Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Immigration Lawyer Thailand’

14th January 2010

Virtually all American news media outlets are reporting on the devastation and destruction brought on by the Earthquake in Haiti. We at Integrity Legal would like to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all of those who have been adversely impacted by this tragedy. For those of Haitian descent or nationality currently living in the United States, the Earthquake has also had an impact upon Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy. In a recent press release, the Deputy United States Press Secretary Matt Chandler made the following statement:

“Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton today halted all removals to Haiti for the time being in response to the devastation caused by yesterday’s earthquake. ICE continues to closely monitor the situation.”

We at Integrity Legal would like to let the United States Department of Homeland Security as well as Secretary Napolitano know that we appreciate their compassion in this matter as the situation places that agency in a difficult position.

When an alien in the United States is removed, they are generally sent back to their country of origin. In the case of Haitians they are sent back to Haiti, but sending a deportee back to Haiti under the current circumstance would, at the very least, be considered by most to be a rather callous initiative. By suspending removals, DHS has shown that they can respond to a difficult situation in a decisive and compassionate manner.

Removal from the United States can occur as a result of deportation proceedings in United States Immigration Court or expedited removal can occur at a United States port of entry after the finding by a Customs and Border Protection Officer that the prospective entrant should be removed from the United States.

Depending upon the method of removal, the alien will be inadmissible to the United States for a statutorily prescribed period of time. However, there may be a remedy to the issue of inadmissibility either through use of an I-601 waiver or an I-212 application for advance permission to reenter the United States.  Those who have previously been removed from the US may face even stiffer penalties for trying to reenter after removal if they do not seek a waiver or advance permission to reenter.

For those who have been previously removed from the United States and wish to seek reentry, it would probably be wise to contact a licensed US Immigration lawyer in order to obtain advice about how best to proceed in attempting to obtain US Immigration benefits.

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30th November 2009

There is some misunderstanding as to an attorney’s role at the Consular processing phase of the US visa process. The Consular processing phase is usually the final visa processing phase as it usually culminates in the issuance of a US visa. In cases involving legal grounds of inadmissibility this may not be the case (as such cases require the extra step of obtaining an I601 waiver), but in a routine family visa application, such as an application for a CR1, K3, or K1 visa, the visa is generally issued soon after the Embassy interview.

Many are under the mistaken impression that an attorney can be present at the visa interview. Although this may be true at some posts, the US Embassy in Bangkok does not permit this practice. Under the provisions of the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), US Embassies and Consulates are entitled to set policy regarding attorney representation at the post:

“Each post has the discretion to establish its own policies regarding the extent to which attorneys and other representatives may have physical access to the Consulate or attend visa interviews, taking into consideration such factors as a particular consulate’s physical layout and any space limitations or special security concerns. Whatever policies are set must be consistent and applied equally to all.” [9 FAM 40.4 N12.4]

Although a post has wide discretion with regard to presence therein, the post is required to notify the attorney of record regarding the ultimate status of the application:

“The post must send a notification of the action taken at the time of the final immigrant visa appointment to the applicant’s attorney of record on a locally reproduced nonstandard form letter… If the immigrant visa is refused, you must hand a copy of the refusal letter, and a copy of Form OF-194, The Foreign Service of the United States of America Refusal Worksheet, attached to the form letter to the alien (making sure that the refusal worksheet is retained in the applicant’s visa file).” [9 FAM 40.4 N12.2]

The Foreign Affairs manual goes further by permitting direct correspondence between attorneys and Consular Officers:

“You may correspond directly with the applicant’s representative of record, even in cases where the applicant is physically present in the United States, unless the applicant requests otherwise.” [9 FAM 40.4 N12.1]

Importantly, the Foreign Affairs Manual requires that an attorney licensed in the US, but practicing abroad, be accorded those same courtesies granted to attorneys practicing in the USA:

“You must extend to a U.S. attorney who has been practicing abroad and is a member of a State bar association or to a local attorney-at-law, the same courtesies in correspondence that are extended to an attorney practicing in the United States…” [9 FAM 40.4 N12.3]

In this author’s experience, the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand diligently adheres to the rules in the Foreign Affairs Manual while exercising reasonable discretion in order to efficiently process a very large caseload. Although not permitted to be present at the visa interview, a US visa lawyer in Thailand can provide a great deal of insight into the final phases of the US visa process.

For more information on the Foreign Affairs Manual please see the US Department of State Website by clicking here.

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23rd October 2009

Recently the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that a revised form has been issued for those who wish to file for an I-601 Waiver. An I-601 waiver is a waiver of legal grounds of inadmissibility under the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. An alien is found inadmissible if they meet the elements of inadmissibility under the act. Common grounds of inadmissibility among applicants in Thailand are overstay, prostitution, Crimes involving moral turpitude, and health related grounds. If a finding that one of these grounds exists is made by the Consular or Immigration officers, then the applicant must seek an I-601 waiver before they will be entitled to enter the United State lawfully.

In recent days, USCIS has been revising some of the forms that they will accept in connection with certain immigration matters. For example, USCIS recently announced that they will only be accepting an updated version of the G28 Notice of Attorney Appearance. Those who have already filed applications for Immigration benefits before this update comes into effect will not need to submit any new forms as the service will continue to recognize the old forms in an effort to seamlessly transition from the old forms to the new. These efforts seem to be an attempt to streamline the, somewhat complicated, administrative aspects of the US Immigration application process. To quote directly from the USCIS press release:

USCIS has revised Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Revision Date 04/06/09 N, OMB Expiration Date 04/30/11) to make it easier for applicants to complete. Applicants may now select from a list of grounds of inadmissibility on the form itself and mark all which apply to them in order to request a waiver. In addition to the list, the form includes a section where applicants can describe, in their own words, why they believe they are inadmissible. In the previous edition of Form I-601, information about grounds of inadmissibility could only be found of the form’s instructions.

We applaud the efforts on the part of the Service to make this process less complicated and more straightforward. For those interested in submitting a successful I-601 waiver application, it should be remembered that in most cases involving an I-601 waiver, the applicant(s) must show that to deny the waiver would result in an “extreme hardship” to a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. This can be a difficult legal obstacle to overcome which is why it may be wise to retain an immigration lawyer to assist with the preparation and submission of such a petition.

Unlike the United States Embassy in Bangkok, which only has jurisdiction ovr the Kingdom of Thailand. The local USCIS office in Bangkok has administrative jurisdiction over most of Asia. Therefore, I-601 waiver applications filed in connection with a K1 visa, K3 visa, or CR1 visa sought from Asia could be submitted at USCIS Bangkok.

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25th September 2009

On this blog we often try to point out the difference between retaining the services of a licensed American Immigration lawyer and using a “fly by night” operator posing as a lawyer or calling himself an “Immigration Consultant.” In recent years, the United States government and various state governments have taken a firm stand by increasing their diligence in stamping out the activities of these scam artists. In a recent development a person in Virginia was arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced for fraud based upon the fact that they stole 1 million US dollars while claiming to be a competent specialist in the field of immigration.

The scam artist in question, “was sentenced last week to 41 months in prison for defrauding vulnerable immigrant applicants of approximately $1 million from June 2000 through December 2005.”

The above linked article further noted what is seen by some as something of a new attitude in the Federal law enforcement community with regard to Immigration fraud:

“Immigration fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety because it creates a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States. ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] uproots the infrastructure of illegal immigration by detecting and deterring immigration fraud.”

This situation further highlights the need to conduct due diligence in order to make certain that a person claiming to be an Immigration specialist is truly certified to handle United States Immigration cases. Many confused Americans often ask, “How can I ensure that my Thai fiancee and I are dealing with a reputable attorney who is licensed to practice American Immigration law?”

Even in cases where an individual claims that they are an attorney, it is always wise to ask to see a license to practice law from at least one US state or US territory. Seeing this document will provide evidence that the person one deals with is, in fact, a lawyer. Further, it might be beneficial to further inquire as to the “lawyer’s” educational background. Make certain that they not only graduated from an ABA (American Bar Association) accredited law school, but that they passed the bar in at least one state, territory, or district in the USA. Any licensed attorney should also be registered in their state’s Supreme Court database or with their state bar association.

An unfortunate fact regarding the hiring of an unlicensed “lawyer” or “consultant” is that those type of operators are not bound by any type of ethical code. Licensed attorneys must comport their behavior to an ethical standard and are therefore obligated to do no harm to their clients. This code of conduct is not imposed upon those with no license to practice law.

Unfortunately the internet has played a role in the proliferation of so-called “visa companies,” and unlicensed lawyers. With that in mind, the prospective applicants should insist upon seeing a license in order to ensure they are dealing with a reputable operator.

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9th August 2009

On this blog, we often mention, quote, or write about the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA). Some readers have become curious as to what this organization does and what they represent. Further, some people do not understand what membership means.

In other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, there exist what are known as registered Migration Consultants or OISC registered immigration advisers. In the United Kingdom, the organizations purposes is well articulated on their homepage which states that the OISC, “is responsible for regulating immigration advisers by ensuring they are fit and competent and act in the best interest of their clients.”

In the United States of America an attorney licensed and in good standing with either the United States Supreme Court or the highest court of at least on state is entitled to practice United States Immigration Law. However, unlike other countries with a history of common law, the United States does not have one singular regulatory body designed to monitor the activities of those who primarily act as a US Immigration lawyer.

In a way, the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association has come in to fill the breach regarding some of the duties inherent to a professional organization. The American Immigration Lawyers Association provides advice and mentoring for new attorneys practicing in the field of American Immigration. AILA also acts as a mechanism for advocacy on Capitol Hill. The American Immigration Lawyers Association disseminates information regarding pending legislation and provides resources regarding where interested parties can go to show their support for upcoming legislative initiatives.

One aspect of AILA that is particularly beneficial to the public at large is their campaign to eradicate so-called “notarios” and “Immigration consultants.” The American Immigration Lawyers Association provides information about where disaffected parties can go in order to lodge complaints against unscrupulous operators who prey on helpless victims who unwittingly retain their services believing they are real attorneys. In the United States this phenomenon is particularly common in the Latino communities. Oftentimes people are adversely affected by the activites of the notarios who offer either purposely malicious or incorrect advice.

It should be noted that membership in AILA is not necessarily indicative of one who can practice immigration law. Any attorney who is licensed and in good standing in at least one state can provide immigration advice. However, regular AILA members must have a license to practice law.  Therefore, AILA membership is indicative of an ability to practice before USCIS.

Some “fly by night” operations in Thailand and throughout the world falsely make claims to membership in AILA. In order to verify if an operator is AILA approved, check the website and search for the attorney in question.

For more on US Immigration from Thailand please see:

K1 fiance visa

K3 marriage visa or,

US tourist visa

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18th June 2009

Hiring an Immigration attorney is a decision that each couple makes based upon their unique set of circumstances and that decision should be made after careful review and research. That being said, when the decision is made that a US visa lawyer is necessary,  sometimes couples are unwittingly duped into hiring a non-licensed “immigration consultant” or “visa agent.” In even worse situations, the couple believes that they are actually retaining the services of a licensed lawyer when in fact they are dealing with someone who has never completed formal legal training or been licensed to practice law.

Form G-28 is a required form that must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) when the initial visa application is sent to the USCIS Service Center. Basically, the G-28 puts the United States government officers working at USCIS on notice that an attorney will be representing the petitioner, beneficiary, or (more common in family base cases) both parties. Further, the US Embassy in Bangkok will currently allow attorney’s to present 221g follow up documentation provided a G-28 form has been signed by the Beneficiary and the attorney can produce credentials showing that they are in fact licensed to practice law in at least one United States jurisdiction.

One of the convenient aspects of hiring an attorney from the point of view of the United States Citizen petitioner and the Thai fiancee Beneficiary is the fact that once the attorney enters his or her appearance, then most, if not all correspondence, will be sent to the attorney’s office.

Also, the G-28 acts as a litmus test to determine if the person or organization one is dealing with is an actual attorney or law firm. USCIS has made regulations which stipulate that only attorneys and non-profit organizations are allowed to represent clients in United States Immigration matters. With regard to non-profit organization, these types of institutions are defined as those like the Red Cross or other non-governmental refugee organizations. In circumstances where a “representative” is used who is not a licensed attorney, USCIS has stated that the representative must take little or nothing with regard toa fee. This provision seems truly to have been designed with organizations assisting indigent refugees in mind.

On the G-28 form, the attorney, petitioner, and beneficiary will need to affix their signatures. The attorney will also place his or her state of licensure on the form. In the case of the K-1 visa application, the attorney will also place his or her G-28 number on the form I-129f.

For further information please see:

K1 Visa

K3 Visa

(Please be on Notice: this piece is not intended to be regarded as a substitute for legal advice. Please seek legal advice from a licensed attorney. This post creates no lawyer-client relationship between the parties writing or reading it.)

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