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Posts Tagged ‘J-1 visa Thailand’

25th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of State has proposed a final rule which would raise some of the costs and fees associated with the J-1 visa, a travel document designed for exchange visitors wishing to visit the United States of America. To quote directly from the Federal Register’s official website

§ 62.17 Fees and charges.

(a) Remittances. Fees prescribed within the framework of 31 U.S.C. 9701 must be submitted as directed by the Department and must be in the amount prescribed by law or regulation...

(b) Amounts of fees. The following fees are prescribed...

(1) For filing an application for program designation and/or redesignation (Form DS-3036)—$2,700.00…

(2) For filing an application for exchange visitor status changes (i.e., extension beyond the maximum duration, change of category, reinstatement, reinstatement-update, SEVIS status, ECFMG sponsorship authorization, and permission to issue)—$233.00.

The administration of this blog highly recommends that those interested in this issue click on the links above to read the Federal Register entry in its entirety.

Those who are unfamiliar with the J-1 visa should also note that this visa category is sometimes utilized by foreign nationals wishing to act as Au pairs in the United States of America.

Pursuant to the provisions of section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Consular Officers at every US Embassy or US Consulate abroad are required to make the presumption that the applicant for a non-immigrant visa is actually an intending immigrant unless the applicant can provide evidence to overcome this presumption. This triggers a “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis in the mind of the interviewing Consular officer. During such an analysis, the Consular officer will weigh the ties that the applicant has to their home country and compare these with the applicant’s ties to the United States. If the offficer feels that the applicant has stronger ties to a country abroad than to the USA, then the visa will likely be granted.

In some cases, applicants for a United States visa are denied. This would seem to happen more frequently in non-immigrant visa cases than immigrant visa cases, but this can, at least partially, be attributed to the stringent analysis that all Consular Officers must make during the adjudication of certain non-immigrant visa applications. Should a visa be denied, then it may be possible to request reconsideration of that decision. That said, appealing visa denials, especially denials pursuant to section 214(b), is difficult, if not impossible, pursuant to the doctrine of Consular Non-Reviewability (sometimes referred to as Consular Absolutism). This doctrine states that, with exceptions in rare and highly extreme circumstances, a Consular Officer’s discretion regarding the issuance of a visa is virtually absolute.

Some have pondered whether the provisions of section 214(b) applies to applicants for a K-1 visa. In point of fact, although the K-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category similar to the J-1 visa; the K-1 visa applicant is not scrutinized subject to section 214(b) of the INA as the applicant for said US fiance visa is entitled to have immigrant intent at the time of the K-1 application.

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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:

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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9th January 2010

For a more detailed look at the J1 visa please see our main J1 visa page at: J1 visa Thailand. For further information about United States Immigration in general please see: US Visa Thailand.

The J1 Visa in 2010

As the new year begins this author is presented with an opportunity to re-explain the J1 visa and how it can be used by those Thais thinking of traveling to the United States of America as an Exchange Visitor. It is also an opportunity to briefly discuss some of the recently proposed changes to the J-1 visa rules and the future of the J1 visa in its current form.

For those who are not familiar with the J1 visa this visa category was designed to allow foreign nationals to come to the United States for limited employment purposes, specialized education, or cultural exchange. Some of those who use a J-1 visa are required to remain outside of the USA for statutorily specified period of time after their initial stay in the United States. These people are subject to what is called the Foreign Residence Requirement and cannot reenter the USA within 2 years after their initial J-1 visa without first obtaining a waiver.

Recently the United States Department of State proposed a rule that may have had a major impact upon those applying for a J1 visa. In a previous post on this blog, the issues surrounding this proposed rule were discussed, but the American Immigration Lawyers Association is now reporting that this proposed rule is being withdrawn by the American State Department. To quote directly from the AILA website:

“On December 23, 2009 the State Department published in the Federal Register a proposed rule titled Exchange Visitor Program– Secondary School Students. The Department revised existing regulations to provide greater specificity and clarity to sponsors of the Secondary School Student category with respect to the execution of sponsor oversight responsibilities under the exchange visitor program. This rule is being withdrawn because it was submitted prior to OMB completing review. The proposed rule is withdrawn in its entirety.”

Since this rule has been withdrawn there have been those who have noted that the regulations regarding the J-1 visa did not need to be modified. The proposed rule was withdrawn because it was promulgated before a required review period had elapsed. Therefore, there is good reason to believe that this proposed rule may be re-promulgated in the future. It remains to be seen how this will affect those applying for a J1 visa, but it would seem likely that an adoption of any new rule would, at least at first, create some confusion as the new regulations are implemented.

Since the J1 visa is a non-immigrant visa similar to a US tourist visa, it may be possible to apply for, and hopefully obtain, it at both a US Embassy or US Consulate. In Thailand, one could apply for this visa at either the US Consulate in Chiang Mai or the US Embassy in Bangkok depending upon where the applicant resides.

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13th December 2009

J-1 visas are meant for those who are entering an exchange visitor program or traveling to the USA for the purpose of doing specific types of work (most notably: Au pair child care). This visa has been in existence for many years and the rules regarding issuance have not be modified in a long while.

Recently the American State Department has proposed making changes to the system whereby foreign nationals obtain the J1 Exchange visitor visa. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has recently promulgated comments on the proposed changes in an effort to provide a different perspective to those who will ultimately pass these rules. In a recent press release AILA stated:

“We commend the United States Department of State (the Department) for acting on its goals to update and improve the Exchange Visitor Program through the first significant proposed rulemaking since 1993. We also recognize and applaud the Department’s efforts to increase overall program oversight, but we urge the Department not to do so at the risk of weakening the very foundation on which the J-1 program rests.”

Not everything in this press release was laudatory as the Association also noted that some of the proposed rule changes might actually undermine the original intent of the J1 visa legislation:

“[W]hile we recognize that the Department [of State] must demand accountability on the part of sponsors of the J-1 program, we fear that it has used the medium of this proposed regulation as a means of eroding the range and number of opportunities for young men and women to learn about our culture and return to share important skills and insights with their compatriots. AILA recognizes the major role that the Fulbright-Hays Act has played for nearly 50 years to instill trust and promote understanding, education, and training among people of dramatically divergent cultures and for the mutual benefit of our people as well as the people of nations struggling to achieve financial and
cultural independence. It is crucial that the full range of these opportunities continues to exist.”

The J-1 visa is an example of a valuable method not only for providing advanced education to foreign nationals, but also for spreading American culture and American ideas to other countries. Undermining this system of cross-cultural exchange would indeed be detrimental. However, the US State Department does have an obligation to investigate candidates and sponsors for J-1 Exchange Visitor visas in an effort to be certain that the visa is being issued for appropriate reasons and to appropriate applicants. Hopefully, the American State Department can find a proper balance whereby the security needs of American Citizens are protected while cross-cultural exchange is still facilitated. As with many non-immigrant visas, both the US Embassy in Bangkok and the US Consulate in Chiang Mai can issue such travel documents to applicants in Thailand.

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24th July 2009

The K-1 visa is a very popular visa for Thai nationals who have a US Citizen loved one. The US Embassy in Bangkok processes a large number of fiance visa cases each year. Many of those who apply for a United States K-1 visa have questions about their status once they reach the USA. In most cases, the answers are cut and dried, but there are some questions that have more nuanced answers.

Many people who travel to the United States on a K1 visa seem to immediately ask the question: Can I work now that I’m here? The answer to that question would be a qualified “yes.” Under the relevant provisions of 8 CFR 274a.12(a)(6), a K-1 visa holder may be entitled to apply for what is known as work authorization. Work authorization is sometimes referred to as a “work permit.” Similar to a work permit in Thailand, the work authorization document in the United States must be obtained by petitioning the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The work permit’s technical name is: Employment Authorization Document (EAD). There are those who are under the mistaken impression that work authorization is a right. In fact, under current United States Immigration laws the K-1 visa holder is not entitled to work authorization as a matter of right, but is simply entitled to submit an application for said status.

A downside of obtaining an Employment Authorization Document while in K-1 status is the fact that the Employment Authorization only lasts as long as the applicant is in K1 status. So it is subject to expiration as soon as the K-1 visa holder’s status changes. This results in employment authorization that lasts for a negligible duration. In most cases, obtaining Work Authorization is often not a net benefit to the prospective applicant except in certain rare circumstances.

That being said, there are other methods of gaining work authorization. A possibly more beneficial option for the prospective work authorization applicant would be to submit an EAD petition in conjunction with an I-485 petition for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence (green card). This method is advantageous because the fee for the Employment Authorization Document is included in the adjustment fee and the result is a net reduction in expenses. Also, the Employment Authorization Document will be valid for one year.

Further, A Thai spouse of a US Citizen present in the United States on a non-immigrant K-3 visa is eligible for work authorization. In the case of the J-1 visa and F-1 visa, the visa holder may be able to obtain a work permit depending upon the situation. Although, particularly in the case of the US Student Visa, work authorization will be severely restricted.

All of this being said, it should be noted that once the K-1 visa holder successfully adjusts status to permanent residence they will have a green card and be legally allowed to work in the United States of America.

(This post is meant for educational purposes only. No Attorney-Client relationship is formed by reading this content.)

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10th July 2009

Many people around the globe long to travel to the United States. Thailand is no different as many Thai nationals seek entrance to the United States as either immigrants or non-immigrants. Those entering with non-immigrant status tend to be entering on a US tourist visa, US student visa, or an Exchange Visitor Visa. The Exchange Visitor Visa is often referred to by its Immigration category: the J1 visa. There are certain requirements for obtaining a J1 visa and it is a somewhat unique visa because it confers certain rights and restrictions not imposed upon non-immigrants entering the United States upon visas in other categories.

While the Department of Homeland Security is the primary agency with the mandate to facilitate the obtainment of exchange visitor visas, the Department delegates the task of exchange sponsorship to others, namely businesses, organizations, and other government agencies. Those organizations responsible for carrying out this Department of Homeland Security delegated mandate assist J1 applicants in entering the United states of America in order to engage in one of the following vocations:

1. Au pair (Nanny)

2. Camp Counselor

3. Student, college/university

4. Student, secondary

5. Government Visitor

6. International Visitor (reserved for U.S. Department of State use)

7. Alien physician

8. Professor

9. Research Scholar

10. Short-term Scholar

11. Specialist

12. Summer work/travel

13. Teacher

14. Trainee

For more information on each of these vocations please see the United States Department of State Website

Those wishing to engage in the above activity may be eligible to receive a J1 visa. That being said, documentation and interviews will most likely be required before the J-1 visa will be issued by the US Embassy in Thailand. As with any United States Visa, final visa application approval is provided by US State Department consular officers working at posts in Thailand. There are two diplomatic posts in Thailand which handle J1 visa petitions: the US Embassy in Bangkok (already mentioned) and the United States Consulate General in Chiang Mai.

As mentioned previously on this website, those seeking to bring a loved one to the United States on a J-1 visa because they wish to bypass comparatively longer processing times for family based visas should think twice before doing so. First of all, obtaining a non-immigrant visa when the applicant actually has immigrant intent is viewed by US officials as defrauding the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. Further, obtaining and entering the USA on a J1 visa may be a bad tactical decision for those wishing to bypass K-1 visa or K-3 visa wait times because a J1 visa entrant may have a 2 year foreign residency requirement imposed upon them before they may reenter the United States. As a general rule, if one wishes to bring a loved one to the USA on a Fiance visa or Marriage visa, then it is best to use those designated visa categories rather than the J-1 visa.

(Please be aware that none of the above is intended for any use other than education. This is not legal advice. For legal advice contact a licensed US Attorney. No attorney-client relationship shall be created between the author and any reader of this posting.)

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