Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘waiver of inadmissibility’

26th July 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new set of answers to frequently asked questions stemming from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In previous postings on this blog the fact that lawful permanent residents and American Citizens with same-sex spouses can now file for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse has been discussed at length. That said, USCIS discussed this issue in their recently issued FAQ release, to quote directly from the USCIS website:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. [italics added]

As previously pointed out on this blog, the ability of American Citizens to file for immigration benefits for a same-sex foreign spouse is a fairly clear cut result of the recent Supreme Court decision finding Section 3 of DOMA unConstituional. It should be noted that the USCIS seems to also imply that a K3 visa would also now be a possibility for same sex couples as it could be construed to be an “applicable accompanying application”. However, an issue that was not so clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court’s decision pertains to the K-1 visa (US fiance visa). As Fiance visas are, by  definition, not based upon a marriage, but an intended marriage; further clarification from USCIS on these types of visas post-DOMA is considered by some to be quite helpful. To quote further from the aforementioned USCIS FAQ section:

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes.  You may file a Form I-129F.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. [italics added]

This clarification from USCIS regarding the fiance visa in the context of same sex marriage, while helpful, is slightly qualified by the next section of the same FAQ page:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. [italics added]

Clearly, the US fiance visa is now a viable option for same sex couples with a bona fide intention to marry in those jurisdictions of the United States which recognize same sex marriage. Since the jurisdiction of the celebration of the intended marriage is USCIS’s primary concern it would appear that a K1 visa itself will be a possibility for same sex couples in the future. However, it would appear that some ancillary immigration benefits may or may not be available at this time for some same sex bi-national couples depending upon the unique residency circumstances of those couples.

Of further interest to some same sex couples will likely be the fact that there are benefits for the foreign same sex spouse of an American Citizen with respect to naturalization:

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?
A8. Yes.  As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident.  But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen.  For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Therefore, the same sex spouse of an American Citizen will be treated the same way as the opposite sex spouse of an American for purposes of obtaining US Citizenship based upon the couple’s marriage and lawful permanent residence obtained thereby. Finally, of further note in this recently issued USCIS FAQ page relates to the I-601 waiver process:

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances.  For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident.  In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?
A9.Yes.   Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Waivers of inadmissibility can be difficult to obtain under certain circumstances as they are, by definition, a discretionary waiver. However, one major hurdle for many same-sex bi-national couples in the US immigration sphere has been cast aside by the comendable decision of the United States Supreme Court. USCIS deserves comendation as well for their efforts to quickly and decisively implement policies which bring immigration regulations in line with changes in the law.

Readers are encouraged to read the USCIS website and the FAQ section quoted above to find out further details regarding immigration regulations pertaining to same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

more Comments: 04

31st October 2009

As reported previously on this blog, HIV is to be taken off of the list of communicable diseases which can cause an Immigrant to be deemed inadmissible to the United States of America. At the time of this writing, anyone who has HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is not admissible to the United States. This means that those infected with the virus must obtain an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility before they will be allowed to enter the United States. Under the new rule, this will no longer be the case.

To quote a document, provided courtesy of AILA, promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services:

As a result of this final rule, aliens will no longer be inadmissible into the United States based solely on the ground they are infected with HIV, and they will not be required to undergo HIV testing as part of the required medical examination for U.S. immigration.

As a result of this rule change, it is highly likely that Embassy mandated medical examinations will be greatly altered as it will no longer be necessary for the Embassy-approved doctors (sometimes referred to as civil surgeons) to test prospective immigrants for HIV.

This rule change reflects the new policy of the United States government regarding HIV. Basically the Center for Disease Control and the authorities at the Department of Homeland Security no longer consider HIV a “communicable” disease as defined in the relevant provisions of  Immigration and Nationality Act. To further quote the aforementioned document:

While HIV infection is a serious health condition, it is not a communicable disease that is a significant public health risk for introduction, transmission, and spread to the U.S. population through casual contact.

Please note that this rule has not taken effect and until it does HIV is still considered a communicable disease in cases involving inadmissibility.

Although many laud the promulgation of this rule, there are those, particularly in the LGBT community who feel that the current Administration is not doing enough to provide immigration benefits to same sex couples. Many view this rule change as a “half measure” designed to placate advocates for gay rights as HIV has a major impact upon the gay and lesbian community.

Although this rule change will effect those with HIV who wish to enter the USA, it does not effect same-sex bi-national couples who cannot obtain US Immigration benefits for a foreign partner based upon the current federal laws which do not recognize same-sex marriage. There are many who feel that the rescission of this rule regarding HIV infected immigrants falls short of full immigration equality for all.

more Comments: 04

2nd July 2009

A Legal Ground of Inadmissibility is a provision created by Congress that bars certain immigrants from entering the United States of America. If a prospective immigrant is found to have certain types of communicable disease then they will be barred from entering the United States without first obtaining a Waiver of Inadmissibility.

Waivers of inadmissibility for those infected with Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are different than some other legal grounds of inadmissibility because the burden of proof is not the same. In order to obtain a normal I-601 waiver of inadmissibility in most cases the US Citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioner must show that failure to grant the waiver would result in an “extreme hardship,” for him or her. In the case of an HIV waiver, a showing of “extreme hardship” is unnecessary. Instead, one must show that the immigrant with HIV will not become a ward of the United States. Much like the I-864 affidavit of support for Immigrant visas or the I-134 affidavit of support for a fiance visa, the petitioner must show that the beneficiary will not become a “public charge.”

Recently, President Obama has made it clear that he intends to put the wheels in motion to have legislation passed that would repeal the provisions making those with HIV inadmissible to the United States. Obama was recently quoted as saying,

“The rationale for maintaining HIV infection as an excludable condition is no longer valid based on current medical and scientific knowledge and public health practice, and experience which has informed us on the characteristics of the virus, the modes of transmission of HIV, and the effective interventions to prevent further spread of the virus… My administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status. The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy.”

Obama has made many recent statements regarding Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Defense of Marriage Act. If Obama fulfills his campaign promises regarding these issues it will have tremendous ramifications on United States Immigration law. The push to have HIV taken off of the list of communicable disease has its opponents, but it is probable that legislation that would allow those with HIV to enter the USA, without a waiver, will be passed sometime in the next one to two years.

For more information about US Family Visas from Thailand Please see: US Immigration lawyer Thailand or K-1 visa

(Nothing contined herein should be mistaken for legal advice as it is intended for the purpose of education only. No lawyer-client relationship is to be implied to exist between the author and any reader of this posting.)

more Comments: 04

11th June 2009

Adjustment of status is necessary after a beneficiary enters the USA and marries the K-1 visa petitioner. Adjustment of Status requires the filing of an I-485 application.

The Difference between “Adjustment of Status” and “Change of Status”

Many people going through the travails of Immigration procedure confuse “adjustment of status,” with “change of status.” In common vernacular the terms are similar, if not synonymous. However, in the context of US Immigration they have different meanings entirely.  If an alien adjusts status, this means that the alien changes from a non-immigrant visa category to an Immigrant visa category and is therefore accorded Lawful Permanent Residence (a Green Card). If a person present in the USA “changes status,” this means that they convert from one non-immigrant visa category to another.

K-1 Visas and Adjustment

As a hybrid visa, the K-1 allows an alien to enter the USA with the intent to marry an American and obtain a
Green Card. While the Green Card application is pending, the alien spouse is permitted to stay stateside. In fact, the alien spouse should not subsequently depart the US without first getting an advance parole travel document. Failure to obtain advance parole will very likely result in a K-1 visa conferee’s petition being canceled.

Provided the alien fiancee remains in status in the United States and the Adjustment of Status is approved, then lawful permanent residence will be conferred. This permanent residence will be conditional for 2 years. 3 months prior to the 2nd anniversary of adjustment, the couple should file for an I-751 removal of conditions of residence in the United States. After the removal of conditions occurs the alien will able to remain a resident unconditionally.

Appeals of Negative Adjustment of Status Decisions

In a situation where the adjustment of status from K-1 to Lawful Permanent Residence has not been approved, the decision can be appealed. Also appeals can be made pursuant to Section 586 of Public Law 106-429 if the appellant meets the requirements set forth in the rules.  Any appeal of an adverse adjustment ruling should be submitted to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) for review. As a general rule, the applicant who has been denied adjustment must appeal within Thirty-Three days of the Immigration Judge’s ruling. Upon receipt of the appeal application and remittance of processing fee the appeal is forwarded to the Board of Immigration Appeals in the US Capital for review and adjudication.

(It should be noted that an appeal should not be confused with a waiver. In cases where a legal ground of inadmissibility is found to exist, the consular officer’s decision is not subject to appeal, but instead a waiver may be obtained.)

Nothing Contained herein should be viewed  as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional. Obligations inherent to an attorney-client relationship are not to be assumed to arise simply from reading this post due to the fact that no such relationship exists between the author and reader.

more Comments: 04

20th April 2009

No one wishes to go through the stress of a visa denial. Unfortunately, US Visa denials are a semi-routine procedure at the US Embassy in Bangkok Thailand. For the most part, US Family Visas (Fiance and Marriage) are denied less often in comparison to employment, business, and tourist visas. That being said, denials do occur and information regarding visa denials can be rather scarce. Also troublesome is the prevailing idea, promulgated through some unethical advertisers, that US visa outcomes can be  “guaranteed,” the fact of the matter is: no outcome with regard to immigration can ever be 100% guaranteed. US Immigration law, like any other legal field, can be uncertain. This being said, proper legal advice from an American attorney experienced in US Immigration law could make a difference when it comes to obtaining a positive outcome in a US visa case.

US Visa Denial: Why is the US visa being denied by the Consular Officer?

One of the first determinations that should be made regarding a visa denial is whether the decision from the consular officer is final or whether there is a discrepancy that can be dealt with by presenting more information to the US Embassy. Family Visas like the US Fiance visa and the US Marriage visas will usually have different reasons for denial than an American tourist/business visa.

Tourist Visa Denials

With regard to denials of the US tourist visa, under section 214 (b) of the American Immigration and Nationality Act there is a presumption of “immigrant intent,” that must be overcome in the consular officer’s judgment in order for a US visitor visa to be granted. If the consular officer does not believe that the applicant for a US visitor visa has provided enough evidence to overcome this presumption then the officer will not grant the visa.  If denied one is entitled to refile and have a new interview, but where there is no material change of situation, it is unlikely that a tourist visa will be granted.

221 G Refusals

In the case of US family immigration from Thailand, a very common visa denial is the 221 g refusal.  A 221 g is not a denial so much as a refusal to approve a visa application due to a lack of evidence. When a consular officer issues a 221 g they do so by giving the applicant a form with a checklist of things the applicant needs to produce in order for the visa to be approved. Sometimes the necessary items are difficult to obtain and therefore, at least in Thailand, it may be necessary to obtain a Bangkok Lawyer licensed in the US with experience in immigration law. Sometimes the 221 g requires documentation that is easy to obtain and therefore professional assistance is not necessary.

Visa Denial Based Upon Grounds of Inadmissibility

The Grounds of Inadmissibility are the statutorily created reasons for visa denial as stipulated in the US Immigration and Nationality Act. Most of the Grounds of inadmissibility can be waived by filing an I-601 application for Waiver of the Grounds of Inadmissibility at USCIS. After the visa interview a consular officer will asses the application and make a decision whether or not to grant the visa. Should the visa be denied, then the officer will cite the reason for denial and the ground of inadmissibility, if there is a grounds.  For an inadmissibility waiver for a Thai applicant, the waiver application should be filed at USCIS in Thailand.  There are different factual and legal requirements applicants must meet depending upon the ground of inadmissibility one is seeking to have waived. It is probably advisable to have a US Immigration attorney advise those clients that have an issue that needs to be waived.

Note: None of the above information should be used in lieu of actual individualized legal advice from a licensed US attorney in the reader’s jurisdiction

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.