Update from Department of State on Visa-Related Issues07 May 2015
Officials with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) met with representatives from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on April 15, 2015, to discuss various topics related to visas. Some of the key issues discussed included visa revocations, misrepresentations by minors, and immigrant visa wait times.
Visa Revocations While in U.S. Does Not Impact Status
AILA revisited a topic that was raised during a liaison meeting held in October 2014 regarding the broad power of the DOS to revoke visa foils (commonly referred to as “stamps”) of foreign nationals who are already in the United States. AILA reported that attorneys are continuing to report “…a variety of scenarios involving visa holders from different countries who have received letters or phone calls from the issuing post that their visas have been cancelled.”
The DOS confirmed that the revocation of a visa for someone who is already in the United States has no impact on that person’s status. The visa is an entry document that must be valid at the time the individual requests admission to the U.S. As noted by the DOS, the individual’s status at admission is determined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), at the port of entry. Similarly, one may be granted an extension or change of status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while in the United States. A revoked (or expired) visa would not affect the status of that individual. For more information on visa revocations, see the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Expanded Authority in Visa Revocation at Consulates.
Misrepresentations by Minors Generally not Considered Willful
Another topic covered during the meeting concerned misrepresentations made by minors in the visa application process. As explained in Impact on Visa from Misrepresentation and Fraud (12.Mar.2013), an individual who makes a misrepresentation to a U.S. government official while attempting to gain an immigration benefit may be deemed permanently inadmissible to the United States. However, this only applies if the misrepresentation was made “willfully.”
As with many areas of the law, minors are often treated differently from adults with regard to determining culpability for their actions. To that end, the DOS recently revised the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) to address the issue of minors and fraud inadmissibility. The revised text notes:
“An alien under the age of 15 cannot act willfully and therefore cannot be found ineligible [based on making a misrepresentation]… For aliens aged 15 – 16, the consular officer will need to determine if the alien was acting at the direction of an adult…, or whether the alien did act willfully on their own. Aliens aged 17 and over are presumed to act willfully unless they can establish lack of knowledge or capacity…”
Immigrant Visa Interview Wait Times Not Published
While applicants for nonimmigrant visas can check estimated wait times for visa appointments on the DOS WebSite, estimated wait times for immigrant visa appointments are not tracked or reported to applicants. When this issue was raised by AILA, it was noted that the current paper-based immigrant visa system does not allow the DOS to track these processing times, but improvements to systems may permit this in the future. Still, it was explained that the DOS’s policy is for all immediate relative and K-1 visa applications to be processed within 30 days of the receipt of all necessary documents from the USCIS and the visa applicant. Other current family-based immigrant visa applications should be processed within 60 days of receipt of all required documents.
The Murthy Law Firm appreciates the efforts made by AILA and the DOS to keep the public informed of changes to visa processes and the rules for visa issuance. MurthyDotCom will continue to monitor changes to the U.S. visa procedures and provide updates as new information becomes available.
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