Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘United States Visa’

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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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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