Integrity Legal

21st Oct 2009

US Visa from Myanmar (Burma)

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Although not boasting the same tourist numbers like countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma) has a large number of nationals applying for United States visas, particularly when one takes into account the fact the Myanmar (Burma) is one of the most politically isolated countries in Southeast Asia. Although a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar has not signed the protocols allowing for visa free travel for citizens of ASEAN countries. Therefore, it can be extremely difficult for Burmese visa seekers to travel to another US Consular or Diplomatic post in the region in order to process a visa application.

The US Embassy in Myanmar (Burma) is located  in Yangon (Rangoon). This post does process visa applications for those of Burmese (Myanmar) nationality or those residing in the Consular District. That being said, obtaining a US visa for a Burmese national can be very complicated due to the fact that the government of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) is reluctant to issue passports to its citizenry. Further, the government in Myanmar (Burma) takes a dim view of Burmese nationals marrying foreigners. Government officials can often cause delays in obtaining necessary documentation. The implacable nature of some bureaucrats leads many to apply for a USA visa in a different jurisdiction.

Many Americans in Thailand meet Burmese nationals who are living and working in the Kingdom of Thailand. In most situations, Burmese-American couples opt to process their visa application at the US Embassy in Bangkok. Taking this course of action does not eliminate the need for a Myanmar passport, but in some cases, if the Burmese national can obtain a Thai visa, then they will be able to remain in Thailand until the visa interview at the US Embassy. Further, if the Burmese national obtains a Thai visa, then this will likely ensure that the US Embassy will take jurisdiction over the case, rather than forwarding the application to the Embassy in Yangon (Rangoon).

That being said, some opt to utilize the K-3 visa as it can be beneficial for those with a Burmese fiancee who wish to process their application in Thailand. Before getting married, the couple may need to decide where they wish to apply for a visa as this may have an effect upon where the marriage should be executed. Even still, a K1 visa will still be faster and if the Burmese national remains in lawful immigration status in Thailand, then it is likely that the American Embassy will take jurisdition over the case.

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