Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘us visa denial’

29th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the discretionary powers accorded to Consular Officers at United States Missions abroad with regard to visa issuance are to be expanded to provide further latitude to Consular Officers with regard to the revocation of US visas. To quote directly from Justia.com:

This rule changes Department regulations to broaden the authority of a consular officer to revoke a visa at any time subsequent to issuance of the visa, in his or her discretion. These changes to the Department’s revocation regulations expand consular officer visa revocation authority to the full extent allowed by statute. Additionally, this rule change allows consular officers and designated officials within the Department to revoke a visa provisionally while considering a final visa revocation.

Clearly, this rule would expand the authority currently granted to Consular Officers in adjudicating American visa matters. For those who are unfamiliar with this topic it should be noted that Consular Officers currently maintain virtually un-reviewable discretion in matters pertaining to US visa application adjudication. This discretion occurs pursuant to a doctrine referred to as Consular Non-Reviewability (or colloquially referred to as Consular Absolutism). Pursuant to the philosophy underlying this doctrine Courts in the United States are unlikely to review the decisions of a Consular Officer at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad unless the Consular Officer’s decision in the matter appears “facially illegitimate” to the Court of competent jurisdiction.

Bearing this in mind the announcement went on to point out the reasoning behind the recent decision to make this rule change:

On occasion, after a visa has been issued, the Department or a consular officer may determine that a visa should be revoked when information reveals that the applicant was originally or has since become ineligible or may be ineligible to possess a U.S. visa. Section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(i)) (INA) authorizes the Secretary and consular officers to revoke a visa in their discretion. Current regulations limit the circumstances in which consular officers may revoke visas. In light of security concerns, this amendment grants additional authority to consular officers to revoke visas, consistent with the statutory provisions of the INA. Although this rule eliminates the provisions that permit reconsideration of a revocation, it also allows for the provisional revocation of a visa when there is a need for further consideration of information that might lead to a final revocation. In cases where the person subject to a provisional revocation is found to be eligible for the visa, the visa will be reinstated with no need for reapplication. However, with the exception of provisional revocations, an applicant whose visa has been revoked must apply for another visa, at which time his or her eligibility for the visa will be adjudicated.

In this blogger’s opinion, this rule change could have significant ramifications for prospective visa applicants. That stated, it remains to be seen what the practical implications of this rule change will be. The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the above hyperlinks to learn more about this topic on Justia.com.

It should be noted that within the text of this memo it was pointed out that this rule is being promulgated pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. To quote one final time from the aforementioned document:

This regulation involves a foreign affairs function of the United States and, therefore, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553 (a) (1), is not subject to the rule making procedures set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553.

Those who have read this blog in the past may recall that the United States Department of State maintains a mandate to conduct the foreign affairs of the United States and one of the duties that is entailed within this mandate is the duty to adjudicate applications for a US visa. This can include applications for visas such as the B-2 visa (for those wishing to engage in recreational travel in the United States), the K-1 visa (a US fiance visa for the foreign fiance of a US Citizen), the CR-1 visa or IR-1 visa (for the spouse of an American Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident), or, in increasingly rare instances, a K-3 visa (which is a non-immigrant spouse visa for the husband or wife of an American Citizen). It is even posited that this new discretion could have an effect upon adjudication of L-1 visa and EB-5 visa applications, as well as the possible aftermath thereof. In any case, increased Consular discretion is likely to have an impact upon visa applications across the categorical spectrum of American travel documents.

For related information please see: K-1 Visa Thailand or K-1 Visa Cambodia.

For information related to waivers of grounds of inadmissibility (ineligibility) please see: I-601 waiver or I-212 waiver.

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16th February 2011

It has recently come to this blogger’s attention through anecdotal evidence that there may have been a relatively significant increase in the number of I-601 waiver petitions filed by American Citizens in both the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the greater area that comprises the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Apparently, the majority of these cases are being handled pro se (without attorney representation). It would appear that these pro se filings are being subjected to Requests For Evidence (RFE) which can be time consuming. Furthermore, there are some who also speculate that such petitions could see a higher denial rate.

Those who read this blog may have taken notice of the fact that this blogger takes the practice of United States Immigration law seriously. That said, there is nothing inherently wrong with American Citizens unilaterally petitioning their government for United States Immigration benefits pro se. This blogger has no problem with those who wish to seek immigration benefits without the assistance of counsel, but those pondering this course of action should be aware of the risks. First, the assistance of an American attorney in the US Immigration process can prove highly beneficial as such a professional can provide insight into the dynamics of immigration law as well as the regulations which are used to enforce that law.

Immigration law could be likened to dermatological medicine insofar as the routine cases that arise in an immigration context are sometimes easily taken care of by the petitioner or beneficiary themselves much the same way that a case of acne could be alleviated without the need to visit a dermatologist. Meanwhile, some issues which arise in immigration law can be extremely complicated and therefore such matters may require the assistance of one with a great deal of experience in matters pertaining to American immigration law. This state of affairs brings to mind a hypothetical situation involving dermatologists who specialize in skin cancers and various other skin maladies which are not commonly known to laymen. To take this hypothetical further, a patient afflicted with skin cancer is usually unable to treat themselves. To use this hypothetical as an analogy in an immigration context: those seeking an I-601 waiver are in a situation, similar to the skin cancer patient mentioned above, which may require professional assistance as failure to retain an attorney could increase the chances that an I-601 waiver (or for that matter an I-212 waiver) will be ultimately denied.

The standard of proof in an I-601 waiver is “extreme hardship” and this standard is not easily overcome. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has noted that “extreme hardship” does not mean “mere separation,” of the couple, but is, in fact, something more substantial. American Immigration lawyers expend a great deal of time and effort to see that I-601 waiver petitions are well founded. As a result, such petitions may be at a lower risk of being denied. Bearing this in mind, no attorney, or anyone else for that matter, can foresee what the outcome of a waiver petition will be. Those reading this posting should not misconstrue the author’s message by inferring that retaining an attorney will result in a guaranteed outcome as this is simply not the case. Should an I-601 waiver petition be denied, then it may be possible to have the case reconsidered in a Motion to Reopen or through an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Under such circumstances, the case will be adjudicated based upon an “abuse of discretion” standard which is not easily overcome. Therefore, submitting a well founded I-601 waiver petition the first time can be imperative for those wishing to have a legal grounds of inadmissibility waived.

As always, those seeking representation or counsel in matters related to American immigration should check the credentials of anyone in Southeast Asia claiming expertise in such matters. Only an attorney licensed to practice law in the United States is entitled charge fees to represent clients before the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, or American Missions abroad.

For related information about this issue please see: US Visa Denial.

more Comments: 04

18th January 2011

เมื่อเร็วๆนี้มีข่าวที่อยู่ในเว็บไซต์ Telegraph.co.uk พาดหัวข่าวว่า “เด็กชายวัย 9 ขวบพลาดการไปเที่ยวดิสนีย์เวิลด์เพราะระเบียบของคนเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกา”ซึ่งรายงานกล่าวว่า เด็กชาย วัย 9 ขวบถูกปฏิเสธวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกาประเภทท่องเที่ยว อ้างโดยตรงจากบทความ :

พวกเขากล่าวว่า มีความเสี่ยงที่หลังจากช่วงวันหยุดสุดสัปดาห์ เขาจะไม่เดินทางออกนอกสหรัฐอเมริกาและเขาถูกปฏิเสธคำขอภายใต้มาตรา 214(b) ของพระราชบัญญัติสัญชาติและคนเข้าเมือง

บล็อกเกอร์อ้างในหัวข้อของบทความต้นฉบับซึ่งข้อจำกัดของคนเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาซึ่งอาจจะมีบางอย่างคลุมเครือเนื่องจากการยื่นคำขอวีซ่านั้นยื่นต่อกงสุลสหรัฐอเมริกาภายใต้เขตอำนาจของสถานทูตในสหราชอาณาจักรและไม่ใช่หน่วยบริการคนเข้าเมืองและพลเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกา (USCIS)ในสหรัฐอเมริกา อาจกล่าวได้ว่า บทความนี้ได้อธิบายถึงการยื่นขอวีซ่าของเด็กในสหราชอาณาจักรและการปฏิเสธวีซ่า พ่อแม่ของเด็กกพยายามที่จะสร้างความประทับใจให้แก่ลูกด้วยการเดินทางไปดิสนีย์เวิลด์ ฟลอริด้า อ้างโดยตรงจากบทความ:

ไมคาร์ [ผู้ที่ยื่นขอวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกาประเภท B-2]เกิดในอังกฤษและอาศัยอยู่ในเมดเดิลส์เอ็กซ์ตลอดชีวิตของเขากับคลาเดียร์ ลูอิสผู้เป็นแม่

เขาถือพาสปอร์ตแอฟริกาใต้เพราะเคทรีและเอ็ดเวิร์ดทวดขอองเขาอาศัยและทำงานอยู่ในอังกฤษตั้งแต่ปี 1990 เพียงแค่เขาเท่านั้นที่ได้รับพาสปอร์ตแอฟริกาใต้

พวกเขามีต้นกำเนิดมาจากแอฟริกาใต้

ไมคาร์แนบจดหมายจากโรงเรียนประถมของเขาที่ยืนยันว่า เขาเรียนอยู่ที่โรงเรียนไปพร้อมกับการยื่นคำขอวีซ่า

แต่สถานทูตอเมริกาปฏิเสธจดหมายของไมคาร์โดยอ้างว่า “เพราะว่าไม่มีการแสดงให้เห็นถึงความสัมพันธ์ที่แน่นแฟ้นนอกสหรัฐอเมริกาหรือไม่สามารถแสดงว่า กิจกรรมที่คุณจะไปสหรัฐอเมริกาจะทำให้คุณยังคงสถานะของวีซ่าอยู่ได้ คุณเป็นผู้ที่ขาดคุณสมบัติ”

เคทรี ยายของเขามาจากบริกซ์ตันทางตอนใต้ของลอนดอนกล่าวว่า “เป็นเรื่องที่น่าประหลาดใจมาก เขาน่าจะชอบมัน”

บล็อกเกอร์ขอแนะนำว่า ผู้ที่สนใจที่จะติดตามเรื่องราวเพิ่มเติมสามารถอ่านเพิ่มเติมได้ที่ เว็บไซต์ Telegraph

มาตรา 214(b) พระราชบัญญัติสัญชาติและคนเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกาซึ่งกำหนดข้อสันนิษฐานทางกฎหมายในการตัดสินของเจ้าหน้าที่กงสุลในภารกิจของสหรัฐในต่างแดน (สถานทูตสหรัฐ สถานกงสุลสหรัฐ สถาบันในอเมริกา หน่วยบริการวีซ่า และอื่นๆ)ซึ่งเป็นการยื่นขอวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกาซึ่งปกปิดเจตนาการเข้าเมือง การที่จะพิสูจน์ข้อสันนิฐานที่จะเกิดขึ้นเมื่อเจ้าพนักงานกงสุลมีความเห็นว่า ตรงข้ามกับข้อมูลที่กล่าวอ้างไว้  ผู้ยื่นขอวีซ่าต้องแสดงถึงความสัมพันธ์อันแนบแน่นที่มีต่อประเทศที่ผู้สมัครมีภูมิลำเนาอยู่ หรือประเทศอื่นๆและในขณะเดียวกันจะต้องไม่มีความเกี่ยวพันกับสหรัฐอเมริกามากนัก

ในตอนอื่นๆของบทความที่กล่าวมาก่อนหน้านี้ ผู้เขียนอ้างถึงคู่ที่จองตั๋วเครื่องบินสำหรับการเดินทางไปพักผ่อนที่สหรัฐอเมริกา ตามที่กล่าวมาในบทความก่อนหน้านี้คือ ไม่มีการยืนยันที่ชัดเจนสำหรับการที่จะได้รับวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกาของคนต่างชาติมากกว่าระเบียบวิธีการ พฤติการณ์ดังกล่าวนั้นไม่สามารถที่พวกเขาจะคาดการณ์และต้องสูญเสียทั้งเรื่องการเงินและความรู้สึก ชาวต่างชาติมี่ปรารถนาจะเดินทางไปยังสหรัฐอเมริกาไม่ควรจะวางแผนการเดินทางที่ไม่สามารถเปลี่ยนแปลงได้จนกว่าจะได้รับการออกวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกา

องค์ประกอบหลักที่มีผลอย่างมากต่อผลลัพธ์ของการขอวีซ่าในคดีต่างๆ คือหนังสือเดินทางของสหราชอาณาจักร ตามที่กล่าวมาแล้วข้างบนจากสถานทูต ผู้ยื่นคำขอวีซ่าไม่สามารถแสดงความสัมพันธ์อันแนบแน่นต่อสหราชอาณาจักร หรือประเทศอื่นๆ ถ้าเด็กที่อาศัยในสหราชอาณาจักรแต่ไม่มีหนังสือเดินทางของสหราชอาณาจักร และตามที่กล่าวอ้างไปแล้วข้างบนว่า ไม่เคยอาศัยในแอฟริกาใต้ แต่พยายามที่จะใช้หนังสือเดินทางของแอฟริกาใต้เดินทางไปยังสหรัฐอเมริกา อาจจะกล่าวได้ว่า ความสัมพันธ์ต่อประเทศอื่นๆนั้นไม่แน่นแฟ้น อาจจะเป็นไปได้และปราศจากข้อมูลอย่างละเอียด นั่นอาจจะเป็นเหตุผลในการปฏิเสธคำขอ อย่างไรก็ตาม การวินิจฉัยของแต่ละคดีนั้นอยู่บนหลักความจริงที่แตกต่างกันและการวิเคราะห์พฤติการณ์ต่างๆที่จะมีการปฏิเสธคำขอวีซ่านั้นก็แตกต่างกันด้วย

โดยทั่วไปแล้วไม่มีหลักฐานที่แน่นอนว่า การยื่นคำขอวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกาอีกครั้งหนึ่งจะไม่มีการเปลี่ยนแปลงในข้อเท็จจริง แต่อย่างไรก็ตามเมื่อสถานการณ์เปลี่ยนแปลงไปมาก หลังจากนั้นการยื่นคำขออาจจะเป็นเรื่องที่ไร้สาระ ในมุมมองของกฎหมายในหลายๆเขตอำนาจศาลการเปลี่ยนแปลงสัญชาติ การได้มาซึ่งสัญชาติ การลงทะเบียนสัญชาติ หรือการแปลงสัญชาติเป็นสัญชาติใหม่ซึ่งแตกต่างกันตามสิทธิตามกฎหมาย ภาระผูกพัน สิทธิพิเศษ และอย่างน้อยที่สุดอาจจะเป็นหนังสือเดินทาง บางครั้ง หลังจากที่เด็กได้รับพาสปอร็ตสหราชอาณาจักรซึ่งเป็นเอกสารการเดินทางที่เหมาะสมประเภทหนึ่ง การยื่นคำขอวีซ่าประเภทอื่นๆจะได้รับการอนุมัติหรือไม่ ขึ้นอยู่กับการได้มาซึ่งหนังสือเดินทางของสหราชอาณาจักร เด็กในบทความนี้อาจจะมีคุณสมบัติสำหรับโปรแกรมการขอละเว้นสิทธิ แม้ว่า การปฏิเสธวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกาต้องการที่จะอยู่ในระบบลงทะเบียนอิเล็คทรอนิกส์ของการเดินทาง (ESTA)

หวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า ผู้ที่จะยื่นขอวีซ่าท่องเที่ยวสหรัฐอเมริกาในอนาคตนั้นควรจะตระหนักถึงข้อเท็จจริงที่ว่า สัญชาตินั้นเป็นองค์ประกอบที่สำคัญในการยื่นคำขอวีซ่าหรือกระบวนการทางคนเข้าเมือง

To view this post in English please see: US visa denial.

more Comments: 04

16th January 2011

There was a recent story on the Telegraph.co.uk website entitled, “Boy, 9, has Disney World trip ruined after US Immigration rules him a threat” it was reported that a 9 year old child was denied a US tourist visa to the United States. To quote directly from the article:

They said there was a risk he would not leave the US at the end of his holiday and refused his application under Section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

This blogger noticed in the title of the original article that the use of the term “US Immigration” may have been somewhat opaque as the visa application was likely filed with a US Consulate under the jurisdiction of the United States Embassy in the United Kingdom and not the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in the USA. That said, the article describes the visa application of a child in the United Kingdom and the denial of the application. The child’s parents were attempting to surprise him with a trip to Disney World in the US State of Florida. To quote further directly from the article itself:

Micah [the proposed beneficiary of the US B-2 Visa sought] was born in Britain and has lived in Middlesex all his life with his mum Claudia Lewis.

He holds a South African passport because his grandparents Kathy and Edward, who have lived and worked in Britain since 1990, only got him a South African passport.

They are originally from South Africa.

A letter from Micah’s primary school was included in his visa application confirming he attended the school.

But the US Embassy’s rejection letter to Micah said: “Because you either did not demonstrate strong ties outside the United States or were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the US would be consistent with the visa status, you are ineligible.”

His grandmother Kathy, from Brixton, South London, said: “It was going to be a total surprise. He would have loved it.

This blogger highly recommends that those interested in this heartfelt story go to the Telegraph website and read further.

Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act is a provision which creates a legal presumption in the eyes of adjudicating Consular Officers at every US Mission abroad (US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, Visa Units, etc.) that an applicant for a United States visa is actually an undisclosed intending immigrant. Overcoming this presumption often occurs when a Consular Officer feels that, as opposed to the factual citing from the denial noted above, the applicant has shown “strong ties” to their country of origin, or another country abroad, and, simultaneously, “weak ties” to the United States.

In another section of the aforementioned article the author noted that the couple had spent a considerable sum of money purchasing plane tickets in anticipation of the proposed holiday in the USA. As noted in previous postings on this blog, it is not generally prudent in visa application proceedings to assume a particular outcome as issuance of United States travel documents to foreign nationals is not considered a foregone conclusion nor a “formality”. The circumstances mentioned above are unfortunate as they were unexpected and costly (in both monetary and emotional terms). Those foreign nationals wishing to travel to the United States should not make irrevocable travel arrangements until such time as a US visa has been issued and remitted to the applicant.

That said, the one major factor that could materially alter the outcome of another visa application in a case such as this: a UK Passport. As noted in the section quoted above from the US Embassy the applicant did not show “strong ties” to the UK or another country abroad. If the child always lived in the UK, but never possessed a UK passport and, as noted in the above cited section; never lived in South Africa, but was attempting to use a South African passport to travel to the US, then could it be inferred that the child’s ties to either country were attenuated? Possibly, and without knowing further about details, that may very well have been the reason for denial. However, as all cases are adjudicated based upon the unique facts under the circumstances any analysis of the aforementioned denial is merely an exercise in speculation.

It is generally imprudent to continuously resubmit American visa applications when there has been no material change to the facts of one’s case. However, when circumstances do change materially, then a subsequent application may not be frivolous. In the eyes of the law in many jurisdictions a change in nationality, the acquisition of nationality, the registration of nationality, or the naturalization to a new nationality all come with a host of different legal rights, obligations, and privileges not least of these may be a passport. Perhaps, after acquiring a UK Passport on behalf of the child, if eligible for such a travel document, another visa application would be approved? Better yet, upon acquisition of a UK Passport, the child in the article may be eligible for the visa waiver program, although his previous US visa denial would need to be noted in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) registration system.

Hopefully those thinking of applying for a US Tourist Visa in the future will take note of the fact that one’s nationality is an important facet of any immigration petition or visa application.

For related information please see: US Visitor Visa.

more Comments: 04

8th December 2010

For those who frequently read this web log will undoubtedly note that a frequent topic discussed within these pages is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In a recent document promulgated by the Congressional Research Service and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the matter of legal inadmissibility was discussed in the context of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The following is a direct quotation from the document published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and distributed by AILA:

Legislation aimed at comprehensive immigration reform may take a fresh look at the grounds for excluding foreign nationals that were enacted in the 1990s. All foreign nationals seeking visas must undergo admissibility reviews performed by U.S. Department of State (DOS) consular officers abroad. These reviews are intended to ensure that they are not ineligible for visas or admission under the grounds for inadmissibility spelled out in the INA. These criteria are: health related grounds; criminal history; security and terrorist concerns; public charge (e.g., indigence); seeking to work without proper labor certification; illegal entrants and immigration law violations; ineligible for citizenship; and, aliens previously removed. Over the past year, Congress incrementally revised the grounds for inadmissibility. Two laws enacted in the 110th Congress altered longstanding policies on exclusion of aliens due to membership in organizations deemed terrorist.

Terrorism has been a key concern for American government officials across the entire spectrum of agencies associated with Immigration and travel to the United States. Public health and safety are also significant issues for American Immigration and Consular Officers. To quote the aforementioned publication further:

The 110th Congress also revisited the health-related grounds of inadmissibility for those who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. More recently, the “H1N1 swine flu” outbreak focused the spotlight on inadmissibility screenings at the border. Questions about the public charge ground of inadmissibility arose in the context of Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the 111th Congress.

Influenza has been concerning to many health officials in recent years. However, for many the removal of HIV/AIDS from the list of diseases which can result in a finding of inadmissibility was a relief as many individuals who were previously inadmissible to the USA may have immediately become admissible after HIV/AIDS was no longer a legal grounds for finding someone inadmissible to the USA. This issue was especially acute in the LGBT community as HIV and AIDS issues seem to have a disproportionate impact upon individuals and couples within that community. The report went on to note that issues pertaining to legal inadmissibility are likely to be discussed in the context of proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation:

While advocacy of sweeping changes to the grounds for inadmissibility has not emerged, proponents of comprehensive immigration reform might seek to ease a few of these provisions as part of the legislative proposals. The provision that makes an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States for longer than 180 days inadmissible, for example, might be waived as part of a legislative package that includes legalization provisions. Tightening up the grounds for inadmissibility, conversely, might be part of the legislative agenda among those who support more restrictive immigration reform policies.

Many people are found inadmissible to the United States every year. Among those found inadmissible are those who are unable to seek a remedy in the form of either an I-601 waiver or an I-212 waiver application for advance permission to reenter the USA. Individuals who have been found inadmissible and cannot seek a waiver are colloquially referred to as being unwaivably excluded from the United States. Bearing this in mind, many findings of legal inadmissibility can be remedied through use of a waiver. That said, the waiver process and the standard of proof for obtaining a waiver can be difficult to overcome. For this reason, many bi-national couples opt to utilize the services of an American immigration attorney to assist in matters related to United States Immigration. It is always prudent to ask for the credentials of anyone claiming expertise in United States Immigration law as only a licensed American attorney is permitted to provide advice, counsel, and representation in pending matters before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the American State Department.

For related information please see: US Visa Denial.

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6th December 2010

In an interesting recent decision by the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit the Court found that they indeed have the prerogative to review and rescind an I-130 denial. The following is a direct quotation from the Court’s opinion which was distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

In addition, interpreting the statutory language as the government advocates would force this court to classify every decision involving fact-finding by the Attorney General as discretionary and would remove all such decisions from judicial review. That is not a reasonable interpretation in light of the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act itself setting forth our standard of review for factual determinations in removal proceedings.

As one could likely gather from the above cited quote, the United States government’s position regarding denial of I-130 petitions basically could have created a situation in which Courts would not be able to review the decisions made by adjudicators at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). It was interesting that the Court was not persuaded by this argument and reviewed the decision notwithstanding government objection.

For those who are unaccustomed to the US visa process, the I-130 petition is generally the first step in bringing an alien immediate relative to the USA. This petition is often utilized by those wishing to bring a foreign spouse to the United States. In cases where the I-130 petition is approved, the case file is usually forwarded on to the United States National Visa Center (NVC) which is an agency under the jurisdiction of the American State Department. The NVC acts as a sort of clearinghouse for visa applications. Therefore a Vietnamese spouse will likely process his or her visa application at the United States Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City via the NVC. Meanwhile, a Thai spouse will likely process his or her visa application through the US Embassy in Bangkok by way of the National Visa Center. Chinese spouses may process through one of the many US Consulates in China or the US Embassy in Beijing. The same can be said for India as the US Missions in both countries have dramatically changes Consular Processing procedures to provide more convenient options to American visa seekers after NVC processing.

The issue of judicial review in matters pertaining to United States immigration is a complicated one. Therefore, differing aspects of the US visa process may be subject to varying levels of judicial review depending upon the circumstances of a given case. For this reason some bi-national couples opt to retain attorney assistance in processing visa petitions and applications as a licensed professional can provide significant insight into overall processing procedures and provide strategies for streamlining the visa process.

Fore related information please see: K1 Visa Thailand, IR1 Visa Thailand, or CR1 Visa Thailand.

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30th November 2010

Those who are regular readers of this blog will no doubt be aware that the issue of 221(g) denials promulgated in relation to visa applications brought before at US Missions, Embassies, and Consulates outside of the United States can be very concerning for those seeking American Immigration benefits for a foreign loved one. In the case of the US Embassy in Vietnam, most US family visa cases are processed out the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. It would seem that the American Consulate in HCMC is considered by State Department officials to be a “high volume” Post as a significant number of visa applications are adjudicated in that jurisdiction each year. Meanwhile, as is the case for any US Mission abroad, the officers at the US Consulate in HCMC take visa fraud seriously and therefore heavy scrutiny is placed upon pending visa applications in an effort to ensure that those receiving visa benefits are legally entitled to such benefits. Furthermore, Consular Officers also review US family visa applications very carefully in order to ascertain whether or not a prospective foreign beneficiary has the requisite subjective intent. Subjective intent is often of great concern in K1 visa applications as the applicant must have a genuine intention to marry their American fiance within 90 days of entering the USA.

The culmination of the US visa process is usually the visa interview which is generally conducted at the US Mission with Consular jurisdiction to adjudicate the visa application. However, in some cases, a Consular Officer may feel that further documentation is necessary in order to complete the adjudication. The American State Department refers to the 221(g), which is a reference to section 221(g) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, as a refusal although for purposes of the Department of Homeland Security the 221g is considered a denial. This can be an important distinction for foreign nationals holding the passport of a country which participates in the US Visa Waiver Program as the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) considers 221g refusals to be denials which must be disclosed by travelers through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). It should noted that Vietnam is not currently a participant in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program.

In some cases, 221g denials are highly complex and may cause frustration to the applicant and/or their American counterpart. Some find that attorney assistance can be beneficial. An American Immigration attorney can provide insight into the overall process and also assist in making a follow-up with the US Consulate regarding a 221g denial. Furthermore, American Immigration attorneys based in South East Asia can deal with such matters before the Consulate in real time. This can be especially beneficial if the 221g evolves into a situation in which the visa application is denied due to a legal finding of inadmissibility. This can sometimes occur and in such an event the finding of inadmissibility may only be overcome through use of an I-601 waiver. In some cases, there may be no remedy if the applicant is found inadmissible for reasons that cannot be waived. Those thinking about filing for immigration benefits should always be aware that putting on the best case at the outset is the most efficient way of attempting to ensure visa issuance.

For related information please see: US Visa Vietnam or US fiance visa.

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26th August 2010

Fee Increases for the L1 Visa

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The United States L-1 visa can be a very useful travel document for those who wish to work in the United States for a multi-national corporation. In recent months, many of the fees associated with visa processing have increased. For example, the Consular Processing fees for the K1 visa and the K3 Visa have risen as demands upon resources required an adjustment of costs payable by customers. Other visa categories were also subjected to fee increases.

The L1 visa is the latest subject of a fee increase as noted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in this quotation from a press release distributed through their network:

WASHINGTON—On Aug. 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law Public Law 111-230, which contains provisions to increase certain H-1B and L-1 petition fees. Effective immediately, Public Law 111-230 requires the submission of an additional fee of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2,250 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions postmarked on or after Aug. 14, 2010, and will remain in effect through Sept. 30, 2014.

These additional fees apply to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the United States with more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States in H-1B or L (including L-1A, L-1B and L-2) nonimmigrant status. Petitioners meeting these criteria must submit the fee with an H-1B or L-1 petition filed:

• Initially to grant an alien nonimmigrant status described in subparagraph (H)(i)(b) or (L) of section 101(a)(15), or

• To obtain authorization for an alien having such status to change employers. USCIS is in the process of revising the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), and instructions to comply with Public Law 111-230.

To facilitate implementation of Public Law 111-230, USCIS recommends that all H-1B, L-1A and L-1B petitioners, as part of the filing packet, include the new fee or a statement of other evidence outlining why this new fee does not apply. USCIS requests that petitioners include a notation of whether the fee is required in bold capital letters at the top of the cover letter. Where USCIS does not receive such explanation and/or documentation with the initial filing, it may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to determine whether the petition is covered by the public law. An RFE may be required even if such evidence is submitted, if questions remain. The additional fee, if applicable, is in addition to the base processing fee, the existing Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee, and any applicable American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee, needed to file a petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), as well as any premium processing fees, if applicable.

A Request For Evidence (RFE) is analogous to the 221g refusal in that both are requests for further documentation. These types of requests essentially “freeze” the application or petition until the Petitioner, Beneficiary, or their attorney provides the requested documentation or evidence. That said, waiting too long to respond can cause problems as the case could be deemed to have been abandoned. Generally, such forms are issued when the adjudicating officer feels that further evidence is necessary in order to decide the case.

Those interested in learning more about RFEs and visa refusals should see: US Visa Denial

To learn more about L1 visas in the context of American LLC formation please see: US Company Registration.

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15th July 2010

This blog routinely discusses issues and news relevant to US Immigration. In a recent announcement from the Office of Public Engagement, within the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), it was noted that a new Director has been named to oversee the activities of the California Service Center. The following is a copy of the announcement directly quoted from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website:

Dear Stakeholders,

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas has appointed Rosemary Langley Melville, currently the Acting Regional Director in the Southeast Region, as the new California Service Center (CSC) Director. Ms. Melville will assume her new responsibilities in late August.

Effective Monday, July 12th Barbara Velarde, Deputy Associate Director for Service Center Operations, assumed the role of Acting Director of the CSC with Phoenix District Director John Kramar as the Acting Deputy Director. We look forward to working together as we continue to address areas of common interest.

The California Service Center plays an integral part in US Family Visa cases as it processes a large number of visa petitions each year. For those living in certain Western US States the California Service Center is most often the processing point for K1 visa applications as well as the I-129f petitions submitted in connection with the K3 Visa category.

Those seeking traditional US Marriage Visa benefits may also have their petition processed by the California Service Center. When an I-130 petition (used by those seeking the CR1 and/or IR1 visa) is submitted to USCIS, the Lockbox Facility will usually forward the petition to either the California Service Center or its counterpart, the USCIS Service Center in Vermont. USCIS adjudicates the merits of the petition and assuming there is an approval in the case the file will be forwarded to the Department of State’s National Visa Center where it will either be quickly forwarded to the proper US Consulate or US Embassy (as is the case in the K1 visa process or the K3 visa process) or the NVC will hold the petition and begin the process of accumulating relevant documentation. After necessary documents are compiled the whole file will be forwarded to the Consular Post with appropriate jurisdiction.

If a visa application is denied by the US Consulate then the file will be sent back to USCIS for revocation. Under certain circumstances, a petitioner may challenge a USCIS revocation.

For further information regarding recent developments pertaining to Consular Processing and USCIS revocation please see: US visa denial.

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10th July 2010

K1 visas are a topic frequently discussed on this web log as they are a rather popular travel document for those American Citizens who have a foreign fiancee living outside of the United States of America. That said, in a recently filed complaint before the Federal District Court of Oregon an American Citizen, Dzu Cong Tran, asked for declaratory and injunctive relief as well as a writ of mandamus in connection with his previously filed I-129f petition on behalf of his Vietnamese fiancee. To quote the opening of the complaint:

COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS


Nearly three years ago, the former United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) Ombudsman Mr. Prakash Khatri issued recommendations to Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and USCIS regarding necessary changes to the standards and
processes for re-adjudication of petitions returned by consular offices for revocation or revalidation, due to systemic nationwide failures of the system. Two years ago, Jonathan R. Scharfen, former Acting Director of USCIS under the Bush Administration responded to the USCIS Ombudsman’s recommendations, implementing only some of those recommendations and specifically rejecting others. This class action lawsuit involves some of the recommendations of the USCIS Ombudsman which were rejected by defendants, in addition to other issues.


Through the contradictory and unlawful practices of each defendant agency, plaintiff and class members have been aggrieved by agency action and inaction, have suffered agency action unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed, have been subjected to arbitrary, capricious and unlawful denials and file transfers, have been deprived of due process of law and had visa issuance and petition approval denied or unreasonably withheld contrary to constitutional right, contrary to procedure required by law, and contrary to the limitations of statutory jurisdiction and authority. Thousands of families across the country and around the
world have been separated due to a colossal sparring match between the defendant agencies, and because of internal dissent within each agency.


Specifically, Plaintiff Dzu Cong Tran, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, challenges (a) defendant U.S. State Department’s (State Department’s) policies and procedures for processing and returning approved petitions to defendant U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with a recommendation that the petition be revoked; and (b) defendant USCIS’ policies and procedures for revoking, denying or terminating petitions returned to it by defendant State Department. Plaintiff respectfully petitions this Court for injunctive, declaratory and mandamus relief to: (a) compel State Department to schedule a
visa interview within a reasonable period from the date that State Department’s National Visa Center receives an approved I-129F petition for fiancé(e) from USCIS; (b) compel State Department to issue a K-1 visa to the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or notify the petitioner and beneficiary that the petition will be returned to DHS/USCIS within reasonable period following interview; (c) compel State Department to provide a reasonable period during which a petitioner and beneficiary may rebut consular findings before the petition is returned to DHS/USCIS; (d) compel State Department to return petitions to DHS/USCIS only where substantial evidence
exists that fraud, misrepresentation, or ineligibility would lead to denial, and not where it is merely suspected; and to provide a written notice supported by the legal and factual basis for the visa denial and petition return that are not conclusive, speculative, equivocal or irrelevant; (e)compel State Department to render a final decision to approve the K-1 visa or return a petition to
DHS/USCIS within a reasonable period not to exceed 30 days from the receipt of all necessary documents from the petitioner and beneficiary, and to accomplish delivery of the petition to State Department’s National Visa Center within such period; (f) declare that 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(k)(5), which purports to limit the validity of a K-1 fiancé(e) petition (Form I-129F) to four months, is ultra vires and in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right; (g) following such declaration, enjoin DHS/USCIS from limiting the validity period of any approved fiancé(e) petition; (h) declare that the Foreign Affairs Manual, at 9 FAM 40.63 N10.1, which purports to establish the materiality of an alleged misrepresentation pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(C)(i), INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i), merely based upon DHS/USCIS summary revocation of the petition is ultra vires and in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right; (i) issue a permanent injunction barring the State Department from placing a marker, called a “P6C1” marker, or “quasi-refusal” in a visa beneficiary’s record, and deeming the DHS/USCIS revocation of the petition as automatically establishing the permanent misrepresentation bar to any future immigration possibility; (j) compel DHS/USCIS to issue a notice to petitioner within a reasonable period of time not to exceed 30 days from receipt of the returned petition from the State Department, providing petitioner with the legal and factual basis for the consular recommendation that is not conclusive, speculative, equivocal or irrelevant; (k) compel DHS/USCIS to provide petitioner the opportunity to submit evidence to rebut the consular recommendation within a reasonable period of time; (l) compel DHS/USCIS, in the case of a reaffirmation of approval, to deliver the reaffirmed petition to the State Department within a reasonable period of time, and compel State Department to issue the K-1 visa within a reasonable period of time following reaffirmation; (m) compel DHS/USCIS, in the case of a denial, to issue a decision within a reasonable period of time, and to advise petitioner of the right to appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Office.

The United States of America’s immigration apparatus is complex and multifaceted. This is due to the fact that two Departments have a role in the Immigration process and within each of those Departments there are multiple government agencies with different roles at differing phases of the process. For example, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP), respectively, have jurisdiction over adjudication of visa petitions and inspection of aliens upon admission to the United States. In the interim, the Department of State, through the National Visa Center and each US Embassy or US Consulate abroad, is tasked with adjudicating visa applications and making determinations regarding an individual applicant’s admissibility to the USA. In the vast majority of cases involving a US visa denial the applicant will be provided written notice of the denial along with factual and legal reasons for the denial. Amongst many other things, the aforementioned complaint alleged that the:

State Department issued the [visa] denial based on mere suspicion and failed to provide a written notice supported by the legal and factual basis for the visa denial and petition return that was not conclusive, speculative, equivocal or irrelevant.

When a US visa application is denied, the Consular Officer issuing the denial should provide a written notice of denial based upon findings of fact and conclusions of law. The complaint, in essence, would seem to be alleging that the Officer at the US Consulate in HCMC did not provide a legally sufficient basis for denial.  Of further interest within the complaint was the following allegation:

State Department, in its denial, stated that, “[i]f USCIS revokes the petition, beneficiary will become ineligible for a visa under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Act.” INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(C)(i), is a permanent bar to admissibility for misrepresentation. Pursuant to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 40.63 N10.1, State Department placed a marker, called a “P6C1” marker, or “quasi-refusal” in Ms. Pham’s records, and will deem USCIS revocation of the petition as automatically establishing the permanent misrepresentation bar to any future immigration possibility.

This is an interesting phenomenon. As the US Immigration system becomes more sophisticated Department of State refusals seem to be evermore problematic for those who may later seek admission to the United States. For example, in another post on this blog it was noted that those with a previously issued 221(g) denial from a US Embassy or US Consulate may be denied benefits under the visa waiver program pursuant regulations related to the Electronic System For Travel Authorization (ESTA). As ESTA is under the jurisdiction of the USCBP and since that agency considers 221g refusals to be denials, while the Department of State continues to refer to them as refusals, the issuance of 221g could lead to an otherwise admissible individual being deemed inadmissible to the United States. This author has never personally dealt with a situation in which a Consular Officer has denied a US visa without a factual or legal basis. Hopefully, this case will help ascertain the exact nature of visa refusals at Consulates and Embassies overseas. Bearing that in mind, the decision in a case such as this could have major ramifications upon Consular Processing procedures at virtually every US Consular Post abroad.

For further information related to the US fiance visa please see: K1 visa.

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