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Posts Tagged ‘US Department of State’

15th August 2013

In a recent press release from the United States Department of State, Daniel R. Russell, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, discussed the recent anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the interaction between the ASEAN economies and that of the United States. To quote directly from the recent press release posted on the State Department website:

As the Secretary noted in a statement last week on August 8, the anniversary of ASEAN’s founding, the United States is deeply committed to supporting and partnering with ASEAN…ASEAN is growing in importance. The ten ASEAN countries include two close U.S. treaty allies, valuable security partners, thriving democracies, and Muslim majority nations that are both moderate and influential. ASEAN represents the United States’ fifth largest trading partner and our fourth largest export market. Following U.S. accession to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2009, and in a clear sign of our support for ASEAN, the United States became the first non-ASEAN country to establish a dedicated Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta in June 2010…

Those interested in reading this press release in detail are encouraged to click on the hyperlink noted above.

The United States government is clearly intent on increasing ties with the ASEAN region as the economies have such a significant impact upon the American economy. Meanwhile, many of the countries in ASEAN, including the Kingdom of Thailand, have long standing ties buttressed by cooperation politically, militarily, and economically . In short, the US-ASEAN relationship is a “win-win” for all concerned. The remarks noted above, were followed up by references to the upcoming implementation of a more integrated ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is due to become a reality in 2015. To quote further from the aforementioned press release:

The ASEAN-U.S. partnership is grounded in cooperation across political, security, and cultural spheres. Our engagement with ASEAN has led to tangible results in such areas as maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. Our work through the Lower Mekong Initiative has led to positive outcomes supporting the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and development in the Lower Mekong sub-region. And the United States is committed to capacity building for the ASEAN Secretariat…

As the date for ASEAN economic integration draws increasingly close, the countries which comprise ASEAN (Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) would appear to be waiting with bated breath to ascertain whether or not the transition will be a smooth one. It is this blogger’s opinion that the ASEAN Economic integration will in fact turn out to be a rather seamless transition as a great deal of time and effort has been expended by all parties to analyze possible problems and implement solutions prior to the integration itself. The United States has shown (through frequent Presidential visits to the ASEAN region as well as policies which provide support for ASEAN’s initiatives) that it is committed to not only engaging the ASEAN region, but also assisting in creating a mutually beneficial framework for US-ASEAN relations in the future.

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10th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that reports have come out regarding the possibility of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heading the World Bank. To quote directly from the official website of The Telegraph, Telegraph.co.uk:

Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, has been in discussions with the White House about stepping down from her foreign policy job next year to becoming head of the World Bank, it has been reported. Mrs Clinton, the former First Lady, Senator for New York and rival to Mr Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary race, is said to be eager to become the first female president of the World Bank should the post become vacant next year.”Hillary Clinton wants the job,” a source close to Mrs Clinton told Reuters, which broke the news of the possible move.

The administration of this blog encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more.

Issues associated with international banking have been making headlines in recent weeks. Such reports became more acute following the arrest of the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in the sovereign State of New York on sexual assault charges. Readers are asked to keep in mind that Mr. Strauss-Kahn has not been convicted of any crime as of the time of this writing and therefore, in the eyes of American law, he is innocent until proven guilty.

Readers may note that leadership of the international banking community made news in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after calls were made to consider an Asian candidate for the top IMF posting. Officials in China also have been reported to have made statements regarding the position of IMF head. It remains to be seen just how these issues will ultimately play out and who shall eventually be at the helm of international banking, but for observers of global relations, economics, finance, and politics this is certainly a very interesting time.

In rather unrelated news (but pertinent to this blogger), it was recently reported that the Great State of Kansas has experienced a very uncommon weather phenomenon. For further elucidation it may be best to quote directly from the official website  of KSN News, KSN.com:

WICHITA, Kansas — Last night Wichita experienced a very rare weather phenomenon known as a “Heat Burst.” At 12:22 a.m. the temperature at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport was 85 degrees. At 12:44 the temperature spiked to 102 degrees. This was a 17 degree increase in only 20 minutes. Winds also gusted between 50 and 60 MPH. The heat burst winds and temperatures rapidly dissipated as they spread across Sedgwick and Southern Butler Counties…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read more from this insightful report.

Kansas is often the scene of incredible meteorological phenomenon, but an increase of 17 degrees in a time span of 20 minutes is tremendous by anyone’s estimation. Hopefully, such developments will not have an adverse impact upon the people, agriculture, and ecology of that jurisdiction.

For other relevant information please see: Department of State.

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9th September 2010

The American Department of State’s website can be a useful resource for those interested in US Immigration. That said, there are many repositories of good information throughout the internet and some less-than-ideal resources. The following announcement was posted on the website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Due to technical software problems, the Department of State’s “Visa Policy Updates” page of their website is currently unavailable for updates. Please note: the webpage itself is currently available; however, it does not include recent updates by DOS. Until further notice, Visa Policy Updates will not be sent to subscribers, but many documents still can be found on the Department of State website at the Visa Policy Update page.

The Department of State is responsible for administering the various American Missions located abroad. These include American Embassies, Consulates, and Institutes located in Asia. Many find that information on the Department of State can be very helpful when trying to decide what type of visa is most suitable for an individual wishing to travel to the United States of America.

Some Embassies and Consulates are considered to be so-called “high volume” Posts.  In matters involving US Immigration, this appellation could be applied to the US Embassy Thailand or the US Consulate HCMC as these posts handle a larger caseload of American Immigration matters compared to some of their counterparts in Southeast Asia.  That said, adjudications of visa applications are conducted by an officer at the US Embassy or US Consulate with jurisdiction over the proposed beneficiary.  Such an adjudication is made pursuant to relevant US Immigration law and based upon the Consular Officer’s findings of fact. Each case is adjudicated based upon the unique set of facts in the case. Therefore, the rather general information which is provided on various websites throughout the internet, both government sponsored and privately funded, cannot necessarily be relied upon as definitive for every situation.

American Embassies and Consulates process a large number of visa applications each year. As each adjudication is different there is effectively no way of providing uniform information about the visa application adjudication process. Those interested in obtaining a visa to the USA are well advised to contact a US lawyer with experience dealing with United States Immigration as such an individual can provide relevant insight into the visa process and advise clients as to the appropriate visa category based upon the client’s circumstances.

For related information please see: USCIS Processing Times.

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16th June 2010

The Department of State (DOS) is a multifaceted government agency as it is tasked with handling American foreign relations as well as Consular Affairs. That said, an often overlooked aspect of the American State Department’s mandate is refugee assistance. Unfortunately, throughout the world, economic and political turbulence causes the displacement and migration of local populations. In a recent government press release Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, had this to say about DOS’s role in international population migration:

In my first 11 months on the job, many friends, colleagues and counterparts have asked me about the scope of the humanitarian work of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), which I am honored to lead. For those of you who already know our Bureau well, this note may not be critical reading. For those who don’t, I thought I’d take some time to describe the Bureau and its priorities, and finish by introducing our new Front Office team. Within the Department of State, PRM serves as the principal humanitarian advisor to the Secretary of State, provides key leadership on population and migration issues, and manages two high-impact foreign assistance accounts that totaled over $1.7 billion in FY 2009. Our mandate is to provide protection and solutions to the world’s most vulnerable people: refugees, conflict victims, stateless persons, and vulnerable migrants, and to do so by integrating diplomacy, advocacy and humanitarian assistance programs. In this effort, we seek to help realize the commitments of President Obama and Secretary Clinton to alleviate human suffering and create the conditions for sustainable recovery, and to build a more effective multilateral system for humanitarian response.

It is interesting to note that many of the issues associated with refugee assistance can trace their roots to routine diplomatic issues which is why the Department of State is an ideal mechanism for providing assistance to refugee populations. To quote the aforementioned press release further:

Most of the humanitarian situations to which PRM responds are rooted in political or security challenges. For this reason, our access to foreign heads of government and other key foreign government decision-makers is critical, as it fosters the integration of humanitarian diplomacy within a full range of U.S. government assistance and protection programs, and leverages these programs to achieve critical humanitarian objectives. Over the past many months, I’ve pursued international humanitarian objectives in visits with a range of senior foreign leaders and officials, including with President Fernandez of the Dominican Republic on issues relating to the status of Haitians; the Prime Minister of Jordan and the Vice Foreign Minister of Syria on issues relating to Iraqi and Palestinian refugees; and the President, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister on conditions for internally displaced persons in Sri Lanka.

In this author’s opinion, assisting refugees and displaced individuals is a noble pursuit. Therefore, the efforts of DOS in this regard should be applauded as this type of activity ought to continue as countries around the world strive for greater international harmony.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand or US Embassy Thailand.

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10th June 2010

A frequently discussed topic on this blog is the US Tourist Visa. The US Embassy Bangkok processes a significant number of US Tourist Visa applications each year. In the past, most non-immigrant visa applications required the submission of form DS-156. Recently, the US State Department announced that the DS-156 should no longer be used  by those seeking a US B2 Tourist Visa:

The new DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, is a fully integrated online application form that is used to collect the necessary application information from a person seeking a nonimmigrant visa. The DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State via the Internet. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

Apparently, the DS-160 has been introduced in an effort to streamline the visa process for those seeking non-immigrant visas outside of the United States of America. To quote the above announcement further:

All U.S. Embassies and Consulates that process nonimmigrant visas now use the new online DS-160. Therefore, visa applicants will need to apply using the online DS-160 for most, but not all, nonimmigrant visa categories. Review the [State Department] FAQs for exceptions and to find out which nonimmigrant categories continue to use the DS-156 at this time.

There are many who worry that these recent changes will impact other types of applications. This worry seems to be most prevalently felt by those seeking K1 visa benefits or K3 Visa benefits for a foreign fiancee or spouse. That said, consultation with an American legal professional may be necessary in order to determine which forms should be used when filing for certain visa categories. As always, it should be noted that only a licensed American attorney is entitled to assist in American Immigration matters. That said, many find that applying for a US Tourist Visa does not require the assistance of an American lawyer as such assistance would likely add little value to such an application. However, many applicants for US family immigration benefits find that attorney assistance is beneficial.

It should be noted that many applicants find their application for a visa denied pursuant to the Consular Officer’s application of Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Such a finding basically means that the applicant was unable to show requisite “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the United States. Those seeking a visa to the USA should be advised that if immigration is the ultimate goal, then a tourist visa is not the proper travel document. Even if a visa application is approved by a US Consulate overseas, the foreign national could still be placed in expedited removal proceeding upon arrival at the port of entry in the USA if the Customs and Border Protection officers have reason to believe that the applicant is an undisclosed intending immigrant attempting to enter the USA.

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