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Misconceptions about US Tourist Visa Applications for Thais

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing US Tourist Visas for Thai nationals. This is going to be a Thailand specific video and the reason is I was recently reading in the Pattaya Mail, that is, there was an article titled: Pattaya Legal Corner: Why do some Tourist Visa applications by Thais Fail? I want to be clear. This was a really great article. I hope those who are watching this video go read that article, again, Pattaya Legal Corner: Why do some Tourist Visa applications by Thais Fail? 

I would also like to preface this by saying this article seemed to be a broad article. It looked to me like it was looking primarily at UK and EU applications but it kind of mentioned the US as well and it was kind of broadly talking about Tourist Visas. There were just a few things in here that I thought needed at least some clarification specific to United States Tourist Visas. Quoting directly: "Our experience is that Embassies, or their privatized partners, are very keen on the reasons why a vacationing Thai will return to Thailand at the end of the holiday. Ownership of property in Thailand is seen as useful," (I'll get back to that in a minute), "as is a secured job here with abundant proof of income and the permission the employer to take a break." (Again I will get back to that). "Thai bank accounts need to show that the applicant is not living on a shoestring. Embassies tend to be suspicious of a one-off payment in a bank account which has been made by a third party." 

All of that is true so far as it goes but here is where a little bit of clarification is in order. A lot of folks in the US Tourist Visa context think that these are the primary factors with respect to a US Tourist Visa being issued to a Thai national through the US Embassy here in Bangkok. I would say that yes they factor in and for those who are unaware, pursuant to section 214b of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Consular Officer interviewing an applicant for a US Tourist Visa must find that that applicant has "strong ties” to their home country, in this case Thailand or a third country, some other country which in my opinion kind of difficult to prove that if you are a third country national applying in another country. It kind of operates against what you are going for but let's leave that aside, we are talking Thais here in Thailand so "strong ties to your home country and weak ties to the United States". The "weak ties" part is what is often overlooked because people are concerned with job documentation, bank documentation, property etc., etc. Oftentimes, I find this stuff is, I am not going to say it is totally overlooked but okay it is what it is and the interviewing officer says, "Great, we see that you have strong ties to Thailand but do you have weak ties to the United States?" This is often where the rubber hits the road especially where it comes to a denial with respect to a US Tourist Visa application. What we are talking about here to be specific is, often times we see this where we are dealing with spouses of US citizens. The marriage itself can operate as mitigation against a “weak tie”. A fiancée of an American citizen, again it operates against being a "weak tie" to the United States. Now those that are going to the US just primarily for tourism purposes that don't have any relations with anybody in the United States, those may not be issues but there may be other issues that come up.

So long story short, while I do find this article was useful on its face, it didn't really drill down especially with respect to the US and I think the reason for this is I think it was primarily geared toward EU and UK. I know in those jurisdictions, we don't really deal a lot of that, in those jurisdictions it is much more on point for what this article was saying but for the US there is an extra layer associated with this "weak ties" analysis under Section 214b that you need to watch out for.