User login

Emergency Meeting for Americans - 6pm Tuesday the 2nd of August

4 replies [Last post]
USExpat's picture
Joined: 1-Aug-11
Posts: 11

Hi All,

New Rule Restricts US visas for family of Americans living in Cambodia


I have asked the US Embassy Consular Chief to send someone to our meeting.

We will be meeting on the first floor of FCC on the back terrace at 6pm Tuesday the 2nd of August (FCC is located on 363 Sisowath Quay at the corner with St. 178)

Learn what the new rule means to you and what you can do to change it.


If you have a relationship with a non-U.S. citizen or have children who are not U.S. citizens, an important rule change (Rule) is about to take effect that will hamper your ability to move back as a family to the United States.

Whether you want to go to live in the US today does not matter.

Whether you have a foreign family now or not does not matter – your option of a quick return will be foreclosed forever on August 15 as a result of this rule.

The current system works extremely well with the process only taking 1-3 months. This change to immigration procedures will mean LONG delays (1-3 years) in getting approval to bring family members who are not U.S. citizens into the States to live permanently-- and while the application is pending, your non-American spouses will not be able to even to visit the USA.

Additionally, even those not applying for immigration to the US will find VISITOR VISA issuance will be restricted as a natural consequence of immigrant visas having long wait times. Consular officers will have to factor in possible circumvention intent by visitor visa applicants that have relationships to Americans because immigrant visas will now take a long wait time.

This rule change goes into effect August15th -- so those impacted may wish to take steps immediately to avoid being caught in what potentially may become a bureaucratic nightmare. The reason for this rule change is, so far as we understand, a cost-shifting measure that has not been properly thought out.

If you intend to return to the US with your non-American spouse and children in the next year you should consult with a qualified US Immigration attorney before August 15th for information on how this change impacts you.

Democrats Abroad is seeking to clarify the situation and representations have been made to the top levels of the American government. It may be necessary to organize an action campaign to oppose this rule change—and your support will be vital.

Members of Democrats Abroad are preparing a Fact Sheet and other tools such as petitions and sample letters.

We need to circulate this as a matter of urgency.

Please forward this email to any American friends, family or colleagues living abroad (anywhere!) married to non-U.S. citizens or with children who are non-U.S. citizens.

If you are affected personally and wish to join forces with others, please contact me at Immigration [at] DemocratsAbroad [dot] org or actionagenda [at] democratsabroad [dot] org so that an action committee can be formed.

Expat Admin's picture
Joined: 2-Jun-04
Posts: 595
Expat Admin's picture
Joined: 2-Jun-04
Posts: 595

Visa shock hits home
A new United States immigration rule set to take effect in less than two weeks will impede the ability of American citizens living in foreign countries to return home with their non-American spouses and children, and may leave them stranded in a “bureaucratic nightmare”, the chairman of Democrats Abroad Cambodia said yesterday.

Speaking before an “emergency meeting” of expatriate Americans in Phnom Penh last night, Wayne Weightman said the change would lead to delays of up to three years in obtaining a visa to bring non-American family members back to the US.

“It’s a sad step backward that will force Americans in foreign countries to choose between being with their families and going home,” he said, echoing concerns raised last month by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

In a July 18 letter to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, the association of 11,000 attorneys and law professors said it was concerned about the “impact” the new process for requesting an alien relative visa would have on expatriates. The association also questioned the “fairness” of the process.

At issue is a rule that takes effect on August 15 that will prevent American citizens living in foreign countries from submitting an alien relative visa request form via their nearest embassy or consulate. The submission is the first step in the process of obtaining citizenship for non-American family members.

From August 15 it will not be possible to do this at the US embassy in Phnom Penh.

“Since Cambodia does not have a USCIS office, petitioners should file with the Chicago Lockbox facility,” embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said. The “Lockbox” is a mailing address in Chicago.

Democrats Abroad estimates that about 10,000 Americans living in 172 countries will have to submit the form by mail. They will also have to pay with cheques drawn from US bank accounts and submit additional documentation and evidence by post, the group said.

The present one to three month wait will become one to three years, Democrats Abroad said. Mark Norris, an American who has lived in Cambodia for 17 years, described the change as “Kafkaesque”. He said he would like to return to the US with his wife and daughter so his daughter could start pre-school and had planned to just go to the embassy to arrange this.

Like most of the 30 people who attended the meeting yesterday, he expressed concern that a relatively simple process was about to become bewilderingly complex, and dependent on invisible bureaucrats and international mail.

One woman, who asked not to be named, said she feared being separated from the daughter she had adopted in Cambodia.

Due to a ban posed on adoptions in Cambodia by the US, she said she has faced a two-year waiting period before she could take her child back to America. The waiting period extends past August 15.

“I understood that I had to wait two years and I couldn’t go before then. My time is almost up and now they’re changing it,” she said.

“I’ve been counting down the days and packing the suitcase … and now they’re saying that it could be a year to three years. It’s heartbreaking.

“We just want to be able to come and go as a family. We just want to be together. If there was some sort of international emergency, I would be separated from my babies by a passport. I’m a single mum so I’m the only one they have.”

Sokh Frank-McKenley has American and Cambodian passports, but his three boys were born here. He said he attended yesterday’s meeting because “I heard that the rights of US citizens will be in doubt”.

“I can go to the US at any time, but I want to bring my son and my wife,” he said.

An official with US embassy tried to offer reassurance, but also said that there was nothing that could be done at the embassy after August 15.

“It’s a USCIS policy and we’re following it,” C Drew Hoster, the embassy’s consul said.

“We issue petitions because USCIS authorises us to, we follow what they tell us. We expect USCIS will come out with additional guidance very soon.”

A statement from the USCIS says the new rule preventing expatriates from submitting the forms at embassies will improve its “efficiency” and “flexibility”.

Weightman said this efficiency would break up families. “We’re talking about basic rights. The right to go back to your home and the right to bring your family with you.”

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 15:03
Kristin Lynch and Vincent MacIsaac

From the Phnom Penh Post

naga_naga's picture
Joined: 12-Jul-08
Posts: 43

Dear USExpat,

I am interested to know if there has been any updates on processing times for non-U.S. citizen visas for family or relationship reasons?

In your posting from July 2011, it said that the changes in immigration policy and procedures could cause delays of up to 1 to 3 years.

I ask this becasue I have a Khmer friend that submitted a visa application in September 2011 (after the policy changes, right?), because she wanted to move to the states to live with her American fiancée.

Any updates on processing times would be most appreciated.



USExpat's picture
Joined: 1-Aug-11
Posts: 11

Sorry for the late reply. The type of visa your friend is applying for is different than the type discussed above. i am not involved in immigration in any way, so I'm not sure if there has been any change. I just took an interest in this particular issue because I felt it was fundamentally wrong. Sorry I could not be of more help.


Whats on! See our help pages - add your own events

This location does not have any events. Why not add one here!