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Posts Tagged ‘Immigrant Visa’

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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25th December 2010

This author recently came across an interesting piece of information on the official website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Apparently, the United States legislature has enacted legislation that would simplify the adoption process for Americans adopting a child, or children, outside of the United States of America. To quote directly from a recent AILA posting:

On 11/30/10, President Obama signed into law the International Adoption Simplification Act (P.L. 111-287).

The law amends the INA to include in the definition of “child,” and thus in the exemption from required admissions vaccination documentation, certain children who have been adopted in a foreign country that is a signatory to the Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) or who are emigrating from such a country for U.S. adoption.

It includes in such definition and exemption a child who is under the age of 18 at the time an immediate relative status petition is filed on his or her behalf, has been adopted abroad or is coming for U.S. adoption, and is the natural sibling of: (1) an adopted child from a Hague Convention signatory country; (2) a child adopted under the age of 16 who has lived with the adoptive parents for at least two years, or a child who has been abused; or (3) an orphan who was under the age of 16 at the time an immediate relative status petition was filed on his or her behalf.

The bill was passed in the Senate by unanimous consent on 7/21/10, and passed by the House of Representatives by a voice vote on 11/15/10.

It should be noted that not all countries are signatories to the Hague Convention noted above. However, for the USA, which has joined the Hague Convention, the simplification of the adoption process could result in families being reunited in the USA much more quickly compared to the process in the recent past.

In many ways, the foreign adoption process is somewhat similar to the process of obtaining American immigration benefits for a child purusuant to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. The CCA’s provisions can grant United States Citizenship by operation of law to the natural born child or children of an American Citizen. That said, the process for obtaining such benefits is often very much the same as the process utilized by those Americans wishing to bring a step-child of foreign nationality to the USA. The major difference between these two processes occurs at the United States Port of Entry where children of American Citizens born abroad become US Citizens by operation of law upon admission to the USA on an Immigrant visa in the company of the American parent.

Fore related information please see: Child Citizenship Act.

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6th December 2010

In an interesting recent decision by the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit the Court found that they indeed have the prerogative to review and rescind an I-130 denial. The following is a direct quotation from the Court’s opinion which was distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

In addition, interpreting the statutory language as the government advocates would force this court to classify every decision involving fact-finding by the Attorney General as discretionary and would remove all such decisions from judicial review. That is not a reasonable interpretation in light of the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act itself setting forth our standard of review for factual determinations in removal proceedings.

As one could likely gather from the above cited quote, the United States government’s position regarding denial of I-130 petitions basically could have created a situation in which Courts would not be able to review the decisions made by adjudicators at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). It was interesting that the Court was not persuaded by this argument and reviewed the decision notwithstanding government objection.

For those who are unaccustomed to the US visa process, the I-130 petition is generally the first step in bringing an alien immediate relative to the USA. This petition is often utilized by those wishing to bring a foreign spouse to the United States. In cases where the I-130 petition is approved, the case file is usually forwarded on to the United States National Visa Center (NVC) which is an agency under the jurisdiction of the American State Department. The NVC acts as a sort of clearinghouse for visa applications. Therefore a Vietnamese spouse will likely process his or her visa application at the United States Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City via the NVC. Meanwhile, a Thai spouse will likely process his or her visa application through the US Embassy in Bangkok by way of the National Visa Center. Chinese spouses may process through one of the many US Consulates in China or the US Embassy in Beijing. The same can be said for India as the US Missions in both countries have dramatically changes Consular Processing procedures to provide more convenient options to American visa seekers after NVC processing.

The issue of judicial review in matters pertaining to United States immigration is a complicated one. Therefore, differing aspects of the US visa process may be subject to varying levels of judicial review depending upon the circumstances of a given case. For this reason some bi-national couples opt to retain attorney assistance in processing visa petitions and applications as a licensed professional can provide significant insight into overall processing procedures and provide strategies for streamlining the visa process.

Fore related information please see: K1 Visa Thailand, IR1 Visa Thailand, or CR1 Visa Thailand.

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17th November 2010

For those who regularly read this blog it is likely well known that the administration regularly posts information regarding the holiday schedules of US Missions abroad in an effort to forestall fruitless trips to an American Mission abroad due to lack of knowledge regarding official American recognition of bot US and foreign holidays. The following was quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Iraq:

U.S. Mission Baghdad will observe the following holidays in calendar year 2010.

Date

Day

Holiday

Country

December 31, 2009 Thursday New Year’s Day US
January 17 Sunday Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday US**
February 14 Sunday Presidents’ Day US**
February 28 Monday Prophet’s Birthday Iraq*
May 1 Saturday Labor Day Iraq
May 30 Sunday Memorial Day US**
July 4 Sunday Independence Day US
July 14 Wednesday Republic Day Iraq
September 5 Sunday Labor Day US**
Sep 10-12 Fri-Sun Eid Al-Fitr Iraq*
October 10 Sunday Columbus Day US**
November 17-19 Wed-Fri Eid Al Adha Iraq*
November 11 Monday Veterans’ Day US
November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving US
December 8 Wednesday Islamic New Year Iraq*
December 26 Sunday Christmas US

* This Iraqi holiday is determined by the lunar cycle. Exact dates must be confirmed by local authorities and are subject to change.

** In keeping with the spirit of the Monday Holiday Bill, the intention of which is to provide three-day holiday weekends, U.S. holidays covered by the Monday Holiday Bill will be observed on Sundays.

The Embassy will consider moving the observation date of local holidays (religious and secular) falling on weekends in the event that the Iraqi Government issues guidance mandating that the private and public sectors change the observance date.

The situation in Iraq is likely more turbulent at the time of this writing when compared to other jurisdictions in which a US Mission is present. That said, there are still those who may need services which can only be provided by an American Citizen Services (ACS) post abroad. Services that are often sought include, but are not limited to: notary services, Consular Report of Birth Abroad issuance, US passport renewal, and addition of visa pages. Those interested in requesting such services from the American Citizen Services section of the United States Embassy in Iraq are well advised to check the official website of the Post in order to ascertain whether or not an appointment can be made online. Setting an online appointment can greatly facilitate the processing of requests with ACS as Consular Officers can prepare in advance to provide necessary services.

Those interested in issues pertaining to visas are well advised to check with either the Non-Immigrant Visa Unit or the Immigrant Visa Unit in order to ascertain the proper procedure for requesting a visa to the USA. It should be noted that for purposes of processing the K1 visa is considered to be an immigrant visa.

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3rd November 2010

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is responsible for adjudicating and processing petitions for American Immigration benefits. In the majority of cases, the petitioner is required to file a petition in the USA. However, in some relatively rare cases, it may be possible to file for immigrant spouse visa benefits at either an overseas office of USCIS or through Direct Consular Filing at a United States Mission, Embassy, or Consulate abroad. This blogger recently discovered that the USCIS is inviting stakeholders to a meeting to discuss overseas filings of I-130 petitions.  To quote directly from a recent memo distributed by the Department of Homeland Security’s USCIS:

The USCIS International Operations Division, Office of Policy & Strategy, and Office of Public Engagement invite you to participate in a teleconference to discuss changes to the adjudication of the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by petitioners residing overseas.

Currently, petitioners living outside the United States may file a Form I-130 with and have the petition adjudicated by a USCIS field office or American Consulate overseas. USCIS is reviewing options to have all Forms I-130 adjudicated domestically. During the session, USCIS will provide an overview of how changes may affect filing and adjudication as well as address questions and concerns from stakeholders.

It remains to be seen whether or not this proposed policy will be implemented, but if the policy is implemented, then all of those seeking immigrant visas will probably be required to file for visa benefits at a facility in the USA.

The United States Immigration process can vary depending upon the facts of a given case and the visa category being sought. Therefore, those seeking a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa will not undergo the same process as one who is seeking a K1 visa. This is especially true in cases where individuals are seeking non-immigrant visa benefits as many of these applications do not require the initial filing of an immigration petition in the USA. However, applicants for non-immigrant visa categories are likely to be scrutinized pursuant to the provisions of section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act which can lead to a higher number of visa denials when compared to immigrant visa categories.

Those interested in retaining the services of a professional to assist in the immigration process are well advised to ascertain the credentials of those claiming expertise in United States Immigration law as only a licensed American attorney is entitled to provide advice and counsel in immigration related matters for a fee.

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29th September 2010

A frequently asked question from those Americans with a special someone in Indonesia is: “Can I get my Indonesian girlfriend (or boyfriend) a US Tourist Visa?” In many cases, the answer to this question is: No. However, a better understanding of the relevant laws and regulations  can be highly illuminating for those with an Indonesian significant other.

Many Americans are unfamiliar with section 214 (b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. This legislation creates a legal presumption that an American Consular Officer must take into consideration when adjudicating non-immigrant visa applications. The section requires the Consular Officer to presume that the applicant for a non-immigrant visa is actually an undisclosed intending immigrant unless the applicant can produce strong evidence to the contrary. This creates a so-called “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the applicant must show “strong ties” to their native country, or another country outside of the United States of America and “weak ties” to the USA. Therefore, the Indonesian girlfriend (or boyfriend) of an American Citizen (or Lawful Permanent Resident) must show that they have strong ties to Indonesia and weak ties to the USA. In general, the mere existence of an American significant other is enough to mitigate against many “strong ties” outside of the USA and thereby lead to a denial of an American B2 tourist visa application.

The reason for this state of affairs is first due to the fact that the the presumption contained in section 214b is quite stringent when applied to the facts of many individual cases. Many who are rejected under this provision feel that the denial is some sort of personal rejection. Nothing could be further from the reality of the situation as a US Consulate or US Embassy will routinely issue these denials for no reason other than the application of relevant law. Meanwhile, there are some who speculate that part of the reason for the relative increase in these denials over the course of the past 10 years is due in part to the tragedy of 9/11 which lead to increased scrutiny of all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications. Furthermore, there have been those who inappropriately use the US tourist visa to circumvent the comparatively longer processing time associated with a US fiance visa (K1 visa) or a US Marriage Visa (K3 Visa, CR1 Visa, IR1 Visa).

Those who have a foreign girlfriend (or boyfriend) and can show genuine ties to countries abroad may still be able to get a US Tourist Visa. That said, this post is merely meant to explain the relatively higher denial rate that seems to exist in B2 visa applications for the significant others of Americans. Those with a bona fide relationship and genuine intentions may be able to obtain an American fiance visa or marriage visa, but it should be noted that no one should ever enter into a relationship strictly to obtain visa benefits. A family based visa application should be based upon a bona fide relationship.

For related information please see: US Visa Cambodian Girlfriend or K1 Visa Indonesia.

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8th February 2010

In previous postings on this blog the holiday closing schedule for US Embassies and Consulates have been posted in order to promulgate information about the dates that posts will be open for the regular transaction of business. This is done in an effort to forestall futile trips to the Embassy by those who are unaware of the times it will be closed. In general, a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas will be closed in recognition of both National Holidays in the United States of America as well as those national holidays recognized by the host country. Below is a schedule of holiday closures for the United States Embassy in New Delhi, India:

Date Day Holiday Type
January 1 Friday New Year’s Day American
January 5 Tuesday Guru Gobind Singh’s Birthday Indian
January 18 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday American
January 26 Tuesday Republic Day Indian
February 12 Friday Mahashivratri Indian
February 15 Monday Washington’s Birthday American
March 1 Monday Holi Indian
April 2 Friday Good Friday Indian
May 31 Monday Memorial Day American
July 5* Monday Independence Day American
August 24 Tuesday Raksha Bandhan Indian
September 2 Thursday Janmashtami Indian
September 6 Monday Labor Day American
October 11 Monday Columbus Day American
November 5 Friday Diwali Indian
November 11 Thursday Veterans’ Day American
November 17 Wednesday Idu’l Zuha (Bakrid) Indian
November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving Day American
December 17 Friday Muharram Indian
December 24** Friday Christmas Day American

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

The above information is quoted from the website of the US Embassy in New Dehli. It should be noted that an Embassy can close for reasons other than recognition of official holidays so it would be wise to check the Embassy’s website directly before traveling to the Embassy as local conditions could require the Post to be closed with little notice. For those interested in checking the official website of the US Embassy in India, please click: here.

Many people travel to a US Embassy in another country in order to obtain documentation that cannot be obtained from another location. For example, those who need a new passport, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or an American Notary overseas go to the American Citizen Services Section of a US Embassy abroad in order to obtain this type of documentation. Prospective immigrants travel to an Embassy in order to interview for US Visas such as the K1 visa, the K3 visa, or an Immigrant visa. No matter what one’s reasons are for traveling to the Embassy, foreknowledge of their hours of operation could avert frustration.

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30th October 2009

The United States of America is a nation founded by Immigrants and the descendants of Immigrants. US Family Immigration is one of the most important aspects of the American Immigration system as it helps bind multinational families to the United States of America. In a recent article in the Immigration Impact blog, issues correlating to US Family Immigration were discussed at length. Below are some of the ideas conveyed regarding the system of bringing families together in the USA:

The U.S. immigration system has always promoted family unity by awarding the majority of visas to the families of current U.S. residents, which ensures that close family members are not kept apart. The principle of family unity has long been a central tenet of our immigration laws and has contributed to the economic and social prosperity of our country and immigrant populations.

Even though the USA was founded by Immigrants, today relatives of those in the United States of America must wait years, and sometimes decades, in order to be reunited with their loved ones. More from Immigration Impact:

For instance, the average current wait time for spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents (green card holders) is five years, and the wait time for adult children of U.S. citizens is six years for those still single and eight years for those who have married. Siblings of U.S. citizens must wait between ten and eleven years.

This article went on to note the benefits that Immigrants bring to the US economy. When prospective immigrant from around the world are free to bring their families to the USA they are more likely to melt into the “melting pot,” that is an inexorably part of American culture. Failing to allow family members of these immigrants to come to the US creates a situation in which large amounts of capital depart the United States as Immigrants in the USA must send money abroad to support families who cannot get into the US. There have been some attempts in the past to alleviate these problems, but as this article points out:

Despite the demographic shifts created by various immigration reforms over the years, there has been no substantial adjustment of our family immigration laws in the last 20 years. The broken system has left an estimated 4 million close family members of U.S. citizens and green card holders—potential Americans who would be a tremendous asset to this country—stuck in visa backlogs.

It should be noted that this is not the situation for fiancees and spouses of US Citizens. Luckily, spouses and fiancees of US Citizens are given priority and do not need to wade through the quota system which applies to other types of family based immigration categories. Currently, the K1 fiance visa, K3 marriage visa, and the CR1 visa are processing through the system in approximately: 7, 9, and 11 months respectively.

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5th September 2009

This blog has often compared and contrasted the difference between the Immigration procedures for obtainment of a US Visa and a Thai Visa. To further compare the two systems, this post will provide a brief overview of the financial requirements one must meet in order to obtain a visa to Thailand or the United States of America.

In order to sponsor a traveler to the United States, one must first decipher the type of visa the traveler will be using. In the case of Non-Immigrant visas (F1 student visa, J1 exchange visa, or B1 Business Visa) the applicant must be able to prove that they or their sponsor will be able to pay the expenses related to the trip. In the case of F1 and J1 visas, the applicant must show that they will also fully pay for their educational endeavors or their exchange program. In some cases, the J1 visitor must reimburse the public education system where they stay in order to obtain the J1 visa.

In the case of United States Immigrant IR1 and CR1 visas for family members from Thailand, the American Citizen must show that they meet the income or financial requirements in order to act as sponsor for their loved one. The basic concern of the Consular officer revolves around the notion that the Immigrant could become a “public charge,” if the American Citizen does not have the resources to pay for the foreign spouse. An I-864 affidavit of support is used to assist in determining if the American is capable of sponsorship.

The K1 visa is a combination of the non-immigrant and immigrant visas. That being said, an affidavit of support must be filled out by the American Citizen. The difference between the I-134 and I-864 is the fact that the I-864 is more legally binding with regard to the sponsor. If the foreign entrant ever becomes a ward of the state, then the sponsor could be forced to reimburse the American government for the expenses the foreign national incurs. The K3 visa, although a marriage visa, is technically a non-immigrant visa so the American Citizen must simply submit an I-134 affidavit of support.

In Thailand, there are certain Thai visa categories which require that the applicant show that they have some sort of financial safety net. Visas such as the Thai retirement visa and the Thailand O visa (based upon marriage), require the visa holder to continually prove that they either meet a prescribed minimum monthly income or have a certain amount of money in a Thai bank account.

For those applying for Thai visas outside of Thailand, certain consulates have differing financial requirements depending upon the visa category. Therefore, one wishing to obtain a Thai Business Visa may be required to show a minimum bank balance. The minimum financial requirement may vary from post to post.

The United States Embassy in Thailand, diligently scrutinizes the financial resources of those applicants wishing to obtain an American visa. Many people believe that there is some sort of magic numerical amount of money that if shown in a bank account will guarantee visa application approval. In reality, the Embassy looks at the “whole picture” when making decisions on US tourist visas and often simply having a large bank balance is not enough to obtain a tourist visa. Further, in cases where an American boyfriend tranfers a large amount of money into a Thai applicant’s bank account in an effort to “beef up” the applicant’s credentials, the Embassy can tell that the bank balance is artificially inflated and will likely deny the application. It is never wise to manufacture evidence in order to obtain a United States visa on behalf of another.

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