Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Exchange Visitor Visa’

4th December 2010

Those who read this blog on a regular basis will no doubt realize that when new information regarding Consular processing comes out this administration tries to post it in an effort to provide insight to those processing a visa application through the relevant Post. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Embassy in Manila, Philippines is changing their protocols for Immigrant visa processing. The following is a brief quotation from the official website of the US Embassy in Manila:

Effective December 1, 2010, various changes to immigrant visa services are as follows:

  • Immigrant visa applicants whose appointments have not been scheduled through the National Visa Center (NVC) (i.e., immigrant visa petitions approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services Manila) may request a visa appointment by visiting the U.S. Embassy in Manila’s Visa Information and Appointment Service online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph or by calling (632) 982-5555. The Visa Information and Appointment Service is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Manila time), except on U.S. and Philippine holidays. Callers in the U.S. should call (214) 571-1600, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Callers are able to speak with an English-, Tagalog-, Ilocano- or Cebuano-speaking operator.
  • Visa Information and Appointment Service representatives can provide information on visa appointment-related inquiries only. Inquiries on a specific case may be directed to the Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit by e-mail at IVManilaReplies@state.gov or by fax at (632) 301-2591. Petitioners and applicants may also call the IV Inquiry line at (632) 301-2000, extension 5184 or 5185 during normal business hours.
  • Immigrant visa applicants who have been scheduled by the NVC for a visa appointment at the Embassy are required to visit the online appointment website to register their delivery address.
  • K visa applicants who have been notified by the Embassy to prepare for their interview, must pay the visa application fee of $350 before they can request a visa appointment via the online appointment website or the Visa Call Center

It should be noted that the above quotation does not encompass all of the information provided upon the official website. Those interested in obtaining further information are encouraged to correspond directly with either an American immigration attorney or the US Embassy in the Philippines.

The Consular Processing phase is usually the last phase of the US visa process for those with immigrant intent. Although in certain cases, a 221g refusal may be issued if the adjudicating Consular Officer feels that further documentation is required to process an application. Furthermore, a visa application may be denied if it is found that a legal grounds of inadmissibility exists in a given case. Under such circumstances, it may be possible to remedy the denial through use of an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility.

In American family based visa cases, the Immigrant Visa Unit of a US Consulate abroad is responsible for the adjudication of a visa application for those seeking a K1 visa, K3 visa, CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa.  Those seeking a non-immigrant visa such as a B1 visa (US Business Visa), B2 visa (US Tourist Visa), F1 visa (US Student Visa), or J1 visa (Cultural Exchange Visa) must interview with an adjudicator at the Non-immigrant visa unit of the Post with Consular jurisdiction to adjudicate a visa application.

For related information please see: US Embassy Philippines.

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30th September 2010

A frequently asked question among American expatriates and tourists overseas is: “Can I bring my foreign girlfriend with me to the United States on a Tourist visa?” In the context of Burma (Myanmar) some Americans may pose the question: “Can I bring my Burmese boyfriend or girlfriend to the United States on a Tourist Visa?” In many cases, the answer to either of these questions is a qualified: No. However, an in depth understanding of the statutory scheme underlying the Consular adjudication of visa applications can provide insight into the reasons for denial of these types of visas when sought by the significant others of United States Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

Relatively few people (Americans included) are aware that United States Immigration law imposes a rather stringent statutory presumption that Consular Officers must adhere to when adjudicating non-immigrant visa applications. Under section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer adjudicating a non-immigrant visa application abroad must refuse to issue the visa if the applicant cannot overcome the presumption that they are intending to immigrate to the United States of America. This creates a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the Officer adjudicating the application can only grant the requested visa if the applicant can show sufficient “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the USA. This presumption is not easily overcome under the best of circumstances, but when an officer takes into account the fact that a non-immigrant visa applicant has an American boyfriend or girlfriend, the presumption could become virtually insurmountable without strong documentation in support of issuance.

Unfortunately, in the past there have been instances of couples attempting to utilize the US tourist visa for the purpose of circumventing the relatively long processing times associated with applying for US family immigration benefits. It should be noted that misrepresenting one’s intentions on a visa application could be construed as visa fraud by American authorities. A finding that fraud has occurred could result in civil and criminal sanctions for both the applicant and the American significant other.

Those couples wishing to obtain a family immigration benefit through use of an American fiance visa (K1 visa) or a spousal visa (K3 Visa in limited cases or a classic CR1 Visa or IR1 Visa in the vast majority of cases) should bear in mind that a visa petition should only be brought if the couple has a bona fide relationship. In short: a couple should not get married or file for a fiance visa if they do not have a bona fide relationship. A pretextual relationship, or so-called “marriage of convenience”, should not be used as a basis for submitting an application for a US visa.

For related information please see: US Visa Indonesian Girlfriend or K1 Visa Burma.

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13th December 2009

J-1 visas are meant for those who are entering an exchange visitor program or traveling to the USA for the purpose of doing specific types of work (most notably: Au pair child care). This visa has been in existence for many years and the rules regarding issuance have not be modified in a long while.

Recently the American State Department has proposed making changes to the system whereby foreign nationals obtain the J1 Exchange visitor visa. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has recently promulgated comments on the proposed changes in an effort to provide a different perspective to those who will ultimately pass these rules. In a recent press release AILA stated:

“We commend the United States Department of State (the Department) for acting on its goals to update and improve the Exchange Visitor Program through the first significant proposed rulemaking since 1993. We also recognize and applaud the Department’s efforts to increase overall program oversight, but we urge the Department not to do so at the risk of weakening the very foundation on which the J-1 program rests.”

Not everything in this press release was laudatory as the Association also noted that some of the proposed rule changes might actually undermine the original intent of the J1 visa legislation:

“[W]hile we recognize that the Department [of State] must demand accountability on the part of sponsors of the J-1 program, we fear that it has used the medium of this proposed regulation as a means of eroding the range and number of opportunities for young men and women to learn about our culture and return to share important skills and insights with their compatriots. AILA recognizes the major role that the Fulbright-Hays Act has played for nearly 50 years to instill trust and promote understanding, education, and training among people of dramatically divergent cultures and for the mutual benefit of our people as well as the people of nations struggling to achieve financial and
cultural independence. It is crucial that the full range of these opportunities continues to exist.”

The J-1 visa is an example of a valuable method not only for providing advanced education to foreign nationals, but also for spreading American culture and American ideas to other countries. Undermining this system of cross-cultural exchange would indeed be detrimental. However, the US State Department does have an obligation to investigate candidates and sponsors for J-1 Exchange Visitor visas in an effort to be certain that the visa is being issued for appropriate reasons and to appropriate applicants. Hopefully, the American State Department can find a proper balance whereby the security needs of American Citizens are protected while cross-cultural exchange is still facilitated. As with many non-immigrant visas, both the US Embassy in Bangkok and the US Consulate in Chiang Mai can issue such travel documents to applicants in Thailand.

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