Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘us passport’

9th February 2017

In the aftermath of the new year, there have been many announcements which have had significant impacts upon those living outside the USA. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States is poised to begin certifying delinquent taxes and communicating such certification to the United States Department of State. To quote the official IRS website directly:

The IRS has not yet started certifying tax debt to the State Department. Certifications to the State Department will begin in early 2017…If you have seriously delinquent tax debt, IRC § 7345 authorizes the IRS to certify that to the State Department. The [State] department generally will not issue or renew a passport to you after receiving certification from the IRS…Upon receiving certification, the State Department may revoke your passport. If the department decides to revoke it, prior to revocation, the department may limit your passport to return travel to the U.S.

As of January 1, 2016 US Federal statutes were amended to allow US passport revocation for those individuals who were delinquent in taxes under statutorily defined circumstances. Notwithstanding the fact that this law had been promulgated, it appears that until now the IRS had not put a frame work in place for notifying the State Department that an individual had tax delinquency issues. As can be seen from the IRS’s own website, that is no longer the case moving forward. For this reason it is prudent for those who may have tax delinquency issues to retain the services of a competent professional in order to rectify such issues before a situation arises where one is unable to get a passport issued, or a passport is revoked either in the USA or while traveling abroad.

Meanwhile, it appears that authorities in Thailand have adjusted the tax structure for certain taxpayers in Thailand. To quote directly from the Bangkok Post:

A revamped personal income tax structure aimed at increasing disposable incomes for taxpayers has officially come into effect…The amendment to the Tax Code, published in the Royal Gazette on Jan 27, applies to incomes received from Jan 1, 2017 to be filed in 2018…

It appears that under the restructure individuals will be able to make larger deductions for certain expenses while certain filing requirements have been changed requiring a larger number of individuals to file taxes. Those interested in these developments are strongly encouraged to read the article cited above and consult appropriate professionals in order to be apprised of the posture of a given tax situation.

Finally, The United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand has recently increased their official exchange rate to 37-1 (baht to dollars). This change reflects the fact that the Baht has been weakening against the US dollar in recent months and may be a signal that said currency may weaken further. The US Embassy in Thailand utilizes a set exchange rate which provides a level of certainty regarding the cost (in baht terms) of service fees for services provided by the US Embassy personnel.

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5th December 2015

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal a new bill proposed by the United States Congress was discussed:

Under a new law expected to take effect in January, the State Department will block Americans with “seriously delinquent” tax debt from receiving new passports and will be allowed to rescind existing passports of people who fall into that category. The list of affected taxpayers will be compiled by the Internal Revenue Service using a threshold of $50,000 of unpaid federal taxes, including penalties and interest, which would be adjusted for inflation.

Clearly this proposed legislation could have significant ramifications for Americans living abroad. Presently, Americans abroad could only see their passports rescinded or applications for renewals denied where said applicants have outstanding criminal warrants in the United States of America or are delinquent on their child support. The proposed legislation comes after the relatively recent  implementation of FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) which requires foreign banking institutions to report the financial activities of American citizens making financial transactions abroad. There have been some who disapprove of FATCA and there have been moves made in the US Federal Court to challenge the law’s constitutionality. However, at present the law remains part of the current American legal framework with respect to overseas bank accounts. As a possible consequence, in recent years there have been a growing number of individuals who have opted to renounce their United States Citizenship. It is clear that more and more people are opting to renounce their United States Citizenship. Each individual’s renunciation is likely based upon a different calculus, but it seems clear that recent changes to American tax policy have had a significant impact upon Americans living abroad.

The recent announcement that passports could be revoked as a consequence of tax delinquency seems likely to cause the number of Citizenship renunciations to increase. Although, it remains to be seen if this new policy will have a significant impact upon renunciations. Regardless of the fact that 50,000 USD seems like a substantial amount of money it will be interesting to see if the proposed legislation will allow for a form of COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) style system whereby the amount of money in tax delinquency which would trigger a passport renunciation would increase year by year in order to track inflation. It is unlikely that such a scheme would be implemented because Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR) requirements have not changed since the late 70′s. Therefore it stands to reason that the passport issuance requirements will stay frozen. Therefore, this legislation, although unlikely to have a significant impact upon Americans abroad anytime soon could have serious ramifications for Americans in 15-20 years time when 50,000 USD is not the representation of wealth that it is today.

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10th August 2013

Millions of people around the world wish to take up residence in the United States of America and often wish to become American Citizens. However, it would appear that some Americans are cutting ties with the USA and renouncing their United States Citizenship. Names of all those Americans who renounce their United States Citizenship are recorded and published in the United States Federal Register. These lists are generally not particularly newsworthy. However, in the most recent quarterly publication regarding US Citizenship renunciation it would appear that the number of Americans renouncing their United States Citizenship has jumped by over 60% when compared to previous quarters. In the last quarter 1,131 people renounced their United States Citizenship. This number is a large increase from the previous quarter which saw only 679 renunciation. Although, when compared against the same quarter of the previous year which saw only 188 renunciations the 1,811 figure is rather staggering. Is this simply a one-time anomaly or is this the sign of a growing trend?

While some are speculating as to what this trend means in a broad socio-economic context, I feel that some analysis is necessary to put some perspective on these numbers. A reader looking at the Federal Register’s official posting regarding these numbers will likely note the following information:

For purposes of this listing, long-term residents, as defined in section 877(e)(2), are treated as if they were citizens of the United States who lost citizenship.

The casual reader may wonder: what does this mean? Well to quote directly from the Cornell Law School’s website which lists sections 877 (e)(1) and 877(e)(2):

(1) In general

Any long-term resident of the United States who ceases to be a lawful permanent resident of the United States (within the meaning of section 7701 (b)(6)) shall be treated for purposes of this section and sections 2107, 2501, and 6039G in the same manner as if such resident were a citizen of the United States who lost United States citizenship on the date of such cessation or commencement.

(2) Long-term resident

For purposes of this subsection, the term “long-term resident” means any individual (other than a citizen of the United States) who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States in at least 8 taxable years during the period of 15 taxable years ending with the taxable year during which the event described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) occurs. For purposes of the preceding sentence, an individual shall not be treated as a lawful permanent resident for any taxable year if such individual is treated as a resident of a foreign country for the taxable year under the provisions of a tax treaty between the United States and the foreign country and does not waive the benefits of such treaty applicable to residents of the foreign country.

Therefore, based upon the information provided by the Federal Register and the United States statutes noted above some of those listed in the Federal Register as those renouncing their Citizenship could be United States Lawful Permanent Residents (colloquially referred to as “Green Card” holders) who have chosen to give up their permanent resident status. This explanation probably does not account for all of the “Citizenship renunciations” listed in the recent Federal Register publication, but it may account for some of these numbers. In any event, the number of those expatriating from the United States remains high compared to previous points in American history. The question remains, why are higher numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenship?

There are some who contend that the recent spike in citizenship renunciation may stem from American policy regarding taxation of United States Citizens living abroad. American Citizens (as well as lawful permanent residents) are taxed on their worldwide income, regardless of where they physically reside. This situation is in stark contrast to the tax policies of virtually every other country in the world as most countries only tax those of their citizenry who reside in their country. There are exceptions to the previous statement as issues such as domicile play into many countries’ foreign taxation policies. Many feel that the recent increases in the number of renunciations is driven by Americans with high foreign derived incomes seeking to rid themselves of the need to pay American taxes. In a major story from last year it was noted that one of the founders of Facebook had renounced his United States Citizenship before the IPO of that company’s stock. It should be noted that some argue that his tax obligations at that time may not have actually decreased as a result of his decision to give up his citizenship (due to American tax laws such as the so-called “Expatriation Tax” or “Exit Tax”), although his future tax liabilities may be reduced as a result of that decision. Perhaps more Americans are taking the (somewhat drastic) step of renouncing their citizenship in order to save some money from the tax man. Without knowing each former-American’s motivations for renouncing United States Citizenship we are left to speculate.

There may be another impetus behind the recent increase in the number of Americans renouncing their Citizenship: the FATCA. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compels financial institutions outside of the United States to report information about accounts maintained by American Citizens or lawful permanent residents to the Internal Revenue Service. Furthermore, foreign financial institutions are also required to report on accounts maintained by foreign corporations in which Americans or Lawful Permanent Residents own a significant interest. The FATCA’s implementation has been pushed back until July of 2014. Could the looming specter of the FATCA be the reason for the recent uptick in American’s renouncing their citizenship? One of the many upshots of the FATCA is the fact that the regulatory requirements imposed by the American government on foreign banking and financial institutions can be rather burdensome. One way that these foreign institutions can relieve themselves of these burdens is by refusing to accept American customers. If there are no Americans holding accounts at a given foreign bank, then the bank does not necessarily have to comply with the provisions of the FATCA. This has lead to a situation where more and more overseas banks are refusing to provide services to Americans living and working abroad. By renouncing United States Citizenship and naturalizing to the Citizenship of another country a former American could bank in much the same manner as other foreign nationals.

The decision to renounce one’s U.S. Citizenship is a significant one and should not me made lightly. There are many benefits to being an American Citizen so those thinking of renouncing their Citizenship should review not only their tax situation, but also the intangible and tangible benefits of their American citizenship (including the US Passport). Will this trend continue? It remains to be seen, but there are many who feel that as American oversight of global taxation matters becomes more ubiquitous there will be more American’s who question the value of their citizenship.

–Benjamin W. Hart is an American attorney who resides in Bangkok, Thailand.

For related information please see: Citizenship Renunciation.

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21st July 2013

In an effort to provide relevant information to travelers and expatriates who read this blog, the administration posts the holiday closing schedules for the various US Emabssies and US Consulates in the Southeast Asia region. The following is the holiday closing schedule for the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as posted on the official Embassy website:

Month Day Holiday Khmer/U.S.
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day U.S.
January 21 Monday Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S.
February 18 Monday George Washington’s Birthday U.S.
March 8 Friday International Women’s Day CAM
April 15 Monday Khmer New Year’s Day CAM
April 16 Tuesday Khmer New Year’s Day CAM
May 13 Monday Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah​Boromneath NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia CAM
May 14 Tuesday Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah BoromneathNORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia CAM
May 27 Monday Memorial Day U.S.
June 18 Tuesday Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen-Mother NORODOM MONINEATH SIHANOUK of Cambodia CAM
July 4 Thursday Independence Day U.S.
September 2 Monday Labor Day U.S.
October 3 Thursday Pchum Ben Day CAM
October 4 Friday Pchum Ben Day CAM
October 14 Monday Columbus Day U.S.
October 15 Tuesday National Day of Mourning for His Majesty King Father​Preah Bat Samdech NORODOM SIHANOUK CAM
November 11 Monday Veterans Day U.S.
November 18 Monday Water Festival CAM
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day U.S.
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day U.S.

Each year, many Americans travel to a US Embassy or US Consulate in an effort to obtain services such as US Passport renewal, notary service, additional US Passport pages, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. Meanwhile, many foreign nationals from around the world must undergo Consular Processing in order to eventually be granted a US visa. Non-Immigrant visa units are tasked with adjudicating applications for non-immigrant visas such as the B-1/B-2 visa (US Tourist visa), F-1 visa (student visa), and the J-1 visa. Business visa units are responsible for the adjudication of business visa applications for travel documents such as the E-1 visa, the E-2 visa, the EB visa, the L-1 visa, the O-1 visa, and the H1-B visa. Finally, immigrant visa units have the responsibility for adjudicating applications for immigrant visas such as the IR-1 visa and the CR-1 visa. However, those seeking a K-1 visa (fiance visa) may also find themselves being interviewed by an officer with the immigrant visa unit as such travel documents are treated in much the same way as immigrant visas, notwithstanding the fact that K-1 visas are technically non-immigrant visas.

Those wishing to receive service from American Citizen Services at a US Embassy abroad or those wishing to have a visa application adjudictaed are encouraged to make an appointment online prior to traveling to the US Post.

For related information please see: US Embassy Thailand.

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27th June 2013

In an effort to provide relevant information for those Americans living abroad as well as those foreign nationals who may have business to conduct at a US Embassy or US Consulate it has been the practice of the administration of this blog to post the holiday closing times for US Embassies and Consulates in and around Southeast Asia. The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

Official Holidays 2013
Month Date Day Occasion
January 1 Tuesday New Year’s Day
January 21 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
February 18 Monday Presidents’ Day
April 8 Monday Substitute day of King Rama I Memorial and Chakri Day
April 12 Friday Songkran Festival
April 15 Monday Songkran Festival
April 16 Tuesday Substitute day of Songkran Festival
May 6 Monday Substitute day of Coronation Day
May 24 Friday Visakha Bucha Day
May 27 Monday Memorial Day
July 4 Thursday Independence Day
August 12 Monday Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday
September 2 Monday Labor Day
October 14 Monday Columbus Day
October 23 Wednesday Chulalongkorn Day
November 11 Monday Veterans Day
November 28 Thursday Thanksgiving Day
December 5 Thursday His Majesty the King’s Birthday
December 10 Tuesday Constitution Day
December 25 Wednesday Christmas Day
December 31 Tuesday New Year’s Eve

Those seeking information about the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand are encouraged to visit their homepage by clicking HERE.

The US Embassy in Bangkok is tasked with adjudicating visa applications for non-immigrant visas such as the B-1 visa, the B-2 visa, and the F-1 visa; the immigrant visa section adjudicates applications for visas such as the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, the K-1 visa, and the K-3 visa. American Citizen Services is responsible for assisting Americans in renewing passports, issuing new visa pages for US passports, issuing Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, providing notary services, as well as a wide variety of other functions. Generally, it is advisable to make an appointment prior to traveling to the Embassy as this can facilitate quicker processing of relevant requests.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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4th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is poised to begin exclusively offering routine services at the American Citizen Services section of the Post by appointment only. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

Beginning September 1, 2011, all non-emergency consular services will require an appointment. We hope that this will assist us in providing prompt and efficient consular services to American Citizens residing in Thailand.  Please plan accordingly.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to United States Missions abroad it should be noted that an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy, US Consulate, or American Institute provides many services for Americans resident abroad. Such services include, but are not limited to, US Passport issuance, Consular Report of Birth Abroad issuance, Notary Services, and issuance of additional pages to a previously issued US Passport. It has always been this blogger’s personal experience that the ACS unit of the US Embassy in Bangkok handles matters in an efficient and courteous manner. That stated, the unit always seems hectically busy and it would appear that the new policy is aimed at streamlining the processing of pertinent requests.

Those seeking information regarding visas and immigration to the United States should look for information regarding Immigrant Visa Units and/or Non-Immigrant Visa Units at US Posts abroad as those sections are generally tasked with adjudicating applications for visas such as the B-2 visa, the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, and the IR-1 visa.

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12th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the often venerated alternative media outlet ZeroHedge.com has posted an analysis of issues pertaining to a proposed change to the forms used by those seeking a US Passport. To provide further insight it is necessary  to quote directly from the Zero Hedge website, ZeroHedge.com

In the US, the government now requires all citizens to have a passport in order to pass the border, even when driving into Mexico or Canada. Obtaining a passport, however, is neither free nor guaranteed.  You must apply, pay an ever-increasing fee, and wait for weeks to be approved and receive it. Recently, the State Department quietly proposed a new ‘biographical questionnaire’ in lieu of the traditional passport application. The new form requires you to provide things like:

- names, birth places, and birth dates of your extended family members
– your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth
– whether or not your mother received pre-natal or post natal care
– the address of your mother’s physician and dates of appointments
– the address of every place you have ever lived in your entire life
– the name and address of every school you have ever attended

Most people would find it impossible to provide such information, yet the form requires that the responses ‘are true and correct’ under penalty of imprisonment. Naturally, the privacy statement on the application also acknowledges that the responses can be shared with other departments in the government, including Homeland Security. If this proposal passes, then US citizens will have a nearly insurmountable hurdle to obtain a passport and be able to leave the country at will…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted prior to this excerpt. Also, it is advisable to click upon the hyperlinks contained within this quotation in order to understand this situation in context.

Each year, many Americans traveling abroad, or those Americans resident abroad, renew their passport at an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. It has always been this blogger’s opinion that personnel of the Department of State who handle such matters do so in an efficient and courteous manner. Meanwhile, many United States Citizens opt to seek passport renewal in the USA. This blogger has undertaken both endeavors and in each case the officers involved processed the request quickly and with little difficulty. Although it remains to be seen how the proposed questionnaire would actually impact the processing of passport issuance requests one can hope that the process will not become overly cumbersome.

In news pertaining to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a woman in the sovereign State of New York is challenging the legal status and Constitutionality of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide the reader with some relevant insight it is necessary to quote directly from an article by Mark Hamblett for the New York Law Journal posted on Law.com:

Challengers to the federal Defense of Marriage Act insist that every justification offered by Congress for defining marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman is contrary to logic and the law. In summary judgment papers filed in the Southern District of New York, lawyers for Edith Schlain Windsor argue that there is no good reason for treating her marriage to the late Thea Clara Spyer any differently than a heterosexual union. Read Ms. Windsor’s motion and memorandum. Ms. Windsor’s lawyers call the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a radical measure and a clear violation of the right to equal protection of the laws under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “DOMA is a sweeping statute that rewrites over one thousand federal laws and overturns the federal government’s long-standing practice of deferring to state determinations of marital status,” the lawyers claim in a memorandum asking Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV for summary judgment in the case of Windsor v. United States, 10-cv-8435. “Throughout history, the federal government has never married people, leaving that to the states…”

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read about this case in detail.

Those unfamiliar with the current predicament of the LGBT community should note that in immigration matters same sex bi-national couples, even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions, are unable to petition for the same immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts. In order to attempt to remedy this particular discrepancy Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The Respect for Marriage Act was also introduced by Representative Nadler in order to remedy the issue of “certainty” in such cases. As of the time of this writing, neither of these bills has seen enactment although there has been recent news that the Senate Judiciary Committee may be holding hearings pertaining to the Respect for Marriage Act soon. On a related note, the Reuniting Families Act, which apparently includes UAFA-like language, was lately introduced by Representative Mike Honda although passage of this legislation remains to be seen.

There is certainly an “equal protection” component to any argument against DOMA, but relatively few commentators seem to take note of the fact that the way DOMA is currently enforced may also violate notions of States’ Rights. Generally, matters pertaining to the prerogatives of the Several States are debated by the United States Congress before enactment of legislation which maintains interstate compliance with the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. In this case, Congress has arguably abrogated the notion of Full Faith and Credit inherent in the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause since section 3 of DOMA effectively renders the prerogatives of the sovereign States ineffective when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage.

The issues associated with DOMA have yet to be fully resolved, but it seems likely that these matters may remain contentious both inside the Courtrooms of America and elsewhere.

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6th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been noted by various media outlets for launching a new ad campaign to encourage those present in the United States as lawful permanent residents to naturalize to American Citizenship. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is best to quote directly from the website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

NEW YORK – The US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched its first ever paid ad campaign urging roughly 7.9 million green card holders to become naturalized citizens. The $3.5 million multilingual campaign will be used for three years and is part of an $11 million allotment from Congress meant to promote integration of immigrants. This year’s campaign in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese will run in print, radio and digital formats between May 30 and Sept 5, primarily in states with large immigrant populations, such as California, New York, Florida and Texas. ”You’ve got to create that sense of urgency, and until they’ve reached that sense of urgency, they’ll just coast,” Nathan Stiefel, division chief of policy and programs for the Office of Citizenship at USCIS, told the Associated Press…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to American immigration it should be noted that those who enter the United States of America on a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa are accorded lawful permanent residence (also colloquially referred to as Green Card status). After spending a specified period of time physically present in the United States it may be possible for an immigrant to naturalize to American citizenship. There are many benefits to be had by undergoing the naturalization process including, but not limited to: the right to vote, the right to a US Passport, as well as the various privileges and/or immunities of citizenship. Those interested in learning if they are eligible for such benefits are encouraged to contact a licensed American attorney.

In somewhat unrelated news, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Japan is apparently preparing to conduct tests on various nuclear facilities in that country. For further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the Channel News Asia website at ChannelNewsAsia.com:

TOKYO : Japan said Wednesday it will run “stress tests” on all its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident sparked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The ongoing crisis, the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago, has ignited debate in Japan about the safety of nuclear power, which before the disaster accounted for a third of its electricity needs. The centre-left government ordered a round of initial tests on the country’s other atomic power plants after the disaster, and said the new stress tests aimed to reassure the public that the facilities are safe…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click on the appropriate hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

For those unfamiliar with the ongoing situation in Japan it should be noted that an Earthquake which occurred in March of this year resulted in a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima facility noted above. This situation had tremendous ramifications for both the Asia-Pacific region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As this tragic state of affairs continues to play out it is hoped that positive endeavors can mitigate some of the damage caused by this disaster. No doubt the Japanese citizenry remain in the hearts and minds of conscientious people the world over.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization.

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2nd June 2011

Frequent readers of this web log may have taken note of the fact that the administration routinely posts the holiday closing schedules of the various US Missions in Asia as a courtesy to the public-at-large. To quote directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan:

DATE                                 DAY                           HOLIDAY

January 2*                 (US)  Sunday  New Year’s Day
January 16*               (US)  Sunday  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 15              (AF)  Tuesday  Liberation Day
February 16**           (AF)  Wednesday  Prophet’s Birthday
February 20*              (US)  Sunday  President’s Day
March 21                   (AF)  Monday  Nawrooz (Afghan New Year – 1390)
April 28                      (AF)  Thursday   Victory Day
May 29*                    (US)  Sunday  Memorial Day
July 3*                      (US)  Sunday  Independence Day
August 1**                (AF)  Monday  First Day or Ramadan
August 18***             (AF)  Thursday  Independence Day
Aug 31 – Sept 2**      (AF)  Wednesday – Friday Eid ul-Fitr
September 4*             (US)  Sunday  Labor Day
September 8***          (AF)  Thursday  Martyrdom of National Hero Day
October 9*                 (US)  Sunday  Columbus Day
November 6-8**          (AF)  Sunday – Tuesday Eid-e Qurban
November 10*             (US)  Thursday  Veteran’s Day
November 24               (US)  Thursday  Thanksgiving Day
December 6**             (AF)  Tuesday  10th of Muharram (Ashura)
December 25               (US)  Sunday  Christmas Day

Notes:

*    American holidays marked with an asterisk (*) are observed on a different day than in the US.

**  Afghan holidays marked with double asterisks (**) are based on the Islamic Calendar and depend on sightings of the moon.  As a holiday approaches, adjustments to this schedule may be made based on local practice and Afghan government announcements.

*** Afghan holidays marked with triple asterisks (***) are observed one day earlier.

Those wishing to visit the official homepage of the United States Embassy in Kabul are encouraged to click HERE.

It may sometimes prove necessary for an American Resident Abroad or an American traveling abroad to acquire documentation (US Passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Notarized affidavit, etc.) which can only be obtained from an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate overseas. Americans seeking such documentation are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section with appropriate Consular jurisdiction.

Those seeking an American non-immigrant visa (such as a B-1 visa, B-2 visa, J-1 visa, or F-1 visa) are likely to see their visa application processed at a non-immigrant visa section of a US Embassy, US Consulate, or American Institute abroad. Meanwhile, those seeking an immigrant visa such as a CR-1 visa or IR-1 visa (for purposes of Consular Processing, the K-1 visa; although a non-immigrant US fiance visa, is treated in much the same way as immigrant visa categories for processing purposes) are likely to see their visa application processed by an Immigrant Visa Unit abroad. Immigrant visas such as those noted above are likely to only be granted pursuant to an initial adjudication of an immigration petition at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Those seeking visas such as the EB-5 visa or the L-1 visa are well advised to take note of the fact that it is unlikely that a visa application will be adjudicated by a US Post abroad until after an initial immigration petition is approved by USCIS.

For related information please see: Legal.

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20th May 2011

It recently came to the attention of this blogger that the United States Supreme Court may be hearing a case pertaining to issues surrounding the issuance of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Such documents are generally issued by Consular Officers of the Department of State at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad.  To quote directly from a May 2nd posting by Lyle Denniston on ScotusBlog at scotusblog.com:

Stepping into a significant test of the President’s foreign policy powers, the Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether Congress had the authority to dictate how the Executive Branch makes out birth certificates for U.S. citizens born abroad — in this case, in Jerusalem, a city that the U.S. government does not recognize as an official part of Israel.  At issue is the validity of a nine-year-old law in which Congress aimed to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  That dispute came in one of two cases the Court agreed on Monday to hear, at its next Term.

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click the hyperlinks above to read this posting on ScotusBlog in its entirety as it cogently provides information about what could prove to be a very pertinent issue in the days and weeks ahead.

Although the issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad may seem innocuous, especially to American Citizens who do not have a great deal of international experience; but it should be noted that this document is very important as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad documents the fact that an American Citizen was born overseas. This document is thereby used to obtain a US passport as well as other documentation. To continue quoting from the aforementioned article:

After State Department officials refused to fill out a report on the foreign birth of a boy born in 2002 in a Jerusalem hospital to show that his birthplace was “Israel,” his parents sued, seeking to enforce the 2002 law that ordered the State Department to do just that, when asked to do so.   A federal judge and the D.C. Circuit Court refused to decide the case, saying the controversy was a “political question” that the courts had no authority to resolve.

The law noted above attempts to deal with a somewhat difficult issue as Jerusalem is not technically considered to be part of the Greater State of Israel. In order to provide more insight on this complex issue it may be best to quote directly from the preamble to the opposition’s brief in this case:

QUESTION PRESENTED

Whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the dismissal of petitioner’s suit seeking to compel the Secretary of State to record “Israel” as his place of birth in his United States passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad, instead of “Jerusalem,” when the panel unanimously agreed that the decision how to record the place of birth for a citizen born in Jerusalem in official United States government documents is committed exclusively to the Executive Branch by the Constitution.

The administration urges readers to click on the hyperlink noted above to read the opposition’s brief in detail.

It would appear to this blogger as though the issues in this case are likely to result in any finding having tremendous ramifications. This is due to the fact that there really are two important notions in competition. Namely, the right of the individual or family to choose the manner in which a report of birth abroad is promulgated and the right of the Executive Branch to conduct foreign policy.

It remains to be seen how the Court will rule on these issues, but one this is certain: cases involving a “political question” often make for the most interesting decisions.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Legal.

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