Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘K1 Visa Vietnam’

23rd November 2017

The following is a transcript of the video which can be found here: K-1 Visas from Vietnam

In this video we are going to be discussing K-1 Visas specifically in the context of cases that will be processed presumably through the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City primarily.

As can be heard from the preamble to this video, I’m an American attorney but we’re located here in Bangkok. Primarily we do the vast majority of our cases do involve Thai nationals though we do deal with cases regionally and I sort of thought about it the other day and I said that you know, I really don’t do enough videos talking about some of the other posts and other nationalities we deal with in the immigration context within the immigration practice here. So I went ahead and decided to do this video.

The way to look at the K-1 process specifically and the K-1 fiancée process is slightly different than dealing with other family based petitions. First of all, you have to be intending to marry an American citizen unlike marriage visas where you can be married to a lawful permanent resident and process a case that way for one of the preference categories. K-1 Visas are only between a foreign national and an American citizen. Both parties have to be legally free to marry, that’s rather important. This can come up and cause some confusion, and cause some problems in a lot cases because folks think “oh, we filed and now we can marry”. “No, you have to remain fiancées throughout the whole process!”  You have to be legally free to marry up until the fiancée, the Vietnamese fiancée comes to the United States at which point it is then possible to go ahead and get married in the United States and file for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence. In another video on this channel I discuss specifically adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is the process by which an individual comes to the United States, in this case in K-1 status, gets married and goes ahead and  lawful permanent residence attached,  aka Green Card Status. Another thing to keep in mind with respect to the K-1 specifically, the couple in question needs to have met physically in person within 2 years of the filing of the petition for the visa benefits.  There are exceptions to this rule but they are very, very narrow in scope and for that reason it’s best to effectively just go ahead and say “look, I have to meet in person. That usually means they are going to have to travel at least once to, in the case of a Vietnamese fiancée, presumably Vietnam and meet physically in person, the Vietnamese fiancée before filing can be perfected or at least before an acceptable filing can be perfected.

Some things to think about as far as how it works.  Well the case starts off over at the Department of Homeland Security, specifically USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They go ahead and process the petition. If the petition is approved, the case moves to the National Visa Center which is under the auspices of the Department of State. The National Visa Center, they act as a sort of clearing house or sort of administrative hub for sending these cases out, making sure it gets from the approval at DHS and gets to the appropriate embassy or consulate. In the vast majority of cases involving Vietnam you’re  not going to be dealing with the post in Hanoi, in the vast majority of cases at least that we deal with, you’re dealing with the consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. It is a higher volume post, so processing can take a little bit longer. In Vietnam, as far as Consular processing goes, it can take a little bit longer when compared to other posts in the region, Bangkok included, but Bangkok is a pretty high volume post as well. Some of the other smaller posts, Cambodia, Laos definitely, even Yangon, don’t quite have the volume so things may move a little bit more quickly.  But that being said, it’s just the process you have to deal with and every case is sort of being unique and you have to deal with the circumstances as you take them.  So that being said, it will go to the Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and at that point the case, the Vietnamese fiancée will be informed of the protocols that he or she needs to undertake to go ahead and complete the consular processing portion. In the cases where we have been retained to assist in these matters, we often assist with translations, compilation of documentation, filling out of various forms, both online and physical forms cases and in a lot of cases going ahead and submitting the request for the actual visa application interview.  And then on top of that we go ahead and assist in preparing certain questions or I really hate to say we provide the questions that they are going to ask, we don’t; we provide an overview with respect to how, what is the process looking for? What kind of due diligence is the Consular Officer likely to be interested in conducting? In most cases it’s ascertaining that the couple is a genuine couple, they are legally free to marry, they’ve remained legally free to marry, they adhere to the law, they adhere to the Immigration policy, they don’t have any legal grounds of inadmissibility and all the documentation relevant to the case that that officer feels is pertinent is present and accounted for with respect to the underlying application. That’s basically what they’re looking to do. It’s not an exercise in “stump the applicant”, it’s an exercise in due diligence. They want to make certain that the couple is bona fide.  So for that reason, that is sort of a general overview of what the interview process is like. If the officer requests further documentation, they can issue what is called a 221-G request for further documentation.

In some cases they may feel that the case is denied for various reasons. They have to give a legal reason why they are denying the case. In most cases that I have dealt when you get a denial, you are looking at a legal ground of inadmissibility, and a legal ground of inadmissibility is defined in the Immigration Nationality Act and in some cases it’s often possible to overcome that legal ground of inadmissibility through use of an I-601 waiver. There are various videos on this channel with respect to the I-601 specifically but to sort of just sum up K-1 visa processing through Vietnam, you’re looking at a matter of months; I think you are looking at probably 8 or 9 months with respect to the overall “door to door” process with respect to processing a successful K-1 visa, on average.  There are outliers on both sides. Every case is unique; it’s like a snow flake. But that being said, that’s kind of a general overview with respect to timeline, the thing to keep in mind, just sort of in sum. It’s a 3 part process. It effectively begins in the US, goes through various offices in the US, finally to wind up, generally speaking, at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City where the matter will be adjudicated by the Consular Officer at the Immigrant Visa Unit. Again, K-1s are interesting because they’re a non-immigrant visa that has dual intent. You are actually a non-immigrant visa but to all intents and purposes, the consular section treats it as if it were an immigrant visa and you go ahead and undertake the interview and hopefully, presuming a successful interview, a visa will be issued shortly after the interview date.

more Comments: 04

21st August 2011

Those who read this blog with any frequency may be aware that the administration routinely posts the estimated processing times of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as a courtesy to the public-at-large. To quote directly from the official website of the USCIS, USCIS.gov:

Field Office Processing Dates for California Service Center as of: June 30, 2011
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 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. 2 Months
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 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 September 27, 2007
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 May 7, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 1, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister April 25, 2007
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 4 Months
I-526 Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States 5 Months
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-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 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)] 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 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-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) 6 Months
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, 2011
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 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1C – Nurses 2 Months
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 December 31, 2007
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child December 31, 2007
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 July 31, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 July 31, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 July 31, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 July 31, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister July 31, 2009
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 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-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal Readmission after deportation or removal November 9, 2008
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) November 9, 2008
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 January 28, 2011
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-526 Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States 5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories January 25, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents January 25, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category January 25, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications January 25, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students January 25, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents January 25, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors January 25, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications January 25, 2011
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 June 27, 2010
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)] 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 All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension January 21, 2011
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing January 21, 2011
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension January 21, 2011
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing January 21, 2011
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition February 4, 2011
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) 6 Months
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) based on PL107-273 6 Months
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement 3.5 Months
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card 10-year renewal March 15, 2011
I-90A Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement for Special Agricultral Workers (SAW) 3.5 Months
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
N-600 Application for Certification of Citizenship Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship 5 Months
N-643 Application for Certification of Citizenship on Behalf of an Adopted Child Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship on behalf of an adopted child 5 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Texas Service Center as of: June 30, 2011
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 March 22, 2011
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker E – Treaty traders and investors December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1C – Nurses December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2A – Temporary workers December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation December 27, 2007
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional December 27, 2007
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 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister 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 October 2, 2010
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher October 2, 2010
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager October 2, 2010
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability October 9, 2010
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional September 30, 2010
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker September 30, 2010
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver September 28, 2010
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses October 9, 2010
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal Readmission after deportation or removal July 31, 2009
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants October 15, 2010
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) July 31, 2009
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Religious workers October 15, 2010
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications December 3, 2010
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 December 31, 2010
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Based on refugee admission more than 1 year ago 4 Months
I-526 Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States September 29, 2008
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-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition Petition for accompanying family members of a refugee or an asylee December 31, 2010
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents June 29, 2008
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)] 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 All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program December 31, 2010
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition August 16, 2010
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement May 31, 2010
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
N-600 Application for Certification of Citizenship Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship 5 Months
Field Office Processing Dates for Vermont Service Center as of: June 30, 2011
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 April 24, 2011
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 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1C – Nurses 2 Months
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 April 24, 2011
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 September 11, 2010
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister July 24, 2010
I-131 Application for Travel Document Refugee or asylee applying for a refugee travel document March 1, 2011
I-131 Application for Travel Document Permanent resident applying for a re-entry permit March 1, 2011
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 October 31, 2007
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher October 31, 2007
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager October 31, 2007
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability October 31, 2007
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional October 31, 2007
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker October 31, 2007
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver October 31, 2007
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses October 31, 2007
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal Readmission after deportation or removal 4 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) 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 January 30, 2011
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-526 Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States 5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories March 13, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents March 13, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category March 13, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications March 13, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students March 13, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents March 13, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors March 13, 2011
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications March 13, 2011
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 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)] May 22, 2011
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)] October 31, 2010
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] January 6, 2011
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 October 31, 2010
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing October 31, 2010
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension October 31, 2010
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing October 31, 2010
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) 6 Months
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors) based on PL107-273 6 Months
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement 3.5 Months
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card 10-year renewal March 31, 2009
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 4 Months
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document U.S. citizen applying for a replacement of naturalization or citizenship certificate 6 Months
N-600 Application for Certification of Citizenship Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship 5 Months
N-643 Application for Certification of Citizenship on Behalf of an Adopted Child Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship on behalf of an adopted child 5 Months

Readers should be aware that the processing times noted above do NOT include consideration of the processing times at the National Visa Center (NVC) nor the Consular Processing times of each particular US Embassy, US Consulate, or American Institute abroad.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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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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3rd January 2011

The administration of this blog routinely posts the holiday closing schedules of various United States Missions in Asia in an effort to share this information with those Americans or foreign nationals traveling outside of the United States who need to obtain services which can only be provided by an American Post abroad. The following is the holiday closing schedule of the US Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam as quoted from the US Embassy’s official website:

The following list of official holidays for 2011 has been approved consistent with the provisions of 3 FAM 2336 (American holidays) and the revised Article 73 of the Vietnamese Labor Code. The U.S. Embassy will be closed on these days.

Holiday Date Day Type
New Year’s Day January 03 Monday A&V
Martin Luther King’s Birthday January 17 Monday A
Lunar New Year Festival February 02-07 Wed-Mon V
President’s Day February 21 Monday A
National Anniversary of Hung Kings April 12 Tuesday V
Victory Day (observed) May 02 Tuesday V
International Labor Day (observed) May 03 Wednesday V
Memorial Day May 30 Monday A
Independence Day July 04 Monday A
Vietnamese National Day September 02 Friday V
Labor Day September 05 Monday A
Columbus Day October 10 Monday A
Veterans Day November 11 Friday A
Thanksgiving Day November 24 Thursday A
Christmas Day (observed) Dec 26 Monday A

V = Vietnamese Holidays
A – American Holidays

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

Those seeking the homepage of the official website of the US Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam should click HERE.

Those seeking information regarding matters pertaining to United States Immigration are well-advised to contact a licensed American lawyer in order to receive advice and counsel regarding the practical implications of the application of relevant American Immigration law.

Those seeking Non-immigrant visas such as the B-2 visa for tourists, the B-1 visa for business travelers, the J-1 visa for cultural exchange visitors, or the F-1 visa for students are likely to have their visa application processed through the Non-immigrant Visa Unit of the nearest American Mission.

Generally, those seeking US family based visas are required to process their application through an Immigrant Visa Unit of a US Mission abroad. For purposes of visa application processing the non-immigrant US fiance visa (the K-1 visa category) is treated in essentially the same manner as the Immigrant spouse visas such as the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa.

Those seeking business and/or investment based visas such as the EB-5 visa or the L-1 visa are generally required to process an Immigration petition at the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to Consular Processing of the visa application.

For related information please see: US Visa Vietnam or K-1 Visa Vietnam.

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30th November 2010

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

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

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

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

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17th October 2010

Those familiar with this blog may have noticed that administrative closure of K3 visa applications has been a topic of discussion since the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) announced that K3 visa applications would be administratively closed if the underlying I-130 petition arrives at NVC prior to, or at the same as, the supplemental I-129f petition. Those who conduct research about the US visa process over the internet may have noticed that the buzzword used to describe a US Marriage Visa is: K3 visa. However, the K3 Visa is not the classic travel document used to bring a Vietnamese spouse to the United States of America. This is due to the fact that in the relatively recent past the only travel document available to the foreign spouse of a US Citizen, based upon the marriage alone, was either an IR-1 visa or a CR1 Visa both of which are only available to those filing an Immigrant visa petition.

The K-3 visa category’s creation was the result of a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act”. This bill was promulgated by the United States Congress and signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton. At that time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was processing Immigrant spouse visa petitions quite slowly due to a rather significant backlog of such petitions. The K-3 was designed to alleviate some of this backlog as well as reunite bi-national married couples as quickly as possible in the USA.

Recently, the USCIS has been processing Immigrant spouse petitions in a much more efficient manner. This has lead to many approved Immigrant petitions reaching the National Visa Center (NVC) at the same time or before the supplemental petition used to seek K3 visa benefits. As a result, the NVC made the policy that K3 visa applications would be “administratively closed” if the CR1 or IR1 visa petition arrived at NVC prior to or at the same time as the K3 petition. This has effectively compelled bi-national Vietnamese-American couples to seek Immigrant visa benefits rather than non-immigrant K3 visa benefits. That said, the Immigrant visa really is a preferable visa category to the K-3 as those Vietnamese spouses of American Citizens entering the USA on an Immigrant visa are granted Lawful Permanent Residence (either CR-1 or IR-1 status depending upon the couple’s circumstances) upon admission to the United States at a Port of Entry. Those entering the USA on a K3 visa are not granted lawful permanent residence upon admission, but instead must file for adjustment of status in the USA which can be costly and rather time consuming. Therefore, some have argued that NVC’s administrative closure policy has actually lead to an overall streamlining of the US Marriage Visa process.

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

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2nd October 2010

Many American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who vacation or live abroad meet someone special while in another country and wish to bring that special someone back to the United States of America. Under those circumstances, some pose the question: “Can I bring my foreign girlfriend, or boyfriend, back to the United States on an American tourist visa?” In the context of Vietnam, many ponder the more specific question: “Can I bring my Vietnamese Girlfriend (or Boyfriend) back to the USA on an American tourist visa?” Depending upon the facts of a given case, a Consular Officer at a United States Embassy or Consulate abroad will make a determination as to visa suitability on a case by case basis. Pursuant to the doctrine of Consular Absolutism, Consular Officer have virtually unfettered discretion when it comes to making factual decisions regarding visa issuance. In the context of Non-Immigrant visas this discretion can have a major impact upon an individual’s ability to bring a Vietnamese loved one back to the USA from Vietnam on a US Visitor Visa. In a significant number of cases US visitor visas are denied to the boyfriends and girlfriends of Americans. This is often due to a relatively little known section of the US Immigration and Nationality Act known as Section 214(b).

Section 214(b) of the INA requires that Consular Officers adjudicating non-immigrant visas abroad (J1 visa, F1 visa, B1 visa, B2 visa, etc.) presume that the applicant is actually an intending immigrant unless that applicant can show evidence to the contrary. This presumption is legally required, but many believe that US tourist visa denials are some sort of personal rejection. In point of fact, 214 (b) would seem to be a very high threshold to overcome by the applicant as the law presumes that they are intending immigrants unless documentation or evidence can be provided to mitigate this presumption. As a result, a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis is often utilized to deal with this problem. Tourist visa applicants of Vietnamese origin generally must show strong ties to Vietnam (or another country abroad) and weak ties to the USA. In many cases, the mere presence of an American significant other is enough to make 214(b) virtually insurmountable since such a relationship could be construed as a “strong tie” to the USA.

In the past, some attempted to the use the American Tourist Visa as a means of bypassing the comparatively longer processing times associated with US Family Visa applications. That said, this is an unwise course of action as it could be construed as visa fraud to knowingly seek non-immigrant visa benefits in order to enter the USA, marry a US Citizen, and thereafter file for Immigrant visa benefits. Penalties for visa fraud can be quite severe. Therefore, those wishing to immigrate to then USA are well advised to apply for the proper visa category.

Those seeking Family Immigration benefits should note that entering into a relationship merely to acquire visa benefits could also be viewed as fraud. Therefore, couples seeking immigration benefits should do so only if a petition or application is based upon a bona fide relationship.

For related information please see: US Visa Burmese Girlfriend or K1 Visa Vietnam.

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24th September 2010

In previous posts on this blog, this author has discussed proposed fee increases of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). In a recent announcement from USCIS, this matter again came to this author’s attention as USCIS announced a final rule on the issue. To quote directly from the actual announcement as distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions. The final rule follows a period of public comment on a proposed rule, which USCIS published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2010. After encouraging stakeholders to share their input, USCIS considered all 225 comments received. The final rule will increase overall fees by a weighted average of about 10 percent but will not increase the fee for the naturalization application. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow,September 24, and the adjusted fees will go into effect on November 23, 2010.

“USCIS is grateful for the valuable public input that we received as we prepared the final fee rule,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “We remain mindful of the effect of fee increases on the communities we serve, and we will continue to work to enhance the services we provide.”

The final fee rule establishes three new fees, including a fee for regional center designations under the Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Pilot Program, a fee for individuals seeking civil surgeon designation, and a fee to recover USCIS costs to process immigrant visas granted by the Department of State. Additionally, the final rule reduces and eliminates several fees, including some for servicemembers and certain veterans of the U.S. armed forces who are seeking citizenship-related benefits. The final rule also expands the availability of fee waivers to additional categories.

USCIS is a primarily fee-based organization, with about 90 percent of its budget coming from fees paid by applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits. The law requires USCIS to conduct fee reviews every two years to determine the funding levels necessary to administer the nation’s immigration laws, process immigration benefit requests and provide the infrastructure needed to support those activities. The final fee rule announced today concludes a comprehensive review begun in 2009.

USCIS’s fee revenue in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 was much lower than projected, and fee revenue in fiscal year 2010 remains low. While USCIS received appropriations from Congress and made budget cuts of approximately $160 million, this has not bridged the remaining gap between costs and anticipated revenue. A fee adjustment, as detailed in the final rule announced today, is necessary to ensure USCIS recovers the costs of its operations while also meeting the application processing goals identified in the 2007 fee rule.

Those with foreign fiances may take note of the fact that within this same announcement it was noted that the petition fees for the fiance visa will be reduced from 455 United States dollars to 340 United States dollars. On the whole, there are some who may not particularly welcome this announcement, but it would appear that the costs associated with providing Immigration services have reached the point that a fee adjustment is in order.

It should be noted that the fees noted above may not be the only costs that arise during the processing of a United States visa. This is due to the fact that the US visa process is somewhat bifurcated as USCIS is tasked with adjudicating the initial immigration petition while a US Embassy or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction is responsible for processing visa applications for travel documents sought outside of the United States of America. Recently, the US Department of State announced an increase in fees associated with adjudication of K1 visa applications abroad. That said, other fees were reduced. These fee adjustments seem to correlate to the underlying costs and fees associated with the adjudication of these applications.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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22nd September 2010

Those who read this blog on a regular basis may have noted that recently less attention has been paid to the K1 visa than in the past. This development is partly due to the fact that there has been little to report regarding the US fiance visa as there have been few dramatic changes to the K1 visa process since the beginning of the year 2010. That said, with Comprehensive Immigration Reform possibly on the horizon, there are those who believe that many changes will be made to current US Immigration protocols. In a recent announcement, the American State Department sought comments regarding the DS-156K. This form is specifically used for Consular Processing of the K1 fiance visa. To directly quote an excerpt from the announcement as distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

We are soliciting public comments to permit the Department to: Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is necessary to properly perform our functions. Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the proposed collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used. Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected. Minimize the reporting burden on those who are to respond, Abstract of proposed collection: Form DS-156K is used by consular officers to determine the eligibility of an alien applicant for a non- immigrant fiancee visa. Methodology: The DS-156K is submitted to consular posts abroad.

In the past, the DS-156K might have also been utilized in a K3 Visa application pending before a US Consulate or US Embassy. However, the National Visa Center announced this year that many of the K3 visa applications will be “administratively closed” in cases where the underlying I-130 petition (used for spouse visas such as the CR1 Visa and the IR1 Visa) arrives at NVC simultaneously or prior to the arrival of the I-129f petition for a K3 visa.

In the context of the K1 visa, this request for comments would appear to be an attempt by the State Department to assess the utility of the DS-156K in an effort to streamline the processing of future K visa applications. How the comments will ultimately be used remains to be seen, but any attempt to make the visa process more efficient should be greeted positively by this author as the visa process can sometimes prove to be confusing and cumbersome those American Citizens wishing to bring a loved one to the United States.

For further information please see: K1 Visa Thailand or K3 Visa Thailand.

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31st August 2010

Adoption is one of the greatest things that people can do to provide love and care to orphaned children. This is especially true in cases where American or bi-national couples adopt orphans from less prosperous nations abroad. In the past, many Americans and foreign nationals have traveled to Nepal in order to adopt children from this small Asian nation. In a recent press release from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), under the authority of the US Department of Homeland Security, it was announced that there will be new processing procedures in cases where Americans petition for immigration benefits in connection with adoption of orphans from Nepal. To quote the press release directly:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that any U.S. citizen seeking to adopt a Nepali child, whose case is not affected by the suspension of processing of adoption cases involving Nepali children claimed to have been found abandoned, should file the Form I 600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, with the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Usually, Immigrant visa petitions are initially adjudicated by a USCIS office in the United States. This change to processing procedures seems to indicate that special considerations are being taken by Immigration officials tasked with adjudicating Nepali adoption based immigration petitions. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

This change in the filing location for the Form I-600 petitions applies to two groups of prospective adoptive parents who are not affected by the suspension. The first group is those who received a referral letter from the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare before Aug. 6, 2010, informing them of a proposed match of an abandoned child. The second group is those who seek to adopt Nepali children who were relinquished by known parent(s) and whose identity and relationship can be confirmed.

USCIS strongly encourages prospective adoptive parents to follow this procedure for their own benefit, based on growing concerns about unreliable documents, irregularities in the methods used to identify children for adoption in Nepal, and the resulting difficulties in classifying those children as orphans under U.S. immigration law. Please see the Aug. 6, 2010 announcement online regarding the suspension.

Verifying documentation can be a major issue in any Immigration proceeding, but this problem can be particularly acute in cases involving adoption. A decision, one way or the other, in an immigrant adoptee’s adjudication proceeding could have a tremendous impact upon the lives of everyone involved. Therefore, caution is required in order to attempt to ensure an equitable decision. The press release went on to state:

To file the Form I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, prospective adoptive parents should complete and sign the Form I-600 and send the Form I-600 with all required supporting documents and evidence, other than the adoption or custody decree, to their respective local agency representatives in Nepal…Based on this filing, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will then complete the required orphan determination before prospective adoptive parents travel to, or adopt a child in, Nepal.

Following this procedure will protect the interests of the prospective adoptive parents and the children by ensuring that the adoptive children will be eligible to immigrate to the United States before the prospective adoptive parents travel to Nepal and complete the Nepali adoption process. It is anticipated that most determinations will be completed within 90 days of receipt of the case by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu.

If, after completing its investigation of the case, the Embassy finds that the child qualifies as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that they may travel to Nepal to complete the adoption process.

It would seem that this new policy is designed to allow for increased scrutiny of relevant documentation in Nepali adoption cases. Consular Officers are often in a unique position to adjudicate pending immigration applications abroad. Should the officer find that the application is bona fide then he or she can issue the visa. If, on the other hand, the Consular Officer finds that there are further issues to be explored, then he or she can issue a 221g refusal and request for further evidence or deny the application outright based upon a ground of inadmissibility. In most immigrant visa applications, when Consular Officers deny the application, they usually do so pursuant to section 221(G) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act which allows the applicant to rectify the problem through presentation of further documentation or evidence.

For further information about American Immigration from Asia please see: US Visa India or K1 Visa Vietnam.

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