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Posts Tagged ‘US Embassy Laos’

2nd June 2020

While certain aspects of the COVID-19 situation seem to be evolving in a positive manner, there remain many travel restrictions in Thailand and the USA.

It appears that notwithstanding the overall restriction of foreign travel into Thailand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that accommodation for foreign nationals entering Thailand may be possible, provided they have a Thai Work Permit. However, it should be noted that a work permit (and presumably Business Visa or O Visa) is not the exclusive requirement to gain entry to the Kingdom. It appears that “fit-to-fly” documents must be obtained by travelers before departing for Thailand. Concurrently, it also appears that a Thai Entry Certificate issued by the Ministry of foreign Affairs in Bangkok will also be necessary, in addition to standard travel documents. These announcements are rather recent and full implementation of these policies remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, there is a great deal of interest regarding the possibility that the US Embassy in Thailand and the surrounding countries may reopen for visa interviews. However, as of the time of this writing it appears that the Embassies in Southeast Asia are unlikely to process out cases for K-1 visas, CR-1 visas, K-3 visas, or IR-1 visas any time soon. The following statement is noted on the US Travel Docs website for Thailand:

As of March 19, 2020, the United States Embassy and Consulate in Thailand are cancelling routine non-immigrant visa appointments. From March 24, the United States Embassy and Consulate is not accepting applications through Interview Waiver for any visa categories. We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

The following is noted on the same website for Cambodia:

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates have canceled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020

Finally, a similar message is noted for Laos:

As of March 20, the United States Embassy in Vientiane, Laos is suspending routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments.  We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

Clearly, it seems unlikely that visa applications, and the interviews associated therewith, are unlikely to occur in any of the above posts for the foreseeable future. The overall situation regarding entry to the USA and Thailand remains rather fluid, we will keep updating this blog as the situation progresses.

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22nd April 2020

An Executive Order has been issued by the Trump administration regarding suspension of immigration to the United States for the forthcoming 60 days. However, the order does not appear to apply to those seeking a K-1 visa to bring a foreign fiance to the USA. Concurrently, it also does not appear to apply to American visas for the spouses and children of U.S. Citizens. To quote directly from the relevant sections of the order as posted on the White House website:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, hereby find that the entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would, except as provided for in section 2 of this proclamation, be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and that their entry should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and exceptions.  I therefore hereby proclaim the following:

Section 1.  Suspension and Limitation on Entry.  The entry into the United States of aliens as immigrants is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation.

Sec2.  Scope of Suspension and Limitation on Entry.  (a)  The suspension and limitation on entry pursuant to section 1 of this proclamation shall apply only to aliens who:

(i)    are outside the United States on the effective date of this proclamation;

(ii)   do not have an immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation; and

(iii)  do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document) that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.

(b)  The suspension and limitation on entry pursuant to section 1 of this proclamation shall not apply to:

(i)     any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

(ii)    any alien seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees;  and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of any such alien who are accompanying or following to join the alien;

(iii)   any alien applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;

(iv)    any alien who is the spouse of a United States citizen;

(v)     any alien who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;

(vi)    any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;

(vii)   any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;

(viii)  any alien seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or

(ix)    any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

Sec3.  Implementation and Enforcement.  (a)  The consular officer shall determine, in his or her discretion, whether an immigrant has established his or her eligibility for an exception in section 2(b) of this proclamation.  The Secretary of State shall implement this proclamation as it applies to visas pursuant to such procedures as the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may establish in the Secretary of State’s discretion.  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall implement this proclamation as it applies to the entry of aliens pursuant to such procedures as the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may establish in the Secretary of Homeland Security’s discretion.

(b)  An alien who circumvents the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry shall be a priority for removal by the Department of Homeland Security.

(c)  Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to limit the ability of an individual to seek asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, consistent with the laws of the United States.

Sec4.  Termination.  This proclamation shall expire 60 days from its effective date and may be continued as necessary.  Whenever appropriate, but no later than 50 days from the effective date of this proclamation, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Labor, recommend whether I should continue or modify this proclamation.

Sec5.  Effective Date.  This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020.

Sec6.  Additional Measures.  Within 30 days of the effective date of this proclamation, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review nonimmigrant programs and shall recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.

Sec7.  Severability.  It is the policy of the United States to enforce this proclamation to the maximum extent possible to advance the interests of the United States.  Accordingly:

(a)  if any provision of this proclamation, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this proclamation and the application of its provisions to any other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby; and

(b)  if any provision of this proclamation, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid because of the lack of certain procedural requirements, the relevant executive branch officials shall implement those procedural requirements to conform with existing law and with any applicable court orders.

Sec8.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this proclamation shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or,

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This proclamation shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This proclamation is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-second day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

Clearly, there are many who might see their cases negatively impacted by this order. To preface any further analysis, it should be noted that visa processing has been suspended at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand as well as the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos and the US Embassy in Phnom Phen, Cambodia due to the COVID-19 outbreak. So regardless of this order, it is not currently possible to obtain a visa from these posts as interviews have been suspended. Bearing the above in mind, the following analysis will demonstrate that this order will NOT have an impact on fiance visa and marriage visa cases for the fiances and/or spouses of American citizens:

The executive order states: “The entry into the United States of aliens as immigrants is hereby suspended and limited subject to section 2 of this proclamation.” The K-1 visa is designed for the fiance of an American citizen to to travel to the United States with the intention of marriage. It grants the bearer 90 days of lawful status in the USA in which to marry their American fiance and file for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence (aka Green Card status). It is important to note: the K-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, albeit a dual intent visa. For purposes of processing it is treated as an immigrant visa (for example K-1 cases process through the Immigrant Visa Unit of the American Embassy in Thailand), but pursuant to United States law it is in fact a non-immigrant visa. The above cited executive order only pertains to immigrant visas. Therefore, this order does not have any bearing upon the processing of a K-1 fiance visa case.

What about cases involving the spouse of an American citizen where the spouse would enter the USA and be granted an I-551 stamp thereby granting permanent residence to the foreign spouse upon entry? The above executive order speaks directly to such a situation: “The suspension and limitation on entry pursuant to section 1 of this proclamation shall not apply to:…(iv) any alien who is the spouse of a United States citizen“[Emphasis Added]. Clearly the suspension ordered in Trump’s executive order will exempt spouses of Americans. Therefore, those foreign spouses of American citizens seeking a K-3 visa, CR-1 visa, or IR-1 visa will not be adversely impacted by the provisions of this executive order.

Finally, the following should be noted: “This proclamation shall expire 60 days from its effective date…This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020.” Thus, unless this order is extended it will expire 60 days from now. We will keep readers updated on this blog as the situation progresses.

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12th November 2017

Below is a transcript of the video which can be found at the following link: K-1 Visas From Laos

In this video today we are going to be discussing K-1 visas but with the specific context of Laos. As previously mentioned, we’re based here in Bangkok and for those who have checked out this channel before, you can probably surmise that a lot of our activity with respect to, especially Immigration practice surrounds the US Embassy here in Thailand and a lot of our clientele are Thai nationals. But that being said, we do deal with cases that come up with respect to nationalities within this region rather frequently so it’s not uncommon for us to have a case or cases that may or may not end up, or will likely end up at the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos.

The overall process for those of you who are watching this video and have never really dealt with the K-1 before. The process has got to begin in the United States, you have got to deal with DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, petition needs to be filed for fiancée visa benefits and certain requirements that are inherent to the petition with some exceptions, the couple needs to have met within 2 years of initial filing for K-1 visa benefits, they have to physically have met in person at least once within 2 years of the filing. The other thing to keep in mind with respect to the K-1 visa or the petition thereof is both parties need to be legally free to marry and moreover have to remain that way throughout the process. So, this can kind of be a little bit confusing to folks; you can’t marry each other while you are going for a fiancée vise benefit because it’s specifically is a fiancée visa benefit. So you can’t get legally married to one another. Now having a party to celebrate impending nuptials or something like this, that’s a different story but something to keep clearly in mind with respect to the fiancée visa category.

The thing that’s interesting with respect to Laos is you often will see a little bit of, you’ll see the occasional Laos national living and working in Thailand who will process through the embassy down here in Bangkok because they’re living and working down here in Bangkok and where certain local jurisdictions requirements are met for consular processing here, a Lao national could theoretically process through the US Embassy in Bangkok rather than up in Laos. Depending on the circumstances of the given case, that may or may not be more or less convenient for the applicant in question but that being said, presumptively, consular processing jurisdiction is based on the nationality of the applicant so if they’re a Lao national that happens to live in Thailand, but would prefer to process up in Laos that is certainly acceptable and they can go ahead and do that.

So basically, once the case, let’s presume it gets approved, the petition gets approved by the Department of Homeland Security, the case will move over to the national visa center. The National Visa Center acts as a sort of clearing house, or routing hub if you will, for immigrant visas, or for cases going throughout the world on behalf of the Department of State. It will then go to the Embassy in Vientiane and the Consular Section, the Immigrant Visa section of the Embassy in Vientiane will go ahead and inform the applicant what needs to be undertaken in order to finish up the process to get the visa issued.  It should be noted, it’s rather an interesting aspect of the K-1 visa it that it is considered a dual intent travel document and the reason that this is interesting is because, as a dual intent travel document, it’s a non-immigrant visa category, but for practical purposes, for consular processing purposes, it is treated as if it was an immigrant visa category. So that’s something to sort of keep in mind and once the applicant obtains their K-1 visa, they can go to the United States within the window of time for the expiration of the underlying visa, and then once they arrive in the United States they can go ahead and remain in the US lawfully for 90 days but with the sole purpose of marrying their American citizen fiancée and then subsequently adjusting status to lawful permanent resident. There is another video on this channel, which specifically gets into adjustment of status. I recommend those who are interested in that topic,  to specifically go to that video to check that out but suffice it to say, once one has adjusted to lawful permanent resident, the Green Card status, that’s effectively sort of the end of the  process, in a way. Definitely, I look at is as a kind of conclusion  of what was being sought which was bringing ones Lao fiancée into the United States to live permanently with the American citizen counterpart. So to sum up, the thing to keep in mind with respect to how this process works, it starts at the Department of Homeland Security, proceeds to the National Visa center and then finally ends up at the Consular Section of the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos.

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7th August 2013

The administration of this blog routinely posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Embassies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region to provide a single source for such information to Americans who frequently travel in the region as well as foreign nationals who may be seeking services at such posts. The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Vientiane, Laos:


Date Day Holiday
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day
January 21 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
February 18 Monday Presidents’ Day
March 8 Friday International Women’s Day
April 15-17 Monday – Wednesday Lao New Year
May 1 Wednesday Lao Labor Day
May 27 Monday Memorial Day
July 4 Thursday Independence Day
September 2 Monday Labor Day
October 14 Monday Columbus Day
October 21 Monday Boat Racing Festival
November 11 Monday Veteran’s Day
November 18 Monday That Luang Festival
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day
December 2 Monday Lao National Day
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day

Substitution days. Please note: According to the prevailing practice in Laos, official holidays which fall on Saturday will be observed on the preceding Friday and Sunday on the following Monday.

Each year, a significant number of Americans travel to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad in order to request services such as Passport renewal, additional visa pages, notarization, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA), and much more. Those wishing to avail themselves of these services are encouraged to contact American Citizen Services at the US Embassy or US Consulate concerned. In most cases, Americans are well-advised to make an appointment prior to traveling to the post as some Embassies and Consulates require a prior appointment while others can process a request much more quickly if an appointment has been made before arrival at the post.

Foreign nationals, especially those wishing to apply for a US visa, are also occasionally in need of access to a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. In circumstances where a US visa is being sought it is generally a requirement that the foreign national schedule an appointment for visa interview prior to traveling to the post. Applicants for a US Tourist Visa (B-2 visa), US Business Visa (B-1 visa), US Student Visa (F-1 visa), or an Exchange Worker Visa (J-1 visa) are usually interviewed by a Consular Officer with a Non-immigrant visa unit. Meanwhile, those seeking an IR-1 visa (immigrant relative visa), CR-1 visa (conditional immigrant visa for an immigrant relative), K-3 visa (non-immigrant spouse visa), or a K-1 visa (US fiance visa for the fiance or fiancee of an American Citizen) are usually required to undergo an interview before a Consular Officer under the Immigrant Visa Section of the Consular Post.

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7th April 2011

This blogger writes this post in transit between the Vientiane, Laos and Bangkok, Thailand having been retained to assist with Consular Processing at the Post in Laos. It came to this blogger’s attention while physically outside of the US Embassy compound that the Post in Vientiane will be closed on April the 8th for training purposes. This alone would not have concerned this blogger a great deal as United States Missions abroad routinely close local posts in order to use the closure as an opportunity to train personnel. Therefore, those reading this should not necessarily make the assumption that the Post in Vientiane is closing in anticipation of a government shutdown. That said, the forthcoming information, in conjunction with that noted above gave this blogger pause.

Bearing the above paragraph in mind, this blogger was also notified that the US Embassy in Bangkok has been calling prospective visa beneficiaries with upcoming visa interview appointments in order to attempt to reschedule pending visa interviews. It would appear that this is being done in response to the belief that a government shutdown is possibly imminent and should such a shutdown actually occur it would likely result in the closure of the various Immigrant Visa Units and Non-Immigrant Visa Units at US Missions abroad.

In a previous posting on this blog, the administration analyzed the possible ramifications of such a state of affairs and those reading this posting are encouraged to look at that post in order to learn more about this rather serious issue. The previous posting on this issue can be found at: Government Shutdown.

A few notes on the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos; first, three words accurately describe this Post: courteous, professional, and efficient. The foreign-language officers are extremely helpful and the English-language officer aptly engaged in staying on top of what, to this blogger, appeared to be  substantial caseload and simultaneously dealing with applicants very politely all while checking documents and doing the routine due diligence required of Consular Officers stationed overseas.

At the time of this writing, it remains to be seen whether or not a government shutdown will actually occur, but should the government shutdown, then this could have a substantial impact upon US visa applications for visas such as the CR-1 visa, the K-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, and the K-3 visa. Meanwhile, processing of business visas such as the EB-5 visa and the L-1 visa could also be impacted by a shutdown of the United States government. There is some speculation as to whether or not the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will shutdown as a result of possible government closure as USCIS is self-funded by petition and application fees (although that agency did receive money from the US government last year in order to cover a funding shortfall).

As this situation evolves, the administration of this blog will attempt to keep readers updated.

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17th January 2011

Those who read this web log with any degree of frequency may have noticed that the administration routinely posts the closing schedules of the various US Missions in Asia in an effort to provide wide access to such information for Americans traveling abroad seeking Consular services. Hopefully, postings such as these will help to forestall fruitless trips to US Posts abroad made by Americans unaware of local holiday observance. The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Vientiane, Laos:

Date Day Holiday Lao/U.S.
December 31, 2010 Friday Substitute for New  Year’s Day U.S./Lao
January 17 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday U.S.
February 21 Monday Presidents’ Day U.S.
March 8 Tuesday International Women’s Day Lao
April 13-15 Wed.-Friday Lao New Year Lao
May 2 Monday Lao Labor Day Lao
May 30 Monday Memorial Day U.S.
July 4 Monday Independence Day U.S.
September 5 Monday Labor Day U.S.
October 10 Monday Boat Racing Festival Lao
October 22 Monday Columbus Day U.S.
November 10 Thursday That Luang Festival Lao
November 11 Friday Veteran’s Day U.S.
November 24 Thursday Thanksgiving Day U.S.
December 2 Friday Lao National Day Lao
December 26 Monday Christmas Day U.S.

Substitution days. Please note: According to the prevailing practice in Laos, official holidays which fall on Saturday will be observed on the preceding Friday and Sunday on the following Monday.

Note: Administrative Days: In addition to the dates above, the Consular Section will be closed on the following Fridays for administrative days – February 18, April 8, June 3, September 2, November 25, and December 9.

Those seeking the official homepage of the United States Embassy in Vientiane, Laos please click HERE.

Those seeking services such as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, US Passport, or additional visa pages for a previously issued US Passport are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section of the nearest US Embassy or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction.

Those seeking temporary US visas such as the B-2 visa (US Tourist Visa), B-1 visa (US Business Visa), F-1 visa (US Student Visa), or J-1 visa (US Exchange Visitor Visa) are likely to have their visa applications processed through a Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) Unit abroad. It should be noted that those applying for most non-immigrant visa categories are scrutinized pursuant to section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

Those who are seeking US family visa benefits in the form of travel documents such as the CR-1 visa or the IR-1 visa are generally required to process an immigration petition through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to applying for a US visa abroad. The K-1 visa, although technically a non-immigrant US fiance visa, is generally treated much the same way as an immigrant visa for application processing purposes. L-1 visa seekers and EB-5 visa seekers should take notice of the fact that applying for such a travel document may entail the processing of an immigration petition prior to visa application at a US Post abroad.

For related information please see: US Visa Laos or K1 Visa Laos.

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21st October 2010

Those who have read some of the blog will no doubt note that this administration often posts information about the K3 visa process and the overall impact of administrative closing of K3 visa applications by the US State Department’s National Visa Center. Many American Citizens who have a Laotian husband or wife pose the question: “Can I get a K3 visa for my wife (or husband) to reunite with me in the USA?” The answer to this question, at the time of this writing, is a rather qualified: no. However, a brief overview of the K3 visa and the recent changes to the K3 visa process may enlighten those who are researching this issue on their own for the first time.

At one time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had a substantial backlog of immigrant spouse visa petitions. This lead to a situation in which it could take as long as 3 years to receive USCIS adjudication of a mere immigrant spousal visa petition filed by an American Citizen. Due to this rather untenable situation, the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton promulgated and executed a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act”. Under the provisions of the Life Act, the K3 visa category and the K4 visa category were created (The K4 visa is a derivative visa for the children of foreign spouses similar to the derivative K2 visa which can be “piggybacked” onto a K1 visa application). At the time, the K3 visa was greeted by many as a severely needed stopgap solution to a rather pernicious problem: slow processing of classic immigrant visa petitions. In recent years, the USCIS has gone to great lengths to streamline the adjudication process and thereby decrease the time it takes to see an immigrant spouse visa petition adjudicated. As a result, many adjudicated immigrant visa petitions began arriving at the National Visa Center at the same time as their K3 counterparts. At one point, it would appear that a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the Immigrant petition arrives either before or at the same time as the K3 petition. This leads to a situation where American-Lao bi-national couples are compelled to seek immigrant visa benefits rather than K3 visa benefits. It should be noted that immigrant visa benefits are substantially superior to K3 visa benefits as immigrant visas confer lawful permanent residence upon the bearer at the time of his or her entry into the United States. Whereas the K3 visa is simply a non-immigrant spouse visa. Therefore, those entering the USA in K3 status must either file for an adjustment of status or Consular Process their immigrant visa petition at a US Embassy or US Consulate outside of the USA.

The term “K3 visa” has sort of become the buzzword used to refer to a US Marriage Visa over the internet. In point of fact, the classic travel documents used by Lao spouses to reunite with their American counterparts are referred to as either the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa. Depending upon a bi-national couple’s circumstances such travel documents may confer either conditional or unconditional lawful permanent residence upon admission to the USA.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Laos or K3 Visa Laos.

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5th October 2010

Southeast Asia is a beautiful and  often visited part of the world. One of the lesser known, but highly enjoyable, destinations in Southeast Asia is the country of Laos. This small landlocked country north of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Kingdom of Cambodia, and South of the Peoples’ Republic of China has been a destination of choice for those seeking the adventure and natural beauty of tropical Asia. Some Americans who travel to Laos meet a special someone whom they wish to bring back to America. For these people, the first thing that comes to mind is: “Will my girlfriend (or boyfriend) need a US Visa?” In most cases, a visa will be necessary as the United states does not allow Laotians to come to America on the US Visa Waiver Program. Therefore, the next question for many is: “Can I get my Lao girlfriend (or boyfriend) a US Tourist Visa?” In most cases, the answer to this question is: no, but a deeper understanding of relevant immigration law may provide insight into the reason for possible denial.

Relatively few Americans are aware of a provision in the United States Immigration and Nationality Act called section 214(b). Under this section of the INA a Consular Officer adjudicating a non-immigrant visa application (like a B2 visa application, B2 is the official category for tourist visas) must presume that the applicant is an intending immigrant unless the applicant can provide strong evidence to the contrary. This creates a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the Consular Officer will balance the applicant’s ties to the USA and Laos (or another country abroad). If the applicant can show strong ties to Laos and weak ties to the USA, then that applicant may be granted the tourist visa. However, in cases where a US Citizen is a significant other of the applicant such a relationship may have a negative impact upon the visa application as the relationship itself could be viewed as a “strong tie” to the USA. This should NOT be read as to imply that a relationship should not be disclosed as it is this author’s opinion that failure to disclose the existence of an American significant other could be construed as misrepresentation. That said, such a relationship could still have an adverse impact upon an applicant’s tourist visa application.

Those who wish to bring a Lao loved one back to the United states for the purposes of marriage and subsequent residence are well advised to seek either a US fiance visa (K1 visa) or a US Marriage Visa (CR1 Visa, IR1 Visa, or a K3 Visa although the K3 visa category has been effectively phased out by the National Visa Center in recent months).  That said, no one should ever enter into any type of relationship strictly as a pretext for obtaining a US Immigration benefit. Therefore, the relationship that acts as a basis for any visa application or petition ought to be bona fide and genuine.

For related information please see: US Visa Vietnamese Girlfriend or K1 Visa Laos.

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5th July 2010

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia. In recent years it has become a popular destination among back-pack tourists as well as those wishing to see the majestic splendor of Laos’ natural beauty. As is often the case in countries around the globe, a US Embassy provides services to those seeking a US visa or a other services which can be provided either through the Consulate proper or the American Citizen Services Section. Those wishing to travel to an Embassy are generally advised to check the hours of operation and the local holiday closing schedule in an effort to forestall an unnecessary trip to the Embassy due to Post closure. The following is a direct quote from the official website of the US Embassy in Laos:

Holidays 2010

Date Day Holiday Lao/U.S.
January 1 Friday New Year’s Day U.S./Lao
January 18 Monday Martin Luther King’s Birthday U.S.
February 15 Monday Presidents’ Day U.S.
March 8 Monday International Women’s Day Lao
April 14-16 Wed.-Friday Lao New Year Lao
April 30 Friday Lao Labor Day Lao
May 31 Monday Memorial Day U.S.
July 5 Monday Independence Day U.S.
September 6 Monday Labor Day U.S.
October 11 Friday Boat Racing Festival Lao
October 22 Monday Columbus Day U.S.
November 11 Thursday Veterans Day U.S.
November 19 Friday That Luang Festival Lao.
November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving Day U.S.
December 2 Thursady Lao National Day Lao
December 24 Friday Christmas Day U.S.

Substitution days. Please note: According to the prevailing practice in Laos, official holidays which fall on Saturday will be observed on the preceding Friday and Sunday on the following Monday.

As can be gathered

Note: Administrative Days: In addition to the dates above, the consular section will be closed on the following Fridays for administrative days — March 12, June 11, September 10, November 12, and December 10.

Staff at a US Embassy or a US Consulate can usually provide assistance, or insight, regarding documentation such as the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), Notarized affidavits, Passports, visa pages, etc. In situations where an American Citizen must travel to the American Citizen Services Section of a United States Embassy or Consulate it may be wise to check the US Embassy’s website in order to ascertain whether or not one can set an appointment online. This makes the situation far less cumbersome for both the American and the Consular Officer as the Post can be prepared ahead of time to deal with the petitioner’s request.

With regard to visas, those petitions which are filed in the USA (such as a K1 visa petition or a K3 Visa petition) must first receive approval from USCIS before the petition will be forwarded to the Department of State and the US Embassy.

For further information, please see: US Visa Laos.

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