Integrity Legal

18th July 2009

For those seeking to obtain a USA Visa from Thailand, it is almost inevitable that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will be involved in the process. That being said, depending upon the visa being sought, USCIS may play less of a direct role in the initial process.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has had an interesting recent history. Currently, the office is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. USCIS former acronym was INS which stood for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In the aftermath of  September 11, 2001 it was decided that the services provided by INS could be better facilitated under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security and INS was folded into that agency. For a time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service was known simply as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), but the acronym and name was officially changed to the current form on October 13, 2004.

For Immigrant visas that confer either conditional or unconditional lawful permanent residence (Greencard) to an alien upon entry, USCIS will play a major role in adjudicating the I-130 visa application. In certain instances where the United States Citizen has been living in the Kingdom of Thailand for a specified period of time, it may be possible to locally file an I-130 application at the USCIS office in Bangkok. This procedure is sometimes mistakenly called “Direct Consular Filing,” but, in point of fact, this appellation is misapplied. A direct consular filing can only occur at a consular section when a United States consular officer at a US Embassy or Consulate General accepts a visa application that has not first been adjudicated by USCIS either in the United States or at an office abroad. In Thailand, it is very rare for a consular officer at the US Embassy in Bangkok or the Consulate General in Chiang Mai to accept a visa application directly because there is a large local USCIS office in Bangkok.

For those making a K-1 visa application, it will be necessary to file the application at a USCIS service Center in the United States. The United States Citizen petitioner’s residence will determine what service center should be used when submitting the initial application.  For those unfamiliar with the K-1 visa, it is a fiance visa designed to allow an American’s foreign fiance to come to the USA for the purpose of marriage.

For those making a K-3 visa application, the I-129f application must be sent to a USCIS service center and not the Chicago Lockbox. The K-3 visa was designed as an expedited marriage visa for spouses of American Citizens.

F-1 visa applications and J-1 visa applications are generally submitted directly to the United States Embassy with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence. US Tourist Visa applications are also submitted directly to the US Embassy.

(This is intended for educational purposes only, it is not legal advice. For Legal advice about Immigration law, contact a visa lawyer. No attorney client relationship is created between the author and any reader of this piece.)


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