Tag Archives: US Immigration

Legal Marijuana Use Could Block Pathway to Citizenship for Immigrants

Consuming marijuana—even if it’s obtained through a legal cannabis dispensary—could now potentially block immigrants from securing US citizenship.

According to a US Citizenship and Immigration Services policy change passed in April, consuming or selling weed may show a lack of moral character.

Citizens hoping to obtain US citizenship oftentimes must display to USCIS officers that they have “good moral character”.

The policy doesn’t only target those who have been convicted in a court of law of buying, using, or selling marijuana either.

Those who openly admit during their citizenship process of using weed in the past also face the potential outcome of having their petition for citizenship denied on grounds of displaying poor moral character, even if they haven’t used the drug in years.

Although the definition of “good moral character” may seem vague and ambiguous on its face, US immigration law does not necessarily provide for the same constitutional protections that other types of US law provide.

Furthermore, immigration and citizenship cases are wholly contingent on federal laws rather than state laws.

Federal law still prohibits the consumption of marijuana under any circumstances.

Since drug laws codified at the federal level preempt state laws that permit marijuana use both recreationally or medicinally, even the use of legal weed could potentially be viewed as a criminal activity—i.e. poor moral character–in the eyes of USCIS officers.

US Immigration Office in Bangkok Ceasing Operations

The US State Department announced that it plans to close all of its overseas US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices throughout the coming year, including Thailand’s immigration office located in Bangkok.

USCIS field offices typically handle family visa requests and issues, international adoptions, and a wide range of other more specialized immigration services.

The Bangkok USCIS office is the regional “hub” office for Southeast Asia.

The USCIS has another 22 offices spread across regions of Latin America, Asia, and Europe.

Based on the planned closures, USCIS field office services will be transferred to US embassies and consulates as well as the State Department.

Specific key functions that can be expected to be taken care of by embassies and consulates after the change include petitions from citizens attempting to bring their family members to the US, processing requests from asylum seekers and refugees, assisting US citizens in adopting foreign children, naturalizing US military personnel who don’t yet hold citizenship, and investigating fraudulent visa applications.

Our law firm’s most frequent cases involving the local Bangkok USCIS office have primarily been returning US resident family visa applications and renouncing permanent residency status.

The services provided by the Bangkok USCIS office will likely be assumed by the US Embassy in Thailand or US-based USCIS offices.

The closure will primarily affect US citizens residing in Thailand who seek to petition for family-based US visas for immediate family members.

Under the current system, US residents in Thailand can often use the Bangkok USCIS directly, saving significant time.