Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘K-1 Visa Laos’

25th March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) may be changing some of the procedures associated with the processing of immigration petitions pertaining to the application for issuance of the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, K-1 visa, and K-3 visa filed by United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. To quote directly from a recent USCIS Memo posted on ILW.com:

This memorandum provides guidance to USCIS service centers regarding changes in the handling of all stand-alone I-130 and I-129F petitions filed by petitioners who have been convicted of any “specified offense against a minor” under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (“Adam Walsh Act” or “AWA”) and related issues.1 This memorandum applies only to petitions that are adjudicated at the service centers and not to petitions adjudicated at USCIS field offices.

Generally I-130 petitions (the categorical designation used to refer to the petition for a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa) are processed by the USCIS Service Center designated by the lockbox upon receipt. In some cases, it may be possible to process an I-130 petition at one of the various USCIS field offices located abroad, such as the USCIS office in Bangkok. The I-129f petition (categorical designation used to denote the US fiance visa or K1 visa) can only be processed at a USCIS Service Center in the USA as the field offices overseas do not process such petitions as of the time of this writing. To quote further from the previously mentioned memorandum:

USCIS will centralize at VSC all files currently at service centers if the service center adjudicator has made a preliminary determination that the petition warrants review as an AWA-related case. The VSC will serve as a central clearinghouse for inquiries from Federal, State, and local agencies regarding AWA-related cases that are pending or were recently adjudicated at one of the four service centers [hereafter referred to as “originating service center” or “sending service center”]. While AWA-related cases require special handling, the decision to centralize AWA-related adjudications at the VSC will affect caseloads at other service centers only minimally.

Clearly, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is making policy changes in an effort to take steps to more efficiently process cases requiring further scrutiny pursuant to the Adam Walsh Act (AWA). In a way, the Vermont Service Center’s role in AWA-related cases is somewhat similar to the role of the National Visa Center in the overall US visa process as that agency is tasked with acting as a sort of clearinghouse for visa applications arriving from USCIS and being processed out to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. Although, NVC is under the authority of the Department of State whereas the Vermont Service Center (like the other USCIS Service Centers) is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS.

For related information please see: Adam Walsh Act.

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1st March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will be changing their procedures in matters pertaining to address changes. To quote directly from the website of the Division of International Services NIH Office of Research Services:

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced new mailing addresses for submitting the Form AR-11. The form must now be mailed to an office in Kentucky, and not to the USCIS Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Forms submitted via the U.S. Postal Service should be sent to:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Change of Address
P.O. Box 7134
London, KY 40742-7134

Forms submitted via commercial overnight or freight services should be sent to:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Change of Address
1084-I South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744

Any forms previously mailed to the USCIS Headquarters will be forwarded to the Kentucky office. A new version of the Form AR-11, which includes the new mailing addresses, has been issued and is now available on the usCIS website (click here to download a copy of the form). Additional information on the change of address is available here on the USCIS website.

The administration of this blog highly recommends that readers click on the above link to read the full announcement.

This issue could be of particular importance for those who have recently filed a petition for immigration benefits and subsequently moved their place of residence. Also, those who enter the United States of America in K-1 visa status (the categorical name for the US fiance visa) should take note of the above announcements as K-1 visa holders are required to submit an application for adjustment of status in order to be granted lawful permanent residence in the USA. In some cases, a bi-national couple may find that they need to change their address while the adjustment of status is pending. Failure to advise the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) of such a change could result in processing delays or a situation in which a couple is not notified of an upcoming adjustment of status interview. This could result in the couple missing said interview and the K-1 fiancee falling out of status due to a deficient adjustment. For these reasons, keeping USCIS abreast of one’s address while a petition is pending is very prudent.

In a recent posting on this blog it was also noted that the USCIS has recently changed their policy regarding employment authorization and advance parole. The service is apparently issuing advance parole on the same document that grants employment authorization prior to adjustment. Advance parole is a benefit that can be granted to those holding K-1 visa status which allows the visa holder to leave the country while an adjustment is pending. Failure to obtain advance parole prior to leaving the USA could result in the K-1 visa beneficiary falling out of status and thereby requiring the process to be restarted all over again.

For related information please: K1 Visa Thailand.

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14th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has implemented a program to issue advance parole authorization on the same document as that of employment authorization. To quote directly from the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS):

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it is now issuing employment and travel authorization on a single card for certain applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. This new card represents a significant improvement from the current practice of issuing paper Advance Parole documents.

The card looks similar to the current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) but will include text that reads, “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” A card with this text will serve as both an employment authorization and Advance Parole document. The new card is also more secure and more durable than the current paper Advance Parole document.

For those who are unfamiliar with the K-1 visa process, the adjustment of status occurs after a foreign fiancee arrives in America, marries the American petitioner, and files to have their status regularized to that of Lawful Permanent Resident. The card that is given to the foreign spouse is often colloquially referred to as a “Green Card”. Prior to adjustment of status, if a foreign fiancee leaves the USA, then they will need to obtain an advance parole travel document in order to keep their visa status alive and thereby permit reentry to the USA. Failure to obtain advance parole could result in a foreign fiancee losing his or her visa upon departure from the USA and thereby compelling them to go through the whole process anew.

An employment authorization document permits foreign fiancees in the United States on a K-1 visa to work prior to being approved for Green Card status. In many instances, couples opt not to apply for employment authorization and simply await the foreign fiance’s adjustment to Lawful Permanent Residence.

Once a foreign fiance is adjusted to lawful permanent residence, he or she may still be required to eventually apply for a lift of conditions. Those in the USA as a lawful permanent resident based upon marriage are placed in conditional status for the first two years of their presence in the USA if the couple was married less than 2 years at the time they acquired lawful permanent residence.

The above analysis could be utilized for K3 visa purposes as well. However, as the K-3 visa is currently being issued in very rare instances due to administrative closure policies at the National Visa Center, this blogger only mentions this issue as an aside.

For related information please see: K-1 Visa Thailand.

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17th January 2011

Those who read this web log with any degree of frequency may have noticed that the administration routinely posts the closing schedules of the various US Missions in Asia in an effort to provide wide access to such information for Americans traveling abroad seeking Consular services. Hopefully, postings such as these will help to forestall fruitless trips to US Posts abroad made by Americans unaware of local holiday observance. The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Vientiane, Laos:

Date Day Holiday Lao/U.S.
December 31, 2010 Friday Substitute for New  Year’s Day U.S./Lao
January 17 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday U.S.
February 21 Monday Presidents’ Day U.S.
March 8 Tuesday International Women’s Day Lao
April 13-15 Wed.-Friday Lao New Year Lao
May 2 Monday Lao Labor Day Lao
May 30 Monday Memorial Day U.S.
July 4 Monday Independence Day U.S.
September 5 Monday Labor Day U.S.
October 10 Monday Boat Racing Festival Lao
October 22 Monday Columbus Day U.S.
November 10 Thursday That Luang Festival Lao
November 11 Friday Veteran’s Day U.S.
November 24 Thursday Thanksgiving Day U.S.
December 2 Friday Lao National Day Lao
December 26 Monday Christmas Day U.S.

Substitution days. Please note: According to the prevailing practice in Laos, official holidays which fall on Saturday will be observed on the preceding Friday and Sunday on the following Monday.

Note: Administrative Days: In addition to the dates above, the Consular Section will be closed on the following Fridays for administrative days – February 18, April 8, June 3, September 2, November 25, and December 9.

Those seeking the official homepage of the United States Embassy in Vientiane, Laos please click HERE.

Those seeking services such as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, US Passport, or additional visa pages for a previously issued US Passport are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section of the nearest US Embassy or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction.

Those seeking temporary US visas such as the B-2 visa (US Tourist Visa), B-1 visa (US Business Visa), F-1 visa (US Student Visa), or J-1 visa (US Exchange Visitor Visa) are likely to have their visa applications processed through a Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) Unit abroad. It should be noted that those applying for most non-immigrant visa categories are scrutinized pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

Those who are seeking US family visa benefits in the form of travel documents such as the CR-1 visa or the IR-1 visa are generally required to process an immigration petition through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to applying for a US visa abroad. The K-1 visa, although technically a non-immigrant US fiance visa, is generally treated much the same way as an immigrant visa for application processing purposes. L-1 visa seekers and EB-5 visa seekers should take notice of the fact that applying for such a travel document may entail the processing of an immigration petition prior to visa application at a US Post abroad.

For related information please see: US Visa Laos or K1 Visa Laos.

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21st October 2010

Those who have read some of the blog will no doubt note that this administration often posts information about the K3 visa process and the overall impact of administrative closing of K3 visa applications by the US State Department’s National Visa Center. Many American Citizens who have a Laotian husband or wife pose the question: “Can I get a K3 visa for my wife (or husband) to reunite with me in the USA?” The answer to this question, at the time of this writing, is a rather qualified: no. However, a brief overview of the K3 visa and the recent changes to the K3 visa process may enlighten those who are researching this issue on their own for the first time.

At one time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had a substantial backlog of immigrant spouse visa petitions. This lead to a situation in which it could take as long as 3 years to receive USCIS adjudication of a mere immigrant spousal visa petition filed by an American Citizen. Due to this rather untenable situation, the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton promulgated and executed a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act”. Under the provisions of the Life Act, the K3 visa category and the K4 visa category were created (The K4 visa is a derivative visa for the children of foreign spouses similar to the derivative K2 visa which can be “piggybacked” onto a K1 visa application). At the time, the K3 visa was greeted by many as a severely needed stopgap solution to a rather pernicious problem: slow processing of classic immigrant visa petitions. In recent years, the USCIS has gone to great lengths to streamline the adjudication process and thereby decrease the time it takes to see an immigrant spouse visa petition adjudicated. As a result, many adjudicated immigrant visa petitions began arriving at the National Visa Center at the same time as their K3 counterparts. At one point, it would appear that a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the Immigrant petition arrives either before or at the same time as the K3 petition. This leads to a situation where American-Lao bi-national couples are compelled to seek immigrant visa benefits rather than K3 visa benefits. It should be noted that immigrant visa benefits are substantially superior to K3 visa benefits as immigrant visas confer lawful permanent residence upon the bearer at the time of his or her entry into the United States. Whereas the K3 visa is simply a non-immigrant spouse visa. Therefore, those entering the USA in K3 status must either file for an adjustment of status or Consular Process their immigrant visa petition at a US Embassy or US Consulate outside of the USA.

The term “K3 visa” has sort of become the buzzword used to refer to a US Marriage Visa over the internet. In point of fact, the classic travel documents used by Lao spouses to reunite with their American counterparts are referred to as either the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa. Depending upon a bi-national couple’s circumstances such travel documents may confer either conditional or unconditional lawful permanent residence upon admission to the USA.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Laos or K3 Visa Laos.

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