Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Lawful Permanent Residence’

9th May 2016

In a recently published article on CNN’s official website it was noted that based upon published data from 2015 the number of renunciations of United States Citizenship appears to be rising:

The number of citizens and long-term residents cutting their official ties to Uncle Sam jumped more than 20% last year to 4,279, according to a CNNMoney analysis of the latest government data.

First, let’s take note of a nuanced facet of this issue that the article quoted above does not delve into: Lawful Permanent Residence. The article used figures which showed the number of those renouncing U.S. Citizenship along with those surrendering their green card. These are two very different legal issues. The renunciation of one’s citizenship results in an inability to obtain a United States passport, enjoy all of the legal benefits of U.S. law, and the an inability to obtain various services at United States Embassies and Consulates abroad, to name just a few things. Lawful Permanent Residents of the USA, aka Green Card holders, presumably have an underlying nationality. Many of those who surrender their green card do so in connection with a return to their native country. The motivations behind citizenship renunciation and green card surrender are often very different.

To some, this renunciation trend is rather alarming. For those Americans who have lived abroad for a significant period of time the information above is unlikely to be a surprise. With recent changes to the laws regarding the reporting of financial information pertaining to Americans residing abroad and the fact that American citizens are supposed to pay taxes on their world wide income the recent increase in renunciations of United States Citizenship does not seem as bizarre as it may seem at first glance as the aforementioned article goes on to elucidate:

Many of those severing links are Americans living overseas who are tired of dealing with complicated tax paperwork, a headache that has worsened since new regulations came into effect…Unlike most other countries, the U.S. taxes its citizens on all income, no matter where it’s earned or where they live. For Americans living abroad, that results in a mountain of paperwork so complex that they are often forced to seek professional help…

To be clear, renunciation of United States citizenship is a very serious matter. In this blogger’s personal opinion one should not renounce one’s citizenship unless one has taken a significant period of time to seriously contemplate such an endeavor. In many cases, renunciation of US citizenship could result in new unforeseen tax liability. Meanwhile there are those who are under the impression that they must renounce their citizenship when in fact a renunciation is not required.

If one is thinking of giving up their US citizenship simply for reasons related to taxation, then prior consultation with a tax expert would be wise. Those thinking generally about renouncing their United States Citizenship should consult with a legal professional prior to making any irrevocable decisions as renunciation of one’s citizenship could have dire consequences.

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2nd July 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a statement regarding the implementation of policies regarding adjudication of immigration petitions for same-sex bi-national married couples. To quote directly from the official website of DHS:

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

This statement is a significant moment in the long fight for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. In order to provide further information regarding these developments the DHS has posted some frequently asked questions on the same page as the aforementioned quotation. These FAQ’s are quoted below:

Q1:  I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national.  Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?

A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly, the United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident same sex spouse of a foreign national can now submit an I-130 petition for Lawful Permanent Residence (also known as “Green Card” status) for their husband or wife. In fact, it would appear that a same-sex couple in Florida was recently granted immigration benefits for the same-sex spouse. This would especially be true in a case where the couple not only was married in State recognizing same-sex marriage, but also resides in that same State or another of the 13 States which recognize such unions. An issue which is, as of yet, not so clearly delineated hinges upon a situation in which a same-sex married couple has married in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage (and performs them), but resides in a State which does not recognize such unions. To shed further light upon this issue it is necessary to quote again from the same DHS webpage, quoted above, regarding this issue:

Q2:  My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not.  Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?

A2: Yes, you can file the petition.  In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.

For those wishing to visit the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to learn more please click HERE.

For those unfamiliar with the recent Supreme Court decision striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) it should be pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision did not impact section 2 of DOMA which reads as follows:

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

Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that there are some who argue that section 2 of DOMA violates the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, no Court ruling nor Act of Congress has repealed section 2 of DOMA and, in the words of the DHS website itself, in those “fact-specific” situations in which Section 2 of DOMA may be relevant the provisions of Section 2 could prove detrimental to a same-sex bi-national couple. That being said, according to the DHS website, a petition could still be filed and it would be adjudicated accordingly.

One final point to ponder on this issue is the K-1 visa. Under current United States Immigration law it is possible for an American Citizen to apply for a Fiance Visa, also known as the K-1 visa, for a foreign fiance residing abroad, so long as the couple intends to marry in the United States within 90 days of the foreign fiance’s arrival (other regulations apply to K-1 visa holders, but for the purposes of this analysis they are not necessarily relevant). If a same-sex couple, who are not yet legally married, wishes to obtain a K-1 visa based upon their intention to wed in the United States, then it could be inferred from the DHS Secretary’s statement that they might be adjudicated in the same manner as the same petition for a different-sex couple. However, this should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion because the statements quoted above only pertain specifically to couples who are already married. Neither the Court, nor the DHS, have specifically dealt with the question of those same-sex couples who wish to seek a K1 visa based upon an intention to marry in the USA. It could be inferred from the Court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor that those same-sex couples with the intention to marry in a jurisdiction where same-sex unions are recognized should be granted the same treatment as those different-sex couples in similar circumstances; but the issue has yet to be clearly adjudicated and therefore no completely clear answer arises.

Meanwhile, one significant question remains: based upon the above information how will USCIS adjudicate K-1 visa applications for same-sex couples who wish to travel to the United States to marry in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage, but reside in a State which does not? Hopefully the answer to this question will come soon. Until then it would appear that although DHS clearly intends to adjudicate same-sex married couples’ petitions for immigration benefits in the same way as different-sex couples; it remains to be seen how same sex fiances will be treated in the eyes of U.S. Immigration law.

For information on immigrant visas please see: CR-1 Visa or  IR-1 Visa.

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6th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been noted by various media outlets for launching a new ad campaign to encourage those present in the United States as lawful permanent residents to naturalize to American Citizenship. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is best to quote directly from the website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

NEW YORK – The US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched its first ever paid ad campaign urging roughly 7.9 million green card holders to become naturalized citizens. The $3.5 million multilingual campaign will be used for three years and is part of an $11 million allotment from Congress meant to promote integration of immigrants. This year’s campaign in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese will run in print, radio and digital formats between May 30 and Sept 5, primarily in states with large immigrant populations, such as California, New York, Florida and Texas. ”You’ve got to create that sense of urgency, and until they’ve reached that sense of urgency, they’ll just coast,” Nathan Stiefel, division chief of policy and programs for the Office of Citizenship at USCIS, told the Associated Press…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to American immigration it should be noted that those who enter the United States of America on a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa are accorded lawful permanent residence (also colloquially referred to as Green Card status). After spending a specified period of time physically present in the United States it may be possible for an immigrant to naturalize to American citizenship. There are many benefits to be had by undergoing the naturalization process including, but not limited to: the right to vote, the right to a US Passport, as well as the various privileges and/or immunities of citizenship. Those interested in learning if they are eligible for such benefits are encouraged to contact a licensed American attorney.

In somewhat unrelated news, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Japan is apparently preparing to conduct tests on various nuclear facilities in that country. For further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the Channel News Asia website at ChannelNewsAsia.com:

TOKYO : Japan said Wednesday it will run “stress tests” on all its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident sparked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The ongoing crisis, the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago, has ignited debate in Japan about the safety of nuclear power, which before the disaster accounted for a third of its electricity needs. The centre-left government ordered a round of initial tests on the country’s other atomic power plants after the disaster, and said the new stress tests aimed to reassure the public that the facilities are safe…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click on the appropriate hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

For those unfamiliar with the ongoing situation in Japan it should be noted that an Earthquake which occurred in March of this year resulted in a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima facility noted above. This situation had tremendous ramifications for both the Asia-Pacific region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As this tragic state of affairs continues to play out it is hoped that positive endeavors can mitigate some of the damage caused by this disaster. No doubt the Japanese citizenry remain in the hearts and minds of conscientious people the world over.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization.

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28th May 2011

There are many different visa categories statutorily designed for those wishing to work and/or invest in the United States of America. The very plethora of visa categories can make researching immigration issues somewhat confusing for the layman. One visa category that relatively few prospective visa seekers seem to understand is the Employment Based First Preference Visa Category, or to put it more succinctly: the EB-1 visa. The eligibility criteria for this visa category are somewhat stringent compared to other visa categories. To elucidate this fact it may be best to quote directly from and eligibility chart found by this blogger on the official website of United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) at USCIS.gov:

Categories Description Evidence
Extraordinary Ability You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required. You must meet 3 of 10 criteria* below, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal) 

 

Outstanding professors and researchers You must demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. You must have at least 3 years experience in teaching or research in that academic area. You must be entering the United States in order to pursue tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. You must include documentation of at least two listed below** and an offer of employment from the prospective U.S. employer.
Multinational manager or executive You must have been employed outside the United States in the 3 years preceding the petition for at least 1 year by a firm or corporation and you must be seeking to enter the United States to continue service to that firm or organization. Your employment must have been outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity and with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employer. Your petitioning employer must be a U.S. employer. Your employer must have been doing business for at least 1 year, as an affiliate, a subsidiary, or as the same corporation or other legal entity that employed you abroad.

Readers should be aware that the above citation is not intended to be utilized as an exhaustive tool for determining EB-1 visa eligibility, but the chart above does shed light upon some of the overall eligibility criteria which will likely be scrutinized during adjudication of a petition.

There are many factors which must be taken into consideration during the adjudication of an Employment Based visa petition. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that there is another visa category classified as EB that is sometimes discussed within these pages. That specific visa is the EB-5 visa which was designed for prospective immigrants wishing to come to the United States to make a substantial investment in the American economy. In the case of the EB-1 visa, the prospective visa holder would be asked to make an investment of sorts in that their extraordinary abilities would be invested in the United States as a likely consequence of issuance of a United States travel document which grants lawful permanent residence to the bearer upon lawful admission to the US by officers of the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP).

Readers should be aware that often USCIS adjudication is not the only phase of the EB visa process as Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad may also be required depending upon the unique circumstances of a given case.

For Information Related To Family Based Visa Petitions Please See: US Visa Thailand.

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14th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some have criticized the current process associated with adjudication and issuance of United States visas. Notably, it would seem that this criticism is mostly concerned with non-immigrant visas such as the B-2 visa (US tourist visa) and the B-1 visa (US business visa). To quote directly from a Reuters story posted on the website airwise.com:

The complicated US visa system hurts tourism and must be reformed if the United States wants to attract lucrative tourism from countries such as China, India and Brazil, travel industry officials said…

Readers of this blog are encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail and also gain greater insight into this developing issue.

At the time of this writing the United States maintains a system which allows for some nations to receive admission to the USA through a visa waiver program. As noted above: China, India, and Brazil are not included in the visa waiver program. This situation exists notwithstanding the fact that these three nations in association with two others (South Africa and Russia) compose the so-called BRICS group of developing countries with what some would claim is a virtually unlimited capacity for economic growth in the future.

This visa waiver program also entails the so-called “ESTA” (Electronic System For Travel Authorization) program, which requires foreign nationals to pre-register for admission to the United States before beginning their journey to America. It should be noted that in its current form the ESTA program only pertains to nationals from visa waiver participating countries. Therefore, nationals from countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Kingdom of Thailand cannot benefit from the visa waiver program and the ESTA program as of the time of this writing.

Those interested in further information on such topics are encouraged to visit a few official websites: HERE and HERE. To quote further from the aforementioned piece:

“The challenge we have is the unnecessary, burdensome US visa system,” said USTA president Roger Dow. “It’s really self-imposed barriers that we put on ourselves as a country that have caused us to lose international travel and that have stymied international growth.”

This blogger has heard this argument made in the past and it is certainly salient especially at a time when tourism income is in high demand in an international context. To continue quoting further:

The US visa process from beginning to end can take as long as 145 days in Brazil and 120 days in China, a USTA report said. In contrast, Britain takes an average of 12 days to process visas in Brazil and 11 days in China…

Clearly, the visa processing time differential between the United States and the somewhat similarly socioeconomically situated United Kingdom is a stark contrast. To quote further:

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs a subcommittee focused on export promotion and competitiveness, said the travel industry was important to help President Barack Obama meet his stated goal of doubling exports by 2014. “We see it as part of our economic recovery. I see this as a way to get jobs in our country,” Klobuchar said…

It is refreshing to see a federal legislator like Senator Amy Klobucher from the sovereign State of Minnesota taking the time to investigate an issue that may, at first glance, seem mundane. In point of fact, matters pertaining to United States non-immigrant visas are extremely important as they can have a significant impact upon foreign direct investment in the United States and the amount of money raised by American companies and enterprises offering services to foreign nationals both in the USA and abroad. Finally, a legislator trying to find reasonable solutions to American economic concerns in a reasonable manner! America: Let us not forget, we are one of the most historically fascinating and economically dynamic nations ever to have made our voices heard in the chorus of history. Why do we forget this? We seem to find ourselves constantly debating the minutia of our past transgressions or the history of our geopolitically unique grouping of jurisdictions. We do this when solutions to some of the current economic problems stare us in the face. The reality is that there are many around the world who wish to do business with those in the United States of America. There are many who want to buy our products. There currently exists the distinct possibility that the continent of Asia will have a constantly growing middle class of prospective international travelers for decades into the future. These travelers will likely be traveling for both business as well as pleasure. It stands to reason that many prospective tourists from Asia will make their initial international travel decisions with great care. Therefore, America should continue to be mindful of the fact there exists an international competitive market for income generated from tourism.  It stands to reason that more tourists in America means more tourism income.

From a legal perspective there is something to be said for allowing further membership in the United States visa waiver program as it would lead to fewer overall denied visa applications based upon section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Currently, many tourist visa applications are denied pursuant to a presumption in the aforementioned section of U.S. law. This section requires Consular Officers to make the factual presumption that a tourist visa applicant is actually an intending American immigrant unless the applicant can produce sufficient evidence to overcome this presumption. The visa waiver program gets around this 214(b) presumption by waiving the need for an American visa. Simultaneously, the visa waiver program also restricts those foreign nationals admitted into the United States from adjusting status to lawful permanent residence. One may adjust one’s status to lawful permanent residence (Green Card status) from tourist visa status in the U.S.A. under very limited circumstances. The visa waiver program does not permit such adjustment and therefore requires those foreign nationals seeking immigrant status to depart the United States and undergo Consular Processing abroad.

It remains to be seen whether or not US visa policy regarding non-immigrant visas such as those described above will be changed, but clearly there is some momentum behind this rather important issue in Washington D.C.

For related information please see: K-1 visa system, K-3 visa system, or US Company Registration.

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3rd May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the media mogul and Mayor of the City of New York Michael Bloomberg has been noted for remarks about the beneficial aspects of immigration to America. To quote directly from the website myfoxny.com:

WASHINGTON – Detroit should take a page from Lady Liberty and shine a beacon of welcome to immigrants as a way to overcome its severe population loss, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

For those who follow this blog with any frequency it should be noted that New York has recently seen efforts by the attorney generals of that State to decrease the amount of immigration fraud in the form of illegitimate operators claiming expertise in U.S. immigration matters. It would appear that the city of Detroit has encountered much economic turbulence as a result of recent economic downturns. Meanwhile, there can be significant benefits to a national economy to be had through effective immigration policies. To quote further from the aforementioned article:

Bloomberg’s prescription for Detroit’s salvation came in a discussion about what he called a “crisis of confidence” among business people about the nation’s economy. Bloomberg said the “most obvious” answer is to encourage immigration.

“This is a country that was built by immigrants … that became a superpower because of its immigrant population, and unless we continue to have immigrants, we cannot maintain as a superpower,” he said.

Virtually all Americans are descended from those who immigrated to the United States of America. In a modern context, there are many visa categories available to prospective immigrants who are interested in conducting business in America. For example, the EB-5 visa provides lawful permanent residence to the visa holder upon lawful admission to the United States. Furthermore, the E-2 visa may allow for non-immigrant visa benefits to those foreign nationals conducting business pursuant to a Treaty with the United States. In the context of Thailand, there may be visa benefits which can be acquired pursuant to the bi-lateral relationship between the USA and Thailand as codified in agreements such as the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. Some may be eligible for similar benefits in the form of the E-1 visa. Those working for a multi-national organization may be eligible to obtain an L-1 visa as an intra-company transferee either in the form of an L-1A visa or an L-1B visa, depending upon the factual circumstances of the case.

Clearly, there are benefits to be accrued to those immigrating to the USA. Concurrently, there may also be benefits to the American economy and the American People as a result of immigration to the USA by foreign nationals.

For related information please see: US lawyer or US business visa.

 

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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 August 2010

United States Citizenship is the highest lawful status that one can reach in the USA, from an Immigration perspective. Many people from around the world seek visas, travel documents, and permanent residence in the United States. Of the relative few who obtain lawful status in the United States, even fewer ultimately naturalize to US Citizenship. American Citizenship accords the Citizen with voting rights, work authorization, and virtually unfettered travel rights within the United States of America. That said, there are some situations where an American Citizen seeks to renounce their United States Citizenship. In a recent article from the New York Times it was noted that citizenship renunciation seems to be on the rise. To quote the article directly:

Amid mounting frustration over taxation and banking problems, small but growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship.

“What we have seen is a substantial change in mentality among the overseas community in the past two years,” said Jackie Bugnion, director of American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group based in Geneva. “Before, no one would dare mention to other Americans that they were even thinking of renouncing their U.S. nationality. Now, it is an openly discussed issue.”

The Federal Register, the government publication that records such decisions, shows that 502 expatriates gave up their U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status in the last quarter of 2009. That is a tiny portion of the 5.2 million Americans estimated by the State Department to be living abroad.

There are a significant number of American expatriates living throughout the world and it should be noted that not all of these individuals wish to renounce their US Citizenship. However the New York Times went on to point out:

Still, 502 was the largest quarterly figure in years, more than twice the total for all of 2008, and it looms larger, given how agonizing the decision can be. There were 235 renunciations in 2008 and 743 last year. Waiting periods to meet with consular officers to formalize renunciations have grown.

Anecdotally, frustrations over tax and banking questions, not political considerations, appear to be the main drivers of the surge. Expat advocates say that as it becomes more difficult for Americans to live and work abroad, it will become harder for American companies to compete.

Increasingly, international banks and financial institutions are finding it difficult to deal with some American financial regulations. That said, most American expatriates (or expats) seem to be more frustrated by American tax policy rather than American financial restrictions. The New York Times went on to note:

American expats have long complained that the United States is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad, even when they are taxed in their country of residence, though they are allowed to exclude their first $91,400 in foreign-earned income.

One Swiss-based business executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of sensitive family issues, said she weighed the decision for 10 years. She had lived abroad for years but had pleasant memories of service in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Yet the notion of double taxation — and of future tax obligations for her children, who will receive few U.S. services — finally pushed her to renounce, she said.

“I loved my time in the Marines, and the U.S. is still a great country,” she said. “But having lived here 20 years and having to pay and file while seeing other countries’ nationals not having to do that, I just think it’s grossly unfair.”

“It’s taxation without representation,” she added.

Stringent new banking regulations — aimed both at curbing tax evasion and, under the Patriot Act, preventing money from flowing to terrorist groups — have inadvertently made it harder for some expats to keep bank accounts in the United States and in some cases abroad.

Some U.S.-based banks have closed expats’ accounts because of difficulty in certifying that the holders still maintain U.S. addresses, as required by a Patriot Act provision.

Even though tax considerations, for both individuals in the present and for those in the future, may be enough for some to renounce their United States Citizenship it would seem that many Americans feel as if renunciation of United States Citizenship is a very drastic measure that should not be taken lightly. Those thinking about giving up their US Citizenship are well advised to seek competent counsel from a US Immigration attorney in order to ascertain all of the relevant ramifications of such a significant decision. Those thinking of renouncing their United States Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) might also find it useful to seek the advice of a competent attorney who can explain the legal issues that arise as a result of giving up American LPR status.

For related information please see: I-407 or naturalization.

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14th August 2010

This author recently came across the following information regarding petitions submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The following is a direct quotation from a press release from the Organization of American States distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

On December 27, 2002 and July 17, 2003, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Inter-American Commission” or the “IACHR”) received petitions from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the law firm of Gibbs Houston Pauw, and the Center for Human Rights and Justice (“the petitioners”) against the Government of the United States (“the State” or “United States”) on behalf of Wayne Smith and his children and Hugo Armendariz and his children, respectively, (hereinafter collectively the “alleged victims”) in relation to Mr. Smith and Mr. Armendariz’s deportation from the United States. According to the petitions, the State violated the alleged victims’ rights protected under Articles I (right to life, liberty and personal security), V (right  to private and family life), VI (right to family), VII (right to protection for mothers and children), IX (right to inviolability of the home), XVIII (right to fair trial) and XXVI (right to due process of law) of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (the “American Declaration”).

Deportation, also referred to as removal, is the process whereby foreign national(s) residing or remaining temporarily in the United States, either lawfully or unlawfully, are sent back to their home country (or another country outside of the United states) usually following proceedings in which a tribunal adjudicates the legality of a foreign national’s presence in the United States. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

Regarding the merits of the case, the petitioners allege that Messrs. Smith and Armendariz, both of whom were legal permanent residents in the United States, were subjected to deportation without permitting them to present a meaningful defense in administrative and judicial courts, including the following alleged internationally-required consideration of humanitarian equities to deportation: the alleged victims’ length of legal residency in the United States; the alleged victims’ family ties in the United States; the potential hardship on the family members left behind in the United States; the alleged victims’ links with their countries of origin; the extent of the alleged victims’ rehabilitation and social contribution to the United States; any medical or psychological considerations; and the gravity of the alleged victims’ offense and the age when it was committed.

Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) is a legal status in the United States also referred to as “Green Card” status. Those American Citizens married to a foreign national often seek a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa in order to obtain the benefits of lawful permanent residence for their foreign loved one(s). Under certain circumstances an alien present in the United States in lawful permanent resident status can be stripped of said status if they have committed certain “aggravated” criminal offenses or other acts which are deemed to be grounds for removal from the USA, or grounds of inadmissibility to the United States (if the LPR has been abroad and is seeking readmission to the USA or if State law allows activity which Federal law deems to be a legal grounds of inadmissibility) . To further quote the aforementioned press release:

In its response on the merits, the State asserts that under international law each sovereign nation has the right to establish reasonable, objective immigration laws that govern the circumstances under which non-citizens may reside in its country. From this principle, the State argues that the statutory scheme established by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (hereinafter “IIRIRA”) and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (hereinafter “AEDPA”) is a reasonable exercise of sovereign authority to protect U.S. citizens and other non-citizens alike who reside in the United States. Under IIRIRA and AEDPA, a legal permanent resident who has been convicted of an “aggravated felony,” is deportable without the opportunity of receiving a waiver of deportation from an immigration or federal judge. In addition, the State asserts that the petitioners interpret the relevant articles under the American Declaration too expansively and that they fail to recognize the proviso in Article XXVIII of the American Declaration, which permits Member States under certain circumstances to curtail a person’s individual rights in order to preserve the rights and security of others. The State asserts that the mandatory deportation of a non-citizen convicted of an “aggravated felony” is such a circumstance.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) is a significant piece of Immigration legislation in that it changed some of the procedures relevant to removal. Specifically, expedited removal, a comparatively quick removal proceeding often conducted by Officers of the Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP), was essentially created by the  provisions of the IIRAIRA. In recent years, some believe that deportation of “aggravated felons” in LPR status has increased, but that some of those removed from the USA have had certain due process rights violated in the course of their removal. The case in question seems to rely upon arguments based upon this supposition. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

After having reviewed the positions of the parties and their accompanying evidence, the IACHR concludes that the United States is responsible for violations of Wayne Smith and Hugo Armendariz’s rights protected under Articles V, VI, VII, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration. The Inter-American Commission further concludes that it is well-recognized under international law that a Member State must provide non-citizen residents an opportunity to present a defense against deportation based on humanitarian and other considerations, such as the rights protected under Articles V, VI, and VII of the American Declaration. Each Member State’s administrative or judicial bodies, charged with reviewing deportation orders, must be permitted to give meaningful
consideration to a non-citizen resident’s defense, balance it against the State’s sovereign right to enforce reasonable, objective immigration policy, and provided effective relief from deportation if merited. The United States did not follow these international norms in the present case. The IACHR presents its recommendations to the State regarding these violations of the American Declaration.

One can speculate as to the ultimate result of the above decision by the IACHR as the above finding could have implications  in future removal proceedings as agents of the United States government as well as Immigration adjudicators may be required to provide future prospective deportees with an opportunity to form a defense strategy based upon humanitarian considerations. The exact nature of future defenses based upon humanitarian grounds remains to be seen, but this finding may place more rights in the hands of those foreign nationals in American removal proceedings.

For related information please see: I-601 waiver.

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2nd July 2010

Those American Immigrants who remain outside of the United States for prolonged periods are strongly advised to either obtain a Re-Entry Permit or make certain that their absences from the United States comport with their lawful status in the USA. That said, in those cases where a lawful permanent resident has been overseas for a long period of time and wishes to go back to the United States for purposes of reestablishing their residence they may opt to apply for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa.

Recently the Department of State announced changes to the Foreign Affairs Manual’s guidelines for issuance of SB-1 visas the following is a direct quote from the aforementioned announcement made available by AILA:

9 FAM 42.22 Notes has been updated to provide guidance on the processing of applications for special immigrant Returning Resident (SB) visas for lawful permanent resident (LPR) aliens who were unable to return to the United States within the validity of their I‐551 Permanent Resident Card or reentry permit. The guidance covers where applicants are able to file their DS‐117 Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, how post should process such applications, and new procedures for the creation of a permanent refusal record for denied DS‐117 applications.

Returning Residents must have their case re-adjudicated by a Consular Officer prior to returning to the USA to take up residence. The announcement went on to further note:

You [the Consular Officer] must conduct a personal interview with the applicant to determine whether the application for Returning Resident status is approvable…If you determine that the applicant has provided sufficient justification and evidence in accordance with 9 FAM 42.22 N1.1‐7, then you must obtain supervisory approval from a consular manager, mark form DS‐117 as approved, open a case in Immigrant Visa Overseas (IVO), and scan in the approved form DS‐117 and supporting documents…If the application is denied, you should enter [redacted] scanned copies of form DS‐117 and all supporting documents, and also enter notes supporting the denial decision.

As this author has stated repeatedly on this blog, those who may be outside of the United States of America for a period lasting longer than 6 months are well advised to apply for, and hopefully obtain, a US reentry permit. This travel document would allow the lawful permanent resident to remain abroad for up to two years without raising the presumption of residential abandonment. That said, there are always extenuating circumstances where an individual was unable to obtain a reentry permit and thereby placed their lawful status in jeopardy. For these individuals, an SB-1 visa may be the necessary travel document to reestablish lawful status.

For further reading about Consular Processing at the US Embassy in Bangkok please see: US Embassy Thailand.

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