Friday, August 2, 2013

New U.S. Policy Gives Equal Treatment to Same-Sex Spouses’ Visa Applications

By Michael R. Gordon

LONDON – The U.S will now treat the applications of same-sex married couples as it would that of opposite-sex couples, Secretary of State John Kerry has announced. The change in policy comes after the U.S Supreme Court struck down a law against same-sex marriage. The policy change is set to take effect immediately and will apply to American citizens and foreign same-sex couples, dependent only on the marriage having taken place in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage. “The change was hailed by gay rights groups. “We are relieved and pleased,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a lobbying group. “It brings a clarity that gay and lesbian couples around the world have been waiting for.”” There was some frustration among same-sex married couples even after the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between a man and woman, due to U.S embassies and consulates not being able to offer services without official guidance from the State Department. “Mr. Kerry said the State Department was “tearing down an unjust and an unfair barrier that for too long stood in the way of same-sex families being able to travel as a family to the United States. This is one of those moments when policy and values join together,” Mr. Kerry also noted that he had voted against the Defense of Marriage Act as a senator.”

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Former Immigration Consultant Convicted Of Encouraging Illegal Immigration And Mail Fraud

(San Jose) – “Evelyn Sineneng-Smith was convicted of three counts of encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain and three counts of mail fraud by a federal jury on Tuesday, July 30th, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag. The guilty verdict followed a 13-day jury trial before The Honorable Ronald M. Whyte, U.S. District Court Judge.” Evidence at the trial showed that Sineneng-Smith operated an immigration consultation center in San Jose, California from 1990-2008. She advised foreign nationals, mainly Filipinos, on ways in which they could obtain legal permanent residence in the country even though they had entered the U.S on visitor visas. She charged the nationals she assisted $5,900 to file the application and continued to do so even after becoming aware that the laws had changed. Evidence at trial also showed that Sineneng-Smith had deposited more than $3.3 million dollars in payments from clients from August 2004 through 2007. “Sineneng-Smith, 66, was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 14, 2010. She was charged with three counts of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(I), and three counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. The sentencing of Sineneng-Smith will be scheduled on November 4, 2013.”

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