Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Tourist Visa’

31st July 2013

The administration of this blog periodically posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Embassies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region in order to provide a level of convenience to Americans traveling in the area. The following holiday closing schedule was quoted directly from the official website of the US Embassy in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar):

Date Day U.S.* Burmese**
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day
January 4 Friday Independence Day
January 21 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday
February 12 Tuesday Union Day
February 18 Monday President’s Day
March 27 Wednesday Armed Forces Day
April 15 Monday THINGYAN (Water Festival)
April 16 Tuesday THINGYAN (Water Festival)
April 17 Wednesday Burmese New Year
May 1 Wednesday Workers’ Day
May 27 Monday Memorial Day
July 4 Thursday Independence Day
July 19 Friday Martyrs’ Day
July 22 Monday Full Moon of Waso
September 2 Monday Labor Day
October 14 Monday Columbus Day
November 11 Monday Veteran’s Day
November 27 Wednesday National Day
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day Christmas Day

Many Americans traveling abroad find that it is necessary to travel to an American Embassy or Consulate in order to request services such as Passport renewal, adding of visa pages, notarial services, or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Many of these requests can be made at an American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy or US Consulate-General.

Meanwhile, every year many foreign nationals from around the globe travel to American posts abroad to apply for visas and other travel documents granting permission to travel to the United States. Some visa seekers only wish to remain temporarily in the US on non-immigrant visas such as the B-1 visa (Business Visa), the B-2 visa (Tourist Visa), the F-1 visa (Student Visa), or the J-1 visa (Exchange worker visa). Generally, applications for the aforementioned visa categories can be made at a non-immigrant visa unit within the Consular Section of the US Embassy or US Consulate-General. Applicants are usually required to make an appointment in advance to apply for these types of visas.

Some foreign nationals wish to travel to the United States for business purposes. Depending upon the circumstances of the individual applying for admission to the USA, a business traveler may be issued a non-immigrant or an immigrant visa. The L-1 visa, the E-1 visa, the E-2 visa, the EB-5 visa, the EB-4 visa, the EB-3 visa, the EB-2 visa, the EB-1 visa, and the H-1B visa are all business visa categories commonly sought by foreign nationals. Generally, a business travel unit  within the Consular Section of a US Embassy or Consulate-General abroad is responsible for adjudicating such applications.

Some foreign nationals seek visa benefits based upon a relationship to a US Citizen or lawful permanent resident. One of the most commonly sought US family based visas is the immigrant visa based upon marriage to an American Citizen, these types of visas are generally classified as a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa. Fiancees of US Citizens may be eligible to apply for a K-1 visa (US fiance visa). Furthermore, those married to Americans sometimes seek a US K-3 visa. K-1 visas and K-3 visas are generally adjudicated by an Immigrant visa unit, notwithstanding the fact that they are non-immigrant visa categories as they are treated as immigrant visas since the applicants have immigrant intent.

For related information please see: US Immigration Asia.

 

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20th February 2012

In previous postings on this web log the issue of a single travel document for use throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been discussed. ASEAN includes many of the nations which comprise Southeast Asia including: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. At the present time, it is not possible to obtain a visa or travel document which would allow entry into all of these nations as travelers must obtain a visa for each individual country before traveling thereto (in some cases, visas on arrival or visa exemptions may be obtained depending upon the local immigration rules and the passport holder’s nationality). Many travelers find that this situation can make traveling in Southeast Asia rather difficult as obtaining multiple visas from multiple Embassies and/or Consulates can be a time consuming endeavor. In an effort to remedy this situation, many of the ASEAN nations have voiced support for a single ASEAN visa scheme. However, efforts to implement a single ASEAN visa program have yet to bear fruit. Recently, it came to this blogger’s attention that the Vice-President of Indonesia has made comments in support of further efforts to facilitate a single ASEAN visa program. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from a January 13th article posted on the website Philstar.com:

JAKARTA (Xinhua) – Indonesian Vice President Boediono asks the ASEAN to speed up implementation of a joint visa for the region in order to boost the number of foreign tourist arrivals and services in the industry in the region amid the global economic crisis threat, a statement from the vice presidential office said here on Friday…”The goal that we want to reach is not only the increasing number of tourist but also the improved quality of services and the sustainability of the visits,” Boediono said…ASEAN leaders had given commitment for the implementation of the facility during the 11th ASEAN Summit in Bali in Nov. 2011.

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlink noted above to read this article in full.

There is little doubt that a single ASEAN visa scheme would provide benefits to ASEAN members in the form of increased tourism especially for destinations that are sometimes overlooked by travelers put off by the prospect of processing more than one visa application. One could also speculate that a single ASEAN visa would be beneficial to business travelers wishing to visit more than one ASEAN jurisdiction.

Currently, it does not appear as though a single ASEAN visa scheme will be implemented in the near future, but there is room to hope that progress will be made as it appears there are many officials in the region who support the notion of a single ASEAN visa, at least conceptually. Meanwhile, issues associated with visa procurement in Southeast Asia are evolving. To shed further light upon recent developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website Eturbonews.com:

For now, non-ASEAN travelers have to play with different rules for almost each country…Myanmar just announced at the end of last month to implement e-visa facilities and relax entry into the country.

In an interview conducted by the Myanmar Times newspaper, Union Minister U Tint San declared on February 1 that the government will try to introduce an e-visa system from March that would allow international visitors to apply from anywhere via the Internet before visiting Myanmar. In parallel, the e-visa would allow travelers to enter or exit from any border crossing point. The web address for the proposed e-visa site is www.myanmarevisa.gov.mm . At ATF, Phyoe Wai Yarzar, Secretary of the newly-formed Myanmar Tourist Board, explained that e-visa facilities would, in fact, be the most efficient way for the government to balance the absence of diplomatic representations.

They are also rumors that Vietnam would work on a e-visa solution. There is already the possibility of getting a pre- E-visa clearance in certain cases. But the procedure remains expensive and on a case-by-case basis. Officials from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism admitted during the ATF that lengthy visa formalities are certainly a major handicap to the development of tourism. Nothing official has been announced so far, but it seems that the government seems to realize that it has to change the way visa is provided if Vietnam does not want to lose out tourists to other destinations.

The administration of this web log encourages readers to visit the hyperlink noted above to read this article in detail.

In the past, the process for obtaining a visa to enter Myanmar (Burma) could be quite cumbersome. It has been this blogger’s relatively recent experience that obtaining a Myanmar visa is somewhat time consuming, but not particularly difficult compared to visa procurement for other nations in the region. Hopefully, the developments mentioned above will lead to further streamlining of visa processing for those wishing to enter countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma).

Although it remains to be seen when a single ASEAN visa scheme will be fully implemented ASEAN members appear committed to such an endeavor which will likely provide benefits for all concerned.

For related information please see: Thailand visa

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23rd March 2010

This author has been increasingly asked about the impact of recent political demonstrations upon those living in Bangkok. From personal experience, this author must admit that the demonstrations have had little or no impact upon living conditions in Bangkok. That being said, it appears that the recent protests are having an effect upon the Thai tourist industry.

In a recent posting on Thaivisa.com the issue of the protests and the detrimental effect they are having on the Tourism industry was discussed:

“The Thai Hotels Association said Thursday that room cancellations in Bangkok have been made at about 1,000 rooms per day, although the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has assessed Red Shirt demonstration in the capital has not had a great impact on tourism so far. Thai Hotels Association director Sakrin Chorsawai said the demonstration has affected tourism operators, particularly in hotel businesses in Bangkok. A significant drop in the number of foreign tourists was seen and room reservations fell some 10-20 per cent. About 1,000 rooms were canceled daily on average as tourists feared possible violence during the mass demonstrations, in particular from March 12-23, Mr Sakrin said. However, tourism operators in other regions have not been affected, and are enjoying a normal rate of hotel bookings, he said. Local tourists, who are worried about the political situation, do not travel. If the demonstration is prolonged, its negative effects on tourism will be clearly seen, said Mr Sakrin. Meanwhile, TAT director Surapol Svetasreni said the tourism in January and February had recovered but since the Red Shirt protest began in Bangkok last week, the national agency is vigilant on the current situation to alleviate and to minimise possible effects on tourism. TAT’s promotional campaign this year still focuses on overseas roadshows and targets the number of foreign tourists at 15 million people in 2010.”

Although room cancellations may be attributable to the protests, this author believes that other factors may explain the recent downturn in Thai tourism overall. In a previous post, it was noted that the free Thai tourist visa scheme had come to an end. Subsequent to that posting, it was reported that the Thai visa fee waiver would go back into effect for Tourist visas beginning on April 1st of 2010. However, this left a window of about one month in which Thai tourist visas would not be granted free of charge. There is a possibility that some of those planning to tour Thailand are awaiting the re-institution of the free tourist visa scheme. This is mere speculation on the part of this author, but it may be the case.

For more information about Thai Immigration generally please see: Thailand visa.

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12th December 2009

After the tragedy of 9/11 many changes were made with regard to Homeland Security. Specifically, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created and many tasks previously undertaken by other agencies were brought under the jurisdiction of DHS. One example is the United States Customs Service which was reincorporated into the Department of Homeland Security as the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service. This agency is responsible for patrolling the borders and ports of entry to the United States of America. They are also responsible for screening those who enter the United States of America either on a US passport, US visa, or US visa waiver. CBP plays an integral part in the US Immigration process.

Prior to this publication, there has been a rumor circulating that those who wish to enter the United States of America must fist obtain a vaccination for the H1N1 influenza vaccination. As a matter of fact, this is not true. Apparently this rumor is unfounded. AILA has provided a quote from a statement from the Customs and Border Protection Service:

“[United States] Customs and Border Protection would like to address rumors regarding U.S. entry requirements and the H1N1 virus: Travelers do NOT need to present proof that they received the H1N1 flu vaccine in order to enter the United States. No such vaccination requirement exists. Travelers are encouraged to visit the Department of Health and Human Services Flu Web site for current information on seasonal flu prevention, and the “Know Before You Go” section under the Travel tab of the CBP Web site for helpful traveler tips.”

For those seeking entry to the United States a flu vaccination is not required at this time.

In recent years CBP has been granted more and more authority to deal with real time situations. This leads many to wonder just how much authority CBP has. This is an interesting question as they are given major discretionary powers with regard to those seeking entry to the United States. For example, CBP is authorized to place foreign nationals into expedited removal (deportation) proceedings if they deem it necessary. One who has been removed through expedited removal could be barred from reentering the USA for as long as five years. That being said, this only seems to come up in the context of US Family Immigration when the loved one of a US Citizen is improperly using a US tourist visa for undisclosed immigration purposes. In situations such as this, CBP may feel it necessary to use expedited removal to send the subject back to their home country. Therefore it is usually wise to process things correctly and utilize the proper visa for a loved one traveling to the United States.

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7th November 2009

The passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (“IIRIRA”) has had ramifications that routinely affect immigrants and non-immigrant entrants attempting to enter the US even today. This legislation greatly changed United States Immigration law and procedure.  At the time, IIRIRA was intended to target illegal immigration to the USA. Unfortunately, many of the provisions contained in IIRIRAhave had a critical impact upon legal immigration to the US. This article will explain one of the major powers granted to Customs and Border Protection Officers under IIRIRA: Expedited Removal

When IIRAIRA was passed its provisions Amended section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow for the expedited deportation of foreign nationals who could be deemed inadmissible under either section 212(a)(6)(C) (fraud or misrepresentation) or section 212(a)(7) (lack of documentation) of the INA. The provisions do not call for the decision to be subject to appeal and as a result, a foreign national subjected to expedited removal does not enjoy the same level of due process that most American Citizens take for granted.

If one is subjected to expedited removal, then that alien cannot gain admission to the USA for a period of 5 years. If the alien is subsequently expeditiously removed, then they will be inadmissible to the USA for 20 years. If an alien is subjected to expedited removal, it may be possible for the alien to reenter the USA within their period of inadmissibility, but the alien must first apply for advance permission to reenter the USA, which is akin to an I-601 waiver in that the advance permission must be granted before the alien will be given leave to reenter the country.

Expedited removal should be of particular interest to those seeking to bring their Thai fiancee or spouse to the US on a tourist visa. It is a common misconception that tourist visas can be used to bring a significant other to the US to marry and apply for adjustment of status. Firstly, the US tourist visa is not a dual intent travel document. A tourist visa is intended strictly for those with non-immgrant intent. Therefore, it is unlawful for a foreign fiancee to travel to the USA with undisclosed immigrant intent. That being said, as a practical matter this does happen.  The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service can use expedited removal to turn away those attempting to enter the US on a tourist visa if they suspect that the entrant has undisclosed immigrant intent pursuant to section 212(a)(7) of the INA.

This author, along with colleagues in Southeast Asia, has noticed a recent rise in the number of expedited removals of Thais initiated by CBP. In nearly every case, the Thai being removed was the significant other of a US citizen. The Thai nationals removed in these cases were traveling to the US on either a tourist visa or a student visa. Due to this seemingly new trend, it is now more imperative than ever for Thai fiancees and wives of Americans to use the proper K1 fiance visa, K3 marriage visa, or Immigrant visa to travel to the United States.

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11th September 2009

On this website, there is a great deal of information regarding I-601 waivers and grounds of inadmissibility.  However, there are other situations where a foreign national can be barred from reentering the United States of America. For example, where an alien has been deported or removed from the United States, they are usually subject to a reentry ban for a statutorily specified period of time. If a foreign national has been previously deported or removed from the United States, then that person must submit an I-212 application to reapply for admission to the United States (also known as advance permission to reenter).

Deportation and removal are technically the same thing as the terms can be used interchangeably. That being said, forms of removal from the United States should be looked at on a kind of legal spectrum. What is commonly referred to as “Deportation” occurs after a finding by an Immigration Judge that a person should be removed from the United States of America. Another form of removal is known as “expedited removal” this commonly occurs at a port of entry in the United States where a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer finds that an applicant for admission is not fit for entry under one or more of the  provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. In many situations, a Border Patrol Officer will allow an applicant for admission to voluntarily withdraw their application and return to the point of origin. In this situation, which is akin to voluntary departure, the applicant’s US Immigration record is not adversely affected. However, it is within the officer’s discretion to place the alien in expedited deportation proceedings and thereby have them removed from the United States.

When an alien is removed from the United States through the use of expedited deportation, that alien is barred from reentering the United States without first receiving approval of the aforementioned statutorily mandated I-212 petition. These applications are somewhat similar to I-601 waivers in that the applicant must show something  like extreme hardship to a United States Citizen would occur if the application were denied and the applicant remained inadmissible.

Avoiding expedited deportation at a port of entry (and the consequences arising therefrom) is just another reason why visa seekers should apply for a visa which comports with their intent. One who is viewed as using a United States tourist visa improperly (hiding their intention to marry in the US and adjust status) could be placed in expedited deportation proceedings. If removed, then a great deal of time and resources would need to be expended to deal with the inadmissibility. Therefore, it is not only ethically incumbent upon all applicants to be honest in their immigration endeavors, but it is also practical because avoiding expedited deportation is a great benefit from a long term perspective.

For the above described reasons, those wishing to bring a Thai loved one to the United States for the purpose of marriage are encouraged to utilize a K1 visa for this purpose as a fiance visa is the appropriate travel document reflecting the couple’s true intentions. For those already married, a CR1 visa or a K 3 visa is preferable to a tourist visa if adjustment of status is the ultimate goal.

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2nd May 2009

Although The Integrity Legal offices are located in Bangkok, Thailand, we do receive inquiries regarding Consular processing at the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. Generally we do not have much contact with that post because their activities with regard to US Visas is somewhat limited in comparison to the US Embassy in Bangkok. This post is meant to provide some insight about the US Consulate in Chiang Mai.

A Consulate with History

The United States Consulate in Chiang Mai is one of the few historical buildings used by the American State Department to house a diplomatic post. The consulate does business in the former royal residence of the Lanna Thai Kingdom, that until 1933, was a tributary state of the Kingdom of Thailand (then Siam).

Activities of The Consulate

Currently the consulate only processes non-immigrant visas. Therefore in order to obtain a CR-1 or an IR-1 visa, one must go to the US Embassy in Bangkok. It is also advisable to use the Bangkok Embassy with regard to the US K1 Visa and the K3 Visa because it will likely be the place where the application is adjudicated. For US citizens wishing to file a USCIS petition locally then the local Bangkok USCIS office will be where the petition must be filed.

This post primarily processes non-immigrant visa categories that are not family based. As a result, The Consulate mostly processes Tourist and Student Visas.

As with most any consular post, the consul can act as a notary so notarial services are carried out at the post as well as consular reports of birth abroad which is a document that is something akin to a birth certificate. Th consulate also creates affidavits confirming the right to marry. The consulate also replaces passports and can add additional visa pages to an American’s passport.

A question often posed by both Americans and others: does the US have honorary consul in Thailand or elsewhere? The short answer to this question: No. It is US policy to not place honorary consulates in other countries.  Although many countries will appoint honorary diplomats, the US feels that these services should be performed by professional diplomats.

For more infrmation about the US Consulate in Chiang Mai, please see the official website here

For more on US Immigration from Thailand, please see US visa Thailand

(Note: Nothing stated in this post or elsewhere on this site or blog should be used as a substitute for individual legal advice from a competent attorney. No attorney client privilege, express or implied, shall be created between the reader and author of this post)

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