance as failure to retain an attorney could increase the chances that an I-601 waiver (or for that matter an I-212 waiver) will be ultimately denied.

The standard of proof in an I-601 waiver is “extreme hardship” and this standard is not easily overcome. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has noted that “extreme hardship” does not mean “mere separation,” of the couple, but is, in fact, something more substantial. American Immigration lawyers expend a great deal of time and effort to see that I-601 waiver petitions are well founded. As a result, such petitions may be at a lower risk of being denied. Bearing this in mind, no attorney, or anyone else for that matter, can foresee what the outcome of a waiver petition will be. Those reading this posting should not misconstrue the author’s message by inferring that retaining an attorney will result in a guaranteed outcome as this is simply not the case. Should an I-601 waiver petition be denied, then it may be possible to have the case reconsidered in a Motion to Reopen or through an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Under such circumstances, the case will be adjudicated based upon an “abuse of discretion” standard which is not easily overcome. Therefore, submitting a well founded I-601 waiver petition the first time can be imperative for those wishing to have a legal grounds of inadmissibility waived.

As always, those seeking representation or counsel in matters related to American immigration should check the credentials of anyone in Southeast Asia claiming expertise in such matters. Only an attorney licensed to practice law in the United States is entitled charge fees to represent clients before the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, or American Missions abroad.

For related information about this issue please see: US Visa Denial.

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8th December 2010

For those who frequently read this web log will undoubtedly note that a frequent topic discussed within these pages is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In a recent document promulgated by the Congressional Research Service and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the matter of legal inadmissibility was discussed in the context of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The following is a direct quotation from the document published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and distributed by AILA:

Legislation aimed at comprehensive immigration reform may take a fresh look at the grounds for excluding foreign nationals that were enacted in the 1990s. All foreign nationals seeking visas must undergo admissibility reviews performed by U.S. Department of State (DOS) consular officers abroad. These reviews are intended to ensure that they are not ineligible for visas or admission under the grounds for inadmissibility spelled out in the INA. These criteria are: health related grounds; criminal history; security and terrorist concerns; public charge (e.g., indigence); seeking to work without proper labor certification; illegal entrants and immigration law violations; ineligible for citizenship; and, aliens previously removed. Over the past year, Congress incrementally revised the grounds for inadmissibility. Two laws enacted in the 110th Congress altered longstanding policies on exclusion of aliens due to membership in organizations deemed terrorist.

Terrorism has been a key concern for American government officials across the entire spectrum of agencies associated with Immigration and travel to the United States. Public health and safety are also significant issues for American Immigration and Consular Officers. To quote the aforementioned publication further:

The 110th Congress also revisited the health-related grounds of inadmissibility for those who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. More recently, the “H1N1 swine flu” outbreak focused the spotlight on inadmissibility screenings at the border. Questions about the public charge ground of inadmissibility arose in the context of Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the 111th Congress.

Influenza has been concerning to many health officials in recent years. However, for many the removal of HIV/AIDS from the list of diseases which can result in a finding of inadmissibility was a relief as many individuals who were previously inadmissible to the USA may have immediately become admissible after HIV/AIDS was no longer a legal grounds for finding someone inadmissible to the USA. This issue was especially acute in the LGBT community as HIV and AIDS issues seem to have a disproportionate impact upon individuals and couples within that community. The report went on to note that issues pertaining to legal inadmissibility are likely to be discussed in the context of proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation:

While advocacy of sweeping changes to the grounds for inadmissibility has not emerged, proponents of comprehensive immigration reform might seek to ease a few of these provisions as part of the legislative proposals. The provision that makes an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States for longer than 180 days inadmissible, for example, might be waived as part of a legislative package that includes legalization provisions. Tightening up the grounds for inadmissibility, conversely, might be part of the legislative agenda among those who support more restrictive immigration reform policies.

Many people are found inadmissible to the United States every year. Among those found inadmissible are those who are unable to seek a remedy in the form of either an I-601 waiver or an I-212 waiver application for advance permission to reenter the USA. Individuals who have been found inadmissible and cannot seek a waiver are colloquially referred to as being unwaivably excluded from the United States. Bearing this in mind, many findings of legal inadmissibility can be remedied through use of a waiver. That said, the waiver process and the standard of proof for obtaining a waiver can be difficult to overcome. For this reason, many bi-national couples opt to utilize the services of an American immigration attorney to assist in matters related to United States Immigration. It is always prudent to ask for the credentials of anyone claiming expertise in United States Immigration law as only a licensed American attorney is permitted to provide advice, counsel, and representation in pending matters before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the American State Department.

For related information please see: US Visa Denial.

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30th November 2010

Those who are regular readers of this blog will no doubt be aware that the issue of 221(g) denials promulgated in relation to visa applications brought before at US Missions, Embassies, and Consulates outside of the United States can be very concerning for those seeking American Immigration benefits for a foreign loved one. In the case of the US Embassy in Vietnam, most US family visa cases are processed out the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. It would seem that the American Consulate in HCMC is considered by State Department officials to be a “high volume” Post as a significant number of visa applications are adjudicated in that jurisdiction each year. Meanwhile, as is the case for any US Mission abroad, the officers at the US Consulate in HCMC take visa fraud seriously and therefore heavy scrutiny is placed upon pending visa applications in an effort to ensure that those receiving visa benefits are legally entitled to such benefits. Furthermore, Consular Officers also review US family visa applications very carefully in order to ascertain whether or not a prospective foreign beneficiary has the requisite subjective intent. Subjective intent is often of great concern in K1 visa applications as the applicant must have a genuine intention to marry their American fiance within 90 days of entering the USA.

The culmination of the US visa process is usually the visa interview which is generally conducted at the US Mission with Consular jurisdiction to adjudicate the visa application. However, in some cases, a Consular Officer may feel that further documentation is necessary in order to complete the adjudication. The American State Department refers to the 221(g), which is a reference to section 221(g) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, as a refusal although for purposes of the Department of Homeland Security the 221g is considered a denial. This can be an important distinction for foreign nationals holding the passport of a country which participates in the US Visa Waiver Program as the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) considers 221g refusals to be denials which must be disclosed by travelers through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). It should noted that Vietnam is not currently a participant in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program.

In some cases, 221g denials are highly complex and may cause frustration to the applicant and/or their American counterpart. Some find that attorney assistance can be beneficial. An American Immigration attorney can provide insight into the overall process and also assist in making a follow-up with the US Consulate regarding a 221g denial. Furthermore, American Immigration attorneys based in South East Asia can deal with such matters before the Consulate in real time. This can be especially beneficial if the 221g evolves into a situation in which the visa application is denied due to a legal finding of inadmissibility. This can sometimes occur and in such an event the finding of inadmissibility may only be overcome through use of an I-601 waiver. In some cases, there may be no remedy if the applicant is found inadmissible for reasons that cannot be waived. Those thinking about filing for immigration benefits should always be aware that putting on the best case at the outset is the most efficient way of attempting to ensure visa issuance.

For related information please see: US Visa Vietnam or US fiance visa.

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2nd November 2010

It recently came to the attention of this blogger that the Ombudsman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has made some recommendations regarding the processing procedures associated with the I-601 waiver. To quote directly from a recent Memorandum sent to CIS Ombudsman January Contreras from USCIS Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas:

The CIS Ombudsman recommends that USCIS:

• Centralize processing of all Forms 1-601 to deliver faster and more standardized
adjudication; .

• Provide for concurrent filing of Form 1-601 and Form 1-130, Petition for Alien Relative;

• Prioritize the finalization of its overseas case management system (currently in
development) to provide for accurate statistical reporting of Forms.1-601, allowing for:
(1) posted processing times, and (2) tracking via the “My Case Status” feature on the
USCIS website;

• Publish clear filing instructions to guide customers in need of expedited Form 1-601
processing;

• Improve coordination between DOS consular· officers and USCIS adjudicators who work
with Forms 1-601 at CDJ; and,

• Amend CDJ’s office policy to allow USCIS employees to request digitized Alien Files
(A-files) upon receipt of interview schedules.

Some of these issues have been raised by those with cases pending before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service or a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas. The aforementioned memorandum is quite extensive and those interested in learning further should check out the full memo online. That said, USCIS responded to many of the issues raised by the Ombudsman. For example, the memo noted the following:

1. Centralize processing of all Forms 1-601 to deliver faster and more standardized adjudication.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees in part.

USCIS is currently evaluating different organizational models for processing Forms 1-601 filed overseas, with the aim of enhancing consistency and efficiency, optimizing use of USCIS resources, and further decreasing processing times for cases that cannot be quickly approved. While centralization is one model that could further these goals; other models, such as bispecialization (i.e.,processing particular forms in two locations only), may have some advantages…

The memorandum went on to reply further:

2. Provide for concurrent filing of Form 1-601 and Form 1-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

USCIS Response: USCIS is considering this recommendation.

In April 2010, USCIS formed a working group under the leadership of the Office of Policy and Strategy to explore concurrent filing and any possible challenges to implementation. Because the change in our process could result in unanticipated complications, it would have to be done in a manner that carefully manages applicant expectations and USCIS resources. The working group is focused on evaluating the feasibility and benefits of the potential process change…

This suggestion could prove interesting in practice as the dynamics of concurrent filing may not be feasible. As the tone of the above citation implies, there may be a great deal of study before such a suggestion could be acted upon. Meanwhile, under the current processing scheme those who need an I-601 waiver outside of the United States must first be deemed inadmissible in a visa adjudication conducted by a Consular Officer at a US Mission, US Embassy, or US Consulate abroad. Therefore, simultaneous application submission as suggested above may not comport with current processing procedures.

3. Prioritize the finalization of its overseas case management system (currently in development) to provide for accurate statistical reporting of Forms 1-601, allowing for: (1) posted processing times, and (2) tracking via the “My Case Status” feature on the USCIS website.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees.

USCIS is pleased to report that the USCIS overseas case management system, which has been an Agency priority over the course of FY2010, was released for use by all International Operations staff on August 16, 2010.

Hopefully, measures such as those noted above will lead to further streamlining of the overall United States Immigration process.To quote the memorandum further:

4. Publish clear filing instructions to guide Customers in need of expedited Form 1-601 processing.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees.

USCIS is in the process of updating its International Operations Division’s standard operating guidance on Form 1-601 adjudications to address requests for expedited processing.

Hopefully, new guidance about expedited processing will assist petitioners and beneficiaries in understanding how to go about requesting expedited processing in cases where such service is warranted.

5. Improve coordination between DOS consular officers and USCIS adjudicators who work with Forms 1-601 at CDJ.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees.

USCIS agrees that DOS consular officers and USCIS adjudicators should maintain close coordination at CDJ and all other overseas posts. All USCIS overseas offices closely collaborate with their DOS colleagues. In CDJ, DOS consular officers and USCIS adjudicators discuss shared concerns every day. The USCIS CDJ Field Office Director and the Immigrant Visa Chief also maintain daily contact…

In many ways, cooperation between officers at different government agencies represents one of the best hopes for an overall streamlining of the visa process. Although, those interested in understanding the I-601 waiver process should note that there are some functions that must be performed by Consular Officers and some that must be performed by USCIS Officers. In any case, effective communication between multiple individuals and agencies is likely to result in more convenience for those seeking an immigration benefit.

6. Amend CDJ’s office policy to allow USCIS employees to request digitized Alien Files (Afiles) upon receipt of interview schedules.

USCIS Response: USCIS agrees in part.

USCIS agrees that A-file records (whether digitized or hard copy) should be requested early in the adjudication process and is evaluating procedures to achieve this goal without significantly delaying the process.

Although digitized records represent further efficiency, it may take time to implement the recommendation noted above.

The process of obtaining a visa or an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility can be difficult to understand for those unaccustomed to the immigration process. In many cases where involving I-601 waivers, individuals or couples sometimes opt to retain the assistance of an American attorney experienced in United States Immigration matters as such individuals are licensed to provide advice and counsel in matters pertaining to US travel documents and waivers of inadmissibility to the USA.

Fore related information please see: US Visa Denial or K1 visa.

more Comments: 04

21st May 2010

To see this information in English please see: US visa denial

อย่างที่ผู้เขียนได้เคยพูดไว้ในกระทู้ก่อนๆ เหตุผลหลักๆที่ทำให้วีซ่าอเมริกาถูกปฏิเสธขึ้นอยู่กับเหตุที่ทำให้ไม่สามารถเข้าเมืองได้ ในเคสนั้นๆ เหตุหนึ่งก็คือ เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุลพบว่าผู้ขอวีซ่าทำความผิดทางอาญาเกี่ยวกับศีลธรรม ( CIMT ) นั่นหมายความว่า บางครั้งก็เป็นเรื่องยากที่จะวินิจฉัยว่าความผิดที่ผู้ขอวีซ่ากระทำนั้นเป็นความผิดทางอาญาเกี่ยวกับศีลธรรมหรือไม่ คู่มือทางกิจการต่างประเทศกล่าวถึงลักษณะของความผิดที่เป็นความผิดเกี่ยวกับศีลธรรมเอาไว้ ด้านล่างคือข้อความบางส่วนที่ตัดตอนมา

ข้อ9 คู่มือทางกิจการต่างประเทศ 40.21(a) N 2.3-1 ความผิดต่อทรัพย์สิน

( CT. VISA-1318;09-24-2009 )

เอ. ความผิดทางอาญาส่วนใหญ่ที่ถือว่าเกี่ยวข้องกับศีลธรรมอันเป็นความผิดต่อทรัพย์สินได้แก่ ฉ้อโกง การกระทำความผิดฐานฉ้อโกงถือเป็นความผิดต่อศีลธรรมไม่ว่าจะเป็นการกระทำต่อบุคคลหรือความผิดต่อแผ่นดิน ความผิดฐานฉ้อโกง โดยทั่วไป

เกี่ยวกับ

(1) ทำให้บุคคลอื่นหลงเข้าใจผิด

(2) รู้ถึงข้อความที่หลอกลวงซึ่งทำขึ้นโดยตัวผู้ก่อการ

(3) เชื่อถือในสิ่งที่แสดงให้เข้าใจผิดโดยบุคคลที่ถูกหลอก

(4) เจตนาหลอกลวง และ

(5) การกระทำการฉ้อโกง

ความผิดต่อทรัพย์สินไม่เพียงเป็นความผิดทางอาญาเกี่ยวเนื่องด้วยศีลธรรมชนิดเดียวแต่ความผิดต่อเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐก็ถือเป็นความผิดทางอาญาที่เกี่ยวกับศีลธรรมด้วย

ข้อ9 คู่มือทางกิจการต่างประเทศ 40.21(a) N 2.3-2 ความผิดต่อการเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐ

( CT: VISA-1318; 09-24-2009 )

เอ. ความผิดต่อเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐที่เข้ากับนิยามความผิดทางศีลธรรมได้แก่:

(1) การติดสินบน

(2) ปลอมเอกสาร

(3) ฉ้อโกงกรมสรรพากร หรือหน่วยงานราชการอื่น

(4) ฉ้อฉลทางเอกสาร

(5) ให้การเท็จ

(6) ให้ที่พักพิงแก่ผู้ร้ายหลบหนี ( โดยทราบความผิด ) และ

(7) เลี่ยงภาษี ( โดยมีเจตนา )

คู่มือทางกิจการต่างประเทศได้กล่าวถึงกิจกรรมอีกหลายๆลักษณะที่อาจไม่ถือเป็นความผิดทางอาญาเกี่ยวกับศีลธรรม เป็นหน้าที่ของเจ้าหน้าที่ที่พิจารณาเรื่องในการตัดสินข้อเท็จจริงของคดีและตัดสินว่าการกระทำดังกล่าวเป็นความผิดทางอาญาเกี่ยวเนื่องกับศีลธรรมหรือไม่ หากว่าได้กระทำความผิดจริง ก็จะต้องถูกปฏิเสธวีซ่า  ภายใต้ทฤษฎีอำนาจที่ห้ามตรวจสอบของกงสุล ( รู้จักกันในชื่อ อำนาจเด็ดขาดของกงสุล ) คำตัดสินนี้ไม่สามารถอุทธรณ์ได้ อย่างไรก็ตาม ผู้ยื่นขอวีซ่าสามารถแก้ไขปัญหาวีซ่าถูกปฏิเสธได้โดยยื่นขออภัยโทษแบบ I-601

เพื่อประโยชน์ของบางคน มีคำพิพากษาของ ศาลภาค กล่าวว่า

“คำสั่งส่งตัวออกนอกสหรัฐอเมริกาที่มีต่อ ผู้ร้อง อาร์มานโด อัลวาเรซ เรย์นากาเนื่องจากกระทำความผิดอาญาฐานรับยานพาหนะที่ขโมยมา มีความผิดตามมาตรา 496d(a) ตามประมวลกฎหมายอาญาแคลิฟอร์เนีย คำร้องของเขาขอให้พิจาณาใหม่ว่าความผิดทางอาชญากรรมที่กระทำลงนั้น เป็นความผิดตามศีลธรรมหรือไม่ เราสรุปได้ว่าเป็นความผิดฐานอาชญากรรมแต่ไม่ใช่อาชญากรรมเกี่ยวกับศีลธรรม เราปฏิเสธคำร้องขอพิจารณาใหม่”

เมื่อกฎหมายเปลี่ยนแปลงไป นิยามของความผิดทางอาญาเกี่ยวกับศีลธรรมและกิจกรรมที่อยู่ภายใต้ข้อกำหนดของความผิดอาญาทางศีลธรรมตามพระราชบัญญัติคนเข้าเมืองและสัญชาติก็เปลี่ยนแปลงไปด้วย

สำหรับข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมสำหรับวีซ่าอเมริกาจากประเทศไทย โปรดดู วีซ่าอเมริกาประเทศไทย

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7th April 2010

As this author has discussed in previous blog posts, one major reason for US visa denial is based upon a finding that a legal grounds of inadmissibility exists in a given case. One legal grounds of inadmissibility is based upon a finding by the Consular Officer that the applicant committed a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT). That being said, at times it can be difficult to determine whether or not an individual’s prior actions would be considered a crime involving moral turpitude. The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) provides some insight into what types of crimes are considered to be crimes involving moral turpitude, the following are excerpts from the FAM:

“9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-1 Crimes Committed Against
Property
(CT:VISA-1318; 09-24-2009)
a. Most crimes committed against property that involve moral turpitude
include the element of fraud. The act of fraud involves moral turpitude
whether it is aimed against individuals or government. Fraud generally
involves:
(1) Making false representation;
(2) Knowledge of such false representation by the perpetrator;
(3) Reliance on the false representation by the person defrauded;
(4) An intent to defraud; and
(5) The actual act of committing fraud”

Property Crimes are not the only activities that can be construed as crimes involving moral turpitude as criminal actions which violate or undermine governmental authority are also considered to be CIMT:

“9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-2 Crimes Committed Against
Governmental Authority
(CT:VISA-1318; 09-24-2009)
a. Crimes committed against governmental authority which fall within the
definition of moral turpitude include:
(1) Bribery;
(2) Counterfeiting;
(3) Fraud against revenue or other government functions;
(4) Mail fraud;
(5) Perjury;
(6) Harboring a fugitive from justice (with guilty knowledge); and
(7) Tax evasion (willful).”

The FAM also goes on to note the various activities that may not be considered CIMT. However, it is incumbent upon the adjudicating officer to examine the facts of a given case and make a decision as to whether the underlying actions that gave rise to a criminal conviction in fact constitutes a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude for purposes of visa issuance. If the officer decides that a CIMT was committed, then the visa application will likely be denied. Under the doctrine of Consular NonReviewability (also known as Consular Absolutism) this decision is not subject to appeal. However, the applicant make be able to overcome the visa denial by applying for, and obtaining, an I-601 waiver.

Of interest to some may be the recent Circuit Court decision which held:

“An order of removal from the United States was entered against Petitioner Armando Alvarez-Reynaga based on his felony conviction for receipt of a stolen vehicle in violation of section 496d(a) of the California Penal Code. His petition for review presents the questions of whether a conviction under that statute qualifies categorically as a conviction for an aggravated felony, and whether it qualifies categorically as a crime involving moral turpitude. We conclude that it qualifies as the first, but not the second. We deny the petition for review.”

As the law continues to evolve, so to does the definition of CIMT and the activities that are considered to be covered by the CIMT provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

For more information about US Visas from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

(Readers should be advised that the above does not constitute a full analysis of CIMT issues. Each application has its own unique set of facts and those facts must be analyzed on an individual basis in order to form a professional opinion.)

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21st March 2010

Although delicate, the issue of prostitution in Thailand and the impact upon United States Immigration is something that an American Immigration attorney in Thailand should discuss, if for no other reason than the fact that there is a great deal of misinformation about this topic throughout the internet.

First, the relevant law: The United States Immigration and Nationality Act §212(a)(2)(D) has the following to say on the topic of inadmissibility and prostitution:

(D) Prostitution and commercialized vice

Any alien who—

(i) is coming to the United States solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in prostitution, or has engaged in prostitution within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status,

(ii) directly or indirectly procures or attempts to procure, or (within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status) procured or attempted to procure or to import, prostitutes or persons for the purpose of prostitution, or receives or (within such 10-year period) received, in whole or in part, the proceeds of prostitution, or

(iii) is coming to the United States to engage in any other unlawful commercialized vice, whether or not related to prostitution,

is inadmissible.

It should be noted that legality is not an issue when it comes to prostitution as even a legal act of prostitution is a legal ground of inadmissibility from the United States of America. In the US State of Nevada, prostitution is legal provided the brothel has a license and comports to certain regulatory rules with regard to health and advertising. However, the act of prostitution itself is not illegal under in Nevada so long as the prostitute works in a licensed establishment. Regardless of the fact that the act may be legal, the Immigration and Nationality Act still makes the act a legal grounds of inadmissibility if it occurred within 10 years of the application for admission to the United States of America.

This seemingly glaring disjunction is the result of the American doctrine of Federalism. In the US, there is one sovereign in the form of the Federal government and 50 sovereigns in the form of the 50 US states. It is possible that State and Federal law will occasionally conflict. For Immigration purposes, the Federal regulations and statutes are controlling over state law. Therefore, regardless of the fact that an act of prostitution may be legal in a US state, it may still be a legal grounds of inadmissibility if it occurred within 10 years of an application for admission to the USA.

In Thailand this is important to note because prostitution is only vaguely defined in criminal statutes. Under the provisions of the Thai Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of 1996 the definition of prostitution is defined as:

“‘prostitution’ means sexual intercourse, or any other act, or the commission of any other act in order to gratify the sexual desire of another person in a promiscuous manner in return for money or any other benefit, irrespective of whether the person who accepts the act and the person who commits the act are of the same sex or not…”

The obvious problem with this definition is the phrase “in a promiscuous manner.” Authorities in Thailand seem to operate under the assumption that acts of prostitution occurring in private are not promiscuous and therefore do not meet the legal definition of prostitution. The United States immigration authorities do not take this view and their view of prostitution falls in line with the more traditional definition which mandates finding of previous engagement in acts of prostitution if the individual in question was paid in exchange for providing sexual gratification.

If a Consular Officer at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad finds an alien inadmissible because the alien has engaged in prostitution within 10 years of filing an application for a US visa, then the alien will not be able to obtain a US visa, nor will they be allowed to enter the United States of America. This decision is not subject to appeal.

What is the solution if an alien is found inadmissible based upon a finding that they have engaged in prostitution within 10 years of applying for a US visa? Fortunately, the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a remedy for those who are found inadmissible under these circumstances. An I-601 waiver may be filed with USCIS and if approved, the alien will be able to seek admission to the United States of America.

Throughout the internet there are those who claim that the best way to avoid this issue is to lie to a Consular Officer or “omit certain facts.” This practice is highly inadvisable. First, it is illegal and in some cases punishable by five years in a federal penitentiary and a $250,000 fine. Second, it could lead to further problems for an alien because lying to a Consular Officer could result in a finding that the alien had engaged in fraud and misrepresentation which is a separate ground of inadmissibility. Third, such advice is highly unethical and reflects adversely upon anyone who advises a client to lie to a Consular Officer or in a visa application. Run, don’t walk, away from anyone who gives this kind of advice as it is unethical, illegal, and could result in a permanent bar to entering the United States.

Our firm’s policy is to disclose all legally relevant facts and deal with the legal consequences in a straightforward manner.

For More Information Please See: US Visa Thailand.

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