Just for the Health of It

IR-1 Visa Interview at the US Embassy in Thailand – The Red Card

The United States visa process can be fraught with complications, but at the end of the process comes the visa interview. The information below is intended for those interviewing at the Consular Section of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

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The Immigration process for a United States Citizen’s spouse or fiance can be time consuming and somewhat convoluted. The culmination of the process is the US visa interview which is conducted by a Consular Officer at a United States Embassy or United States Consulate-General abroad.

As the US Immigration process winds down, it comes time for the Thai-American couple to start contemplating the US visa interview. Many Thai applicants are apprehensive about the US visa interview as they are usually under the mistaken impression that it is the Consular Officers job to intimidate the applicant. This is simply not correct. American Consular Officers are responsible for adjudicating visa applications that are submitted to the Consulate. In many cases, this is simply an exercise of due diligence to ensure that the couple is truly in a bona fide relationship and that no legal grounds of inadmissibility exist. This being said, in situations where an applicant attempts to deceive or defraud the Consular Officers the result of such attempts can be very detrimental. Personnel at the US Consulate have been trained to ascertain discrepancies in United States visa applications and they are also given a mandate to find out the truth about an applicant’s past if it is relevant to the issuance of the visa. Therefore, in situations in which an applicant attempts to lie on a visa application there is a fairly high probability that the application will be placed in administrative processing to be investigated by the Fraud Prevention Unit. An interview by an officer in the Fraud Prevention Unit, although conducted with courtesy, will likely see the applicant placed under intense scrutiny in order for the Consular Officer to determine the facts of the case. Happily, in those applications in which fraud is not an issue the applicant’s interview will likely be a relatively stress-free affair.

At the conclusion of the visa interview the applicant will likely be presented with one of two documents. If the Consular Officer feels that more information is needed, then a 221(g) refusal letter will be issued. This document simply says that the visa is being refused under the authority of section 221(g) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act. Under this provision, the Consular Officer can refuse to grant a visa until further documentation is provided. The remedy for this documentary deficiency depends upon the evidence requested.

Under the current administrative procedures at the American Embassy in Bangkok, if the visa application obtains approval, then the applicant’s passport will be held and the Consular Officer will give the applicant a “Red Card.” This is a small index card which is stamped with the date and time that the visa can be picked up. It has been deemed a “Red Card” due to the fact that the ink used to stamp the index card is red.

For those who have retained a licensed US attorney in Bangkok the current Embassy policy is that the attorney can pick up the applicant’s passport if the applicant is unable to do so. That being said, unlicensed operators calling themselves “visa companies,” “visa agents,” “legal advisers,” or “immigration consultants” cannot correspond with the Embassy on behalf of family visa seekers if they do not have a license to practice law in the USA.

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