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Posts Tagged ‘USA Visa Thailand’

21st April 2020

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that President Trump has announced he will be suspending immigration into the USA. To quote directly from a recent artcile in Bloomberg.com:

President Donald Trump said he’ll sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States as the country tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Trump made the announcement by tweet late Monday night, and did not offer specifics, such as the time frame or the scope of who would be affected. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clearly, the ramifications of this announcement are significant. However, as noted above, the specifics of this suspension have yet to be fully explained. That stated, as this executive order is designed to be temporary there may not be long term ramifications. Concurrently, it seems probable that while immigration is suspended it is still possible to file immigration petitions so as to have one’s case in the queue when the visa interview facilities are brought back online at US Embassies and Consulates abroad and, provided the proposed executive order is lifted, immigration to the USA can continue.

Meanwhile, on a somewhat brighter note, it appears that Thai Immigration will be extending the automatic Thai visa extension program, also referred to as the Thai visa amnesty or Thai visa waiver program, for those who have been stranded in Thailand, to quote directly from a recent article from Reuters:

Thailand’s cabinet approved a second automatic visa extension for foreigners for three more months on Tuesday, in a bid to prevent long queues at immigration centres and stem the spread of the coronavirus. Foreigners whose visas had expired since March 26 will be permitted to stay until July 30 without having to apply for an extension, said Narumon Pinyosinwat, spokeswoman for the Thai government…

Although this is certainly good news it remains to be seen if this announcement will pertain to those who are present in Thailand in a non-immigrant visa, such as a Thai Business Visa, Thai Retirement Visa, or Thai O visa. Further, those who saw their visa status expire prior to March 26, 2020 may have issues maintaining visa status if they used  an Embassy letter to maintain lawful status prior to the enactment of the amnesty. It should also be noted, that the previous announcement regarding visa extension took some time to see implementation after cabinet approval as the regulatory scheme had to be drawn up. Therefore, it remains to be seen exactly what the practical implications of both of these announcements will be.

We will keep readers posted via this blog.

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1st March 2020

In recent months, both Thai and American immigration systems have been in a state of flux. In some ways the systems have become more streamlined, but in other ways it is becoming more difficult to navigate these systems. The Trump administration has been implementing policies which make immigration to the United States more difficult, as a practical matter. Recently, these prerogatives are starting to have an impact on the ground in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and ASEAN as a whole. For example, Myanmar has been placed upon a list of countries banned from traveling to the USA. As a result, Myanmar nationals will not be able to enter the USA, nor will such nationals be granted visas to travel to the USA. If and/or when this ban will be lifted remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, there has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the administration’s implementation of new public charge rules in relations to immigrant visas for the USA. It is clear that there will be a direct impact upon those who are seeking family based immigrant and non-immigrant visas to the United States. For example, those seeking a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa will need to deal with the DS-5540 Public Charge Questionnaire when undertaking Consular Processing of their cases at the US Embassy or US Consulate in the jurisdiction in which the applicants reside. Concurrently, it is also clear that those who travel to the United States on a K-1 visa or a K-3 visa will need to deal with the I-944 form as part of the implementation of public charge adjudication during adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence (a.k.a. “Green Card” status”).

A question posed to this blogger recently: When seeking a K visa abroad, will I need to fill out a DS-5540? The answer to this question is not overly clear at first glance. This blogger did some research and came upon the following information in the Foreign Affairs Manual:

9 FAM 302.8-2(B)(4) (U) Applying INA 212(a)(4) to Nonimmigrants

d. (U) Alien Seeking Admission as K Nonimmigrants: K nonimmigrants and their petitioners are not permitted to complete form I-864. You may request a K applicant complete Form DS-5540 to assist in evaluating likelihood of becoming a public charge. Note that K applicants will again be assessed under the public charge ineligibility by USCIS at the time of adjustment of status where the K nonimmigrant seeking adjustment of status will be required to submit a Form I-864.

It is clear that non-immigrant visas are not the same thing as immigrant visas, but K visas are an odd hybrid creature in the immigration world and their posture in these matters can be somewhat fluid. Note that the FAM states the adjudicating officer “may request a K applicant complete Form DS-5540,” but it is not required. Meanwhile, it goes on to note that the applicant is not allowed to file an I-864 and that the issue of public charge we be adjudicated again at the adjustment of status phase of the process. Is this wording designed to allow American Embassies and Consulates leeway to not require K visa applicants to file a DS-5540? Perhaps, the practical implications of the public charge rule at the US Embassy in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia remain to be personally witnessed by this blogger, but rest assured as soon a there is further clarification we will follow up on those developments.

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1st January 2020

By any estimate, 2019 was not a great year for those dealing with either the American or Thai Immigration systems. In 2019, those seeking to live in Thailand under an O retirement or marriage visa saw many of the rules regarding that visa category changed. For example, it is now no longer possible for many expats in Thailand to use income affidavits issued from the Embassies or Consulates of their home country in order to prove their financial ability to remain in the Kingdom. Concurrently, the regulations regarding the income or bank balance requirements associated with the marriage and retirement visas are now more strictly enforced and may require a more prolonged maintenance of a bank balance compared with times past. Meanwhile, with respect to Thai retirement visas specifically, the rules regarding retirement visa issuance and extension underwent another adjustment with the introduction of the rule that retirement visa holders in Thailand must obtain health insurance coverage in order to cover medical expenses while maintaining their retiree status in Thailand. Although there were no specific changes with regard to the rules pertaining to Thai business visas, 2019 saw a level of scrutiny with respect to adjudication which is rather unprecedented.

Meanwhile, in the USA the Immigration apparatus has seen a great deal of administrative transformation. Some Immigration practitioners in the USA are calling this the “Invisible Wall” in reference to the current President’s promise to build a wall to deter illegal immigration. With respect to US visas from Thailand specifically, it should be noted that 2019 saw the closing of the USCIS office in Bangkok. Moving forward through 2020 and beyond it appears that those who could once file for Immigration benefits through that office, including applications for IR-1 and CR-1 visas from Thailand, must now file their cases through the relevant USCIS office in the USA. Furthermore, it appears that the number of requests for evidence in cases involving American family based cases is on the rise while it remains to be seen exactly what the National Vetting Center is doing as cases processing through the National Visa Center seem to be processed in increasingly slowly. In cases involving K-1 visas from Thailand the overall process has seen little fundamental change, but the as with other American immigration petitions there seems to be a rise in the number of RFEs issued especially in the wake of changes to the relevant forms associated with such matters.

What can be expected moving forward? With respect to Thai Immigration it seems unlikely that fundamental changes to the retirement visa category (such as the medical insurance requirement) are in the offing. In fact, it seems that the current regulatory framework has been set in place as a rather permanently. However, there is speculation that insurance requirements may be imposed for other categories such as marriage visas and perhaps even business visas, but this remains pure speculation. Further, in light of recent down turns in certain parts of the Thai tourism sector and the increasing strength of the baht it seems Immigration officials are signaling a more moderating tone in order to forestall damage to the tourism sector. With regard to American immigration it seems logical to surmise that the trends of 2019 will continue into 2020 with everyone focusing upon the forthcoming election in November as a possible indicator of where immigration policy will be heading in the forthcoming decade.

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19th September 2018

In what may be one of the most significant developments in immigration practice in quite some time, it recently came to this blogger’s attention via a policy memorandum from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that the USCIS is radically changing their policies with respect to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). For those unaware, an RFE is issued in a case where the adjudicating officer of an immigration petition is not fully satisfied that the beneficiary and/or the petitioner meet the legal requirements. An NOID is similar and may allow the petitioner to rectify a petition notwithstanding prior inadequacy.

That being stated, the procedures regarding issuance of RFEs and NOIDs have been fundamentally altered pursuant to policy memorandum PM-602-0163 dated July 13, 2018 entitled “Issuance of Certain RFEs and NOIDs; Revisions to Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM)Chapter 10.5(a), Chapter 10.5(b)” The provisions of this memo dictate new guidelines for adjudicators of immigration petitions. To quote directly from the USCIS website:

The 2013 PM addressed policies for the issuance of RFEs and NOIDs when the evidence submitted at the time of filing did not establish eligibility. In practice, the 2013 PM limited denials without RFEs or NOIDs to statutory denials by providing that RFEs should be issued unless there was “no possibility” of approval. This “no possibility” policy limited the application of an adjudicator’s discretion.

The policy implemented in this guidance restores to the adjudicator full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE or a NOID, when appropriate.

Although the ramifications may not be immediately apparent, especially to those who do not deal with the immigration apparatus on a regular basis, this change in policy is rather profound. The prior doctrine which required that an adjudicator denying a petition without first issuing an RFE or NOID show that there was “no possibility” that a case could receive approval provided a great deal of limitation upon an adjudicator’s ability to unilaterally deny an immigration petition. The removal of this policy encumbrance allows future adjudicators a great deal more discretion in issuing immediate petition denials. The sources noted above go on to note that the primary reason for the change in policy stems from the desire to discourage so-called “placeholder” or “frivolous” filings (which under certain circumstances is laudable as such cases can unnecessarily clog up the immigration processing channels), but there could be significant ramifications for cases which would not necessarily fit those descriptions.

For example, in K-1 visa petitions it is now more likely that more denials will be issued in the future in such cases where it has not been incontrovertibly proven that the couple has in fact met in person within 2 years of filing for the benefit (the so-called Meeting Requirement). Furthermore, in cases involving petitioning for a fiance visa it seems logical to infer that future adjudications may result in a  denial where the petitioner has failed to demonstrate that both parties maintain the requisite intention to marry in the USA.

It is difficult to speculate at this time exactly how this change in policy will be implemented and the full consequences associated therewith. However, two things are clear: 1) visa petitions are likely to be more susceptible to denial moving forward and 2) those thinking of undertaking a do-it-yourself approach to petitioning for a fiancee or marriage visa are well advised to seriously consider the negative aspects of failing to seek professional legal assistance in immigration matters as failure to fully delineate a case clearly and concisely in the initial petition for immigration benefits could result in a denial and thereby a loss of time and resources.

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6th February 2018

It has recently been announced that the Trump administration is creating a new “National Vetting Center”. The following article is intended to shed light on what this institution is designed to do and how it will fit into the overall immigration process.

It should first be noted that the National Vetting Center should not be confused with the preexisting National Visa Center which acts as a sort of clearing house and central repository for documentation pertaining to visa applications through the Department of State. The National Visa Center’s function is to gather relevant documentation and forward cases to the appropriate US Embassy or US Consulate for visa interview scheduling.

The National Vetting Center would seem to have a different mandate, although not altogether different as both institutions deal with matters pertaining to US Immigration. In an effort to provide further insight it is necessary to cite a recent article from the website of USA Today:

The National Vetting Center will be run by the Department of Homeland Security with assistance from the intelligence community and the departments of State, Justice and Defense. Its mission: To “collect, store, share, disseminate, and use” a broad range of information about people who seek to enter the United States, with a goal of identifying people who may be a threat to national security or public safety. “This is yet another step towards knowing who is coming to the United States — that they are who they say they are and that they do not pose a threat to our nation,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement.

Although disregarded by some at the time as overreacting, this blogger has noted in prior discussion of so-called extreme vetting policy that although it was initially discussed in a very narrow geographical and situational context the establishment of the National Vetting Center and the presumption that all future US Immigration processing will involve said institution shows that this policy will have broad ramifications for all visa applicants.

What does this mean for the timing of US visa applications? At this time it is too soon to say whether the addition of National Vetting Center protocols will result in slower processing times. However, it stands to reason that adding an entirely new institutional bureaucracy to the overall immigration framework will result in at least some delays in the processing of petitions and applications.

As has been discussed previously on this blog and through some of our firm’s videos: the Trump administration’s policies with respect to Immigration could have wide ranging and long lasting ramifications for those seeking visas in the future. Furthermore, if a deal can be reached with respect to Comprehensive Immigration Reform it looks as though the era of so-called “chain migration” (allowing extended family of Lawful Permanent Residents and American citizens to seek visa benefits)  and the visa lottery will likely come to an end.

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26th June 2015

In a historic decision the United States Supreme Court has legalized same sex marriage across the United States of America. The decision coming approximately 2 years after the important decision which provided Federal recognition to same sex marriages performed in States where  such unions were legal; the Supreme Court has ruled that same sex couples have a right to marry in any State throughout the country. As noted in a recent article in the Washington Post, Justice Kennedy pointed out the blatant inequality of the legal situation prior to this ruling:

“The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest,” he wrote. “With that knowledge must come the recognition that laws excluding same-sex couples from the marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.”

This ruling is certainly a major victory for the LGBT community. For those who live overseas or who have a same sex partner abroad the ruling smooths out some of the rough edges of the United States Immigration process for same sex couples. In the past, a same sex couple could obtain a K1 Visa (for a fiance) in much the same way that a different sex couple could. However, if the couple intended to reside in a State that did not recognize same sex unions, then the couple might then be required to travel to a State which recognized such unions. With this recent ruling, that issue is effectively resolved. As has been previously noted on this blog, the US visa process for same sex couples has become essentially the same as the process for different sex couples. A Thai-American same sex couple may now opt to seek a fiance visa based upon an intention to marry in any US jurisdicition, or if already legally married the couple may choose to seek either and IR-1 or CR-1 immigrant visa based upon legal marriage to an American citizen.

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1st January 2011

For those who read this blog with any frequency it has no doubt been noted that the administration often attempts to post the holiday closing schedules of the various US Embassies and Missions outside of the United States of America as a convenience to travelers who may be in need of services abroad. Below is the is the holiday closing schedule for the United States Embassy in the Kingdom of Thailand as quoted from the official website of the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

MONTH DATE DAY OCCASION
January 17 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
February 21 Monday Presidents’ Day
April 6 Wednesday King Rama I Memorial
and Chakri Day
April 13 Wednesday Songkran Day
April 14 Thursday Songkran Day
April 15 Friday Songkran Day
May 5 Thursday Coronation Day
May 17 Tuesday Visakha Bucha Day
May 30 Monday Memorial Day
July 4 Monday Independence Day
August 12 Friday Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday
September 5 Monday Labor Day
October 10 Monday Columbus Day
October 24 Monday Substitute for
Chulalongkorn Day
November 11 Friday Veterans Day
November 24 Thursday Thanksgiving Day
December 5 Monday His Majesty the King’s Birthday
December 12 Monday Substitute for Constitution Day
December 26 Monday Substitute for Christmas Day

Those interested in receiving Consular services such as notary services and/or issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, US Passport, or additional visa pages are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section of the nearest US Mission with Consular jurisdiction over the area in which one is located.

Those wishing to find the US Embassy in Bangkok’s official website homepage please click Here.

Each year, many Thai-American couples opt to seek US immigration benefits in the form of travel documents such as the K-1 visa or the CR-1 Visa. Meanwhile, many multi-national companies or individual immigrant investors seek investment or business based visas such as the L-1 visa for intra-company transferees, the E-2 visa for Treaty Investors traveling to the USA, or the EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors making a minimum $500,000 investment in an eligible program in the United States. In most cases, Thai applicants for the visas noted above will be required to process their visa application with the Immigrant Visa Unit or Business Travel Unit of the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

Those Thai nationals seeking Non-immigrant visas such as the J-1 visa (Exchange Visitor Visa), F-1 visa (Student Visa), B-2 visa (Tourist Visa), or the B-1 Visa (Business Visa) must process their application through the Non-immigrant Visa Unit in Bangkok if the Thai applicant resides within the Consular jurisdiction of the US Embassy in Bangkok as opposed to the Consular jurisdiction of the US Consulate-General in Chiang Mai Thailand.

Those interested in learning further information about the process of obtaining a United States visa from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: US Immigration.

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7th November 2010

Although this blog rarely discusses economic issues. When economics has an impact upon legal issues or matters pertaining to United States Immigration, then discussion of economic matters may be warranted. In recent months, the United States dollar has depreciated against many of the currencies of Asia, but there has yet to be significant movement in the Chinese Yuan which does not really “float” on the market as other currencies. As a result, economic tensions have increased between the United States of America, the Peoples’ Republic of China, the Kingdom of Thailand, and other Asian nations. Meanwhile, some of the member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have seen their currencies rise significantly against the dollar. In a recent editorial posted on ThaiVisa.com, this issue was discussed in detail:

In any event, the dollar can only go south. The greenback slid to its lowest level in almost five months versus the euro. Gold, which represents a hedge against inflationary expectation, has also climbed to a record high on market anticipation that the Fed will flood the financial system with further liquidity to prop up the US economy.

This monetary easing will result in further weakening of the dollar. And as the US government continues to run a massive deficit, the Fed will be obliged to come to the rescue by purchasing the Treasuries that finance the deficit, which is not likely to come down in the foreseeable future due to economic weakness, falling tax revenue and spending obligations that have dramatically increased.

With the US weakness, a sovereign debt crisis in Europe and deflation in Japan, how will Thailand cope with the policy challenge? The first thing that comes to mind is that the baht will continue its upward trend. This is inevitable. The baht could go back to the pre-1997 crisis level of Bt25 to the dollar…

For those unaware, the United States Federal Reserve Bank recently announced that $600 billion in liquidity would be injected into the United States economy over the course of the coming months. As can be gathered from the above quotation, this “quantitative easing” policy is resulting in a depreciation of the dollar compared to Asian currencies (and other global currencies, but the focus of this post will remain on Asia, specifically Thailand). In an article written in The Nation Newspaper and distributed by ThaiVisa.com this issue was discussed in further detail:

When massive capital outflows from the US head towards Asia, much of it is unable to enter China so it floods other emerging markets, especially Asean countries, Korn [Chatikavanij, Finance Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand] said.

“We would like the two economic giants to settle their differences on the exchange-rate issue. I think they understand our predicament,” said Korn…
On the one hand, the US dollar has continued to depreciate, while on the other, China has not allowed the yuan to appreciate. Given the latest US announcement of quantitative easing aimed at stimulating the domestic US economy, several Asian currencies have significantly appreciated against the US dollar, raising concerns about the region’s export competitiveness…

The twin economic giants of China and America have yet to fully reach equilibrium in matters related to currency and trade, but an immediate issue for many Thai Nationals is the relative appreciation of the Thai Baht. There are many who feel that a strong Baht is not in their interests and depending upon circumstances they may be correct.  However, the recent currency fluctuations could prove to be a benefit to those Thai nationals interested in seeking American Immigrant Investor visa benefits.

The United States EB-5 visa (Immigrant Investor category) was designed to provide a travel document and lawful permanent residence to otherwise qualified foreign nationals who wish to make a substantial investment in legally eligible investment programs the United States of America. As the Thai baht has appreciated against the United States dollar it has become relatively “cheaper’ (in Baht terms) to meet some of the investment criteria in the United States. Therefore, as the dollar becomes weaker versus the Thai Baht it becomes less expensive, from a Baht standpoint, to invest in the USA. For those wishing to immigrate to the USA, the current Baht/Dollar exchange rate is something of a windfall.

This could be a boon to the United States economy as well since investment in the United States leads to the creation of new jobs. Furthermore, lawful immigration is one of the central components that drives the American economy. As more Thai nationals invest in the United States economy, the stronger that economy becomes thereby naturally fueling a recover in the overall American economy. As the American economy continues to recover, there may be ancillary benefits that accrue to individuals and businesses in the USA and around the globe. Hopefully this scenario will play out over the coming months and help to spur a recovery in the United States economy.

For related information please see: EB-5 Visa Thailand or US Visa Thailand.

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14th November 2009

In a previous post on this blog we discussed how the Center for Disease Control, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), is in the process of taking HIV off of the list of diseases that will bar entry into the USA. Recently, it has come to this author’s attention that the vaccine for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will no longer be a requirement for those seeking to immigrate to the United States of America. Under the current regulations, it is required that all applicants seeking an Immigrant visa, or a non-immigrant dual intent visa such as a K1 visa or K3 visa, are required to be vaccinated against HPV if they are under the age of 26 at the time of application. This requirement can lead to considerable expense for those wishing to obtain United States Immigration benefits.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), recently released information from the Final Notice on Criteria for Vaccination Requirements, the follow are excerpts from that notice:

“On April 8, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a notice in the Federal Register (74 FR 15986) seeking public comment on proposed criteria that CDC intends to use to determine which vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the general U.S. population should be required for immigrants seeking admission into the United States or seeking adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence. This final notice describes the criteria that CDC has adopted.”

The notice goes on to discuss the criteria that the CDC and US Immigration officials use to determine whether or not intending immigrants should be required to get a vaccination. After a detailed analysis of the guidelines, policy, and regulations the report concludes:

“Therefore, because HPV does not meet the adopted criteria, it will not be a required vaccine for immigrant and adjustment of status to permanent residence applicants.”

The proposed rule will likely be effective early in 2010. However, it should be noted that until the rule is finalized the current rules and regulations still stand. Therefore, those intending immigrant being interviewed at the time of this writing must still get the required HPV vaccination if they are under the prescribed age. Currently, this is not a requirement for tourist visas, student visas, and exchange visitor visas as such travel documents are classified as non-immigrant. Even though the K1 fiance visa and K3 marriage visa are technically non-immigrant visas they are treated as immigrant visas for the purposes of the aforementioned rule because these visas allow for dual non-immigrant and immigrant intent.

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27th July 2009

US Immigration and Nationality is an interesting and complex area of American jurisprudence. As a statutorily driven field of law, it can be one of the more rules driven areas of Federal regulation. Many Americans born in the United States acquire their citizenship through a combination of jus sanguinis (Latin meaning “right of blood”) and/or jus soli (Latin meaning “right of the soil” or “right of the territory”). For those born outside of the United States, or its possessions, how can United States Citizenship be proven? This is why the United States government has promulgated the US Certificate of Citizenship.

The Certificate of United States Citizenship is a legal document distributed by the government authorities of the United States of America and used in order to provide proof of the bearer’s United States Citizenship. Those who are qualified to submit an application for a United States Certificate of Citizenship include those who acquired United States of America citizenship while living in the United States or those Americans who were born outside of the United States, or any possession or territory of the USA, to United States citizens. Specifically eligible to submit an application for a US Certificate of Citizenship are:

  • those born abroad who have parents with United States citizenship, or
  • those with at least one naturalized parent who naturalized when the citizen was  under 18 years of age and met special criteria of United States Immigration and Nationality law.

It should be noted that the US certificate of citizenship is a substantially different document from the United States naturalization certificate. Naturalization occurs when a foreign national acquires United States Citizenship. The certificate of naturalization is conferred in order to prove acquisition of US Citizenship. The certificate of citizenship is generally granted to those who were born as United States Citizens.  Therefore, the documents, although similar, denote two different types of US Citizenship.  Generally, one must submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in order to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. USCIS is an agency under the Department of Homeland Security which is tasked with maintaining Immigration, naturalization, and Citizenship records for those persons in the USA.

United States Citizenship is important from a US Immigration perspective because only a US Citizen can petition for a K1 visa (fiance visa) or a K-3 visa (expedited marriage visa) on behalf of a foreign national. Therefore, proving one’s United States Citizenship could be critical in obtaining a USA Visa for a foreign loved one.

(This content is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute advice regarding the law. No Lawyer-Client Relationship exists between author and reader.)

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