Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘United States Immigration’

19th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the naval chiefs of the nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are set to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam in upcoming days. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

HANOI – The 5th ASEAN Naval Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM-5) will be held in Vietnam on July 26-29, with participation of naval commanders from nine ASEAN member countries and the Lao defense attache in Vietnam. According to Vietnam News Agency on Tuesday, it is the first time Vietnam hosts such defense cooperation event, during which delegates will share views and discuss cooperative measures to respond to security challenges in the region, among other issues…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this insightful article.

This news comes upon the heels of news that the American President is scheduled to attend an upcoming ASEAN meeting. Meanwhile, ASEAN leaders are apparently in continued discussion regarding a communique pertaining to the South China Sea. Finally, it would appear as though there may be further discussion regarding an ASEAN visa which would operate in a similar manner to the Schengen Visa. How all of these developments will ultimately play out remains to be seen, but they are certainly of interest for those in the region.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT Equality this blogger recently came upon an interesting posting discussing the current legal position of the LGBT community in light of continued enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from a posting by Peter J Reilly on the official website of Forbes, Forbes.com:

One of my earliest and most popular (pre-Forbes) posts was on the case of Rhiannon G. O’Donnabhain, who wanted to deduct the cost of gender reassignment surgery as a medical expense.  The IRS argued that the procedure was “cosmetic surgery” and not deductible.  Ms. O’Donnabhain prevailed.  Then came Gill V OPM.  As I noted in my inaugural Forbes post, marital status impact over 1,000 “benefits, rights and privileges” in the United States Code.  Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) holds that a couple is not married for any federal purpose unless they are of the opposite gender and that the word spouse means a person of the opposite gender.  In Gill v OPM a district court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA had no rational basis.  There were several plaintiffs in Gill, all legally married in Massachusetts, arguing for a variety of benefits including that of filing a joint return…

Those interested in such issues are strongly encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this interesting posting in detail.

Section 3 of DOMA also has significant ramifications in an American immigration context as even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in a State which legalizes such unions cannot use said marriage as a basis to petition for spouse visa benefits (such as the CR-1 visa and the IR-1 visa). Concurrently, as such unions are not recognized by the United States federal government a petition for a same sex K-1 visa would also not be permissible so long as DOMA remains in place.  Bearing that in mind the reader should note that legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda have introduced legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and the Reuniting Families Act in order to provide some sort of remedy for the current discrimination being borne by same sex bi-national couples and the LGBT community as whole. As of the time of this writing none of the above legislation has seen passage although with an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing set to discuss DOMA there is hope that this discrimination will not continue indefinitely.

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30th October 2010

In recent weeks, some websites have been abuzz with information pertaining to a recent memorandum from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which discussed Social Media platforms and their relevance in the context of United States Immigration.  To quote sections of the memo directly, as posted on the EFF.org (Electronic Frontier Foundation) website:

The Internet has made it increasingly easier for people to get connected with each other whether that is with long-distance family, fiiends [sic], or to find new loves and friendships. Social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Classmates, Hi-5, and other similar sites are designed to allow people to share their creativity, pictures, and information with others. Sometimes people do this to find romance, sometimes they do it to find fiiends [sic] with similar interests, and sometimes they do it to keep in touch with family…This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities. Generally, people on these sites speak honestly in their network because all of their friends and family are interacting with them via lM’s (Instant Messages), Blogs (Weblog journals), etc. This social networking gives FDNS an opportunity to reveal fraud by browsing these sites to see if petitioners and beneficiaries are in a valid relationship or are attempting to deceive CIS about their relationship.

Visa and Immigration Fraud are fundamental concerns of the Department of Homeland Security, the USCIS, and Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS). Therefore, investigation into the bona fides of a relationship that is the basis for submission of a visa petition can be rather routine in circumstances where a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident has submitted a petition for immigration benefits on behalf of a foreign loved one. That said, the implications of USCIS’s monitoring social media sites can be somewhat unnerving for many as evidenced by a recent quote from a blog post on the ImmigrationEquality.org website:

While we would never encourage anyone to engage in immigration fraud, it is disturbing to think of government officials “friending” unknowing immigrants to use the information in their personal posts against them. In these times of technology speeding forward, it’s important to remember that when you post anything on a public site you have to anticipate that it could be used against you.

Immigration fraud is a serious issue as the integrity of United States immigration law must be upheld both by those seeking immigration benefits and those adjudicating immigration petitions. New technologies offer new ways to stay connected to friends, family, and loved ones in a global context.  However, comments made on social media sites which may seem innocuous or humorous to an online poster at the time of a comment’s posting could be taken out of context by immigration adjudicators who are not personally acquainted with the person or persons making such comments. At the end of the day, the main themes that may be gleaned from the recent revelation of this memo: DO NOT EVER attempt to defraud the U.S. government in an attempt to obtain immigration benefits and even those seeking immigration benefits for bona fide reasons should be cognizant of the fact that information posted on social media websites could, at some point, be heavily scrutinized by immigration officers and/or adjudicators.

For related information please see: US Visa Processing Time or I-601 waiver.

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7th September 2010

In recent posts on this blog it has been noted that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) must raise the fees associated with the processing of certain visa petitions. The L1 visa is a commonly sought travel document for those individuals working within a multinational corporation. Specifically, the L1 visa was designed to provide a specific travel document for intracompany transferees. The following is directly quoted from a recent executive summary compiled by USCIS which was distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

On August 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law Public Law 111-230. The new law contains provisions that require petitioners to pay an additional $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and an additional $2,250 for certain L-1 petitions. To begin public outreach on this legislation, USCIS held a teleconference on August 19, 2010 to share how USCIS will implement it…

The recent fee increase would seem to have raised some questions among petitioners, applicants, and practitioners. Therefore, USCIS officials were required to provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions. The following is quoted from the aforementioned executive summary:

During the teleconference, among other answers provided, USCIS informed the public that:


o The additional fee is required for certain H-1B or L-1 petitions postmarked on or after August
14, 2010;


o The law will remain in effect through September 30, 2014;


o This law is applicable to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the U.S. and more than 50% of the petitioner’s employees are in H-1B or L nonimmigrant status;


o Until the Form I-129 is updated, if a petitioner believes s/he is exempt from the requirement to pay the additional fee(s), the petitioners should include a cover letter, with their filings, that explains why the added fee does not apply. At the top of the cover letter, petitioners should include a notation of whether or not the fee is required in bold capital letters;


o If a petitioner does not include the added fee and USCIS determines the fee is required or if USCIS cannot determine if the fee is required, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) for the additional fee or for further explanation; and


o If the petitioner includes the increased fee, the fee should be paid by a separate check. The check should be made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. By paying the increased fee separately, USCIS will be able to more quickly issue a refund, if it is later determined that the increased fee was not required.

Employment visas to the United States of America are highly sought by foreign nationals residing in the United States as well as abroad. That said, the requirements that must be met for obtainment of such travel documents can be stringent. Therefore, the individuals seeking such visas are well advised to contact an American attorney in order to be fully advised of the processing details.

For further related information please see: E2 Visa.

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