Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘J1 visa’

21st July 2013

In an effort to provide relevant information to travelers and expatriates who read this blog, the administration posts the holiday closing schedules for the various US Emabssies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region. The following is the holiday closing schedule for the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as posted on the official Embassy website:

Month Day Holiday Khmer/U.S.
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day U.S.
January 21 Monday Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S.
February 18 Monday George Washington’s Birthday U.S.
March 8 Friday International Women’s Day CAM
April 15 Monday Khmer New Year’s Day CAM
April 16 Tuesday Khmer New Year’s Day CAM
May 13 Monday Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah​Boromneath NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia CAM
May 14 Tuesday Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah BoromneathNORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia CAM
May 27 Monday Memorial Day U.S.
June 18 Tuesday Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen-Mother NORODOM MONINEATH SIHANOUK of Cambodia CAM
July 4 Thursday Independence Day U.S.
September 2 Monday Labor Day U.S.
October 3 Thursday Pchum Ben Day CAM
October 4 Friday Pchum Ben Day CAM
October 14 Monday Columbus Day U.S.
October 15 Tuesday National Day of Mourning for His Majesty King Father​Preah Bat Samdech NORODOM SIHANOUK CAM
November 11 Monday Veterans Day U.S.
November 18 Monday Water Festival CAM
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day U.S.
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day U.S.

Each year, many Americans travel to a US Embassy or US Consulate in an effort to obtain services such as US Passport renewal, notary service, additional US Passport pages, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. Meanwhile, many foreign nationals from around the world must undergo Consular Processing in order to eventually be granted a US visa. Non-Immigrant visa units are tasked with adjudicating applications for non-immigrant visas such as the B-1/B-2 visa (US Tourist visa), F-1 visa (student visa), and the J-1 visa. Business visa units are responsible for the adjudication of business visa applications for travel documents such as the E-1 visa, the E-2 visa, the EB visa, the L-1 visa, the O-1 visa, and the H1-B visa. Finally, immigrant visa units have the responsibility for adjudicating applications for immigrant visas such as the IR-1 visa and the CR-1 visa. However, those seeking a K-1 visa (fiance visa) may also find themselves being interviewed by an officer with the immigrant visa unit as such travel documents are treated in much the same way as immigrant visas, notwithstanding the fact that K-1 visas are technically non-immigrant visas.

Those wishing to receive service from American Citizen Services at a US Embassy abroad or those wishing to have a visa application adjudictaed are encouraged to make an appointment online prior to traveling to the US Post.

For related information please see: US Embassy Thailand.

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2nd June 2011

Frequent readers of this web log may have taken note of the fact that the administration routinely posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Missions in Asia as a courtesy to the public-at-large. To quote directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan:

DATE                                 DAY                           HOLIDAY

January 2*                 (US)  Sunday  New Year’s Day
January 16*               (US)  Sunday  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 15              (AF)  Tuesday  Liberation Day
February 16**           (AF)  Wednesday  Prophet’s Birthday
February 20*              (US)  Sunday  President’s Day
March 21                   (AF)  Monday  Nawrooz (Afghan New Year – 1390)
April 28                      (AF)  Thursday   Victory Day
May 29*                    (US)  Sunday  Memorial Day
July 3*                      (US)  Sunday  Independence Day
August 1**                (AF)  Monday  First Day or Ramadan
August 18***             (AF)  Thursday  Independence Day
Aug 31 – Sept 2**      (AF)  Wednesday – Friday Eid ul-Fitr
September 4*             (US)  Sunday  Labor Day
September 8***          (AF)  Thursday  Martyrdom of National Hero Day
October 9*                 (US)  Sunday  Columbus Day
November 6-8**          (AF)  Sunday – Tuesday Eid-e Qurban
November 10*             (US)  Thursday  Veteran’s Day
November 24               (US)  Thursday  Thanksgiving Day
December 6**             (AF)  Tuesday  10th of Muharram (Ashura)
December 25               (US)  Sunday  Christmas Day

Notes:

*    American holidays marked with an asterisk (*) are observed on a different day than in the US.

**  Afghan holidays marked with double asterisks (**) are based on the Islamic Calendar and depend on sightings of the moon.  As a holiday approaches, adjustments to this schedule may be made based on local practice and Afghan government announcements.

*** Afghan holidays marked with triple asterisks (***) are observed one day earlier.

Those wishing to visit the official homepage of the United States Embassy in Kabul are encouraged to click HERE.

It may sometimes prove necessary for an American Resident Abroad or an American traveling abroad to acquire documentation (US Passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Notarized affidavit, etc.) which can only be obtained from an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas. Americans seeking such documentation are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section with appropriate Consular jurisdiction.

Those seeking an American non-immigrant visa (such as a B-1 visa, B-2 visa, J-1 visa, or F-1 visa) are likely to see their visa application processed at a non-immigrant visa section of a US Embassy, US Consulate, or American Institute abroad. Meanwhile, those seeking an immigrant visa such as a CR-1 visa or IR-1 visa (for purposes of Consular Processing, the K-1 visa; although a non-immigrant US fiance visa, is treated in much the same way as immigrant visa categories for processing purposes) are likely to see their visa application processed by an Immigrant Visa Unit abroad. Immigrant visas such as those noted above are likely to only be granted pursuant to an initial adjudication of an immigration petition at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Those seeking visas such as the EB-5 visa or the L-1 visa are well advised to take note of the fact that it is unlikely that a visa application will be adjudicated by a US Post abroad until after an initial immigration petition is approved by USCIS.

For related information please see: Legal.

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4th December 2010

Those who read this blog on a regular basis will no doubt realize that when new information regarding Consular processing comes out this administration tries to post it in an effort to provide insight to those processing a visa application through the relevant Post. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Embassy in Manila, Philippines is changing their protocols for Immigrant visa processing. The following is a brief quotation from the official website of the US Embassy in Manila:

Effective December 1, 2010, various changes to immigrant visa services are as follows:

  • Immigrant visa applicants whose appointments have not been scheduled through the National Visa Center (NVC) (i.e., immigrant visa petitions approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services Manila) may request a visa appointment by visiting the U.S. Embassy in Manila’s Visa Information and Appointment Service online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph or by calling (632) 982-5555. The Visa Information and Appointment Service is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Manila time), except on U.S. and Philippine holidays. Callers in the U.S. should call (214) 571-1600, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Callers are able to speak with an English-, Tagalog-, Ilocano- or Cebuano-speaking operator.
  • Visa Information and Appointment Service representatives can provide information on visa appointment-related inquiries only. Inquiries on a specific case may be directed to the Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit by e-mail at IVManilaReplies@state.gov or by fax at (632) 301-2591. Petitioners and applicants may also call the IV Inquiry line at (632) 301-2000, extension 5184 or 5185 during normal business hours.
  • Immigrant visa applicants who have been scheduled by the NVC for a visa appointment at the Embassy are required to visit the online appointment website to register their delivery address.
  • K visa applicants who have been notified by the Embassy to prepare for their interview, must pay the visa application fee of $350 before they can request a visa appointment via the online appointment website or the Visa Call Center

It should be noted that the above quotation does not encompass all of the information provided upon the official website. Those interested in obtaining further information are encouraged to correspond directly with either an American immigration attorney or the US Embassy in the Philippines.

The Consular Processing phase is usually the last phase of the US visa process for those with immigrant intent. Although in certain cases, a 221g refusal may be issued if the adjudicating Consular Officer feels that further documentation is required to process an application. Furthermore, a visa application may be denied if it is found that a legal grounds of inadmissibility exists in a given case. Under such circumstances, it may be possible to remedy the denial through use of an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility.

In American family based visa cases, the Immigrant Visa Unit of a US Consulate abroad is responsible for the adjudication of a visa application for those seeking a K1 visa, K3 visa, CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa.  Those seeking a non-immigrant visa such as a B1 visa (US Business Visa), B2 visa (US Tourist Visa), F1 visa (US Student Visa), or J1 visa (Cultural Exchange Visa) must interview with an adjudicator at the Non-immigrant visa unit of the Post with Consular jurisdiction to adjudicate a visa application.

For related information please see: US Embassy Philippines.

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30th September 2010

A frequently asked question among American expatriates and tourists overseas is: “Can I bring my foreign girlfriend with me to the United States on a Tourist visa?” In the context of Burma (Myanmar) some Americans may pose the question: “Can I bring my Burmese boyfriend or girlfriend to the United States on a Tourist Visa?” In many cases, the answer to either of these questions is a qualified: No. However, an in depth understanding of the statutory scheme underlying the Consular adjudication of visa applications can provide insight into the reasons for denial of these types of visas when sought by the significant others of United States Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

Relatively few people (Americans included) are aware that United States Immigration law imposes a rather stringent statutory presumption that Consular Officers must adhere to when adjudicating non-immigrant visa applications. Under section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer adjudicating a non-immigrant visa application abroad must refuse to issue the visa if the applicant cannot overcome the presumption that they are intending to immigrate to the United States of America. This creates a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the Officer adjudicating the application can only grant the requested visa if the applicant can show sufficient “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the USA. This presumption is not easily overcome under the best of circumstances, but when an officer takes into account the fact that a non-immigrant visa applicant has an American boyfriend or girlfriend, the presumption could become virtually insurmountable without strong documentation in support of issuance.

Unfortunately, in the past there have been instances of couples attempting to utilize the US tourist visa for the purpose of circumventing the relatively long processing times associated with applying for US family immigration benefits. It should be noted that misrepresenting one’s intentions on a visa application could be construed as visa fraud by American authorities. A finding that fraud has occurred could result in civil and criminal sanctions for both the applicant and the American significant other.

Those couples wishing to obtain a family immigration benefit through use of an American fiance visa (K1 visa) or a spousal visa (K3 Visa in limited cases or a classic CR1 Visa or IR1 Visa in the vast majority of cases) should bear in mind that a visa petition should only be brought if the couple has a bona fide relationship. In short: a couple should not get married or file for a fiance visa if they do not have a bona fide relationship. A pretextual relationship, or so-called “marriage of convenience”, should not be used as a basis for submitting an application for a US visa.

For related information please see: US Visa Indonesian Girlfriend or K1 Visa Burma.

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28th September 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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16th August 2010

The J1 visa can be an effective travel document for those seeking admission to the United States for cultural and educational exchange. It was recently announced that certain changes will be implemented which may have a significant impact upon J1 visa applicants. The American State Department has made rule changes which may effect J1 visa processing, to quote a recent press release distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

On June 19, 2007, the Department published an interim final rule amending its regulations regarding Trainees and Interns to, among other things, eliminate the distinction between “non-specialty occupations” and “specialty occupations,” establish a new internship program, and modify the selection criteria for participation in a training program.

This document confirms the Interim Final Rule as final and amends the requirements to permit the use of telephone interviews to screen potential participants for eligibility, to remove the requirement that sponsors secure a Dun & Bradstreet report profiling companies with whom a participant will be placed and also amends this provision to provide clarification regarding the verification of Worker’s Compensation coverage for participants and use of an Employer Identification Number to ascertain that a third-party host organization providing training is a viable entity, and to clarify that trainees and interns may repeat training and internship programs under certain conditions.

It would appear that the US State Department is making these changes in order to better enjoy the benefits of technological advances. The use of telephone interviews for eligibility screening purposes will likely decrease overall processing time. Furthermore, repealing the Dun & Bradstreet report requirement will likely save individuals as well as companies time and resources when they opt to file for J-1 visa benefits on behalf of a foreign national.

The J-1 visa is often utilized by those who travel to the USA as exchange visitors. Often, those applying for such a travel documents do so at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. As the J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, the Consular Officer adjudicating the application must ascertain whether the applicant should be granted the visa notwithstanding the provisions of section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act which requires that those seeking a non-immigrant visa show “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the United States. Some are under the mistaken impression that a J-1 visa is a “dual intent” travel document akin to the L1 visa. Due to the provisions of section 214b of the INA, the applicant for a J1 visa should not maintain an intention to remain in the USA indefinitely.

For related information please see: US Tourist Visa.

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14th June 2010

On this blog, we regularly discuss the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. However, we relatively rarely discuss the US Embassies and Consulates located throughout Southeastern Asia. There are many other American Diplomatic and Consular facilities in Southern Asia and one of those Posts is the US Embassy Jakarta. This Embassy is located in the capital city of Indonesia and routinely processes US visas such as the K1 visa, the K3 Visa, as well as the CR1 and IR1 visa categories. Just like any other US Consulate, the Consulate at the US Embassy in Jakarta is also tasked with adjudicating non-immigrant visa applications for categories such as the B1 visa, the B2 visa, the F1 visa, and the J1 visa (to name just a few).

Recently, this author came across an interesting statement from the US Embassy in Indonesia’s website which is quoted here:

The decision whether or not to hire a lawyer is yours alone.  We cannot tell you whether or not to obtain representation, nor can we recommend any specific lawyers.  If you do hire an attorney or other representative, that person may accompany you to your visa interview but may not/not answer questions on your behalf.  You, the applicant, must answer the consular officer’s questions.  If your case is complicated, or if you cannot devote the necessary care to properly prepare, then we encourage you to find a lawyer qualified in immigration law by visiting www.aila.org.

Generally, each Consulate sets its own rules regarding participation by American attorneys in the Consular processing phase of the US Immigration process. Some posts refuse to allow anyone except the beneficiary into the Consulate on the date of interview (this policy is generally based upon space considerations) while others allow virtually unfettered participation by American attorneys. Many ask: which is the better approach? For the most part, there is no “best” approach to Consular processing as each country is unique and certain considerations in one country may lead to one type of policy while different circumstances in another country results in a different policy decision by the US Consulate in that country. Furthermore, circumstances are always fluid and policies can change. For this reason, it is always wise to frequently check the status of the regulations at any facility in which one’s visa petition or application is awaiting adjudication.

Recently discussed fee increases are likely to impact those processing through US Embassies and Consulates worldwide as the Department of State recently raised the fees associated with many visa categories most notably those visas categorized as K visas.

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9th January 2010

For a more detailed look at the J1 visa please see our main J1 visa page at: J1 visa Thailand. For further information about United States Immigration in general please see: US Visa Thailand.

The J1 Visa in 2010

As the new year begins this author is presented with an opportunity to re-explain the J1 visa and how it can be used by those Thais thinking of traveling to the United States of America as an Exchange Visitor. It is also an opportunity to briefly discuss some of the recently proposed changes to the J-1 visa rules and the future of the J1 visa in its current form.

For those who are not familiar with the J1 visa this visa category was designed to allow foreign nationals to come to the United States for limited employment purposes, specialized education, or cultural exchange. Some of those who use a J-1 visa are required to remain outside of the USA for statutorily specified period of time after their initial stay in the United States. These people are subject to what is called the Foreign Residence Requirement and cannot reenter the USA within 2 years after their initial J-1 visa without first obtaining a waiver.

Recently the United States Department of State proposed a rule that may have had a major impact upon those applying for a J1 visa. In a previous post on this blog, the issues surrounding this proposed rule were discussed, but the American Immigration Lawyers Association is now reporting that this proposed rule is being withdrawn by the American State Department. To quote directly from the AILA website:

“On December 23, 2009 the State Department published in the Federal Register a proposed rule titled Exchange Visitor Program– Secondary School Students. The Department revised existing regulations to provide greater specificity and clarity to sponsors of the Secondary School Student category with respect to the execution of sponsor oversight responsibilities under the exchange visitor program. This rule is being withdrawn because it was submitted prior to OMB completing review. The proposed rule is withdrawn in its entirety.”

Since this rule has been withdrawn there have been those who have noted that the regulations regarding the J-1 visa did not need to be modified. The proposed rule was withdrawn because it was promulgated before a required review period had elapsed. Therefore, there is good reason to believe that this proposed rule may be re-promulgated in the future. It remains to be seen how this will affect those applying for a J1 visa, but it would seem likely that an adoption of any new rule would, at least at first, create some confusion as the new regulations are implemented.

Since the J1 visa is a non-immigrant visa similar to a US tourist visa, it may be possible to apply for, and hopefully obtain, it at both a US Embassy or US Consulate. In Thailand, one could apply for this visa at either the US Consulate in Chiang Mai or the US Embassy in Bangkok depending upon where the applicant resides.

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20th December 2009

In a previous post on this blog this author brought up the fact that the Department of State is raising the fees for non-immigrant visas such as the US Tourist Visa, the Exchange Visitor Visa, and the US Student Visa. However, it was not clear just how this proposed fee increase would effect other types of US visas. The Department of State recently promulgated a press release discussing the impact of the proposed rule change. This author came by this press release thanks to AILA. To quote this press release:

“Under the proposed rule, applicants for all visas that are not petition-based, including B1/B2 tourist and business visitor visas and all student and exchange-visitor visas, would pay a fee of $140.


Applicants for petition-based visas would pay an application fee of $150. These categories include:


H visa for temporary workers and trainees
L visa for intracompany transferees
O visa for aliens with extraordinary ability
P visa for athletes, artists and entertainers
Q visa for international cultural exchange visitors
R visa for religious occupations


The application fee for K visas for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens would be $350. The fee for E visas for treaty-traders and treaty-investors would be $390. The Department will not begin collecting the new proposed fees until it considers
public comments and publishes a final rule.”

This author added the above italics for emphasis because this is a substantial fee increase compared to the current amount that must be paid in connection with K visas. At the time of this writing, the Consular processing fee paid at the US Embassy in Bangkok or the US Consulate in Chiang Mai is $131. The proposed rule would increase this fee to $350. The US State Department has noted that the increase in fees is necessary because the K1 visa and the K3 visa require more diligent adjudication on the part of Consular Officers. This author would generally agree with this statement as it has been his opinion that Consular Officers diligently investigate and judge these petitions in an effort to provide a fair, thorough, and efficient adjudication. That being said, this fee increase will probably have a major impact upon those who have already filed for K1 and K3 visa benefits. Hopefully, these fee increases will come into effect after a grace period whereby those who filed before the fee increase will be able to enjoy the previously lower fee while new applications will have the fee increase phased in. However, the logistics of this proposal may be cost prohibitive as keeping track of previously filed cases could be highly labor intensive.

For more information on this and other US Immigration matters please see: US Visa Thailand.

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19th December 2009

The United States Department of State wishes to amend the current rule regarding the fees to be charged to applicants for non-immigrant visas overseas. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has recently released information regarding the proposed rule change. Below is a direct quote from this announcement:

“This rule amends the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services (Schedule) for nonimmigrant visa application and border crossing card processing fees. The rule raises from $131 to $140 the fee charged for the processing of an application for most non-petition-based nonimmigrant visas…The Department of State is adjusting the fees to ensure that sufficient resources are available to meet the costs of providing consular services in light of an independent cost of service study’s findings that the U.S. Government is not fully covering its costs for the processing of these visas under the current cost structure.”

Although it is fairly self evident that this proposed rule change will affect non-immigrant visa categories such as the J1 visa, the F1 visa, the B1 visa, and the B2 visa (commonly referred to as the US Tourist Visa) there is some question as to whether or not this rule change will have an impact upon those seeking a K1 visa or a K3 visa. As can be read in the above quotation, the rule should only impact “non-petition based non-immigrant visas…” As K1 visa applications and K3 visa applications are both based upon an underlying visa petition made to USCIS this proposed rule begs the question: how will it impact K visa applicants?

The K1 visa and the K3 visa are non-immigrant dual intent visas. They are non-immigrant in that they do not allow the visa holder to remain in the United States indefinitely upon entry, but they allow for the bearer to apply for adjustment of status at a later date (provided certain prerequisites are met; in the case of the K1, marriage to the original petitioner).

This author believes that is is likely that the final rule will include a provisions raising the fees for the K visas as well as the other non-immigrant visa categories. Immigrant visa fees are in a separate category and for those filing a petition in the USA, these fess are paid directly to the National Visa Center (NVC). Many people are under the mistaken impression that in family visa cases the fees paid initially to USCIS are all-inclusive. This is not the case as the US Embassies and US Consulates are under the jurisdiction of DOS while USCIS is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) therefore, processing fees must be made to each agency at different stages.

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