US begins granting visas to same-sex spouses

By Chi Nhan, Thanh Nien News

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People waits to apply for a visa at the US General Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. PHOTO: TRUNG HIEU
Same-sex spouses and their children are now eligible for US immigrant visas, the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City has announced.
Applications for immigrant visas from same-sex spouses (married in countries that recognize same-sex marriage) have been accepted for review for over a month, it said in a news conference on May 12.
According to David R. McCawley, consular section chief of the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, his agency has granted immigrant visas to 10 same-sex spouses since April 13.
Vietnam does not recognize same-sex marriage. The country amended a decree last November, annulling a regulation that stipulates a fine for same-sex marriage ceremonies.
At the press briefing, McCawley also said that the US Consulate General has launched a new system for scheduling visa interviews, which allows applicants to book a time suitable to them.
The new system applies to non-immigrant visas; applicants can book an interview after being notified by the agency.
The appointment can be changed but applicants must pay a fee for making changes for the third time.
Applicants for non-immigrant visa often wait for one or two weeks before being notified that they can book an interview, according to the US Consulate General.
The agency also supplies emergency services for students who need a visa to get to school on time, or people who have emergency appointments or meetings.
Applicants can visit or calling 19006444 (calls from Vietnam) or (703) 665-7350 (calls from the United States) from 8 am to 8 pm for more information.
In 2013, more than 62,000 Vietnamese citizens were granted non-immigrant visa to the US of which 11,000 were for students.
The numbers represented a 15 percent increase over the previous years,
Currently, more than 16,000 Vietnamese students study in the US, making Vietnam the United States' eighth largest feeder country in terms of international students.
The same year, nearly 23,000 Vietnamese citizens were granted immigrant visas to the US.

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