Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘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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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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3rd September 2010

Those who read this blog on a regular basis may have noticed that the administration routinely posts information about efforts by various law enforcement authorities to discourage human trafficking. Unfortunately, as the world becomes increasingly integrated due to globalization the instances of human trafficking seem to be rising. This apparent increase could be due to the fact that there are more media outlets covering this issue, but this author believes in giving credit where credit is due and many of those apprehended by American authorities were caught thanks to the diligent efforts of American and international law enforcement agencies and organizations.

To quote a recent story from the Associated Press that this author found distributed on the internet by Google:

HONOLULU — Six recruiters were accused Thursday of luring 400 laborers from Thailand to the United States and forcing them to work, according to a federal indictment that the FBI called the largest human-trafficking case ever charged in U.S. history.

The indictment alleges that the scheme was orchestrated by four employees of labor recruiting company Global Horizons Manpower Inc. and two Thailand-based recruiters. It said the recruiters lured the workers with false promises of lucrative jobs, then confiscated their passports, failed to honor their employment contracts and threatened to deport them.

Once the Thai laborers arrived in the United States starting in May 2004, they were put to work and have since been sent to sites in states including Hawaii, Washington, California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, according to attorneys and advocates.

Many laborers were initially taken to farms in Hawaii and Washington, where work conditions were the worst, said Chancee Martorell, executive director for the Los Angeles-based Thai Community Development Center, which represents 263 Thai workers who were brought to the U.S. by Global Horizons.

A woman who answered the phone at Global Horizons’ Los Angeles office refused to take a message seeking comment Thursday.

The six defendants include Global Horizons President and CEO Mordechai Orian, 45; Director of International Relations Pranee Tubchumpol, 44; Hawaii regional supervisor Shane Germann, 41; and onsite field supervisor Sam Wongsesanit, 39. The Thailand recruiters were identified as Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai.

They face maximum sentences ranging from five years to 70 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.

The penalties imposed upon those who engage in human trafficking activities can be severe. This is likely due to the fact that this activity often leads to many negative results as noted in the story above. Many of those who are smuggled from one country to another are forced to work under inhumane conditions that are considered to be illegal in many jurisdictions.

This author is pleased to see public resources being expended upon truly worthy law enforcement programs such as this. Thwarting the activities of human traffickers should definitely be a top priority for international law enforcement agents. Hopefully, arrests such as those noted above will discourage and deter individuals in the future as such activity has an extremely detrimental impact upon society as a whole.

It should also be noted that human trafficking is considered by US Immigration authorities to be a legal grounds of inadmissibility. Therefore a finding by a Consular Officer that an individual previously engaged in human trafficking may lead to visa denial in a pending immigration petition or application. Furthermore, this ground of inadmissibility is unlikely to be remedied through use of an I-601 waiver.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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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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2nd July 2009

A Legal Ground of Inadmissibility is a provision created by Congress that bars certain immigrants from entering the United States of America. If a prospective immigrant is found to have certain types of communicable disease then they will be barred from entering the United States without first obtaining a Waiver of Inadmissibility.

Waivers of inadmissibility for those infected with Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are different than some other legal grounds of inadmissibility because the burden of proof is not the same. In order to obtain a normal I-601 waiver of inadmissibility in most cases the US Citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioner must show that failure to grant the waiver would result in an “extreme hardship,” for him or her. In the case of an HIV waiver, a showing of “extreme hardship” is unnecessary. Instead, one must show that the immigrant with HIV will not become a ward of the United States. Much like the I-864 affidavit of support for Immigrant visas or the I-134 affidavit of support for a fiance visa, the petitioner must show that the beneficiary will not become a “public charge.”

Recently, President Obama has made it clear that he intends to put the wheels in motion to have legislation passed that would repeal the provisions making those with HIV inadmissible to the United States. Obama was recently quoted as saying,

“The rationale for maintaining HIV infection as an excludable condition is no longer valid based on current medical and scientific knowledge and public health practice, and experience which has informed us on the characteristics of the virus, the modes of transmission of HIV, and the effective interventions to prevent further spread of the virus… My administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status. The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy.”

Obama has made many recent statements regarding Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Defense of Marriage Act. If Obama fulfills his campaign promises regarding these issues it will have tremendous ramifications on United States Immigration law. The push to have HIV taken off of the list of communicable disease has its opponents, but it is probable that legislation that would allow those with HIV to enter the USA, without a waiver, will be passed sometime in the next one to two years.

For more information about US Family Visas from Thailand Please see: US Immigration lawyer Thailand or K-1 visa

(Nothing contined herein should be mistaken for legal advice as it is intended for the purpose of education only. No lawyer-client relationship is to be implied to exist between the author and any reader of this posting.)

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12th May 2009

For general information about problems with a Us visa application please see: US Visa Denial Thailand.

The process of obtaining a visa for a loved one to the United States can be long and complicated.  At the end of the process, the last thing a prospective applicant wants to receive is a rejection and denial of the visa application. However, this can occur and in situations in which it does occur there are remedies. In other posts on this blog, the topic of waivers of inadmissibility has been discussed. This post will briefly recap the topic and add some new information about where a waiver application can filed and clear up confusion about what types of waivers exist under current legislation.

IMBRA Waiver with USCIS

One point of confusion that I have heard from prospective visa petitioners involves the IMBRA (International Marriage Broker Regulation Act). Pursuant to the IMBRA,  one must obtain a waiver in order to file multiple K1 petitions within a two year period. Although this provision denotes a waiver requirement for a multiple filer of K1 visas, this type of waiver is contemporaneously with the I-129f application for Fiance Visa. (It would be prudent to consult with an Immigration attorney if you believe you may be subject to multiple filer restrictions under IMBRA).

US Waivers of Visa Denial at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand

Should the visa be denied at the US Embassy in Bangkok, then one must first decipher the type of denial. Technically a 221 g refusal is a visa denial, but from a practical standpoint it is merely a visa denial pending further documentation or information. Therefore, it is possible to cure whatever deficiencies exist and ultimately obtain the visa.

Sham Relationship or Marriage

If the consular officer makes a decision that a marriage of fiance relationship is not genuine, then the visa could be denied and that decision is not subject to waiver or appeal. This is why proving up the legitimacy of a relationship or marriage at the US Embassy in Bangkok is so important.

Consular Finding of Legal Inadmissibility

If the consular officer finds that the applicant for a visa is legally inadmissible then the visa will be denied, but the finding of inadmissibility may be remedied through the approval of a waiver of inadmissibility (most likely an I-601 waiver application).

Where is the Waiver Application Filed

It is possible to file a waiver application with the consular officer at the US Embassy. However, this method may be inefficient as the Embassy will send the I-601 waiver application to USCIS for adjudication. It may be faster to simply file an I-601 application with USCIS directly.

On another related note USCIS Bangkok has administrative jurisdiction over USCIS filed offices in  New Delhi, India; Seoul, Republic of Korea; Beijing and Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China; Manila, Philippines; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In its capacity as Bangkok’s District Office it has jurisdiction over Australia, Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Laos PDR, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and New Zealand. Therefore an I-601 waiver application for a US visa to be obtained from an Embassy in any of these countries can be filed at USCIS Bangkok.

Thanks for reading and for more on US Immigration from Thailand please see:

K1 visa application

Fiance visa application

US Visa Thailand

(Please note: this writing should not be used in lieu of legal advice from a licensed attorney with experience in US Immigration matters. No relationship (attorney-client or otherwise) should be implied from reading this article.)

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29th March 2009

There is some confusion about 221 (g) refusals for US Visas from Thailand. A 221 (g) request is a refusal to grant a US Visa without further evidence. When the Consular Officers are deciding whether to issue a US Visa (for our purposes we will look at it from the context of K1 Fiance Visas, K3, or CR1 Marriage Visas) they are essentially performing a due diligence search in order to ensure that the applicant is who they say they are and are traveling to the USA for a valid purpose (in this case the reason for traveling is a family relationship to the US petitioner).

Some couples become quite distraght when a 221 (g) is issued and it can be quite inconvenient particularly in instances where the applicant is originally from a distant area of Thailand. This can be especially troublesome if the applicant’s household registration (tabien baan) is in a distant locale and it is difficult for them to travel there. Often documents are required from the local amphur office in th disrict where the applicant’s household registration exists. Although it may be a routine matter for the Embassy to issue these type of requests, it can be a major endeavor for the Thai applicant to obtain the necessary documentation.

221 (g) refusals generally allow the applicant one year to obtain the requested documentation before the Embassy will destroy the file. Failure to respond to the request for evidence could result in the underlying petition being cancelled and the process to begin anew.

Us Visa

Us Visa

To avoid 221 (g) refusals it may be wise to enlist assistance of an immigration attorney in an effort to forestall a 221 (g) denial. It should be noted that even with assistance of counsel a 221 (g) refusal may still be issued and further documentation needed. Consular Officers have wide discretion as per the doctrine of consular absolutism and therefore requests for further documentation should be taken seriously and responded to in a timely manner.

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