Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Immigration Thailand’

27th May 2017

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the new administration in the USA has promulgated policies which will place more scrutiny upon those who may be applying for visas to the USA in the future. The proposed “extreme vetting” of US visa applications in a Consular Processing context appears to be aimed at narrow subsets of “red flagged” visa applicants. In order to best summarize this policy shift, it is necessary to quote directly from a relatively recent Reuters article:

The final cable seen by Reuters, issued on March 17, leaves in place an instruction to consular chiefs in each diplomatic mission, or post, to convene working groups of law enforcement and intelligence officials to “develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.” Applicants falling within one of these identified population groups should be considered for higher-level security screening…

The new administration appears keen to narrowly target those applicants which are deemed to be appropriate for “increased scrutiny”. However, a rather recent proposal has been submitted by the U.S. Department of State requesting implementation of the emergency review procedures of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. In short, the DOS is requesting expedited processing of a request to modify the forms associated with applications for US visas. To quote directly from the US government website Regulations.gov:

The Department proposes requesting the following information, if not already included in an application, from a subset of visa applicants worldwide, in order to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities:

  • Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
  • Address history during the last fifteen years;
  • Employment history during the last fifteen years;
  • All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
  • Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
  • Name and dates of birth for all children;
  • Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
  • Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and
  • Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.

 

Most of this information is already collected on visa applications but for a shorter time period, e.g. five years rather than fifteen years. Requests for names and dates of birth of siblings and, for some applicants, children are new. The request for social media identifiers and associated platforms is new for the Department of State, although it is already collected on a voluntary basis by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for certain individuals.

It is this blogger’s opinion that the long term implications of these policy changes will be broad. However, from reading the aforementioned notice, it appears that, at the present time, DOS personnel will only be seeking more detailed information on certain individual applicants, and not from all applicants seeking visas to the USA. How will the narrow subset of applicants subject to increased scrutiny be determined? To answer that it is necessary to quote further from the Regulations.gov website:

Department of State consular officers at visa-adjudicating posts worldwide will ask the proposed additional questions to resolve an applicant’s identity or to vet for terrorism or other national security related visa ineligibilities when the consular officer determines that the circumstances of a visa applicant, a review of a visa application, or responses in a visa interview indicate a need for greater scrutiny.

Notwithstanding the fact that enhanced scrutiny will apparently only be applied on a case by case basis and only upon those individuals who are deemed to be in need of such scrutiny it seems logical to infer that at some point these additional screening protocols may be applied on a broader basis; if for no other reason than the fact that applying such scrutiny across the board might save time and resources of Consular Officials making cases by case determinations. As it stands, as of the time of this writing, the new protocols add a degree of uncertainty to the visa application process and Consular processing in general as it is difficult to foresee what may be considered a trait which warrants heightened scrutiny. Therefore, planning for such an eventuality is problematic.

As this situation continues to evolve this blog will post further updates.

more Comments: 04

6th November 2010

การที่ผู้ตรวจการของการบริการคนเข้าเมืองและพลเมืองสหรัฐ (USCIS)มีข้อแนะนำเกี่ยวกับกระบวนการละเว้นของ I-601 เป็นเรื่องที่สร้างความน่าสนใจให้แก่ผู้ที่ติดตามบล็อก อ้างโดยตรงจากบันทึกความเข้าใจที่ผู้อำนวยการ USCIS คือ อเลเจนโดร์ เอ็น มาโยกาส ส่งไปยัง ผู้ตรวจการ CIS เมื่อเดือนมกราคม

ผู้ตรวจการ CISแนะนำว่า USCIS :

รวมศูนย์กลางการดำเนินการในทุกแบบฟอร์มI-601 เพื่อที่จะส่งให้เร็วขึ้นและมีคำวินิจฉัยที่เป็นมาตรฐาน;

จัดให้มีการกรอกแบบฟอร์ม I-601และฟอร์ม I-130 คำขอสำหรับญาติของคนต่างด้าว

จัดลำดับความเสร็จสมบูรณ์ของการจัดการเรื่องที่อยู่ต่างประเทศ (การพัฒนา) เพื่อที่จะรายงานทางสถิติที่ถูกต้องของฟอร์ม I-601 ในการอนุญาต (1) เขียนขั้นตอน (2)การติดตามโดยทาง “สถานะเรื่องของฉัน” ทางเว็บไซต์ USCIS

เผยแพร่คำแนะนำที่จะเสนอแนะแนวทางแก่ลูกความที่มีความประสงค์จะทำให้ขั้นตอนของฟอร์ม I-601เป็นไปอย่างรวดเร็ว

พัฒนาการทำงานร่วมกันระหว่าง DOS เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล และ ผู้ที่มีอำนาจตัดสินที่จัดการเกี่ยวกับฟอร์มI-601 ที่ CDJ และ

แก้ไขนโยบายของสำนักงาน CDJที่อนุญาตให้ลูกจ้างUSCIS เรียกร้องแฟ้มของชาวต่างชาติแปลงเป็นรูปแบบดิจิตอล(A-files)โดยขึ้นอยู่กับใบเสร็จรับเงินของตารางการสัมภาษณ์

บางประเด็นนั้นอาจเป็นเรื่องที่เกิดก่อนการจัดตั้งการบริการคนเข้าเมืองและพลเมืองสหรัฐ หรือสถานทูตสหรัฐ หรือสถานกงสุลสหรัฐในต่างประเทศ บันทึกที่ได้กล่าวมาแล้วค่อนข้างครอบคลุมและหากต้องการข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมสามารถหาได้จากบันทึกออนไลน์ อาจกล่าวได้ว่า USCIS ได้โต้ตอบในหลายๆประเด็นที่ผู้ตรวจการยกขึ้นมา ตามตัวอย่างข้างล่างนี้

รวมศูนย์กลางการดำเนินการในทุกแบบฟอร์มI-601 เพื่อที่จะส่งให้เร็วขึ้นและมีคำวินิจฉัยที่เป็นมาตรฐาน;

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วยในบางส่วน

USCIS กำลังประเมินความแตกต่างของรูปแบบการจัดระบบของกระบวนการจัดการฟอร์ม I-601 ข้ามประเทศ ด้วยวัตถุประสงค์ที่สร้างความต่อเนื่องและมีประสิทธิภาพ การใช้ทรัพยากรที่เหมาะสม และลดขั้นตอนการทำงานของเรื่องที่ไม่สามารถได้รับการอนุมัติอย่างรวดเร็ว ในขณะที่การรวมศูนย์กลางเป็นรูปแบบหนึ่งที่จะนำไปสู่เป้าหมาย รูปแบบอื่นๆ ตัวอย่างเช่น สองวัตถุประสงค์เฉพาะ (เช่นกระบวนการเฉพาะสำหรับฟอร์มในสองประเทศเท่านั้น) อาจจะได้รับประโยชน์บางอย่าง

บันทึกได้รับการตอบเพิ่มเติม:

จัดให้มีการกรอกแบบฟอร์ม I-601และฟอร์ม I-130 คำขอสำหรับญาติของคนต่างด้าว ร่วมกัน

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS กำลังพิจารณาข้อแนะนำนี้

ในเดือนเมษายน 2010, USCIS จัดตั้งคณะทำงานภายใต้การนำของสำนักงานนโยบายและโครงสร้างที่จะสำรวจการรวบรวมการกรอกฟอร์มและความเป็นไปได้ในการนำไปใช้ เพราะการเปลี่ยนแปลงในกระบวนการของเราสามารถส่งผลที่ไม่สามารถคาดล่วงหน้า ต้องทำให้เสร็จเรียบร้อยตามรูปแบบซึ่งเป็นไปด้วยความระมัดระวังในการจัดการความคาดหวังของผู้ยื่นคำขอและทรัพยากรของUSCIS คณะทำงานมุ่งเน้นไปที่การประเมินความเป็นไปได้และประโยชน์ที่ได้รับในการเปลี่ยนแปลงกระบวนการที่สำคัญ

คำแนะนำที่สามารถพิสูจน์ความน่าสนใจในทางปฏิบัติในขณะที่การรวบรวมการกรอกฟอร์มไว้ที่จุดเดียวอาจจะไม่มีความเป็นไปได้  ลักษณะของการกล่าวอ้างข้างบนนี้บอกเป็นนัยว่า ก่อนที่จะมีคำแนะนำนี้ได้มีการศึกษาอย่างจริงจัง ในขณะเดียวกัน ภายใต้กระบวนการในปัจจุบันมีผู้ที่ประสงค์จะละเว้นเรื่อง I-601 นอกสหรัฐอเมริกาต้องถือว่าไม่สามารถได้รับคำวินิจฉัยโดยเจ้าหน้าที่กงสุลตามปฏิบัติการของสหรัฐอเมริกา สถานทูตสหรัฐอเมริกา สถานกงสุลสหรัฐอเมริกา ดังนั้น การยื่นคำพร้อมกันตามที่กล่าวข้างต้นนั้นอาจจะไม่สอดคล้องกับกระบวนการในปัจจุบัน

จัดลำดับความเสร็จสมบูรณ์ของการจัดการเรื่องที่อยู่ต่างประเทศ (การพัฒนา) เพื่อที่จะรายงานทางสถิติที่ถูกต้องของฟอร์ม I-601 ในการอนุญาต (1) เขียนขั้นตอน (2)การติดตามโดยทาง “สถานะเรื่องของฉัน” ทางเว็บไซต์ USCIS

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วย

USCIS รายงานว่าระบบการจัดการเรื่องของ USCIS ในต่างประเทศซึ่งมีตัวแทนที่สำคัญในช่วง FY2010 ซึ่งใช้พนักงานปฏิบัติการระหว่างประเทศในวันที่ 16 สิงหาคม 2553

หวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า วิธีการนี้จะนำไปสู่การปรับปรุงกระบวนการเข้าเมืองของสหรัฐอเมริกาให้มีประสิทธิภาพมากยิ่งขึ้น

เผยแพร่คำแนะนำที่จะเสนอแนะแนวทางแก่ลูกความที่มีความประสงค์จะทำให้ขั้นตอนของฟอร์ม I-601เป็นไปอย่างรวดเร็ว

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วย

USCIS อยู่ในระหว่างการปรับปรุงคู่มือการปฏิบัติการของภาคส่วนที่ดำเนินการระหว่างประเทศเกี่ยวกับคำวินิจฉัยฟอร์ม I-601ที่จะจัดการกับคำร้องที่ขอให้ช่วยเร่งให้กระบวนการต่างๆเร็วขึ้น

หวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า คู่มือใหม่นี้ที่เกี่ยวกับการเร่งให้ขั้นตอนรวดเร็วขึ้นจะช่วยให้ผู้ยื่นคำขอและผู้ที่ได้รับผลประโยชน์เข้าใจถึงการยื่นคำร้องเพื่อที่จะทำให้กระบวนการรวดเร็วขึ้นในเรื่องที่สมควร

พัฒนาการทำงานร่วมกันระหว่าง DOS เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล และ ผู้ที่มีอำนาจตัดสินที่จัดการเกี่ยวกับฟอร์มI-601 ที่ CDJ

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วย

USCIS เห็นด้วยว่า DOS เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล และ ผู้ที่มีอำนาจวินิจฉัยของ USCIS ควรจะรักษาความร่วมมื่อที่แนบแน่นที่ CDJ และที่อื่นๆที่อยู่ต่างประเทศ สำนักงานของUSCISที่อยู่ต่างประเทศนั้นได้รับความร่วมมือจากผู้ร่วมงานDOS ใน CDJ เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุล DOS และผู้ที่มีอำนาจวินิจฉัยของ USCISมีการปรึกษาหารือกันทุกวันผู้อำนวยการของ USCIS CDJ และหัวหน้าวีซ่าประเภทถาวรยังคงติดต่อกันอยู่ทุกวัน

.ในหลายๆวิธี ความร่วมมือระหว่างเจ้าหน้าที่ของตัวเทนของรัฐบาลที่แตกต่างกันเป็นตัวแทนที่ดีที่สุดของการการปรับปรุงพัฒนากระบวนการขอวีซ่าให้ดีขึ้น แม้ว่า ผู้ที่เข้าใจในกระบวนการละเว้นของกระบวนการ  I-601 นั้นต้องระลึกว่า เจ้าหน้าที่กงสุลและเจ้าหน้าที่USCIS ต้องยังคงต้องทำหน้าที่ต่อไป

แก้ไขนโยบายของสำนักงาน CDJที่อนุญาตให้ลูกจ้างUSCIS เรียกร้องแฟ้มของชาวต่างชาติแปลงเป็นรูปแบบดิจิตอล(A-files)โดยขึ้นอยู่กับใบเสร็จรับเงินของตารางการสัมภาษณ์

USCIS โต้ตอบ: USCIS เห็นด้วยบางส่วน

USCIS เห็นด้วยว่า กระบวนการวินิจฉัยควรจะเรียกร้องบันทึก A-file(ไม่ว่าจะอยู่ในรูปแบบดิจิตอล หรือต้นฉบับก็ตามและเป็นวิธีการประเมินเพื่อที่จะบรรลุเป้าหมายโดยปราศจากความล่าช้า

แม้ว่าบันทึกแบบดิจิตอลจะมีประสิทธิภาพมากกว่า แต่ต้องใช้เวลากว่าจะบรรลุผลตามคำแนะนำ

กระบวนการการขอวีซ่า หรือการขอละเว้นของการไม่สามารถได้รับ I-601นั้นเป็นเรื่องที่เข้าใจยากสำหรับผู้ที่ไม่คุ้นเคยกับกระบวนการคนเข้าเมือง ในหลายๆเรื่องที่เกี่ยวกับการขอละเว้นของ I-601 แต่ละคนหรือหลายๆคู่เลือกที่จะขอความช่วยเหลือจากทนายความอเมริกันที่มีประสบการณ์เกี่ยวกับการเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาและได้รับอนุญาตที่ให้คำแนะนำและคำปรึกษาที่เหมาะสมกับประเภทการเดินทางและการขอละเว้นการไม่สามารถเดินทางไปสหรัฐอเมริกาได้

To read this post in English please see: I-601 waiver.

more Comments: 04

3rd June 2010

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as the name suggests, is tasked with, among other things, monitoring US internal and external security mainly from the perspective of Immigration. One component agency of the Department of Homeland Security is the US Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP). This agency is tasked with securing US Ports of Entry by monitoring those entering the USA in order to counter possible terrorist threats to the American people. In a recently promulgated press release, the Department of Homeland Security announced that new cooperative measures have been initiated in concert with the French Republic. The following is an excerpt from the aforementioned press release:

Washington, D.C. – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced that the United States and France have established an arrangement to implement the Immigration Advisory Program (IAP)–which allows for the identification of high-risk travelers at foreign airports before they board aircraft bound for the United States–at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle International Airport. “Terrorism is a global threat that requires an international response,” said Secretary Napolitano. “This collaboration will enhance both the United States’ and France’s capabilities to protect our immigration systems as well as the global aviation network from abuse by terrorists and transnational criminals.” IAP allows specialized U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel posted in foreign airports to utilize current targeting and passenger analysis information and/or an assessment of passengers’ documentation to identify high-risk persons bound for the United States and make “no board” recommendations to carriers and host governments. The arrangement–formalized over the weekend by DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman and French Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually-Supportive Development Eric Besson–will help combat the use of fraudulent travel documents, prevent terrorists and other criminals from entering the United States, disrupt human smuggling and strengthen cooperation between CBP and French officials. A formal signing of the IAP arrangement will follow in August.

Advocates for The International Advisory Program (IAP) seem to hope that the program will streamline the process by which government personnel identify possible threats in the form of criminals entering the USA. Of particular interest is that the program seems focused upon deterring and suppressing the use of false travel documents. It would also appear that new initiatives will be undertaken to decrease human trafficking to the USA. This has become an ever-increasing concern among immigration officials as more foreign nationals attempt to enter the USA illegally through use of organizations that attempt to “smuggle” them through US ports. This author applauds the efforts of officials in both the USA and France as they attempt to better ensure the safety of international travelers.

For information regarding US Immigration from Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand or K1 Visa Thailand.

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25th May 2010

As the world becomes ever more integrated due to economic globalization international organized crime has increased. One issue that has become increasingly concerning for law enforcement agencies around the globe is human trafficking. Many of the people in less developed nations wish to travel to wealthier industrialized countries in order to enjoy the benefits of relatively higher wages. This leads to the growth of “human smugglers” who specialize in assisting illegal immigrants by transporting them from their home country to their desired destination. Unfortunately, a great deal of evidence has been brought to light which suggests that many of these immigrants are placed in conditions which could easily be described as inhumane and many of them are further forced to work under difficult conditions in order to pay back their smugglers for transporting them to their new country.

Recently, the website ThaiVisa.com posted the following:

“Two Japanese men have been arrested in Thailand on suspicion of people smuggling, a police spokesman said Tuesday. The first man, identified by police only by his surname, Bekku, was arrested Monday when he tried to renew his visa. The second man, Tanaka, was arrested later at his apartment in Bangkok. The pair, both in their 60s, are accused of involvement in smuggling people from Thailand and its neighbouring countries. ‘They were arrested on warrants issued by the Japanese police on charges of human smuggling,’ said the spokesman, Major General Manoo Mekmok.”

Under Section 212(a)(2)(H)(i) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act:

Any alien who commits or conspires to commit human trafficking offenses in the United States or outside the United States, or who the consular officer, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, or the Attorney General knows or has reason to believe is or has been a knowing aider, abettor, assister, conspirator, or colluder with such a trafficker in severe forms of trafficking in persons, as defined in the section 7102 of title 22, is inadmissible.

Clearly, United States Immigration law takes the issue of human trafficking very seriously as it should since human trafficking is a major issue that causes many deaths each year while concurrently undermining the foundations of international law. Furthermore, those who are found guilty of offenses involving human trafficking are likely to be found inadmissible to the United States of America indefinitely as this ground of inadmissibility cannot be remedied through use of an I-601 waiver.
To learn more about US Immigration please see: US Visa Thailand.

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22nd May 2010

Please be advised that the following was posted upon the official website of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

U.S. Embassy Visa Services Closed May 24, 2010

Due to continuing security concerns in the area and access issues on Wireless Road, the U.S. Embassy is currently operating under emergency personnel staffing only.  The Non-immigrant and Immigrant Visa sections will be closed May 24, 2010.  If you have a non-immigrant visa interview appointment scheduled for May 24, 2010, your appointment will be rescheduled.  As soon as the U.S. Embassy has determined the situation to be safe for Embassy Consular staff to return to work and for visa applicants to travel to the Embassy for visa appointments, we will advise those impacted through e-mail or phone with details on new appointment dates.  Please Note:  As a large number of people have been affected by these events, and the volume of appointments that have been scheduled for the upcoming weeks, it will not be possible to consider expedited appointments.  We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this has caused.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I reschedule my appointment?

At present, we must ask applicants with visa appointments scheduled for the period of May 14 through May 24 to wait until the Embassy has determined when that it is safe to conduct visa appointments.  All those impacted by this unexpected closure will be notified through the e-mail address or phone number provided during the visa interview appointment process.

I had a visa appointment scheduled during the period of May 14 – May 24.  I have urgent travel to the United States, what can I do?

Unfortunately, due to the current security situation, the U.S. Embassy Visa Services is currently closed.  We are unable to reschedule any visa appointments for applicants who had appointments made for the period of May 14 – May 24 and will be unable to accommodate expedited appointments.  We suggest that you make alternate travel plans.

I had a visa appointment scheduled during the period of May 14 – May 24.  Can I reschedule my appointment at another U.S. Embassy in a neighboring country?

Each U.S. Embassy has its own scheduling system and requirements for visa applicants.  Fees paid in Thailand for the visa interview cannot be used abroad.

I had a visa appointment scheduled during the period of May 14 – May 24.  Can I reschedule my appointment for the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai?

The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai has its own appointment system and you must live within their consular district to schedule an appointment there.  Please see http://chiangmai.usconsulate.gov/ for more information.

I had a visa appointment scheduled during the period of May 14 – May 24.  Can I make a special request?

Due to the current security situation, the U.S. Embassy Visa Services will be closed for the period of May 14 – May 24.  As such, we will be unable to reply to visa inquiries and/or special requests during that period.  We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience our disruption of service has caused.

I am an immigrant visa applicant – can I come in for my scheduled appointment, to drop off documents, or to pick up my visa?

If you had/have an immigrant visa appointment for the period of May 14 – May 24, it will be rescheduled.  You will be contacted with a new date and time once the Embassy reopens.  If you have been told to bring in documents on Mondays or Wednesdays, or to come in to pick up your visa, please do not come in until the Embassy reopens.  Please look for announcements on the Embassy website.

The documentation mentioned above is likely referencing 221g refusals or requests for other types of documentation related to the issuance of travel documents such as, but not limited to, the K1 visa, the K3 Visa, or Immigrant visas such as the CR1 Visa and the IR1 Visa.

For further information about American attorney assistance in Immigration matters as well as Consular Processing in Bangkok, Thailand please see: US Embassy Bangkok and/or US Embassy 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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29th April 2010

In a recent case that was heard and adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court, the issue of Immigrants’ right to counsel was taken up and the outcome of the case resulted in a landmark opinion and a watershed moment for the rights of Immigrants in the United States of America. The case is known as Padilla v. Kentucky, the following quote comes from an email from the Law Corporation of Alice M. Yardum-Hunter:

The case involved a 40-year permanent resident, Jose Padilla, whose criminal defense lawyer advised him not to worry about the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime. That advice was not only wrong but the guilty plea subjected Mr. Padilla to mandatory deportation from the United States. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that Mr. Padilla had no right to withdraw his plea when he learned of the deportation consequence. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and rejected the federal government’s position – also adopted by several other courts – that a noncitizen is protected only from “affirmative misadvice” and not from a lawyer’s failure to provide any advice about the immigration consequences of a plea. The Court held that Mr. Padilla’s counsel was constitutionally deficient and affirmed that immigrants should not be held accountable when they rely on incorrect advice from their lawyers or where counsel fails to provide any immigration advice at all.

The implications of this case are important for attorneys practicing in the United States as they will now be required to provide advice about the legal consequences of certain activities from an Immigration perspective.

This is also important for those American Immigration Lawyers practicing outside of the United States. For example, if an individual with lawful permanent residence in the United States is abroad and learns of a pending criminal warrant or fugitive warrant, then that individual may choose to retain the advice of a US lawyer outside of the United States. In that case, the lawyer would be required, under the provisions of this recently adjudicated decision, to provide advice regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea in a pending criminal matter.

This example illustrates one more reason why it is so important to retain the advice of an individual who is licensed to practice law in the USA. This is particularly important in a country such as Thailand where the existence of “visa companies,” “visa agents,” and unlicensed and non-accredited so-called “lawyers” and “attorneys” operate with little oversight. Many are unaware of the implications of a criminal pleading in an immigration context and this ignorance can lead to unforeseen difficulties for US Immigrants overseas.

For information about United States Immigration from Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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7th April 2010

As this author has discussed in previous blog posts, one major reason for US visa denial is based upon a finding that a legal grounds of inadmissibility exists in a given case. One legal grounds of inadmissibility is based upon a finding by the Consular Officer that the applicant committed a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT). That being said, at times it can be difficult to determine whether or not an individual’s prior actions would be considered a crime involving moral turpitude. The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) provides some insight into what types of crimes are considered to be crimes involving moral turpitude, the following are excerpts from the FAM:

“9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-1 Crimes Committed Against
Property
(CT:VISA-1318; 09-24-2009)
a. Most crimes committed against property that involve moral turpitude
include the element of fraud. The act of fraud involves moral turpitude
whether it is aimed against individuals or government. Fraud generally
involves:
(1) Making false representation;
(2) Knowledge of such false representation by the perpetrator;
(3) Reliance on the false representation by the person defrauded;
(4) An intent to defraud; and
(5) The actual act of committing fraud”

Property Crimes are not the only activities that can be construed as crimes involving moral turpitude as criminal actions which violate or undermine governmental authority are also considered to be CIMT:

“9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-2 Crimes Committed Against
Governmental Authority
(CT:VISA-1318; 09-24-2009)
a. Crimes committed against governmental authority which fall within the
definition of moral turpitude include:
(1) Bribery;
(2) Counterfeiting;
(3) Fraud against revenue or other government functions;
(4) Mail fraud;
(5) Perjury;
(6) Harboring a fugitive from justice (with guilty knowledge); and
(7) Tax evasion (willful).”

The FAM also goes on to note the various activities that may not be considered CIMT. However, it is incumbent upon the adjudicating officer to examine the facts of a given case and make a decision as to whether the underlying actions that gave rise to a criminal conviction in fact constitutes a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude for purposes of visa issuance. If the officer decides that a CIMT was committed, then the visa application will likely be denied. Under the doctrine of Consular NonReviewability (also known as Consular Absolutism) this decision is not subject to appeal. However, the applicant make be able to overcome the visa denial by applying for, and obtaining, an I-601 waiver.

Of interest to some may be the recent Circuit Court decision which held:

“An order of removal from the United States was entered against Petitioner Armando Alvarez-Reynaga based on his felony conviction for receipt of a stolen vehicle in violation of section 496d(a) of the California Penal Code. His petition for review presents the questions of whether a conviction under that statute qualifies categorically as a conviction for an aggravated felony, and whether it qualifies categorically as a crime involving moral turpitude. We conclude that it qualifies as the first, but not the second. We deny the petition for review.”

As the law continues to evolve, so to does the definition of CIMT and the activities that are considered to be covered by the CIMT provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

For more information about US Visas from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

(Readers should be advised that the above does not constitute a full analysis of CIMT issues. Each application has its own unique set of facts and those facts must be analyzed on an individual basis in order to form a professional opinion.)

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13th March 2010

On many occasions, this author has discussed the issue of the unauthorized practice of law in the context of US Immigration. This problem has been significant in certain areas of the United States as well as abroad. Certain Immigrant groups are more susceptible to fraud than others as it can be difficult for some to decipher who is eligible to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and other agencies under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.

Recently, USCIS had a collaboration session to discuss the issue of unauthorized individuals practicing law. The following is a quote from a release promulgated by USCIS’s Office of Public Engagement:

“Scope of the Problem:

  • The unauthorized practice of law encompasses various activities, including:


  • Applying for benefits on behalf of an immigrant who is ineligible for those benefits


  • Misrepresentation of facts in documents submitted to USCIS


  • Accepting an applicant’s money without ever submitting any documents to USCIS (this is the hardest to track because USCIS has no record of the unauthorized practitioner or documents submitted on behalf of the applicant)


  • Other examples include unauthorized practitioners who claim to be able to obtain labor certifications for employers
  • Primarily a “local issue of national scale”


  • Many unauthorized practitioners promise to expedite cases, and then take an applicant’s money and disappear – applicants are willing to pay more to an unauthorized practitioner than they would to a private attorney because they may believe that notary publics can provide premium services (stems from a difference between the role of notary publics in the U.S. and other countries)


  • Some attorneys lend their names and bar numbers to UPL practices – these attorneys can be disciplined for failure to supervise, but there is nothing that can be done to the unauthorized practitioners


  • Unauthorized practitioners sell forms through their websites and conduct phone consultations


  • There are companies overseas that claim to provide assistance with the “green card lottery”


  • In recent years, there has been an increase in internet-based scams


  • Unauthorized practitioners include ex-government officials, including previous employees of INS, USCIS, DHS, and DOS


  • Unauthorized practitioners often threaten to report applicants to USCIS or ICE when they complain about fees or lack of service


  • Most serious threat is mom and pop shops that advertise with flyers and in local papers or through referrals and hand out business cards advertising themselves as notary publics or attorneys


  • Applicants have an incentive to protect unauthorized practitioners because once an unauthorized practitioner is caught, all cases are reopened


  • Some therapists working with U visa applicants assist clients with preparing/filing forms”

Unfortunately one of the worst consequences of hiring an unauthorized representative is that the applicant’s case may be reopened and scrutinized if it is found that they were assisted by someone without authorization to practice US Immigration law. US immigration lawyers routinely “clean up the mess” caused by those without the knowledge base or ethical standards required to represent clients in American Immigration proceedings.  For this reason, it is always prudent to ascertain at the outset if an individual is really entitled to practice law. This can be learned by asking to see a copy of the individual’s US license to practice law in the Supreme Court of one of the 50 states or a territory of the United States. A Bar Association Membership Card can also shed light on an individual’s credentials. In the case of non-profit entities, a copy of a document confirming the organization or individual’s accreditation by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) may also be used to prove an ability to represent people before the Department of Homeland Security.

For those seeking advice about US Immigration from Thailand please see: US Lawyer Thailand or US Visa Thailand.

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22nd December 2009

In a recent blog posting the former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Mr. Charles Kuck, praised Congressman Luis Gutierrez for proposing an Immigration Reform Bill in the United States House of Representatives. Currently, some members of AILA feel that the American Immigration system is highly flawed and, to quote Mr. Kuck’s blog posting:

“The results are tragically similar, children separated from their parents, husbands separated from their wives, businesses unable to secure their future because of a lack of talent and skilled employment, and an economy unable to nimbly shift from the 19th and 20th century into the 21st century. As a country, we can no longer tolerate what has become a human disaster.

The human perspective of United States Immigration policy is an aspect that some lawmakers fail to consider, but one that they probably should not overlook because America is a nation founded by immigrants and it is our immigrant heritage that makes America a vibrant and innovative nation. The most disturbing facet of the current United States Immigration infrastructure is the fact that it does have a tendency to keep family members separated for, what can turn out to be, a substantially long period of time. For those couple who follow the proper immigration procedures it could still take longer than one year to re-unite a couple.

Of further importance is the need to rectify the US Immigration apparatus with regard to same-sex couples. Unfortunately, due to provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act, it is not possible for same-sex married couples to obtain US Immigration benefits based upon a lawfully executed marriage. There are advocates in the House of Representatives and Senate who wish to change this unfortunate state of affairs, but it seems that they have an uphill battle ahead of them.

Another critical aspect of US Immigration that is desperately in need of an overhaul is the area of employment based visas. Although America is only slowly coming out of “The Great Recession” and is still reluctant to allow more foreign workers into the American labor force, this is a necessity as foreign highly-skilled workers keep the US economy on the cutting edge of both innovation and technology. The United States does itself a disservice by prohibiting foreign skilled workers from entering the country. Hopefully Congressman Gutierrez will be able to get this much needed bill passed and usher in a modern era in US Immigration.

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