Integrity Legal

Archive for April, 2009

30th April 2009

Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been a major issue in Washington throughout this current congressional term. However, another issue that has been gaining support in both Houses of Congress is the Uniting American Families Act, which would amend current US Immigration law to allow same sex couples US Immigration benefits.

Although there is a great deal of controversy surrounding Comprehensive Immigration reform, the UAFA is gaining momentum and may be passed sooner rather than later.

Currently the following anglophone nations allow same sex immigration based upon family relationships: Australia, Canada,  New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.  By passing the Uniting American Families Act, the US Congress would bring America into this community of nations with a similar legal tradition who have opted not to discriminate against same-sex families for immigration purposes.

A major obstacle with regard to US Immigration for same sex couples is the Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. The UAFA makes no claim to change the definition of marriage, nor does it attempt to legalize the couple’s relationship in some sort of quasi marriage or civil union. Instead, the UAFA only creates new right and entitlements with regard to US Immigration. The UAFA’s language is somewhat sublime in that it bypasses a conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act by creating the term “permanent partner,” therefore not placing the two laws at odds with one another. By simply creating a new definition a conflict of laws is avoided and, in turn, a great deal less political controversy results.

The Uniting American Families Act (S. 1328/H.R. 2221) would alter the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize visas for same sex partners of lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens. The act would regularize immigration status for same sex couples by adopting and placing the phrase “permanent partners” in the statutory definition of those entitled to US Family Immigration benefits.

As stated previously on this blog, we at Integrity Legal feel that this bill would bring US Immigration Law and policy into the 21st century by making US Immigration options open to US families of all types. The law would also create a many criminal and civil penalties for those who would use this legislation as a means of fraudulently obtaining US Visas.

Current President, Barack Obama has in the past described US Immigration rights for gay couples as being, “a moral imperative” this phrase succinctly sums up this issue.

For more on US Immigration generally please see:

K-1 Visa

US Visa Thailand

k3 Visa

(Note: Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice or as forming an attorney-client relationship, all legal advice should be obtained from a competent licensed attorney.)

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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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28th April 2009

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand have one of the longest diplomatic relationships in Asia. The two countries have been allies for many years and have a mutually beneficial trade relationship. This post provides a brief overview of American-Thai relations since formal diplomatic relations began in the early 19th century.

On March 20, 1833 the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand concluded the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The Administration of President Andrew Jackson sent Edmund Roberts as plenipotentiary in order to refine and ultimately sign the Treaty. King Rama III, through his Ministers and Emissaries, entered into the Treaty that would be the touchstone for all future diplomatic relations between the two nations.

This Treaty placed the USA on the same level as many other “Great Power’ countries with diplomatic ties to Thailand (the Siam). This Treaty is also noteworthy because it marks the first Treaty between the USA and an Asian nation. Before the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, the United States had yet to conclude any diplomatic treaties with any other nation in Asia.

In 1856 King Rama IV and Townsend Harris, and emissary of the Franklin Pierce Administration, concluded the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation. This document gave US Citizens extraterritorial rights in the Kingdom and established the first consulate in Bangkok, with one Stephen Matoon as the US’s first resident consul in the Kingdom.

Rama VI and representative of the Wilson administration signed a new Treaty in 1920. This Treaty (which could be viewed as something of a revision of the preceding treaty) was a significantly more equitable document than those before it.

In 1937, following political turbulence in Thailand directly resulting from the revolution and adoption of the first Thai constitution, the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation was legalized.  The following decade Thailand would be pressured by the Japanese to declare war upon the USA. In a somewhat interesting series of events, the Thai Ambassador either refused to deliver the declaration or the US Secretary of State refused to accept it (the details of this exchange are unclear, but it would seem neither wished to acknowledge the declaration).

After the second world war, relations between the two nations regularized and thrived. In May of 1966 the US-Thai Treaty of Amity was signed in as the law of the land in both nations. This Treaty acts as the basis for reciprocal agreements in which Thai National’s can receive a US visa and American Citizens can obtain a Thai visa. This Treaty is currently in force at the time of this writing and acts as the framework for all trade and business relations between the two nations. Thailand and the USA also have close military and political ties as evidenced by joint military operations in the Kingdom known as Cobra Gold.

Currently, both governments claim to be in continuing negotiation regarding trade going forward. Under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, trade negotiations were held in order to update legal relations, but the talks fell apart over issues involving Intellectual Property concerns. There are some questions regarding rights conferred under the US-Thai Treaty of Amity going forward.

As of April 29th 2009 – Americans are currently accorded preferential treatment compared to other nationalities under the US-Thai Treaty of Amity

Thanks for reading!

(Note: Nothing contained in this post should be construed as legal advice nor as an agreement creating an attorney-client relationship. One should always obtain legal advice from a duly licensed Attorney)

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27th April 2009

For the most part issues involving Thailand Business Visas can be broken don into three categories: Thai Visa Extensions, Thai Multiple Entry One Year Visas, and Thai Permanent Residence.

The Thai Multiple Entry One Year Business Visa

A multiple entry business visa is a long term visa that allows the holder the right to remain in Thailand for a period of up to 90 days per entry, but the visas validity is for 1 year. This means that one must make the obligatory “border run” e very 90 days in order to stay in status. A border run is the euphemism used amongst expats in Thailand (and Southeast Asia) when speaking about going to the border with the primary purpose not being to leave the country, but to maintain legal status. An odd “bonus” with regard to the long term visa is the fact that toward the end of the one year visa’s validity one can reenter the country shortly before the visa’s expiration and receive an extra 90 days on the back end.

The Thai Visa Extension

The extension of a Thai visa occurs inside of Thailand. One must file for an extension with Royal Thai Immigration. In order to obtain a visa extension based upon a Business Visa, one must show that the employer has at least four Thai employees for every foreign employee. Also, the visa extension applicant must have a Thai work permit. The business must also produce evidence showing a history of corporate income tax and VAT payment in order to obtain a visa extension for a foreign employee. Finally, should the extension be granted, the foreign visa holder must obtain a reentry permit in order to leave the country and remain in status upon the same visa. (The reentry permit is something akin to reentry permits for US Visas).

Thai Permanent Residence

Thai permanent residence is a difficult and time consuming status to obtain. In order to apply for permanent residence, one must have been resident in the Kingdom for three consecutive years on visa extensions (multiple entry visas will not suffice as one goes out of status at each border run).  There are also salary requirements as well as a minimum Thai language proficiency requirement. Once permanent residence is granted the permanent resident will still need to obtain a Thai work permit should he or she decide to obtain employment. The positive aspect of permanent residence is the fact that permanent resident’s visa does not “sunset,” and can only be specifically revoked.

Note:  Nothing in this post should be construed or inferred as creating an attorney client relationship nor should be used instead of legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

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26th April 2009

What is NVC?

The process for obtaining US Immigration benefits can be cumbersome at times,  but overall is generally smooth provided one understands the process or retains the services of an attorney with experience in immigration matters.

An often asked question regarding the visa process is: what is NVC and what do they do? NVC is an acronym that stands for National Visa Center. The National Visa Center is government office under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of State. NVC is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The mandate of the National Visa Center is to process visa applications and ensure that visa petitions filed inside of the US for beneficiaries living abroad are transferred to the post with jurisdiction over the beneficiary’s home.

The National Visa Center is also responsible for collecting immigrant visa fees as well as certain documentation that will be needed in order for the consular officer to effectively adjudicate a US Visa application.

NVC processing: Non-Immigrant vs. Immigrant Visas

National Visa Center processing is more complicated and time consuming when it comes to US Immigrant Visas as opposed to Non-Immigrant visas. One of the activities that the National Visa Center routinely does is security clearances and background checks on those seeking to come to the United States. Since September 11, 2001 the National Visa Center has played an integral part in ensuring that visa applicants are properly screened in order to be assured that they do not pose a threat to United States security.

The National Visa Center (NVC) is sometimes confused with the NBC or National Benefits Center which is tasked by USCIS with maintaining processing pre-interview documentation for immigration interviews in the USA.

For those seeking to bring a Thai fiance to the United States on a K1 Visa, the processing at the National Visa Center will likely be faster than for those seeking to obtain an immigrant visa for their Thai loved one. This also holds true for the K3 Visa from Thailand for the supplemental I-129f petition. In any case, after the visa petition is approved by USCIS it is forwarded on to the National Visa Center and upon approval from that agency will be sent to the US Embassy or Consulate General.

Depending upon the caseload of the NVC at any given time it can take anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks to process a petition and forward it to a post abroad. However, this is merely an estimate and the processing time for all US agencies varies.

When filing a US Visa petition locally at USCIS in Bangkok, the National Visa Center does not enter into the process as the petition is forwarded literally across the street to the US Embassy in Bangkok.

(Note: Nothing in this document should be viewed as creating an Attorney-Client Relationship. Also, nothing written herein should be taken as a substitute for individualized legal advice from a licensed attorney.)

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26th April 2009

For a foreign small business owner in Thailand in order to obtain a Thai visa extension the foreigner must hold a valid Thai work permit, the business must employ 4 Thais per foreign employee, and must get those Thai employees social security benefits. All of this is  fairly straightforward, but a question arises when the non-Thai foreigner is the Managing Director of the company: is the Managing Director entitled to sign up for and receive social security benefits?

Many issues are left to the discretion of the Thai government officers so one of the frustrating aspects of doing business in Thailand is the fact that different offices interpret the Thai laws and internal administrative regulations differently. Case in point, some social security offices view the Managing Director of a Thai company as ineligible to receive social security benefits because he is not “labor,” and therefore is not someone who should be accorded labor protections under Thai law.

This is an odd stance to take particularly when looking at the issue from a common-law perspective because under the jurisprudence of most common law jurisdictions an incorporated entity is viewed as a legal person, separate and distinct from natural persons (even where a natural person is the sole owner or director of a company, or juristic person). Therefore, under the common law, the stance would probably be that the Managing Director works for the company and therefore is entitled to employment benefits like social security.

A counterargument to this position could be that although working on behalf of the company, this role is different than actually working “for” the company. As the Managing Director is, in a sense, the living embodiment of the company. It is a very semantic argument, but not one without at least some merit.

All of this begs the question: How does one  obtain social security benefits for the managing director of a company in Thailand? Where the person seeking the benefit has already enrolled for social security, the benefit can be rolled over when the person becomes managing director. However, the person seeking to roll over the benefit must have left their previous employment no more than 6 month prior to roll over (and this time frame may be left to the discretion of the Social Security legal officer). Another method for obtaining the benefits in this situation is by delineating and distinguishing between Managing Director functions and functions as an employee. In order to do this, one must also show separate pay for the separate endeavors. At the end of the day, it is up to the officer’s discretion and it is always wise to consult a Thai lawyer before making any major business decisions in Thailand.

For more information, please see:

Thailand Visa

Thai Company Incorporation

Note: None of the above should be construed nor used as a substitute for individualized advice from a duly licensed attorney in good standing. No attorney client relationship should be inferred from reading this post

An oddity of Thailand’s Social Security benefits scheme

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25th April 2009

Istanbul (Not Constantinople).

After the christening of a “New Rome” in Eastern Europe, Constantine founded Constantinople as both the administrative and political capital of the Roman Empire (thus, moving the capital from Rome and beginning what most scholars refer to as the Byzantine Empire).

In the 1400s, after years of internal turmoil and foreign encroachment, Constantinople fell and was captured by the Ottoman Turks. The fall of Constantinople is seen as the end of the Byzantine Empire and after its capture the use of the name Constantinople fell into decline, although not outright disuse as is mistakenly believed by some. Both the names Istanbul and Constantinople were used somewhat interchangeably until the turn of the twentieth century.

Subsequent to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the alternate labels for the city, other than Istanbul, became outmoded. With the promulgation of the Turkish Postal Service Law in 1930, the government of Turkey officially requested foreign correspondents to stop referring to Istanbul with any customary non-Turkish appellations. The refusal of the Turkish government to deliver parcels addressed “Constantinople,” led to a worldwide adoption and use of the name Istanbul.

New York and New Amsterdam

New York was originally founded by Dutch Settlers who gave the major city on Manhattan Island the name New Amsterdam. As the British and Dutch vied for control of the new colony the city’s name was changed. At one point New Amsterdam was rechristened New Orange, but finally, upon a finalized Treaty between the Netherlands and England, the City’s name was fixed as New York which is the way it is identified around the world to this day.

Siam and Thailand

The country today known as Thailand once had the official name of  Siam. In 1939 it was decided that the name should be changed and the current label was promulgated, then it was officially renamed Siam again between the years 1945 and 1949 (the Japanese Occupation of Thailand) after which time the name Thailand was readopted. Many people believe that the word Thai stems from the word “Tai”  which means “free” or “freedom” in the Thai language. This belief is a misconception as Thai actually refers to an ethnic group from the central lowlands of South Eastern Asia. A noted Thai academic is a proponent of the theory that the etymology of the word “Tai” has a meaning more closely translated as “people” or “humanity” because studies of the language has determined that in some non-urban locales the term “Tai” was utilized as a substitute for the conventional Thai word “khon,” meaning people.  That being said, Thais have accepted the apocryphal meaning and will generally explain that Thailand means: Land of the free.

As a side note, Bangkok is not the proper name of the city in Thai. Bangkok’s real name in is:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

Which translates in English script to:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

and when translated means (loosely):

The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.

If Cities won awards based upon the length of their name, Bangkok would probably be the perennial winner.

Thanks for reading please look through our blog to read about US Immigration and Thai Legal Matters. Or Check out our home page at Bangkok Law Firm

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24th April 2009

An extremely popular question asked by those seeking to bring a loved one to the United States from Thailand revolves around whether it is possible to obtain a tourist visa from the US Embassy in Bangkok. The crux of the problem with tourist visas comes down to an inability of most applicants to overcome the consular officer’s presumption of immigrant intent.

Tourist Visas and Immigrant Intent

Under section 214 (b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, a consular officer at a diplomatic post is required to presume that all applicants for a non-immigrant visa actually are intending immigrants. In order for an applicant to overcome this presumption, they must produce evidence which denotes that the applicant has a compelling reason to return to Thailand after visiting the United States. Evidence of a compelling reason to return to Thailand includes: Employment in Thailand at a high salary (the salary itself is not so much of likely interest to a consular officer per se, but the fact that a high salary is not something most people abandon), strong family ties to the Kingdom,  and investments in Thailand that are difficult to abandon (real property, small business, etc.). This list is not exhaustive, but is simply intended to give an idea of what consular officers are looking for when determining whether an applicant has overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.

Is a US boyfriend or husband a “poison pill,” for a Thai’s US Tourist Visa Application?

Some people believe that the presence of an American as the Thai’s primary partner in a relationship causes an automatic denial of a tourist visa application. The author does not believe this to be the case. Instead, where the Thai applicant has an American significant other, the applicant must still show that they overcome the presumption of immigrant intent. The difference when there is an American present comes down to showing that the couple is not utilizing a tourist visa to circumvent the conventional method for immigrating to the US by entering on a tourist visa and attempting to regularize status and obtain permanent residence. Put simply, the couple needs to show that they are using the visa for its legitimate purpose: tourism.

If a K1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa, why can a Thai fiancee remain in the USA on it?

In a way, the K1 Visa is a fusion of elements of both the non-immigrant and immigrant visas. The visa allows the Thai fiance to enter the US for 90 days for the sole purpose of marriage to a US Citizen and adjustment of status in order to remain in the USA. The visa was created to allow couples the opportunity to see if a marriage will work and if the couple decides that it will, then status adjustment is permitted. So the visa is non-immigrant insofar as it has a definitive expiration date, but if the K1 visa holder complies with the visa and decides to marry stateside, then they can remain in the USA with a minimum amount of legal difficulty.

Please note: None of the above should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship nor should be used in lieu of legal advice from a competent licensed attorney

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22nd April 2009

Strategic Uses for K3 Visas

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The Role of the K3 Visa

I have written before about how the usefulness of the K3 Visa is somewhat questionable now that the processing times for both the K3 and CR-1 visas are relatively similar. However, this does not mean that the K3 Visa does not have its uses.

First, the K3 is still an expedited visa and it may be very useful where a couple is already married, but truly wishes to get the immigrant spouse to the United States as quickly as possible. Other positive aspects of the K3 include the fact that it is a non-immigrant visa that has multiple entries, so if the foreign spouse is not particularly interested in working there may be some tax benefits to using a K3 rather than taking permanent residence and thus possibly being liable for more US taxes as a green card holder (this is speculation as I am not a tax expert, so if this idea is appealing first check with an American tax attorney before making any decisions in this regard).

All of these benefits are fairly negligible when compared to the dual facts that a K3 takes longer than a K1 Visa, but does not grant permanent residence to the beneficiary like the CR-1 or IR-1 Visa. The fact is, the K-3′s original raison d’etre is gone: the Immigrant visas no longer take a great deal more time to process and therefore there is really no need for an expedited us marriage visa.

Strategic Use of the K3 Visa For an Unmarried Couple

The K3 has one major strategic advantage over the K1 and Immigrant visas, namely: the right to pick your Embassy for interview. Normally, a US visa will be adjudicated by a consular officer with a diplomatic mission in a fiancee or spouse’s home country (her country of nationality). Some people, for whatever reason, wish to use an Embassy other than their home country Embassy. There are myriad legitimate reasons for wishing to do this, but the usual reason revolves around the fact that a foreign fiancee or spouse may be working in a country other than their home country. This can pose problems because the 3rd country US Embassy may not take jurisdiction over the foreign spouse forcing them to come to their home country for interview, and should a 221 g be issued, a delay may result.

Embedded in the statute promulgating the K3 is a mechanism whereby a couple can choose which Embassy they wish to have jurisdiction over the eventual interview. If not yet married then it may be possible for a couple to use the K3 in order to choose the Embassy they wish to use at interview time. For an issue such as this it is prudent to contact a licensed attorney in order to obtain competent legal advice.  It may be wise to contact an American attorney in Bangkok in order to assist with the process in Thailand.

Note: None of the above should be used as a substitute for legal advice from a competent Licensed US Immigration Attorney in your jurisdiction.

For more please see us visa thailand or us embassy thailand

or contact Integrity Legal by email at [email protected]

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21st April 2009

A Brief History of Passports

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Early Passports

The History of passports and visas is rather fascinating particularly from the standpoint of current immigration policy. Although many people believe that passports were originally intended for shipping purposes, in fact, their original intent seems to have been for inland travel as the etymology of the word “passport,” is derived from the word “porte,” which was the gate to a Medieval walled city-state (this is also the reason behind the use of the phrase, “sublime porte,” when speaking of the old Ottoman Empire because Ambassadors to the court were met at the gates of the City).

Passports were originally designed as letters of safe conduct provided by sovereigns to be used by subjects in far off provinces or foreign lands to prove that they were subjects of their home Kingdom. King Henry the 5th of England is widely credited as having invented the precursor of the modern passport. This document was used by his subjects to prove their nationality in foreign countries.

Early Modern Passports

During the French Revolution and subsequent emigration by many of the upper classes, the use of passports denoted permission by the government for the bearer to leave the country and thus would not cause the bearer political problems upon return to France. This was the situation in which Charles Maurice Talleyrand de Perigord was placed during the Terror that overtook France after the revolution. Were it not for his obtainment of a Passport and subsequent quasi-exile, Talleyrand may very possibly never have returned to France, or at least not have returned to a place in government. Many French Emigres who failed to obtain a passport either died or were never able to return to France. Such was the importance of the passport at this time.

Modern Passports

After WWI Passports became more widely used as identification documents. Passports began being made in booklet form shortly before the first World War, but as they were not in wide usage, few people had them.  It was around the turn of the 20th century that passports began to have photographs of the bearer in them. Throughout the 20th century passports evolved into the documents we know today through the integration of watermarks, holograms, and biometric information chips.  Today passports are used not only for immigration purposes, but for identification and banking purposes as well.

Current Passport Categories

There are a few types of passports:

Ordinary Tourist Passports (The type held by the vast majority of passport holders)

Diplomatic Passports (used by visiting diplomats, contrary to popular belief, they do not confer diplomatic immunity, only the host nation can confer diplomatic immunity)

Official Passports (held by those on official business from a foreign government, but not for diplomatic activity)

Dual Passports

Many countries allow for dual nationality and therefore permit (either explicitly or tacitly) a citizen retaining a passport of a foreign nation. Other countries will not allow dual nationality and the obtainment of a foreign passport could result in the automatic revocation of said country’s passport.

The United States currently allows American citizens to have dual nationality.

For Information About US Immigration Law please see:

US Visa Thailand

American Visa Thailand

K1 Visa Thailand

Note: None of the above information should be taken as legal advice.

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