Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘IR-1 Visa’

21st November 2017

The following is a transcript of a video which can be found here: US Marriage Visa Cambodia

In this video today, we are going to be discussing marriage visas in the specific context of the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

As you can see from the aforementioned preamble to this video, we are based here in Bangkok. I am an American attorney but the firm is based here in Bangkok. The bulk of our work in US immigration matters does revolve around Bangkok and the Consular section of the US Embassy here primarily our cases that are going to end up at the US Consular Section here. That being said, we do take other cases in the region, I do deal with a fair number of these rather frequently. Cambodia is one I deal with probably more often than any other country in the region if I ‘m being very specific. It kind of depends on the year, I guess. But that being said, the K-1, we discussed specifically in another video, that’s a fiancée visa. In this video, we are discussing US marriage visas specifically. So for now, I’m talking about the CR-1, IR-1 or the K-3 visa. There’s another video on this channel which goes specifically into the K-3 visa and I am going to sort of leave it to that video to discuss that directly if there’s specific things to think about with respect to the K-3. But suffice it to say, the CR-1 and the IR-1, CR-1 is Conditional Resident category, IR-1 is Immediate Relative and the person that enters on an IR-1 enters in unconditional lawful permanent residence as opposed to conditional lawful permanent residence to the United States. Generally speaking, I am talking about foreign nationals married, and I am specifically talking about Khmer, Cambodian Nationals married to an American citizen. Although some of this analysis could apply to a lawful permanent resident in the United States trying to bring their Cambodian spouse over as well but I’m going to try to keep it more on point with respect to an American citizen, seeking to bring a Cambodian female or male spouse to the United States.

So the thing to think about with respect to Cambodian nationals applying for marriage visa benefits to the US, it’s kind of a 3 part process in so far as you have to initially deal with the Department of Homeland Security and their United States Citizenship and Immigration Service  apparatus. Then you have got to go ahead and deal with the National Visa Center which in the context of Immigrant Spousal Visas, the National Visa Center is a very different animal than when you compare it to the K categories, the K-1 and the K-3. In the K-1 and the K-3 cases, in those cases where the K-3 gets processed through, in a way NVC just acts as a sort of clearing house or sort of a postal hub, if you will, to make certain that the case gets from USCIS over to the correct embassy abroad. With respect to US Immigrant visas the NVC’s job is much more broad in scope, and depth for that matter. They do a lot of document collection, they will do follow ups if they feel there’s a document deficiency or they feel that more information is necessary. In another video on this channel we discussed the so called extreme vetting protocols of the Trump Administration right now. I don’t know, specifically I haven’t seen anything with extreme vetting happen yet at NVC but I can see theoretically, sometime in the future, extreme vetting protocols may pertain directly to NVC at some point as well.  But that being said, they have a much more active role in the immigrant visa cases.  Once they are satisfied documentarily at National Visa Center, they will then go ahead and process the case out over to the embassy in Phnom Penh and an interview date will be set at the embassy. At the interview, things can happen like what are called the 221-G request for further documentation where basically the interviewing officer determines that they would like to see something more with respect to the case. Generally speaking, after an NVC vetting, this isn’t very frequent, but it does happen. I shouldn’t say that it’s infrequent. In K-1s, it can happen quite frequently because the circumstances are different. Marriage visas, the cases tend to be more clear-cut, I guess is the right way to look at it.  But that being said, basically the point I want to get across is, NVC will set that interview appointment, it will get over to the embassy in Phnom Penh and you have got to get in for an interview. We oftentimes do an interview prep with our clients so that they have an understanding, generally speaking, what the officer is probably going to want to know regarding the application or regarding the specifics of the person making the application and the other thing is we provide some insight with respect to the protocols for how the case is going to be taken in and dealt with at the post.

So to sort of sum up, I think the way to look at the overall process of applying for a US immigrant is this: it starts in the United States with the Department of Homeland Security, it moves over to the NVC which unlike the K categories, the NVC has a very active role in this process and then finally, it’s going to end up at the US Embassy at Phnom Penh and at that point the interview is going to take place and it’s possible more documentation could be requested and you may have to deal with a follow on submission before hopefully, the visa is ultimately approved.

more Comments: 04

21st November 2017

The following is a transcript of the video which can be found here: K-3 Visas from Cambodia.

In this video today, we are going to specifically discuss one visa that is sort of an interesting little niche visa, the K-3 visa, in the specific context of a Khmer, Cambodian national who would be seeking that in connection with marriage to a US citizen. Let’s be clear, you have got to be married to a US citizen in order to apply for a K-3.

First things first. As previously noted in my preamble, we’re located here in Bangkok. We do deal with a large number of Thai cases but being fairly geographically close to Cambodia, over the years we’ve done a fair number of Cambodian cases or cases that arise with a Cambodian national, a Khmer national involved. That being stated, it should be noted that the K-3 is an interesting animal.

To provide a little background on what the K-3 visa is. The K-3 visa was created pursuant to the provisions of the LIFE act created under the Clinton presidency and it was created at a time when the back log associated with spousal visas, CR-1 and IR-1, and there’s another video on this channel specific to CR-1 and IR-1 visas, in Cambodia. Basically, at the time, it was taking multiple years to get finalized Department of Homeland secure the approval of the petition for marriage visas. Meanwhile, at the same time it was like 6 or 7 months, 8 months to get a fiancée visa petition approved. So you ended up with the sort of counter intuitive situation where fiancées were moving through the system more quickly than spouses and it should be noted that from a legal perspective there is no qualitative difference as far as the law is concerned, specifically Immigration law is concerned, with respect to a fiancée versus a spouse; from a legal standpoint they’re treated the same way.  From an administrative standpoint, they just had a high back log of marriage visas or marriage petitions, for whatever reason, were they were processing K-1s more efficiently or they just had a lower case load, I don’t know what the deal was, but at the time it was taking multiple years to get a petition for marriage to an American citizen process through and meanwhile it was taking a matter of months for fiancées. So what happened is they created this K-3 category and the K-3 category was created, basically they said “look if you have got a petition on file for a spousal visa benefits in the normal manner, the CR-1 or IR-1 category basically, you can take that filing and do a duplicative version of that and go ahead and file for this K-3 category. You just go ahead and file it again through the K line. That’s basically what they did. They just took these marriage visa cases and said – Okay, it’s been filed, you have got to prove it’s filed and you put it in the line that was processing for fiancées so what ended up happening is K-3 has kind of become the ubiquitous term for a US marriage visa but in point of fact, the traditional methodology of bringing someone into the United States is through a CR-1 or IR-1 visa.  The K-3 just sort of became rather common place in the lexicon of these matters because people got used to dealing with K-3s because that was effectively the way to get your spouse into the United States. It’s interesting because K-3 still requires adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.  Those of you who are interested in learning about that, in order to get a green card you have to undergo the adjustment of status process and I urge you to take a look at the video that specifically discusses the adjustment of status process on this channel, but something to bring up with respect to K-3s in the present context. Although they may be useful under present processing conditions, in the past there was an administrative ruling, it was a policy of administrative closure that was undertaken by the National Visa Center whereby they basically said – “Look, the K-3 was created for these situations where basically a marriage visa, an immigrant visa case got lost in the back log of USCIS. Not lost but stuck in the back log of USCIS. So if we got the K-3 position first we will process through on the K-3. But if we get the petition for the Immigrant Spouse Visa first, we’re going to process the Immigrant Spouse Visa benefits. We’re going to disregard the K-3”. This is important because NVC’s function is qualitatively different in an immigrant visa context that it is in a K Visa context. The K Visa context, NVC just shoots the case on to the embassy in question and the embassy sort of deals with all the nuts and bolts of the consular processing. In an immigrant visa context, the NVC process is slower because NVC deals with the nuts and bolts of document intake and in a way, I won’t say, adjudication but sort of pre vetting to make sure that they have generally what they need to go ahead and continue to process and get an interview scheduled. So in a way, the K-3 may still, if you can go ahead and get one through, the K-3 may still process more quickly compared to an immigrant visa but it’s my understanding that NVC still maintains the policy of administrative closure, where they get the immigrant case first and now processing of immigrant matters, immigrant spouse matters of American citizens, has reduced significantly. USCIS, to their credit, took significant substantial steps to make their process more efficient and they streamlined it, and I think they got more staff and things to deal with those matters and they put more resources on getting those cases processed, and as a result, in a way the K-3 is, I won’t say it’s obsolete, but its original reason for being there is not quite so pressing as it was at the time that it was created. And for that reason, I think it’s very probable that you are going to see fewer and fewer K-3 visas being processed in Cambodia or elsewhere.

more Comments: 04

10th November 2016

In light of recent events in the United States election and the campaign promises made by the now President-elect, it seems appropriate to assume that Immigration matters will likely come to the forefront of American political discussion. For this reason, this blogger finds it relevant to provide an overview of the Immigration apparatus and how the components function.

In order to understand U.S. Immigration matters and the enforcement of U.S. Immigration law one must first understand the Department of Homeland Security. This Department oversees most of the Immigration matters arising in the United States (The Department of State deals with matters pertaining to US visas issued abroad, for more information on the role DOS plays in the immigration process please check out the many pages on this blog dedicated to Consular Processing information).

There are three agencies under the jurisdiction of DHS which deal with different aspects of Immigration law and policy. The first agency that many intending immigrant will no doubt have had dealings with is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service or USCIS. This agency is tasked with adjudicating petitions for immigration benefits such as immigrant visas, work visas, and certain temporary stay visas. Furthermore, the USCIS also adjudicates I-601 waivers of inadmissibility as well as I-212 waivers for those who have previously been subjected to expedited removal. Those wishing to travel from abroad to the United States on some sort of immigrant or work authorized visa will likely have contact with USCIS.

Another component of DHS which deals with Immigration is the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service or USICE. USICE is often the agency tasked with ascertaining the legal status of foreign nationals physically present in the USA and if found to be present in the USA illegally USICE agents are tasked with apprehending such individuals and placing them in deportation proceedings.

Finally, there is the United States Customs and Border Protection Service or USCBP. In the US visa process, USCBP is arguably the most overlooked yet one of the most significant agencies an intending immigrant will deal with. Unbeknownst to most, notwithstanding the issuance of a valid visa, USCBP has the authority to turn away any alien attempting to enter the USA. In actual practice, an alien with a validly issued visa is unlikely to be refused admission at a port of entry, but it can happen. In most cases such refusal is due to a belief on the part of a USCBP officer that an alien attempting to enter the USA on a non-immigrant visa in fact has immigrant intent. This happens frequently to tourist visa holders who are attempting to conduct a so-called visa run in order to remain in the USA. In those cases involving immigrant spouses of US citizens holding visas such as the K-3, the CR-1, or the IR-1 refusal to admit the alien spouse is quite rare. The same can be said for foreign fiancees of US Citizens holding a K-1 visa, but the fact that USCBP has plenary power to turn away any alien seeking admission should not be forgotten.

Meanwhile in an interesting article in The Intercept, it was noted that certain documents have come to light which apparently show that although USCBP has traditionally recognized law enforcement functions (especially with respect to Customs matters) they also work with the FBI in matters not routinely thought of when pondering USCBP’s role. To quote directly from the aforementioned article:

“It is no surprise that law enforcement closely monitors border crossings for criminals or terror suspects. The initiatives described in these documents, however, are explicitly about gathering intelligence, not enforcing the law. A person doesn’t have to be connected to an active investigation or criminal suspect in order to be flagged; the FBI might want them for their potential to provide general intelligence on a given country, region, or group. The goal, according to an FBI presentation on an initiative at Boston’s Logan Airport, is “looking for ‘good guys’ not ‘bad guys.’”

Although immigration matters are often viewed as a “boring” aspect of the United States bureaucracy it should be noted that agents of the Department of Homeland Security play a significant role in maintaining the security of the USA and assist even in the gathering of intelligence.

Although the ultimate policies of the new administration regarding immigration matters remain to be seen it seems logical to infer that should the administration wish to make the immigration process more difficult for foreign nationals, then the sophisticated mechanisms mentioned above would likely have the capacity to make certain that such a course of events actually transpires.

more Comments: 04

27th January 2014

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that Vietnam has legalized same sex wedding ceremonies performed in that Southeast Asian nation. Prior to this announcement it was illegal for same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony performed in Vietnam and also illegal for same sex couples to cohabit without fear of government reprisal. It should be noted that these recent measures only allow same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony, notwithstanding the fact that such ceremonies will have no legal recognition in Vietnam (or elsewhere). However, many LGBT rights activists believe that this is a significant step towards eventual marriage equality in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Thailand the struggle still continues to see the full marriage equality. Unlike Vietnam, Thailand has allowed same sex marriage ceremonies within their jurisdiction for some time. It should also be noted that Thailand is one of the most tolerant nations in Southeast Asia when it comes to LGBT issues. However, the law in Thailand still stipulates that a legally recognized marriage is a union between one man and one woman. There are many activists in the Kingdom hoping to change these rules in order to allow same sex couples the right to get married. With recent political turmoil in the Kingdom and uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections it remains to be seen whether any change to the current law will speedily occur, but some believe that the tolerant attitude in Thailand will lead to changes in the law especially in light of the fact that recent proposals in the Thai parliament would, if adopted, allow same sex couples to legalize their marriages.

The issue of same sex marriage legalization is of concern to many same-sex bi-national couples since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision granting federal recognition of same sex unions. One result of this decision was that same sex couples and spouses are now eligible to receive United States visa benefits in the same manner as different sex couples. Therefore, visas such as the CR-1 visa and IR-1 visa are now available to same sex couples who are already married. Although this may not be a highly sought after category in Southeast Asia at this time as no jurisdiction in the region currently recognizes same sex marriage, it could be of substantial importance in coming years as laws may be amended to equalize marriage laws for the LGBT community. Meanwhile, officials at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as well as the Department of State have noted that same sex couples, where one of the partners is American, who maintain a bona fide intention to marry in the USA may be eligible for the K-1 visa (more commonly referred to as a fiance visa). This type of visa allows the foreign fiance of an American citizen to travel to the United States for 90 days for the express purpose of getting married and filing for adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Residence.

more Comments: 04

13th October 2013

A frequently asked question from those wishing to sponsor a foreign fiance or spouse for a US Fiance Visa or US Marriage Visa is: do I make enough income to act as a sponsor for my loved one? The answer to this question involves the affidavit of support which is a primary component of the visa application process. When a fiance or spouse visa application is adjudicated by a Consular Officer at a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas part of the application includes either and I-134 or I-864 affidavit of support. This document allows the adjudicating Consular officer to make a determination as to whether or not the US Citizen spouse or fiance has the income necessary to support their fiance or spouse in the United States. This affidavit also acts as a sort of third party beneficiary contract between the American spouse and the United States government in order to make certain that the American spouse pays the US government for any means tested benefits that the foreign spouse may acquire while in the USA.

When determining whether or not an American spouse or fiance can support a foreign spouse or fiance the adjudicating officer will first look to the American’s adjusted annual income on his or her income tax return. In order to meet the minimum eligibility requirements the American spouse or fiance must earn 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for a family of their size. The current federal poverty guidelines for the 48 contiguous States as well as Alaska and Hawaii can be found below (as quoted from the official website of Housing and Human Services):

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES
AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,020 for each additional person.
1 $11,490
2 15,510
3 19,530
4 23,550
5 27,570
6 31,590
7 35,610
8 39,630

 

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR ALASKA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,030 for each additional person.
1 $14,350
2 19,380
3 24,410
4 29,440
5 34,470
6 39,500
7 44,530
8 49,560

 

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR HAWAII
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,620 for each additional person.
1 $13,230
2 17,850
3 22,470
4 27,090
5 31,710
6 36,330
7 40,950
8 45,570

SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 16, January 24, 2013, pp. 5182-5183

Those wishing to ascertain whether they are eligible to sponsor their foreign fiance or spouse should use the above figures to determine 125% of the poverty guidelines for a family of their size (including the foreign family member(s)). It should be noted that active duty members of the United States Armed Forces must only meet 100% of the federal poverty guidelines in order to be eligible to sponsor a foreign fiance or spouse. Those unable to meet the 125% income level noted above may be able to use assets to offset the difference between their level of income and the 125% requirement. For affidavit of support purposes, a prospective sponsor of a Thai fiancee or wife can make up the difference in income between what is actually earned and what is legally required by providing evidence of assets which equal 5 times the difference between what a prospective sponsor earns and the level required by law. Thus, if a prospective sponsor fall short of the 125% level by 5,000 USD, then the prospective sponsor can show proof of assets in the amount of 25,000 USD in order to overcome the disparity.

It may also be possible to use the income and assets of a joint sponsor if the person petitioning for the foreign national’s visa is unable to overcome the income and asset requirements. It should be noted that only the I-864 affidavit of support (that used in cases involving the application for a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa) may utilize a joint sponsor. Those seeking a K-1 visa are not eligible to use a joint sponsor, therefore, only the American Citizen fiance’s income and assets will be adjudicated during the K1 visa application process. In the past, Consular Officers at the US Embassy in Bangkok were known to accept joint sponsors in K-1 visa application adjudications. However, as of the time of this writing that practice has ceased.

Those interested in learning more on these topics are encouraged to click on the following link: Affidavit of Support.

more Comments: 04

17th September 2013

Since the relatively recent decision from the United States Supreme Court known colloquially as the Windsor decision, there have been a few lingering questions from members of the LGBT community regarding the United States immigration options now available for same sex couples.

Due to section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the past it was not possible for same sex married couples (even those with a valid marriage in one of those American jurisdictions permitting same sex marriage) to receive federal benefits based upon their marriages. This lack of federal recognition precluded the possibility of a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident sponsoring a foreign spouse or fiance for a US marriage visa or a US fiance visa. With the high Court’s pronouncement that same sex marriage should be accorded the same recognition as different sex marriage this all changed.

Section 3 of DOMA reads as follows:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

From the moment the Supreme Court ruled this section unConstitutional, the Federal government was instantly required to allot the same benefits to lawfully married same sex and LGBT couples as would be allotted to different sex couples in similar circumstances. What does this mean from an immigration standpoint? LGBT and same sex couples are now permitted to petition and apply for the same types of visas as their different sex counterparts. Therefore, a couple of the same sex who is already married in the U.S. or a foreign jurisdiction recognizing such unions may now apply for a U.S. marriage visa such as the CR1 visa, the IR1 visa, or the K3 visa. Furthermore, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has made it clear that they will also adjudicate K1 Visa petitions (petitions for immigration benefits for foreign fiances of U.S. Citizens) for same sex couples in the same way that such petitions are adjudicated for different sex couples.

The Catch Section 2

One issue that has been of concern for experts studying this issue is the practical impact of the Court’s seeming unwillingness to speak to the issue of the Constitutionality of Section 2 of DOMA. Section 2 of DOMA reads as follows:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

The fact that Section 2 of DOMA has not been overturned means that same sex couples may NOT receive the same STATE benefits as their different sex counterparts depending upon the local laws of the couples’ State of residence and notwithstanding the fact that the couple may have a perfectly legal marriage in one of those U.S. jurisdictions allowing such marriages. An example of how this could work in a practical sense would be a situation where the same sex couple is married legally in one state, but resides in a state which forbids same sex unions, a spouse having state retirement benefits may not be able to fully pass on their retirement benefits to their same sex spouse. How would this work in an immigration context? USCIS and the Department of State have already issued answers to a series of frequently asked questions regarding LGBT immigration. On the question of US fiance visas, the USCIS as well as the State Department have noted that so long as the couple has a bona fide intention to celebrate their marriage in one of those states which permit such unions then the immigration petition and application will be adjudicated no differently than a similarly situation petition or application for a different-sex couple.

One issue which may be concerning for same sex partners in the Kingdom of Thailand arises from the fact that, at present, same sex marriage is not legal under Thai law and therefore authorities in Thailand will not register a marriage to two people of the same sex. That stated, there is currently legislation being drafted to allow same sex marriage in Thailand. However, as of the time of this writing it is not clear whether the Thai government will ultimately pass said legislation. As there is not another jurisdiction in the region which recognizes same sex unions, it may not be feasible for same sex partners to marry prior to submitting a US marriage visa petition. This leaves many same sex Thai-American couples in a position where their only option is to apply for a K-1 fiance visa and marry in the United States.

For related information, please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

more Comments: 04

26th August 2013

จากการเขียน Blog ครั้งก่อนเรื่องข้อสงสัยเกี่ยวกับการขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ของคู่สมรสเพสเดียวกันนั้น  ขาฯได้พบคำตอบเกี่ยวกับหัวข้อดังกล่าวจากกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯ ดังนี้:

Q: คำตัดสินของศาลสูงเรื่องคดี Windsor vs. United States มีผลกระทบต่อกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองอย่างไร?

A: ศาลสูงตัดสินว่า Section 3 ของ DOMA นั้น ขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ จากนี้ไป สถานเอกอัครราชฑูตและสถานกงศุลของสหรัฐฯ จะปฎิบัติต่อการขอวีซ่าของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน ในวิธีการเดียวกับคู่สมรสต่างเพศ  นอกจากนี้ คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันที่จะเดินทางเข้าสหรัฐเพื่อ – งาน การศึกษา หรืออื่นๆ – จะขอวีซ่าเหล่านั้นได้เช่นกัน  รวมถึงลูกติดของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันด้วย

ตามที่เคยสนทนาใน Blog นี้ การที่ศาลลงความเห็นว่า Section 3  ของ DOMA นั้นขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ ส่งผลให้ผู้ที่เป็นคนถือสัญชาติอเมริกันสามารถยื่นขอผลประโยชน์ทางการเข้าเมืองให้คู่สมรส (หรือคู่หมั้น) เพศเดียวกัน กระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐซึ่งรับผิดชอบเรื่องการออกวีซ่า ยังต้องทำการแจ้งข้อมูลเบื้องต้น  ทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐได้จัดระบบให้สอดคล้องกับการตัดสินของศาลสูงเรียบร้อยแล้ว

Q: ข้ฯต้องอาศัยอยู่ในรัฐที่ออกกฏหมายยอมรับคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันหรือไม่เพื่อที่จะขอวีซ่าเข้าเมือง

A: ไม่จำเป็น หากท่านได้จดทะเบียนสมรสในรัฐหรือประเทศที่ยอมรักการจดทะเบียนสมรสของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน ถือว่าทะเบียนสมรสนั้นถูกต้องสำหรับประกอบการยื่นขออนุญาตเข้าเมือง (โปรดอ่านข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมใน Website ของ USCIS – ในหัวข้อ – Citizenship and Immigration Services)

เนื่องจากเขตปกครองของสหรัฐที่ยอมรับการสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกันนั้นมีไม่มาก และมีหลายรัฐที่ห้ามให้มีการสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกันนั้น จึงมีข้อสงสัยมากมายทั้งในวงของนักกฎหมายและของคู่สมรสเหล่านั้นด้วย ใน Blog ที่ข้าฯ ได้เขียนก่อนหน้านี้ ข้าฯได้ยืนยันแล้วว่าความถูกต้องขึ้นอยุ่กับ “รัฐที่ได้ทำการจดทะเบียน” นั่นคือ USCIS จะรับรองการยื่นขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันก็ต่อเมื่อการจดทะเบียนได้จดในรัฐที่ยอมรับการจดทะเบียนประเภทนี้  นอกจากนี้ ดูเหมือนว่ากระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯก็มีนโยบายที่คล้ายกันคือ จะอนุมัติการขอวีซ่าของคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน ต่อเมื่อ USCIS  ได้อนุมัติการเข้าเมืองของคู่ดังกล่าว  แต่อาจมี่เขตปกครองบางเขต ที่อาจยอมรับการครองเรือนของคนเพศเดียวกัน แต่อาจไม่ถือเป็นการสมรส ซึ่งทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯกล่าวว่า:

Q: ข้าฯอยู่ร่วมกันกับคูคนเพศเดียวกัน  เราจะได้รับสิทธิเหมือนคู่ที่ทำการสมรสหรือไม่

A: ณ. เวลานี้ การขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ จะอนุมัติให้เฉพาะบุคคลที่จดทะเบียนสมรสอย่างถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย

ถึงแม้คำตอบจะดูชัดเจนแล้ว มีหลายคู่อาจมีข้อสงสัยเพิ่มเติมคือ:

Q: ข้าฯถือสัญชาติอเมริกันและมี่คู่หมั้นต่างชาติที่เป็นคนเพสเดียวกันกับข้าฯ แต่ไม่สามารถทำการจดทะเบียนสมรสในประเทศของคู่หมั้น เรามีทางเลือกอย่างไรบ้าง? เราสามารถขอ K-Visa (วีซ่าคู่หมั้น) ได้หรือไม่?

A: คุณสามารถยื่น Form I-129f และขอวีซ่าคู่หมั้น (K-1) หากคุณสมบัติครบตามข้อกำหนดของการขอเข้าเมือง การที่เป็นการหมั้นระหว่างคนเพสเดียวกัน อาจอนุมัติให้ใช้เพื่อเข้าไปจดทะเบียนสมรสในสหรัฐฯ หากต้องการขอข้อมูลเรื่องการปรับสถานะ อ่านได้ใน Website ของ USCIS:

ในเมื่อในเวลานี้ คู่สมรสต่างเพศสามารถยื่นขอ K1 วีซ่า ได้ จึงมีความน่าจะเป็นที่คู่หมั้นที่มีเพศเดียวกันน่าจะยื่นขอ  US fiance visa ได้เช่นกัน หากมีความตั้งใจที่จะไปจดทะเบียนสมรสในเขตปกครองที่อนุญาตการจดทะเบียนสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกัน

อีกประเด็นที่อาจมีข้อสงสัยคือการออก Non-immigrant visa (NIV)  วีซ่าประเภทนี้ไม่ได้ไม่ได้อนุญาตให้ผู้ถือเปลี่ยนสถานะเป็นผู้ย้ายเข้าเมือง  ทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยได้ให้รายละเอียดดังนี้สำหรับการออก NIV ให้กับคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันว่า:

Q: คู่ที่เป็นเพศเดียวกันสามารถขอวีซ่าประเภทเดียวกันหรือไม่?

A: ได้  ณ. เวลานี้ คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันพร้อมลูกสามารถยื่นขอวีซา NIV ได้ คู่ครองเพศเดียวกันและลูก (ถือเป็นลูกเลี้ยงของผู้ยื่นหลัก หากจดทะเบยนสมรสก่อนเด็กอายุครบ ๑๘ ปีบริบูรณ์) ก็ สามารถรับสิทธิขอวีซ่า NIV ถ้ากฎหมายอนุมัติวีซ่าให้  แต่เอกสารเพิ่มเติมคงไม่มีการเปลี่ยนแปลง เช่นเดียวกับการขอให้คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกัน [italics added]

Q: คู่สมรสต่างชาติของข้าพเจ้ามีบุตร ข้าพเจ้ายื่นคำขอพร้อมกับคู่สมรสได้หรือไม่?

A: ได้  บุตรของคู่สมรสต่างชาติจะถือเป็น”ลูกเลี้ยง” ของผู้ถือสัญชาติอเมริกันจึงสามารถรับสิทธิในกลุ่ม IR2 แต่ต้องจดทะเบยนสมรสก่อนเด็กอายุครบ ๑๘ ปีบริบูรณ์

แน่นอน ทางกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯ ได้อนุมัติให้ลูกเลี้ยงคนคนถือสัญชาติอเมริกันย้ายเข้าเมืองในกรณีที่ คู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันจดทะเบียนสมรสก่อนเด็กอายุครบ ๑๘ ปีบริบูรณ์ ดังนั้น น่าจะเป็นที่เข้าใจว่าเด็กที่กำลังจะเป็นลูกเลี้ยงของคนถือสัญชาติอเมริกันที่ขอวีซ่าประเภทคู่หมั้นคือ  K-2 visa เพื่อทำการสมรสในสหรัฐฯ

หากท่านต้องการข้อมูลจาก Website หาได้ที่: วีซ่าคู่เพศเดียวกัน

more Comments: 04

24th August 2013

หลังจากการที่ศาลตัดสินคดี Windsor ที่มีการอ้างว่า ขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ มีคู่รักเพศเดียวกันหลายคู่ มีข้อสงสัยเกี่ยวกับการอพยพเข้าเมืองของสหรัฐ  ทาง USCIS และกระทรวงมหาดไทยของสหรัฐฯ เคยตอบคำถามเรื่องนี้มามากแล้ว และผมเคยปรึกษาหารือเรื่องคำตอบเหล่านี้ ใน Blog นี้มาก่อน แต่กระผมได้สังเกตว่า  USCIS ได้ให้ข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมเรื่องนี้ใน website  ของ  USCIS:

Q1: ข้าฯ เป็นพลเมืองของสหรัฐ  หรือเป็นผู้อาศัย (Permanent Resident) และมีคู่สมรสของข้าฯ เป็นคนเพศเดียวกันและเป็นคนต่างชาติ ขาฯ สามารถรับรองการขอ VISA ย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่ให้กับคู่ของข้าฯ ได้หรือไม่ ? (ใหม่)

A1: ได้ ท่านสามารถยื่นแบบ Form I-130 (และเอกสารอื่น ๆ) สิทธิในการขอย้ายที่อยู่จะพิจารณาตัดสินตามกฎต่างๆ ของการเข้าเมือง และจะไม่ใช้ความเป็นคู่สมรสเพศเดียวกันมาเป็นตัวแปรในการตัดสิน

นอกจากนี้คนอเมริกันหรือ Permanent Resident สามารถยื่นคำขอ คือ IR 1 Visa, CR 1 Visa  หรือตัวเสริมคือ K3 Visa   เพื่อให้คู่สมรสเข้าเมือง  นอกจากนี้ เมื่อยื่นขอ Visa ที่สถานฑูตหรือสถานกงศุลของสหรัฐฯ การพิจารณาการขอ Visa จะพิจารณาเช่นเดียวกับ การพิจารณาการขอ Visa  ของคู่สมรสต่างเพศ

ประเด็นที่หลายคู่สงสัย คือ ข้อแตกต่างระหว่างรัฐที่อาศัยอยู่กับรัฐที่จดทะเบียยนสมรส เพราะมีไม่กี่รัฐที่อนุญาติให้คนเพศเดียวกันจดทะเบียนสมรส ในขณะที่บางรัฐไม่ยอมรับการสมรสระหว่างเพศเดียวกัน และอาจะไม่อนุญาติให้จดทะเบียน   USICS ได้อธิบายเพิ่มเติมในประเด็นนี้:

Q3: ข้าฯ และคู่สมรสได้จดทะเบียนในรัฐ ในสหรัฐฯ หรือในประเทศที่ยอมรับ การสมรสระหว่างคนเพศเดียวกัน แต่เราอาศัยในรัฐที่ไม่อนุญาติให้จดทะเบียนสมรส ข้าฯ สามารภยื่นขอให้คู่ครองย้ายเข้าเมืองได้หรือไม่

A3: ได้เพราะ สถานภาพการสมรส จะพิจารณาจากรัฐที่ได้ทำการจดทะเบียน หากกฎหมายของรัฐนั้นอนุญาตให้ คนเพศเดียวกันจดทะเบียนสมรสได้ ถือว่าเป็นการจดทะเบียนที่ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย แล้วใช้ในการประกอบการพิจารณา การขอย้ายเข้าเมืองได้

อาจมีบางกรณีที่จะมีผลทำให้ กฎหมายของที่อาศัยมีผลต่อบางประเด็น แต่โดยรวมแล้ว ทาง USCIS จะนำกฎหมายของรัฐที่คู่สมรสได้ดำเนินการจดทะเบียน มาใช้ในการพิจารณาการขอย้ายถิ่นที่อยู่

นอกจากนี้ ข้าฯ ก็ไม่เคยได้ยินว่า  Section 2 ของ DOMA จะขัดต่อรัฐธรรมนูญ  ดูด้จากคำอธิบายต่อไปนี้:

Q5: Form I-130 หรือคำขออื่นๆได้ถูกปฎิเสธโดยอ้างกฎของ DOMA เพียงอย่างเดียว ข้าฯ ควรทำอย่างไรต่อ?

A5: USCIS จะนำคำขอที่ถูกปฎิเสธเพราะ DOMA Section 3 มาพิจารณาอีกรอบ ถ้าหากมีข้อมูลเรื่องธุรกรรมเหล่านี้ USCIS จะนำคำตัดสินมาพิจารณาอีกครั้ง ซึ่งจะปฎิบัติเช่นนี้กับทุกกรณีที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธ ใน Form I-130 (เช่น Form I-485 ที่นำยื่นในเวลาเดียวกัน)

  • USCIS จะนำ Form I-130 ที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธเนื่องจาก DOMA Section 3 หลัง 23 กพ. 2011  มาพิจารณาอีกรอบ และ USCIS จะติดต่อไปยังผู้ยื่นคำขอโดยใช้ที่อยู่ในใบคำขอ เพื่อขอข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม
  • หากคุณได้มีคำขอที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธ เนื่องด้วย กรณีดังกล่าวข้างต้น คุณสามารถส่ง email ส่วนตัว (ที่สามารถรับคำตอบได้) ไปยัง USCIS <USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov> เพื่อแจ้งการร้องเรียน  ทาง USCIS จะตอบอีเมล์แล้วขอข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมเพื่อประกอบการพิจารณา
  • ถ้าหากการปฎิเสธ คำขอ I-130 เกิดขึ้นก่อน 23 กพ. 2011 กรุณาแจ้ง USCIS ก่อน 31 มีค. 2014  เพื่อให้ USCIS ดำเนินการเปิด I-130 ของคุณ  กรุณาแจ้งจำนงไปยัง  < USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov > โดยเขียนว่า ทางคุณมีข้อสงสัยว่า การยื่นคำขอของคุณได้รับการปฎิเสธเพราะ  DOMA Section 3

พอทางการเริ่มพิจารณา I-130 ของท่าน จะเสมือนเป็นการพิจารณาใหม่โดยไม่คำนึงถึง DOMA Section 3 แล้วจะพิจารณาตามข้อมูลเก่า และข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม ในเวลาเดียวกัน USCIS จะนำคำขออื่นๆ มาพิจารณาตามความจำเป็น หากคำขอเหล่านั้น ถูกปฎิเสธ เนื่องจากการปฎิเสธ I-130 (เช่น Form I-485 เป็นต้น)

นอกจากนี้การขออนุญาติทำงานที่ถูกปฎิเสธเนื่องจากการปฎิเสธ Form I-48S ก็จะนำมาพิจารณาต่อ และจะออกใบอนุญาติทำงานหากอนุมัติ หากการตัดสินเกิดการล่าช้า  USCIS จะ (1) ยื่นเรื่องใหม่ทันที หรือ (2) พิจารณาและอนุมัติคำขอที่เคยถูกปฎิเสธ

  • หากมี form อื่นๆ (นอกจาก I-130) ที่ได้รับการปฎิเสธเรื่องจาก DOMA section 3 กรุณาแจ้ง USCIS ก่อน 31 มีค. 2013 โดยส่ง email ไปยัง <USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov>

จะไม่มีค่าใช้จ่ายเกิดขึ้นในการร้องขอให้ USCIS นำคำขอมาพิจารณาใหม่ แต่หากท่านต้องการยื่นคำขอใหม่ ท่านสามารถทำได้พร้อมจ่ายค่าธรรมเนียม ตามที่แจ้งได้

USCIS จะดำเนินธุรกรรมตามกฎและนโยบายของศาลสูง ซึ่งการนำใบสมัครของคู่สมรสที่มีเพศเดียวกันมาพิจารณาอีกรอบ ชี้ให้เห็นว่า ทางองค์กรมุ่งที่จะส่งเสริมความเท่าเทียมของครอบครัวทุกประเภท

หากท่านต้องการข้อมูลจาก Website หาได้ที่: วีซ่าคู่เพศเดียวกัน

more Comments: 04

23rd August 2013

The administration of this blog routinely posts the estimated processing times of the various service centers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The following was quoted directly from the official USCIS website:

Field Office Processing Dates for California Service Center as of: June 30, 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 April 16, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 16, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. April 16, 2013
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 November 15, 2011
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 February 4, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 October 4, 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)] 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 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-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: June 30, 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-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 January 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 February 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 4 Months
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)] June 8, 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 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 February 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: June 30, 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-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 April 16, 2011
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 4 Months
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 5 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 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 January 20, 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: June 30, 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 April 2, 2013
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 10, 2013
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 10, 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 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-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 June 4, 2012
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 16, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 9, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 March 19, 2012
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister March 20, 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 5 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) June 4, 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 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors April 10, 2013
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications April 10, 2013
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)] 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)] 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 6 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing 3 Months
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 March 20, 2013
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 May 28, 2012

Those reading these estimates should bear in mind that these estimates do not necessarily provide an accurate estimate of the overall US visa process. Those seeking a United States visa from outside the United States will likely be required to undergo Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. Furthermore, before an immigration petition even reaches a US Embassy overseas the file must first be processed by the National Visa Center. All of these facts are likely to cause the overall US visa process to be significantly longer than the time it takes for USCIS to merely adjudicate an immigration petition.

more Comments: 04

8th August 2013

Many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) couples have questions regarding United States Immigration in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s finding in the Windsor case that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unConstitutional. Both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of State have previously issued answers to frequently asked questions on this topic. In a previous posting on this blog, USCIS’s answers to these FAQs were discussed. However, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the USCIS has issued further answers to such FAQs to further clarify their position on this issue. To quote directly from these new answers to FAQs on the official website of the USCIS:

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? NEW
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 denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may petition for an immigrant spouse visa such as an IR1 visa, CR1 visa, or by extension a K3 visa (as the K-3 visa petition is a supplementary petition based upon the initial petition for an immigrant visa). Furthermore, when applying for the visa at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad during the Consular Processing phase of the US immigration process the application will be viewed in the same way as an application based upon a different-sex marriage. Also, adjustment of status applications for the same sex spouse of a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident will be adjudicated in the same manner as a similar application for a different-sex spouse.

A question for many same sex and LGBT couples concerns the State of the couple’s residence versus the State of marriage since there are only a few States which allow such marriages while other states either do not recognize such unions or specifically forbid such unions. USCIS issued further clarification on this issue in their recently updated FAQ section:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state or a foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse? NEW
A3: Yes. As a general matter, the law of the place where the marriage was celebrated determines whether the marriage is legally valid for immigration purposes.  Just as USCIS applies all relevant laws to determine the validity of an opposite-sex marriage, we will apply all relevant laws to determine the validity of a same-sex marriage..

There may be some limited circumstances where the law of the couple’s residence may determine their legal standing on certain issues. However, as can be seen from the above quoted FAQ, the USCIS appears to primarily defer to the law of the State which legalized the marriage when determining whether the couple is eligible for immigration benefits.

Finally, this blogger does not recall the USCIS previously answering questions regarding immigration petitions which were filed with USCIS prior to the Supreme Court’s holding that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution. The following section of USCIS’s recently expanded FAQ section would appear to respond to this inquiry:

Q5. My Form I-130, or other petition or application, was previously denied solely because of DOMA.  What should I do?
A5.  USCIS will reopen those petitions or applications that were denied solely because of DOMA section 3.  If such a case is known to us or brought to our attention, USCIS will reconsider its prior decision, as well as reopen associated applications to the extent they were also denied as a result of the denial of the Form I-130 (such as concurrently filed Forms I-485).

  • USCIS will make a concerted effort to identify denials of I-130 petitions that occurred on the basis of DOMA section 3 after February 23, 2011.  USCIS will also make a concerted effort to notify you (the petitioner), at your last known address, of the reopening and request updated information in support of your petition.
  • To alert USCIS of an I-130 petition that you believe falls within this category, USCIS recommends that you send an e-mail from an account that can receive replies to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov stating that you have a pending petition.  USCIS will reply to that message with follow-up questions as necessary to update your petition for processing.  (DHS has sought to keep track of DOMA denials that occurred after the President determined not to defend Section 3 of DOMA on February 23, 2011, although to ensure that DHS is aware of your denial, please feel free to alert USCIS if you believe your application falls within this category.)
  • For denials of I-130 petitions that occurred prior to February 23, 2011, you must notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, in order for USCIS to act on its own to reopen your I-130 petition.  Please notify USCIS by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov and noting that you believe that your petition was denied on the basis of DOMA section 3.

Once your I-130 petition is reopened, it will be considered anew—without regard to DOMA section 3—based upon the information previously submitted and any new information provided.   USCIS will also concurrently reopen associated applications as may be necessary to the extent they also were denied as a result of the denial of the I-130 petition (such as concurrently filed Form I-485 applications).

Additionally, if your work authorization was denied or revoked based upon the denial of the Form I-485, the denial or revocation will be concurrently reconsidered, and a new Employment Authorization Document issued, to the extent necessary.  If a decision cannot be rendered immediately on a reopened adjustment of status application, USCIS will either (1) immediately process any pending or denied application for employment authorization or (2) reopen and approve any previously revoked application for employment authorization.  If USCIS has already obtained the applicant’s biometric information at an Application Support Center (ASC), a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be produced and delivered without any further action by the applicant.  In cases where USCIS has not yet obtained the required biometric information, the applicant will be scheduled for an ASC appointment.

  • If another type of petition or application (other than an I-130 petition or associated application) was denied based solely upon DOMA section 3, please notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov as directed above.  USCIS will promptly consider whether reopening of that petition or application is appropriate under the law and the circumstances presented.

No fee will be required to request USCIS to consider reopening your petition or application pursuant to this procedure.  In the alternative to this procedure, you may file a new petition or application to the extent provided by law and according to the form instructions including payment of applicable fees as directed.

Clearly, USCIS is committed to implementing policies and regulations based upon the US Supreme Court’s recent finding. By reopening previously denied petitions and taking steps to provide same sex couples with the same standing as different-sex couples in future immigration adjudications this agency is making great strides toward equalizing the US family immigration process for families of all kinds.

To review the recently released information on this topic from the Department of State please see: Consular Processing.

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.