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K1 Visa Laos: New Public Charge Rule

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the K-1 Fiancée Visas and the new Public Charge Rule. We are specifically discussing this in the context of K-1 fiancée visas for those with a Laos fiancée or they are processing through the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos. 

Those who are watching this video and you are looking for a more generalized analysis of the Public Charge Rule, go ahead and go over to the search function in our channel and you can check out some more generalized information on Public Charge.  We are talking about this specifically in the context of a K1 visa and specifically from Laos and for that reason this may not be overly pertinent to those who aren't dealing with that specific Visa category nor dealing with that specific Embassy. 

So the thing to take away from this video is first of all the brunt of this new Public Charge Rule is not necessarily going to hit during the processing of the K-1 Visa. In fact it is probably going to for lack of better term "hit" in the Adjustment of Status process after that K-1 fiancée has arrived in the United States and they are looking to go ahead and adjust their status into Green Card status in the US. So you are not necessarily going to be dealing with this or the nuances of this new Public Charge Rule over here on this side; over here through processing at the US Embassy in Laos. Specifically, K-1 fiancées are not entering in residence status so they are not entering with the same status as for example someone entering the United States with a CR-1 Visa or an IR-1 Visa. They are entering the United States with a K-1 Visa which is kind of this odd hybrid visa. It is a Non-immigrant Visa but in many ways is treated as an Immigrant Visa; it just has its own way of operating. The K Visas are a different thing compared to just standard Immigrant Visas. For this reason, it is a good idea to understand the ramifications of arrival in the United States in K-1 status because upon arrival in the United States and presuming marriage to the American fiancé and filing for adjustment of status, there is a whole new burden placed upon that K-1 fiancée with respect to the issue of Public Charge when compared with Adjustment of Status in the past. 

In the past, Adjustment of Status did not require for example something like the I-944 form. That document was not part of the adjustment process and that nothing is a massive form. It is basically a statement of financial sufficiency. There is a lot to it. It is over a dozen pages long. It gets very detailed into one's financial circumstances. There is also this adjudicatory discretion placed in the Immigration Officers to determine whether or not someone will prospectively become a public charge. 

What is a Public Charge? A Public Charge is someone who goes on means-tested benefits in the United States that are specifically listed: things like SNAP, TANF and these types of assistance program: so-called food stamps, Section 8 housing, Medicaid, these types of things. Not only someone that goes on to them or has gone on to them in the past, but it is "will they prospectively do so?" and the adjudication officer has to determine that. 

For purposes of the K-1 process though, the one thing to really be mindful of is yes there are new protocols associated with processing these and making determinations about financial ability to support most notably, the adjudicating Officer at for example the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos they are going to have to use a different threshold for both income and assets than they did in the past and that threshold is raised significantly. 

So the thing to take away from this video, I can't give specific insight on specific cases because every case is different and you have to do an analysis based on the facts of the given case. Those who are really thinking this may be an issue it is probably not a terrible idea to get professional legal assistance because I just think overall these changes that this Administration have made, these are complex even for Attorneys to deal with. For lay people trying to do this on their own I understand you may want to do that but it could lead to problems trying to deal with this on one’s own because if nothing else, just the newness factor having to do with these regulations. They haven't been around very long and even the officers, there are going to be some learning curves associated with applying these rules so it is probably not a terrible idea to consult a professional in order to get some assistance with respect to dealing with a K-1 Fiancée Visa from Laos.