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Posts Tagged ‘US Visas’

9th September 2010

The American Department of State’s website can be a useful resource for those interested in US Immigration. That said, there are many repositories of good information throughout the internet and some less-than-ideal resources. The following announcement was posted on the website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Due to technical software problems, the Department of State’s “Visa Policy Updates” page of their website is currently unavailable for updates. Please note: the webpage itself is currently available; however, it does not include recent updates by DOS. Until further notice, Visa Policy Updates will not be sent to subscribers, but many documents still can be found on the Department of State website at the Visa Policy Update page.

The Department of State is responsible for administering the various American Missions located abroad. These include American Embassies, Consulates, and Institutes located in Asia. Many find that information on the Department of State can be very helpful when trying to decide what type of visa is most suitable for an individual wishing to travel to the United States of America.

Some Embassies and Consulates are considered to be so-called “high volume” Posts.  In matters involving US Immigration, this appellation could be applied to the US Embassy Thailand or the US Consulate HCMC as these posts handle a larger caseload of American Immigration matters compared to some of their counterparts in Southeast Asia.  That said, adjudications of visa applications are conducted by an officer at the US Embassy or US Consulate with jurisdiction over the proposed beneficiary.  Such an adjudication is made pursuant to relevant US Immigration law and based upon the Consular Officer’s findings of fact. Each case is adjudicated based upon the unique set of facts in the case. Therefore, the rather general information which is provided on various websites throughout the internet, both government sponsored and privately funded, cannot necessarily be relied upon as definitive for every situation.

American Embassies and Consulates process a large number of visa applications each year. As each adjudication is different there is effectively no way of providing uniform information about the visa application adjudication process. Those interested in obtaining a visa to the USA are well advised to contact a US lawyer with experience dealing with United States Immigration as such an individual can provide relevant insight into the visa process and advise clients as to the appropriate visa category based upon the client’s circumstances.

For related information please see: USCIS Processing Times.

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20th March 2010

Recently, this author came across an announcement that a new refugee bill was introduced in the United States Senate. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democratic Senator from the State of Vermont, introduced the “The Refugee Protection Act of 2010.” The provisions of the Act would supplement the Refugee Act of 1980.

In another recent announcement the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) discussed the ways that the proposed bill will improve conditions for American refugees. The following list of improvements was quoted directly from the AILA website:

“Increased Protections for Asylum Seekers:

  • Eliminate the requirement that asylum applicants file their claim within one year of arrival.
  • Protect particularly vulnerable asylum seekers by ensuring they can pursue a claim even where their persecution was not socially visible.
  • Ensure fair process by requiring an immigration judge to give notice and an opportunity to respond when the judge requires corroborating evidence of the asylum claim.
  • Give an applicant the opportunity to explain and clarify inconsistencies in a claim.
  • Enable minors who seek asylum to have an initial interview with an asylum officer in a non-adversarial setting.
  • Allow the Attorney General to appoint counsel where fair resolution or effective adjudication of the proceedings would be served by appointment of counsel.

Reforms to the Expedited Removal Process:

  • Require the referral of asylum seekers to an asylum officer for a credible fear interview, and, if credible fear is found, for an asylum interview.
  • Authorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to conduct a new study on the effects of expedited removal authority on asylum seekers.

Parole of Asylum Seekers:

  • Codify the current DHS policy that asylum seekers be considered for release (“parole”) and requires DHS to issue regulations establishing criteria for parole.
  • Establish a nationwide, secure “alternatives to detention” program.
  • Require changes in the immigration detention system to ensure asylum seekers and others have access to counsel, medical care, religious practice, and visits from family.

Terrorism Bar to Admissibility:

  • Modify definitions in the statute to ensure that innocent asylum seekers and refugees are not unfairly denied protection as a result of the material support and terrorism bars in the law, while ensuring that those with legitimate ties to terrorist activity will continue to be denied entry to the United States.

Protection for Refugees and Asylees:

  • Eliminate the one-year waiting period for refugees and asylees to apply for a green card.
  • Allow certain children and family members of refugees to be considered as derivative applicants for refugee status. All such applicants must pass standard security checks.
  • Authorize the Secretary of State to designate certain groups as eligible for expedited adjudication as refugees.
  • Prevent newly resettled refugees from slipping into poverty by adjusting the per capita refugee resettlement grant level annually for inflation and the cost of living.”

How this bill fares in the Senate remains to be seen, but one can hope that some new measure of protection will be accorded to foreign refugees seeking asylum in the United States of America, particularly in the context of expedited removal as this can cause a great deal of suffering for many of those trying to get into the United States in order to flee persecution.

United States Immigration for Refugees is a major concern in Southeastern Asia as there are many displaced ethnic and religious groups throughout the region. In most cases, refugees come from countries such as Burma or Laos, as Thailand sees few refugees departing for America. For further information regarding American visas from Southeast Asia and Thailand specifically please see: US Visa Thailand.

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25th February 2010

The K3 Visa was designed as an expedited alternative to Immigrant Marriage visas such as the IR1 Visa and the CR1 Visa. At one time, it could take as long as 3 years to process a marriage visa petition, which is why Congress created the K-3 visa category. However, in recent years the need for the K-3 visa has been less acute when compared to the past as the current processing times for the aforementioned Immigrant marriage visas is about 11-12 months. When comparing this to the K3 visa processing time one can see that the K-3 visa is becoming less of a necessity.

With that in mind, the United States Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) recently made an important announcement with regard to K-3 visas, the following quote is from a State Department publication promulgated by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

“Important Notice: Effective February 1st, 2010, when both the I-129F petition for a nonimmigrant K visa and the I-130 petition for an IR-1 (or CR-1) spouse of a U.S. citizen visa have been approved by USCIS and sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), the availability as well as the need for a nonimmigrant K-3 visa ends. If the NVC receives both petitions:


The nonimmigrant K visa will be administratively closed.
The application process explained below will not be applicable and cannot be used.


The NVC will contact the petitioner and you with instructions for processing your IR-1 (or CR-1) immigrant visa. For more information on the immigrant visa process review the Immigrant Visa for a Spouse webpage. If the NVC does not receive your I-130 petition and I-129F at the same time, the NVC will process your I-129F petition. Then NVC will send the petition to the embassy or consulate in the country where the marriage took place. If your marriage took place in the U.S., the NVC will send the petition to the embassy or consulate that issues visas in your country of nationality. If your marriage took place in a country that does not have an American embassy, or the embassy does not issue visas, the NVC will send your petition to the embassy or consulate that normally processes visas for citizens of that country. For example, if your marriage took place in Iran where the U.S. does not have an embassy your petition would be sent to Turkey.”

There are some who are likely asking themselves: What does this all mean? USCIS adjudicates all visa petitions and, upon approval, forwards them to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC processes all K3 visa applications before they go to the Consulate or Embassy abroad (for those applications which are to be processed in Thailand, the NVC handles the application prior to receipt by the US Embassy Bangkok).

In essence, the NVC will no longer process K-3 visa applications if an Immigrant visa application is received by the NVC prior to, or at the same time as, a K3 application. As a practical matter, all K-3 petitions have an Immigrant visa counterpart. It is believed that, most of the time, the NVC receives these applications either in tandem or nearly simultaneously. There may be a few instances where a K-3 application will make it to NVC prior to the Immigrant visa application, but for the most part this is not the case. As a result, it is highly likely that the K-3 visa will no longer be available to those seeking marriage visa benefits because the Immigrant visa application will reach the NVC prior to, or at the same time as, the K-3 application.

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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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