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US Consulate and Attorney Representation for your Visa Appointment

28th June 2010
By Cathy Tran Reck in Immigration Law
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Generally, an American attorney may represent clients when the clients are in the United States and a Representation Notice on a G-28 Form is properly executed. This is generally true whether the client is entitled to representation or pays an attorney a fee. However, when the an individual is abroad and working with the US Embassy or US Consulate, legal representative may assist the person with completing and submitting the immigration forms, but attorney representation is actually not permitted at the US Embassy for certain appointments. However, at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) an American lawyer can appear on your behalf.

The general rule for most US Consulates and Embassies is that only the foreign national applying for the visa may appear for the interview. No legal representation is allowed and no one else can appear with you, such as a friend or spouse. The exception is when the foreign national is a minor, then a legal guardian or attorney may appear on the minor's behalf.

The State Department follow the United States Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) which gives guidance to State employers and attorneys on correspondence with client's representatives. Each consulate has the discretion to establish its own policies regarding attorney representation, and generally consular officers will correspond with the attorney directly so long the attorney has submitted a properly executed G-28 Notice of Representation. If so then the officers will notify the attorney of records regarding issues with their client's case.

The advantage to this direct communication is invaluable when the attorney is "on the ground." This expedites and removes any unnecessary delays via mail or phone, merely by the attorney being able to appear before the consular officer to make a direct inquiry. This being said, the State employees are required to provide the same communication to American lawyers in the US and abroad.

While American attorneys are not accompanying visa applicants to interviews, there's an infinite amount of information from websites promising legal representation at the US Embassy. These visa agents are not permitted to enter as the attorney of record and thereby prohibited from submitting a G-28 form. Without a properly executed G28 form in place, the US consular officers will not communicate with anyone except the alien applicant regarding the status. Therefore, while American attorneys are not at the interview, they are able to investigate and facilitate the case to adjudication.
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About the Author
Occupation: U.S. Lawyer
Cathy Tran Reck is an American immigration attorney working from Bangkok, Thailand. Cathy is the Managing Partner at Cathy Tran Reck & Associates, Ltd. Bangkok with an office in Bangkok, Thailand and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Cathy is licensed by the California State Bar, American Bar Association, and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached at or in Bangkok at (+66) 2 302 1448.

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