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Things to Know Before Applying for a US Tourist Visa From Cambodia

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing US Tourist Visas. That is the B1, B2 Visa; B1/B2 for business or pleasure to the United States. That is the Tourist Visa from the US Embassy in Phnom Penh. 

I am making this video to provide kind of a primer or perhaps I should say it is here to provide some clarity to how Tourist Visa applications are adjudicated and the paradigm under which these kinds of applications are reviewed and perhaps some tips for those who are looking to apply for a US Tourist Visa.

I should say this video is taking this from the perspective of someone who has an American for example or a Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States who has a loved one in Cambodia. That can be a spouse, a fiancée, a brother or sister, a parent whatever; a family member in Cambodia or a loved one. The thing to bear in mind with respect to this overall analysis is what is called section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 214(b) basically dictates to the Adjudicating Consular Officer that they have to be satisfied that the applicant shows sufficient strong ties to their home country presumably Cambodia, or some third country abroad and weak ties to the United States. Now this analysis is also occurring under the doctrine of what is called Consular Absolutism or Consular Non-reviewability and that doctrine basically presupposes that the factual findings of a Consular Officer are not appealable; basically they are irrefutable, the factual findings of a Consular Officer. So you have to understand that it is kind of an uphill battle especially where one has some sort of tie to the United States for example a boyfriend that is in the United States, a fiancé in the United States or a spouse in the United States. Any of these individuals can result in a factual adjudication that that individual applying for that Tourist Visa does not have sufficiently weak ties the United State notwithstanding whatever strong ties might exist and therefore a Tourist Visa should be denied.

So the thing to take away from this video also is there is a rather high incidence in this region, be it Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam or Thailand, of Tourist Visa denials. We do see this relatively frequently, I shouldn't say relatively, it happens rather frequently here in Bangkok and I have received emails from those who have been denied for Tourist Visas out of Cambodia for fiancées, spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends husbands, wives, brothers and sisters etc. where there is an American citizen or lawful permanent resident counterpart and therefore the Consular Officer deemed that there were not sufficient weak ties to grant the Tourist Visa. In these circumstances I also say "look there is a fairly high incidence of denial in cases similar to that and factual situations similar to that described" and those who are watching this video, I think it is a good idea to reassess one's paradigm and understand that the likelihood of denial with respect to a Tourist Visa is rather high. 

Finally, something else I would urge folks who are watching this video to understand. I don't really deal with a lot of Tourist Visas. My personal opinion is there can be some value added to certain types of Tourist Visa applications, I have often found there isn't much value added in most Non-immigrant Visa cases where I can come in and provide some value to the client. I would urge those watching this, sort of an unqualified, someone who doesn't have any qualification to do US Immigration work you know acting is a Visa Service to assist someone to get into the United States on a Tourist Visa, be very careful with such individuals because oftentimes they know full well that there may be a high denial rate on these cases and they also know full well that frankly there is not a lot of value to be added by a service provider in applying for a US Tourist Visa. For this reason in my opinion it is not particularly necessary to use a service provider for a US Tourist Visa. Most things regarding the US Tourist Visa can be done by oneself.  There may be things like a translation here and there that is needed, deal with a translator specifically for the limited purpose of getting a translation. This is very different than other aspects of US Immigration. There are other aspects of US Immigration and other visas to be sought that require a great deal of work and a great deal of assistance but Tourist Visas, frankly I think most of the time with rare exceptions, it is probably best to go ahead and do it oneself understanding that the likelihood of being denied a Tourist Visa especially where there is an American loved one involved is going to be pretty high.