Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Waiver’

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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7th April 2010

As this author has discussed in previous blog posts, one major reason for US visa denial is based upon a finding that a legal grounds of inadmissibility exists in a given case. One legal grounds of inadmissibility is based upon a finding by the Consular Officer that the applicant committed a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT). That being said, at times it can be difficult to determine whether or not an individual’s prior actions would be considered a crime involving moral turpitude. The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) provides some insight into what types of crimes are considered to be crimes involving moral turpitude, the following are excerpts from the FAM:

“9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-1 Crimes Committed Against
Property
(CT:VISA-1318; 09-24-2009)
a. Most crimes committed against property that involve moral turpitude
include the element of fraud. The act of fraud involves moral turpitude
whether it is aimed against individuals or government. Fraud generally
involves:
(1) Making false representation;
(2) Knowledge of such false representation by the perpetrator;
(3) Reliance on the false representation by the person defrauded;
(4) An intent to defraud; and
(5) The actual act of committing fraud”

Property Crimes are not the only activities that can be construed as crimes involving moral turpitude as criminal actions which violate or undermine governmental authority are also considered to be CIMT:

“9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-2 Crimes Committed Against
Governmental Authority
(CT:VISA-1318; 09-24-2009)
a. Crimes committed against governmental authority which fall within the
definition of moral turpitude include:
(1) Bribery;
(2) Counterfeiting;
(3) Fraud against revenue or other government functions;
(4) Mail fraud;
(5) Perjury;
(6) Harboring a fugitive from justice (with guilty knowledge); and
(7) Tax evasion (willful).”

The FAM also goes on to note the various activities that may not be considered CIMT. However, it is incumbent upon the adjudicating officer to examine the facts of a given case and make a decision as to whether the underlying actions that gave rise to a criminal conviction in fact constitutes a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude for purposes of visa issuance. If the officer decides that a CIMT was committed, then the visa application will likely be denied. Under the doctrine of Consular NonReviewability (also known as Consular Absolutism) this decision is not subject to appeal. However, the applicant make be able to overcome the visa denial by applying for, and obtaining, an I-601 waiver.

Of interest to some may be the recent Circuit Court decision which held:

“An order of removal from the United States was entered against Petitioner Armando Alvarez-Reynaga based on his felony conviction for receipt of a stolen vehicle in violation of section 496d(a) of the California Penal Code. His petition for review presents the questions of whether a conviction under that statute qualifies categorically as a conviction for an aggravated felony, and whether it qualifies categorically as a crime involving moral turpitude. We conclude that it qualifies as the first, but not the second. We deny the petition for review.”

As the law continues to evolve, so to does the definition of CIMT and the activities that are considered to be covered by the CIMT provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

For more information about US Visas from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

(Readers should be advised that the above does not constitute a full analysis of CIMT issues. Each application has its own unique set of facts and those facts must be analyzed on an individual basis in order to form a professional opinion.)

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12th January 2010

In a recent posting on the American Immigration Lawyers Association website the author noticed a revised list of the vaccinations that are required for those seeking Immigration benefits for the United States. Below is a direct quote from the AILA publication:

Under the immigration laws of the United States, a foreign national who applies for an immigrant visa abroad, or who seeks to adjust status as a permanent resident while in the United States, is required to receive vaccinations to prevent the following diseases:
Mumps
Measles
Rubella
Polio
Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids
Pertussis
Influenza Type B
Hepatitis B
Any other vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for
Immunization Practices

This information could prove useful for those assisting a prospective immigrant. This being said, the rules and required vaccinations can be subject to frequent changes. Also, the US Embassy in Bangkok maintains a list of hospitals that are permitted to conduct medical examinations for US Immigration purposes. This list is subject to change and as a result those seeking medical examination for visa obtainment purposes would be wise to contact the United States Embassy in order to obtain the most up-to-date information.

In recent months, the United States Department of State and the Center for Disease Control have changed some of the rules regarding communicable diseases and United States Immigration. HIV has been taken off of the list of diseases that will act as a bar to admission into the United States. Therefore, those who previously were inadmissible to the USA due to the fact that they had HIV no longer need an HIV waiver (also known as an I-601 waiver) to overcome their inadmissibility and may now be eligible to enter the United States provided they meet other Department of State and USCIS requirements.

The United States government has a responsibility to make sure that those entering the USA are not carrying diseases that could pose a threat to the American Citizenry. To this end, Embassy staff and Civil Surgeons at overseas hospitals take their job very seriously. In Thailand, a major issue for some applicants is Tuberculosis. Some applicants are found to have or have had TB. In these situations, a battery of tests must be conducted in order to ensure that the disease has been eradicated and the applicant is no longer contagious.  For those who had TB in the past, a thorough search of the applicant’s medical records is conducted in order for the Civil Surgeon to be certain that the applicant no longer poses a threat to others. Although sometimes frustrating, the Medical Examination process is a necessary component of the due diligence conducted by the United States Embassies and US Consulates abroad.

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11th September 2009

On this website, there is a great deal of information regarding I-601 waivers and grounds of inadmissibility.  However, there are other situations where a foreign national can be barred from reentering the United States of America. For example, where an alien has been deported or removed from the United States, they are usually subject to a reentry ban for a statutorily specified period of time. If a foreign national has been previously deported or removed from the United States, then that person must submit an I-212 application to reapply for admission to the United States (also known as advance permission to reenter).

Deportation and removal are technically the same thing as the terms can be used interchangeably. That being said, forms of removal from the United States should be looked at on a kind of legal spectrum. What is commonly referred to as “Deportation” occurs after a finding by an Immigration Judge that a person should be removed from the United States of America. Another form of removal is known as “expedited removal” this commonly occurs at a port of entry in the United States where a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer finds that an applicant for admission is not fit for entry under one or more of the  provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. In many situations, a Border Patrol Officer will allow an applicant for admission to voluntarily withdraw their application and return to the point of origin. In this situation, which is akin to voluntary departure, the applicant’s US Immigration record is not adversely affected. However, it is within the officer’s discretion to place the alien in expedited deportation proceedings and thereby have them removed from the United States.

When an alien is removed from the United States through the use of expedited deportation, that alien is barred from reentering the United States without first receiving approval of the aforementioned statutorily mandated I-212 petition. These applications are somewhat similar to I-601 waivers in that the applicant must show something  like extreme hardship to a United States Citizen would occur if the application were denied and the applicant remained inadmissible.

Avoiding expedited deportation at a port of entry (and the consequences arising therefrom) is just another reason why visa seekers should apply for a visa which comports with their intent. One who is viewed as using a United States tourist visa improperly (hiding their intention to marry in the US and adjust status) could be placed in expedited deportation proceedings. If removed, then a great deal of time and resources would need to be expended to deal with the inadmissibility. Therefore, it is not only ethically incumbent upon all applicants to be honest in their immigration endeavors, but it is also practical because avoiding expedited deportation is a great benefit from a long term perspective.

For the above described reasons, those wishing to bring a Thai loved one to the United States for the purpose of marriage are encouraged to utilize a K1 visa for this purpose as a fiance visa is the appropriate travel document reflecting the couple’s true intentions. For those already married, a CR1 visa or a K 3 visa is preferable to a tourist visa if adjustment of status is the ultimate goal.

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15th June 2009

For many Americans the Tourist visa is the travel document that comes to mind when discussing US Immigration. For Immigration based upon a family relationship the Tourist Visa is the worst option when an American Citizen spouse or Fiance is seeking to bring the foreign fiancee or spouse to the USA in order to remain.

One of the main reasons why the tourist visa is not an option that should be contemplated when making family immigration decisions stems from the fact that the purpose of the US tourist visa is misunderstood and the visa itself has been greatly misused in the past. A US Visitor Visa is intended for short term recreational purposes only. Similarly the US business visa is meant for short term business endeavors in the USA (conferences, trade shows, etc.) Neither are designed for use by those who seek to have their loved one remain in the USA permanently.

Consular officers making a judgment call on a US visitor visa must be convinced that the applicant has overcome the statutory presumption of immigrant intent. This doctrine stipulates that the applicant for a tourist visa is a presumed immigrant until they can demonstrate that they are strongly connected to a place outside of the USA. So connected, in fact, that they are more likely to leave the United States in order to return to that location than they would be to remain in the United States past their visa expiration.

A major misconception regarding practically any visa is the idea that it confers a “right” to enter the United States of America. In reality, the visa confers a right to present themselves at the border and upon inspection and approval from the Immigration officer, be admitted to the United States. Even at a United States port of entry, it is possible for the traveler to be turned away if the Immigration officer feels it is necessary. As a practical matter, this rarely occurs due to the fact that most entrants to the USA have a legitimate reason for entry.

Since September 11, 2001 US Immigration officials have been more zealous in their enforcement of US Immigration rules and regulations and as a result the scrutiny placed upon entrants to the US, whether they intend to immigrate or not, has increased.

Due to the fact that the US tourist visa is intended for non-immigrant purposes and the fact that scrutiny of non-immigrants to the US has increased. It is now highly advisable that those wishing to bring a loved one to the USA use the proper travel document. For those seeking to bring a loved one that they are not married to, a K-1 visa may be an appropriate option. While those with an overseas wife might opt for the K-3 visa, CR-1 Visa, or IR-1 Visa depending upon the couple’s circumstances and immigration goals.

Be advised that entering the USA on a visitor visa with anything other than NON-immigrant intent, could be viewed as an attempt to defraud immigration officials and lead to criminal or civil penalties as well as a possible later finding of inadmissibility. If deemed inadmissible, one can only be admitted to the USA after application for a waiver.

(Please note: this post is not a substitute for legal advice. For proper legal advice seek the counsel of a licensed attorney. No part of this piece should be construed as forming an Attorney-client relationship between author and reader.)

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11th June 2009

Adjustment of status is necessary after a beneficiary enters the USA and marries the K-1 visa petitioner. Adjustment of Status requires the filing of an I-485 application.

The Difference between “Adjustment of Status” and “Change of Status”

Many people going through the travails of Immigration procedure confuse “adjustment of status,” with “change of status.” In common vernacular the terms are similar, if not synonymous. However, in the context of US Immigration they have different meanings entirely.  If an alien adjusts status, this means that the alien changes from a non-immigrant visa category to an Immigrant visa category and is therefore accorded Lawful Permanent Residence (a Green Card). If a person present in the USA “changes status,” this means that they convert from one non-immigrant visa category to another.

K-1 Visas and Adjustment

As a hybrid visa, the K-1 allows an alien to enter the USA with the intent to marry an American and obtain a
Green Card. While the Green Card application is pending, the alien spouse is permitted to stay stateside. In fact, the alien spouse should not subsequently depart the US without first getting an advance parole travel document. Failure to obtain advance parole will very likely result in a K-1 visa conferee’s petition being canceled.

Provided the alien fiancee remains in status in the United States and the Adjustment of Status is approved, then lawful permanent residence will be conferred. This permanent residence will be conditional for 2 years. 3 months prior to the 2nd anniversary of adjustment, the couple should file for an I-751 removal of conditions of residence in the United States. After the removal of conditions occurs the alien will able to remain a resident unconditionally.

Appeals of Negative Adjustment of Status Decisions

In a situation where the adjustment of status from K-1 to Lawful Permanent Residence has not been approved, the decision can be appealed. Also appeals can be made pursuant to Section 586 of Public Law 106-429 if the appellant meets the requirements set forth in the rules.  Any appeal of an adverse adjustment ruling should be submitted to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) for review. As a general rule, the applicant who has been denied adjustment must appeal within Thirty-Three days of the Immigration Judge’s ruling. Upon receipt of the appeal application and remittance of processing fee the appeal is forwarded to the Board of Immigration Appeals in the US Capital for review and adjudication.

(It should be noted that an appeal should not be confused with a waiver. In cases where a legal ground of inadmissibility is found to exist, the consular officer’s decision is not subject to appeal, but instead a waiver may be obtained.)

Nothing Contained herein should be viewed  as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional. Obligations inherent to an attorney-client relationship are not to be assumed to arise simply from reading this post due to the fact that no such relationship exists between the author and reader.

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29th April 2009

Waivers of Inadmissibility from Thailand: Brief Synopsis

In previous posts the topic of grounds of inadmissibility has been discussed. A grounds of inadmissibility is the legal finding by a consular officer that an immigrant is ineligible for a visa to the USA. Most grounds of inadmissibility have a remedy should one decide that they still wish to immigrate to the USA. That remedy is a waiver. A waiver application is adjudicated by USCIS and upon the granting of a waiver the petition is sent back to the US Embassy where the visa is approved and granted.

However, not all grounds of inadmissibility can be waived and this post briefly discusses two major unwaivable grounds with regard to US Visas from Thailand. (Note: A Waiver of Inadmissibility is not an “appeal,” of the consular officer’s denial of a visa petition. Some publications, particularly on the internet, claim that a decision to deny a US Visa can be “appealed,” strictly speaking this is not true, a waiver is a petition seeking to have a ground of inadmissibility waived so that the visa petition may be approved.)

Although generally there are many waivers of inadmissibility allowed under the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States, there are some situations in which an alien will be deemed inadmissible to the United States in perpetuity.

Drug conviction

Currently, a prior criminal conviction involving drugs is a grounds of inadmissibility with no available waiver. That being said, if the conviction was for simple possession of marijuana of a quantity less than 30 grams, then a waiver may be sought.  In Thailand, many of those applicants with drug convictions were arrested and convicted for activities relating to “yabaa,” the Thai street term meaning methamphetamine. Unfortunately, a conviction involving methamphetamine would lead to a likely finding of inadmissibility that and a waiver could not be obtained.

False Claims of US Citizenship

Another ground of inadmissibility that cannot be waived is a finding that an applicant has falsely presented themselves as a US Citizen on a prior occasion. At one time, falsely claiming US Citizenship was not an unwaivable ground of inadmissibility, but recent amendments to the US Immigration and Nationality Act have  resulted in a policy that claiming false citizenship in nearly any way is a grounds of inadmissibility without recourse to a waiver.

These two grounds of inadmissibility are not the only two grounds that have no recourse to a waiver, but they are more common than most other unwaivable grounds which is hy they were briefly mentioned here.

(Note: Nothing in this post should be taken as a substitution for legal advice from a duly licensed attoney with experience practicing US Immigration law. No Attorney client privilege should be inferred from reading this article.)

For more about Family Visas from Thailand please see

K1 visa

K3 visa

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14th April 2009

A popular immigration decision made by Thai-American couples is the decision to pursue a K1 Visa from Thailand. Many couples opt for the fiance visa because it is a faster visa to obtain in comparison to the conventional Immediate Relative Visa. The adjudication processing time for the CR-1 and IR-1 Visa can be as much as 5 months longer than that of the K1 Visa. These time differentials coupled with the fact that many couples like to have the 90 day window of opportunity to decipher whether a marriage will work or not make the K1 Visa a very attractive option.

IMBRA and its limitations on the K1 Visa

A few years ago, Congress passed the International Marriage Brokers Regulation Act in order to clamp down on so-called “mail order bride,” outfits. One of the byproducts of this act is the fact that K1 Visa petitions have been limited. Before the promulgation of IMBRA it was possible for an American Citizen to essentially apply for and obtain infinite fiancee visas for as many beneficiaries as he wanted. Under the new regulations, a US Citizen is only allowed to petition for 2 K1 Visas without needing to obtain a waiver from USCIS. Even with this regulation comes a further caveat, if he should petition for 2 K1 Visas within a 24 month period, then he will also need to obtain a waiver.

The issue involving petitioning for two K1 visas usually comes up in context of the Thai-American couple who obtain a K1 visa and the Thai lady goes to the US. The couple finds that at the time a marriage is not logistically feasible. Therefore, she leaves the United States and returns to Thailand. Later, the couple decides to petition for another K1 Visa because their situation has changed and they feel that now a marriage is workable. Do they need to obtain a waiver in order to obtain a second K1 Visa? The answer: Probably.

Depending upon the time frame of the petitions it may be necessary to obtain a waiver in order to have a subsequent I-129f petition (the petition form for a K1) approved. If the previous petition was filed within 24 months of the subsequent petition then a waiver is likely a necessity. All is not lost by needing to file for a waiver. They are generally granted where the couple explains the situation and why 2 K1 visas were filed by the same couple within a 2 year period. It is very wise to retain a US attorney in Thailand in order to prepare a Thai loved one’s K1 Visa petition in general and particularly in any situation where a USCIS waiver is necessary.

For more information please see

US Visa Thailand

Fiance Visa Thailand

Note: Nothing in this post should be used in lieu of legal advice from a duly licensed attorney in your jurisdiction

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6th April 2009

In an earlier post Packet 3 was briefly discussed and explained. This, to a certain degree, begged the question: what is packet 4? Packet 4 is the packet that includes the: pertinent medical exam requirements, interview appointment and information regarding the visa interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. It should be noted that this phase of the US visa process occurs after the petition has been approved by USCIS and the National Visa Center and is pending final approval from the consular officer at the Embassy.

Packet 4 is probably the most important, albeit least discussed, piece of correspondence from the US Embassy because it contains the visa appointment information.

The Visa interview is one of the most daunting aspects of the American Immigration process. One of the reasons for this is the fact that Thai prospective immigrant are sometimes nervous because they lack fluency in English. There is some consolation in knowing that the staff at the American Embassy Bangkok does employ native Thai speakers and the Embassy officials do try to assist non-native speakers of English. That being said, they still are required to perform their job which is, in a way, that of performing due diligence and making certain that the applicant should be granted a visa.

In the case of US Family Visas (the K1 Fiance Visa and/or the US Marriage Visa), the “due diligence,” consists of ascertaining that the underlying relationship is in fact bona fide and making certain that the applicant is not inadmissible for any reason. Preparation for the visa interview often consists of going over possible questions with the applicant so that the best presentation of the underlying bona fide relationship is put forward.

There are certain Grounds of Inadmissibility and if the Thai applicant is inadmissible then the applicant will be denied a visa one must file a waiver application at Bangkok USCIS. The I-601 Waiver of Inadmissibility is discussed elsewhere, but it is mentioned here to explain the possible outcomes of the visa interview.  A finding of inadmissibility is not a common thing in the context of US family Immigration, but it should be noted that it does come up. If worried that one’s record may be grounds for a finding of inadmissibility, one should seek legal counsel. However, one should never lie to the Consular Officers at the US Embassy.  The problem with lying about a ground of inadmissibility is the fact that if one is caught lying (which is highly likely) then they will probably be found inadmissible for both the issue they were trying to cover up as well as lying to the consular officer and if a waiver is sought, then the lie has placed their credibility at issue which could diminish the chance of waiver application approval.

Note: Nothing contained in this post should be used in lieu of legal advice from a competent licensed attorney

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