Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Attorney Thailand’

27th August 2010

Those with pending visa petitions and applications may have only had a passing experience dealing with the National Visa Center. For example, the National Visa Center plays a rather small role in the K1 visa process. Meanwhile those seeking a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa have probably had extensive dealings with the National Visa Center (NVC). In recent weeks, the NVC changed some of their processing policies for certain US Marriage Visas. Therefore, many of those seeking K3 Visa benefits have seen their application “administratively closed” by the NVC where the underlying I-130 arrived prior to, or contemporaneously with, the I-129f petition. In a recent announcement from the American State Department it was announced that NVC has begun a pilot program that many hope will eventually lead to simplification of the NVC document compilation process. To quote directly from the State Department’s announcement, as distributed through AILA:

The Immigrant Visa Electronic Processing Program is a pilot project which uses electronic communication and documentation methods to simplify and accelerate the immigrant visa application process. This program uses e-mail for communication and submission of all forms and documents to the NVC using the Portable Document Format (PDF). Under the Electronic Processing Program all forms will be downloaded, completed, signed (if required), scanned, saved as PDF files, and e-mailed to the NVC. Required civil documents and supporting documents must be converted to PDF files by scanning and e-mailed to the NVC. After the NVC has completed processing the applicant’s petition, the applicant will need to present the original physical documents to the US Embassy/Consulate at the time of the applicant’s visa interview. Failure to do so may cause a delay or denial of the visa being sought.

It is this author’s opinion that this policy change will have a tremendous impact upon the US visa process and will likely lead to faster visa processing in general. It will be interesting to see how this new program will impact US Consular Processing abroad. As noted in the announcement, original documentation will not be required by the NVC in some cases. Those who did not remit original documentation to the NVC may need to do so at the visa interview which usually occurs at a US Embassy or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction. Those who fail to remit such documentation may be subjected to a 221g refusal. In some cases, issuance of a 221g can delay a case by weeks, or in a limited number of cases the case could be delayed by months.

That said, those seeking visas to the United States are still well advised to seek the assistance of a competent licensed American attorney from the USA. Regardless of increased processing efficiency, there are many factors which can affect a visa application and competent advice and counsel can forestall unforeseen problems.

For related information please see: US Attorney Thailand.

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30th April 2010

Repeatedly, this author uses this blog as a platform to try to educate the public regarding the US visa process and the problems that can arise during that process. In many cases, people are simply unaware of the rules regarding US visa issuance and this blog attempts to provide relevant information that readers may find beneficial. That being said, another frequently discussed topic is the unauthorized practice of law by “visa companies” and “visa agents” or those claiming to be American attorneys. This is not simply a tirade against such practices, but is intended to provide information regarding the detrimental impact that these individuals can have upon the interests of their “clients”.

Under section 292.1 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations a licensed attorney is entitled to represent clients before the United States Department of Homeland Security, specifically the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which is tasked with adjudicating US visa petitions. Many are unaware of the fact that those who assist individuals in preparing visa petitions are engaging in the unauthorized practice of law if they are not: licensed to practice law in at least one US jurisdiction while being eligible to practice law in all US jurisdictions or certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Licensure is no small matter, especially for those individuals who are “represented” by those claiming to be attorneys who are not, in fact, licensed. For example, if an American talks to an unlicensed individual about sensitive matters, then such communications would not be confidential and also would not be protected under the attorney/client privilege. If one is communicating in confidence to a licensed attorney, then such communication is “out of bounds” for US Courts. However, the same communications with one who is unlicensed could be used as evidence in a US court proceeding. Therefore, licensure is extremely important particularly in US Immigration matters involving a legal ground of inadmissibility or an I-601 waiver as certain information could be very detrimental to clients’ interests and if imparted to a licensed American attorney would be confidential, but if imparted to an unlicensed “fly by night” operator such information could be used against the client at a later date.

For all of these reasons, when an American is outside of the USA it is always prudent to check the credentials of anyone claiming to be an attorney from the United States. An individual can provide adequate credentials if they can show their license to practice law before at least on State Supreme Court in the US, or a Federal license to practice law in the USA, or a license to practice law in one of the US territorial jurisdictions (Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, etc). Anyone who refuses to provide any such credentials and yet still asserts that they are an American attorney should be avoided until proof of credentials can be provided.

For further information about US Immigration from Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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20th April 2010

In previous posts this author has discussed the I-130 petition for an immediate relative for a visa to the United States of America. For those present in countries that do not have an office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) it may be possible to file such a petition directly with the Consulate by utilizing a method known as Direct Consular Filing. However, in a country where an overseas office of USCIS is located it is incumbent upon to petitioner to file at the local USCIS office, provided he or she meets the residence requirements for the office to take jurisdiction. That being said, many are under the mistaken impression that only the petitioner and beneficiary, together, can submit an application. This is not necessarily the case.

8 CFR 292.1 states:

(a) A person entitled to representation [before USCIS] may be represented by any of the following:

(1) Attorneys in the United States. Any attorney as defined in §1.1(f) of this chapter.

Section 1.1(f), referenced above states:

“The term attorney means any person who is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any State, possession, territory, Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia, and is not under any order of any court suspending, enjoining, restraining, disbarring, or otherwise restricting him in the practice of law.”

In practical terms, this means that a licensed attorney in the United States is entitled to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. There is no geographical restriction placed upon this right. Therefore, those wishing to file an I-130 to travel to the United States are entitled, as a matter of law, to attorney representation.

This can provide a real boon to those who do not wish to deal with the petition submission process. Since an attorney in entitled to act on behalf of clients in matters involving petitions for the IR1 visa and the CR1 visa in Thailand, the Petitioner and Beneficiary need simply provide required documents to their attorney and the attorney can file the petition on their behalf. In some limited cases, USCIS officers require that a Petitioner or Beneficiary appear in person regarding a pending case. Should this situation arise, the Petitioner or Beneficiary is entitled to have their attorney present for such a meeting with USCIS officers.

Unfortunately, in Thailand there are many agencies and “fly by night” operations claiming to have the right and expertise to assist in visa matters. However, many of these so-called “lawyers” are not licensed to practice law in the United States, nor in any other jurisdiction. Therefore, they cannot present an I-130 submission on behalf of another. In a way, an I-130 local filing is a “litmus test” of whether or not an individual is really an American attorney. If a so-called “attorney” requires the Petitioner and/or Beneficiary to file the I-130 personally and the so-called “attorney” is unwilling to appear personally, then this may be a sign that they are an unlicensed operator and should be avoided.

For further information please see US Visa Thailand. For further information regarding USCIS local jurisdiction please see: USCIS Bangkok.

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8th March 2010

Recently the Department of Homeland Security issued a notice that the rules regarding attorney representation would be amended in order to fall in line with the relevant Department of Justice regulations. To quote a the summary in the Federal Register which is displayed on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website:

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations governing representation and appearances by, and professional conduct of, practitioners in immigration practice before its components to: Conform the grounds of discipline and procedures regulations with those promulgated by the Department of Justice (DOJ); clarify who is authorized to represent applicants and petitioners in cases before DHS; remove duplicative rules, procedures, and authority; improve the clarity and uniformity of the existing regulations; make technical and procedural changes; and conform terminology. This rule enhances the integrity of the immigration adjudication process by updating and clarifying the regulation of professional conduct of immigration practitioners who practice before DHS.”

As has been discussed on this blog before, the issue of attorney representation is of great importance due to the fact that there are many disreputable organizations calling themselves such things as “visa company,” “visa agency,” or, “visa consultant” and other unscrupulous operators who go so far as to claim attorney credentials when they are, in fact, unlicensed to practice law in the United States and therefore unable to practice US Immigration law. To quote the Federal Register again:

“Definition of attorney. This rule amends the definition of “attorney” at 8 CFR 1.1(f), to conform with DOJ’s definition at 8 CFR 1001.1(f), by adding the requirement that an attorney must be eligible to practice law in the bar of any State, possession, territory, or Commonwealth of the United States, or of the District of Columbia, in addition to the other requirements for attorneys set forth in that regulation. State bar rules uniformly require licensed attorneys to maintain an active status in order to practice law; however, there has been some confusion as to the applicability of that requirement in determining eligibility to appear as a representative before DHS.”

It is interesting that this addition was made as it imposes an more stringent burden upon practitioners as anyone practicing before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or its agencies, like the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP), and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) must be eligible to practice in virtually every American jurisdiction. It should be noted that eligibility is the only new requirement added as DHS does not require that practitioners be licensed to practice in all US jurisdictions.

It should also be pointed out that attorneys are not the only individuals who can represent clients before DHS. In fact, if an individual is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals, then they may represent individuals in certain DHS proceedings. However, such agents are usually non-profit organizations as non-attorney representatives are NOT entitled to charge anything except nominal fees.

For related information please see US Lawyer Thailand or US Visa Thailand.


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