Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Immigration Law Thailand’

19th September 2010

This author has frequently discussed the myriad problems that Immigrants can face when dealing with an unlicensed American immigration “agent” or “specialist“. American law and Federal Regulations are clear regarding the issue of who is allowed to provide legal services in matters arising before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) specifically; or any of the other agencies which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only licensed attorneys from the United States of America are able to provide consultations about US Immigration matters for a fee. Furthermore, only an attorney licensed by the Highest Court of least one US State, Commonwealth, or outlying territory is allowed charge fees to represent clients before DHS, including USCIS.

Unfortunately, there are some unauthorized organizations throughout the world claiming to be able to provide advice and assistance in American Immigration matters. The internet has proven to be a great tool for those wishing to research matters pertaining to United States Immigration. Meanwhile, it has also provided a platform for some operations which claim legal expertise without appropriate training or licensure. Such individuals and entities ought to be avoided at all costs since information transmitted to such individuals and entities may not be protected by the usual legal protections accorded to communications conveyed between an American attorney and their client. Furthermore, one who is not legally trained or not licensed to provide legal services in a given jurisdiction or about a particular subject cannot provide effective counsel nor lawful confidentiality to those seeking their assistance. This can be especially important to those conveying sensitive information about a case pending before an immigration tribunal, agency, US Embassy, or US Consulate abroad. Those engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the aforementioned manner are thereby placing their own interests, as well as those of their unsuspecting “clients’”, in jeopardy.

When comparing the costs of legal service it is important to understand the pivotal role of licensure when making a decision to retain counsel. No licensed legal professional is likely to have a problem with prospective clients shopping for a reasonably priced service with a professional that they feel comfortable dealing with. In general, licensed American attorneys find that competition with other professionals makes for a healthy and prosperous business environment, but to compare the services of a licensed American immigration attorney with one who is not licensed to practice law creates a false comparison as US law is clear that those without licensure cannot provide the services which they claim they can provide in an immigration context. In short: one cannot compare a legal service with an illegal service from a price standpoint as an illegal service provider simply cannot provide such services at any price.

For further information please see: licensed lawyer. To learn more about US Immigration from Southeast Asia please see: US Immigration Law Thailand.

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5th November 2009

An interesting hypothetical question that is sometimes posed when researching the K1 visa is: who can my Thai fiancee marry once she arrives in the United States of America?

After issuance of a fiance visa, a beneficiary has six months to use the visa for travel to the US. The K1 visa is a single entry visa. Therefore, the beneficiary will only be allowed to enter the United States one time (if multiple entries are necessary, then the beneficiary must obtain an advance parole travel document). After entry, the beneficiary must marry the petitioner and apply for adjustment of status to conditional lawful permanent residence in the USA, but what happens if the beneficiary and petitioner decide not to get married? This occasionally occurs and in this situation the foreign fiancee must leave the USA within 90 days from their date of arrival.

In rare cases, a foreign fiancee will meet another individual and a romantic relationship arises. In this situation, there is not a way for a for fiancee to adjust status to permanent residence based upon marriage to another US Citizen or lawful permanent resident), if that US Citizen (or lawful permanent resident) is not the person specifically named on the K1 visa. In order to adjust status in this situation, the foreign beneficiary would need to leave the USA, obtain a new visa,  and reenter.

The K1 visa was designed to provide the foreign fiancee of a US Citizen with a travel document to be utilized for the sole purpose of specifically marrying the US Citizen petitioner. Therefore, an adjustment of status cannot be executed based upon a marriage to anyone else. There is a misconception that a K1 visa beneficiary can marry anyone in the USA and use that marriage as a basis for adjustment. This author believes that this misconception is based upon the fact that sometimes US Citizens will marry and adjust status with a foreign national present in the US on a tourist visa. Although this practice is very frowned upon by the Department of Homeland Security, it is possible to adjust status this way provided the foreign national did not enter the country with that undisclosed intention. That being said, in the case of the K1, the beneficiary may only adjust status based upon a marriage to the K1 petitioner.

On a related note, after adjustment of status, the foreign spouse will be considered a conditional lawful permanent resident (CR1) of the USA. The conditionality is based upon the continuation of the underlying marital relationship. Should the parties divorce while the beneficiary is in CR1 status, then the foreign spouse’s permanent residence will expire at the 2 year anniversary of the adjustment of status. However, a foreign spouse could remarry during this time period and apply for an adjustment of status based upon a marriage to another US Citizen. In this scenario, it would be highly likely that the officers at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) would carefully scrutinize the bona fides of both relationships in order to be certain that the relationship is genuine.

No one should attempt to utilize a visa based upon false pretenses, the above scenarios are meant to provide insight into how the Immigration rules apply in practice. Applying for a visa based upon false statements of fact could be construed as an attempt to defraud the US Immigration service.

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24th September 2009

The question asked by many American Citizens in the United States or Expats in Thailand with a Thai Girlfriend: How do I obtain a Green Card for My Thai Fiancee? Before answering this question, the researcher needs to discern exactly what a Green Card is.

The Document commonly referred to as a “Green Card,” is in fact a term used to describe Lawful Permanent Residence in the USA. In family visa applications, there are essentially two ways of obtaining lawful permanent resident status: applying for an Immigrant visa and obtaining said status upon entry into the United States; or applying for a K1 visa, entering the United States, and applying for permanent residence through the process of adjustment of status. There are two types of lawful permanent residence: conditional lawful permanent residence and unconditional lawful permanent residence. Conditional permanent residence is reserved for those couples who either opt to adjust status in the United States or who have been married less than 2 years at the time they apply for a visa. Conditional permanent residence is conferred upon the entrant who travels to the United States on a CR1 visa. Unconditional permanent residence is conferred upon an entrant to the United States traveling on an IR1 visa.

If seeking an immigrant visa for a Thai fiancee, then the American Citizen will need to marry the Thai national before the application’s submission. In Thailand, marriage registration can be a very straightforward process provided both parties are legally free to marry. A common question with regard to Thai marriage registration: will the US recognize my Thai marriage to my thai fiancee? In short: yes. The United States recognizes the legality and binding effect of a legally sanctified matrimonial union executed in the Kingdom of Thailand provided that it is registered at the local Amphur office.

What about bringing my Thai fiancee to the United States on a K1 visa? This is an option pursued by many Thai-American couples as it is generally the fastest method of getting a Thai fiancee into the United States. The only real downside of the K1 visa is the fact that it requires a post-marital adjustment of status.

Where the fiancee enters and adjusts or marries abroad and enters on an Immigrant visa, if she decides to travel abroad subsequent to acquiring permanent resident status, then she may be wise in obtaining a reentry permit so that a presumption of residential abandonment does not arise. Those who have acquired a US reentry permit are free to remain abroad for up to 2 years without raising the suspicion that they are not ever returing to the United States.

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