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Go Green!

Most offices consumer a lot pf paper. In an initiative to reduce our carbon footprint our Managing Partner, Poorvi Chothani planned a tree planting picnic outside Mumbai city at The Kamala Farms in Shahpur organised by Bindu Mittal who is passionate about saving the Earth. It was a fun day out.  The enthusiastic LawQuest team enjoyed planting different types of trees and then had lunch made with fresh produce from the farm.

American Immigration Lawyers Association – Bangkok District Chapter (BDC) Conference 5th Annual Conference

The BDC has hosted their conferences in a host of interesting and exciting cities in Asia. The 5th Annual AILA BDC Conference in Chennai was organized and chaired by Mrs. Poorvi Chothani. Chennai was chosen as the conference venue to allow BDC members to be able to meet and interact face to face with U.S. Consular Officers who are processing L-1 Visas in India which is a rare opportunity.  The panels covered topics from ‘What to do When the Post Says No’ to The Important Ethical Issues When Practicing Outside the U.S.

An Added Burden to an Already Tedious Process

The U.S. Department of State recently introduced a new supplemental questionnaire that will enable Consulate officers to obtain information for enhanced screening of certain visa applicants applying for immigrant as well as non-immigrant visas. 

As a part of the screening process, the U.S. Consulate Officers will decide based on each individual visa applicant’s background which one of them warrants additional security checks.  The U.S. Department of State estimates that approximately 65,000 people (less than 1% of 13 million visa applicants worldwide) may be requested to complete the supplemental questionnaire each year. 

The information requested in the supplemental questionnaire is wide-ranging, and requires disclosure of the applicant’s full travel history for the past 15 years, including locations visited, dates, and source of funds for the visits; all passport numbers; names and dates of birth of all siblings, children, and spouses/partners; complete address and dates of residence for the past 15 years; employment history for the past 15 years; and all social media handles, phone numbers and email addresses for the past 5 years. 

Should the Consular Officer find a reason for the applicant to fill the supplemental questionnaire, s/he will inform the visa applicant, allow the applicant to complete the supplemental questionnaire offsite and email the completed document so that visa processing may resume. Although, the supplemental questionnaire states that providing the requested information is voluntary, failure to provide the requested information will most likely result in a denial of the visa application.  

Use of the supplemental questionnaire has been approved through the end of November 2017 and this timeline is likely to be extended thereby contributing to delays in visa issuance, processing timelines and appointment availability. 

By Manizeh Mistry, Deputy Head – Global Immigration

Supreme Court Raises the Bar for Revoking US Citizenship

The US Supreme Court in its June 22nd ruling, has made it harder for the government to strip naturalized immigrants of their US citizenship.  In the case of Maslenjak v. United States, Divna Maslenjak, a naturalized citizen was deported because she had lied on her naturalization application, and her US citizenship was revoked.  The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Maslenjak, holding that she could not be stripped of her citizenship if the lie or omission was not relevant or material to the government’s decision to grant her citizenship. 

In this case, the government had granted refugee status to Maslenjak, an ethnic Serb, as result of the Bosnian war.  Maslenjak had told immigration officials that she feared persecution because her husband fled mandatory service in the Bosnian Serb Army when in fact her husband had served in the Bosnian army.  Years later, at the time of applying for US citizenship, on her application form, she denied giving “false or misleading information” to a government official while applying for an immigration benefit.  She became a US citizen in 2007. 

In 2013, Maslenjak was found guilty by a lower court of making false statements on her naturalization application and was stripped of her citizenship.  However, the Supreme Court unanimously sided with Maslenjak, throwing out the lower court’s ruling in favor of the government, and sent the matter back to that court for further consideration.  The Supreme Court stated that the government must prove that the offense was material to the decision to grant naturalization, and rejected the government’s argument that citizenship could be revoked for minor misstatements in the citizenship application process. 

In essence, the Supreme Court has limited the grounds for revoking citizenship by holding that unless the underlying omission or false statement is significant to the acquisition of citizenship, citizenship cannot be revoked for a false statement that has no bearing on the grant of citizenship. 

(Source: Supreme Court of the United States – https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-309_h31i.pdf)

Zeenat Phophalia, Esq., Senior Associate

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