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Posts Tagged ‘US Consulate General Chiang Mai’

27th March 2010

In a few recent blog posts, this author has discussed the proposed fee increases for services offered at US Diplomatic and Consular Posts abroad. Apparently, the Department of State will be increasing the fees associated with Passport procurement. Also, those who wish to obtain new pages in their passport will no longer be able to have pages added free of charge. Finally, although on a slightly different topic, the fees for non-immigrant family based visas is to be raised as well. For those who are unfamiliar with the details of US Immigration the US Fiance Visa (also called the K1 visa) and the Non-Immigrant US Marriage visa (Also called a K3 Visa) are issued at American Embassies overseas.

The Department of State issued some statements in a supplement regarding the proposed rule that would increase the fees for Consular Services:

“The Department of State (“Department”) published two proposed rules in the Federal Register on December 14, 2009 (74 FR 66076, Public Notice 6851, RIN 1400-AC57), and on February 9, 2010 (75 FR 6321, Public Notice 6887, RIN 1400-AC58), proposing to amend sections of part 22 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services. The Department’s proposed rules solicited comments, and a number of comments requested additional detail on the Consular Services Cost of Service Study (CoSS) as well as time to comment on that detail. In response, the Department is providing the additional written detail below.”

The Department of State should be commended for taking the time to explain to the public the policy reasons for a fee increase. In many ways, a fee increase is periodically necessary as each US Embassy and/or US Consulate must serve the needs of the Americans using the post while at the same time stay within a budget. Balancing these two objectives can be difficult at times. The statement went further in describing the reasons behind the increase in fees, but used an analogy to make the point:

“Example: Imagine a government agency that has a single facility it uses to prepare and issue a single product–a driver’s license. In this simple scenario, every cost associated with that facility (the salaries of employees, the electricity to power the computer terminals, the cost of a blank driver’s license, etc.) can be attributed directly to the cost of producing that single item. If that agency wants to ensure that it is charging a “self- sustaining” price for driver’s licenses, it only has to divide its total costs for a given time period by an estimate of the number of driver’s licenses to be produced during that same time period.”

As this analogy points out, if an organization is just producing one product, then determining the cost of the product is relatively easy:

“However, if that agency issues multiple products (driver’s licenses, non-driver ID cards, etc.), has employees that work on other activities besides licenses (for example, accepting payment for traffic tickets), and operates out of multiple facilities it shares with other agencies, it becomes much more complex for the agency to determine exactly how much it costs to produce any single product. In those instances, the agency would need to know what percent of time its employees spend on each service and how much of its overhead (rent, utilities, facilities maintenance, etc.) are consumed in delivering each service to determine the cost of producing each of its various products–the driver’s license, the non-driver ID card, etc. Using an ABC model would allow the agency to develop those costs.”

Apparently, the Department of State, through use of modeling, has discovered the true cost of their services and is attempting  to adjust their fees accordingly. It remains to be seen how thee changes will impact expats and Americans using United States Consular Posts abroad. In Thailand, it is this author’s opinion, that this fee increase will have the biggest impact upon the American Citizen Services Unit of the US Embassy Bangkok and the US Consulate Chiang Mai as those respective units deal with issues like new passport issuance on a regular basis.

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5th March 2010

Recently we reported on this blog that the fees associated with passport issuance are likely to be increased in the near future. In a recent press release Brenda S. Sprague, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services, discussed the proposed fee increase and the policy reasons underlying the American State Department’s proposal for an increase in fees associated with American passports:

“Over the last five years, the demand for passports has increased to an average of 15 million applications per year. On February 9th, the State Department published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase certain fees related to U.S. passport and passport card applications. The proposed fee change is based on a comprehensive cost-ofservices study, completed in June, 2009, that was the most detailed and exhaustive study the U.S. State Department has ever conducted of its for-fee services, and updates the schedule of fees from four years ago.”

Many who are reading about this fee increase for the first time are probably wondering what the cost of passports would be under the recent proposed rule:

“Under the proposed fee schedule, the total cost for a first-time applicant aged 16 and older, who is applying for a passport book will be have $135. For those younger than 16, the price will be $105. The cost of a passport card for a first-time applicant 16 or older is $55. And for those younger than age 16, the price is $40. Passport books and cards for people who are 16 or older are valid for 10 years, books and cards issued to individuals younger than 16 are available for five years.”

When discussing this issue with American expatriates in Thailand, the initial reaction regarding this fee increase is: what are they increasing the fess and what will the new funding be used for? Hopefully the following excerpt will shed light on this issue:

“Passport fees are critically important to our keeping up with the latest developments in technology. Research and development, production, and implementation of new technologies for use in our U.S. passport books and cards must be an ongoing priority if we are to keep one step ahead of the resourceful and technologically savvy criminals, terrorists groups, and subversive elements bent on doing our nation harm. The fees cover the costs of fraud prevention initiatives such as facial recognition to help us to detect look-alike fraud and data-sharing programs that permit us to verify the validity of social security numbers, driver’s licenses, birth records, and naturalization certificates. Passport fees also help to cover the costs of providing emergency services for American citizens overseas in crises situations, something that our U.S. citizens stranded in Haiti undoubtedly appreciated.”

This issue is of critical importance to those who have American Citizen children outside of the USA. In Thailand, the usual protocol at the US Embassy in Bangkok or the US Consulate in Chiang Mai is for an American Citizen to first apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. After this document is obtained from the American Citizen Services Section of the US Consulate in Bangkok, then a passport can be issued. However, the recently proposed rule would also increase the fees associated with Consular Reports of Birth Abroad as well. That being said, the rule has yet to be adopted as there is still an official comment period so these issues have yet to be fully resolved, but it is highly likely that the rule will be implemented and the fees will be raised apparently in an to reflect what the State Department claims are the increased costs of promulgating these travel documents.

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

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16th January 2010

The US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is open throughout the year and keeps regular business hours from Monday to Friday of each week. The different Sections of the Embassy have differing operating hours which mostly depends upon each section’s internal administrative needs. However, many expats and tourists in Thailand are unaware that the Embassy is closed in observance of both Thai and American holidays. This can cause frustration as some people  go to the Embassy under the mistaken belief that it is open when in fact it is closed in observance of either a United States Federal Holiday or an official Holiday in the Kingdom of Thailand.

In 2009, this author went to the US Embassy thinking it would be open only to find it closed in observance of Veteran’s day. The author should have checked the closing schedule before going, but this is an example of how the more obscure holidays (both US and Thai) can be overlooked by those traveling to the Embassy. Therefore, in an effort to forestall others making this same mistake, particularly those who must travel a long way to get to the Embassy, we have provided the 2010 list of holiday closures at the American Embassy in Bangkok.

In order to provide up to date information for those who wish to go to the Embassy, the following is a list of the holiday observances in 2010. On these dates, the US Embassy in Bangkok and the US Consulate in Chiang Mai will be closed.

January 1 Friday New Year’s Day

January 18 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

February 15 Monday Presidents’ Day

April 6 Tuesday King Rama I Memorial and Chakri Day

April 13 Tuesday Songkran Day

April 14 Wednesday Songkran Day

April 15 Thursday Songkran Day

May 5 Wednesday Coronation Day

May 28 Friday Visakha Bucha Day

May 31 Monday Memorial Day

July 5 Monday Substitute for Independence Day

August 12 Thursday Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday

September 6 Monday Labor Day

October 11 Monday Columbus Day

October 25 Monday Substitute for Chulalongkorn Day

November 11 Thursday Veterans Day

November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving Day

December 6 Monday Substitute for His Majesty the King’s Birthday

December 10 Friday Constitution Day

December 24 Friday Substitute for Christmas Day

December 31 Friday Substitute for New Year’s Day

As stated previously, on the above dates the Embassy will be closed, this includes the American Citizen Services Section of both the Embassy in Bangkok and the Consulate in Chiang Mai. This could lead to difficulties for those in emergency situations who need a passport. The United States Embassy provides Emergency contact information for those needing assistance while the Embassy is closed. Follow this url to the US Embassy website for more information about contacting the Embassy during holiday closing times: http://bangkok.usembassy.gov/holidays.html.

For those interested in more information about obtaining a US visa for a Thai loved one please see K1 visa or K3 visa.

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8th January 2010

The US F1 Student Visa in 2010

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For detailed information about F-1 Student Visas please see: F1 Visa Thailand. For further reading about American Immigration from Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

The F-1 Visa in 2010

Unlike the J1 visa, the F1 Student Visa rules were left unmodified with no proposals for modification in 2009. That being said, the F1 visa could turn out to be a problem for those later filing for a family visa category such as a K-1 or K-3. This can be attributed to the fact that some of those who enter the United States on an initial F-1 visa either overstay their visa or remain for a long period of time in “duration of status.” Duration of status means that the visa holder is in status so long as underlying reason for traveling to the United States still exists. Those who remain for a long period of time in duration of status are unlikely to be later found inadmissible due to overstay as they usually do not accrue unlawful presence. However, their application and file may be placed into administrative processing while the Consular Officers make a determination regarding the applicant’s previous status in the United States. In some ways, this can be more frustrating than a finding of inadmissibility because Administrative Processing can take a great deal of time as the Consular Officers diligently research the applicant’s immigration history.

The F1 visa in Thailand is similar to the J1 visa in Thailand because the applicant may interview at the US Consulate in Chiang Mai rather than the US Embassy in Bangkok if the applicant lives in the Chiang Mai Consular district. One should not assume that one post is any “better,” than the other because at either post, the Consular Officers still make their decisions based upon the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). It has been the author’s opinion that Consular Officers adjudicate cases “by the book,” and therefore any type of “forum shopping,” could be counterproductive.

Unlike a K1 visa, the F-1 visa is not a dual intent travel document so the Consular Officer must make a presumption of immigrant intent pursuant to section 214b of the INA. In order to overcome this presumption, the F1 visa applicant must demonstrate that they have “strong ties,” to Thailand and do not intend to remain in the United States past the expiration of their visa. The F-1 visa applicant must further prove that he or she has the financial resources necessary to pay for the educational course of study as well as living expenses in the US.

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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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