Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the new H-1B online registration system and everything you need to know if you are applying for an H-1B cap petition in fiscal year 2021.
As our blog followers will know, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has drastically changed the filing procedure for submitting H-1B cap subject petitions.
Beginning March 1, 2020, before a petitioner can file an H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of an alien worker, including petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption, the petitioner must first electronically register with USCIS on the USCIS website.
This electronic registration requirement is absolutely mandatory.
Only petitioners with a valid registration selection will be eligible to file an H-1B petition with USCIS.
The initial registration period for H-1B FY 2021 will open on March 1, 2020 and is expected to close on March 20, 2020. The actual end date will be provided by USCIS very soon on its website. Petitioners must pay a $10 H-1B registration fee per submission. Duplicate registrations are prohibited.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses an important topic. Recently Iranian Americans with dual citizenship have been questioned by Customs and Border Protection upon re-entering the United States. Our clients have been asking: can the government do this?
Stay tuned to find out more.
As our readers may be aware tensions between the United States and Iran have been at an all-time high following the killing of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military commander by a United States airstrike.
Since Soleimani’s killing, the Iranian government and supreme leader have vowed to retaliate against the United States.
The United States Department of State has issued a level four travel advisory notice for Iran, alerting United States Citizens of the dangers they may face in traveling to Iran including kidnapping, arbitrary arrest, and detention. The DOS has also advised United States citizens against traveling because the United States government does not have any diplomatic or consular relations with the government of Iran and cannot provide emergency assistance to U.S. Citizens in Iran.
The DOS has also made clear on its website that Iranians with U.S./Iranian nationality are not immune to these dangers and are advised against traveling.
CBP’s Right to Question
Having said that, generally Customs and Border Protection has the right to question any individual seeking admission to the United States about any matter that they consider relevant in determining an individual’s admissibility to the country.
Given the current circumstances and political climate, it is expected for Customs and Border Protection to question Iranian American dual citizens at the port of entry, about things like their social media, what they were doing in Iran, their feelings about the political situation in Iran, who they know in Iran, and other such questions.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we discuss a little-known law called LIFE Act 245(i) which allows certain undocumented immigrants to apply for permanent residence.
Want to learn more? Keep on watching.
What is 245(i)?
Section 245(i) is a provision of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE) which allows certain persons, who entered the United States without inspection (unlawfully), or otherwise violated their status, to apply for adjustment of status in the United States, if they pay a $1,000 penalty.
To be eligible, the applicant must have an immigrant visa immediately available. Immigrant visas are immediately available for spouses of U.S. Citizens, unmarried children under 21 years of age of a U.S. Citizen, and parents of U.S. Citizens (if the U.S. Citizen is 21 years of age or older).
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we discuss a frequently asked question: can you travel with a pending I-485 Adjustment of Status application?
Generally, anytime a person has a pending application with USCIS like a visa extension or change of status petition, that person cannot depart the United States until that petition is approved.
In this video however we will focus specifically on applicants who have a pending I-485 adjustment of status application based on family or employment sponsorship.
With regard to employment-based adjustment of status applicants, this category of applicants is typically present in the United states on a valid non-immigrant visa classification such as H1B, L1, etc. and are simply waiting for their I-485 green card petition to be adjudicated.
With respect to H1B and L1 visa holders ONLY, these individuals can depart the United States on their H1B or L1 visa classification and return, despite having a pending I-485 application.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we discuss whether a parent of a US Citizen child 21 years of age or older, can adjust status within the US if they overstayed their visa.
In this scenario, a US citizen child is interested in petitioning his or her parent for a green card. In this case, the parent arrived to the United States on a valid visa 12 years ago and overstayed that visa.
Can that parent adjust their status in the US? Can the parent do this process from within the US or overseas?
As long as the parent entered the United States legally by way of a valid visa and the petitioning child is a US Citizen over 21 years of age, the parent is still eligible to apply for adjustment of status within the United States, even if the parent has overstayed their visa. The “overstay” is essentially waived in cases where the petitioner is a U.S. citizen and immediate relative of the beneficiary.
On the adjustment of status application, the overstay must be disclosed.
What if my parent obtained a DUI offense while in the US? Are they still eligible to Adjust Status?
A DUI on its own does not bar an applicant from obtaining permanent residence, however the applicant must provide all documentation necessary regarding the offense, such as the final disposition of the offense, and documentation showing what if any fines were paid.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we will give you our top 10 tips on how to successfully obtain an F-1 student visa or J-1 Trainee visa.
There are generally two ways to apply for a U.S. Visa. If you are residing lawfully in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa classification (such as a tourist visa) you may apply for a change of status by filing Form I-539 Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status with USCIS. If you are residing abroad however you must apply for your visa at a U.S. Consulate near you.
Regardless of your application method, there are several important tips that can help you successfully obtain your F-1 or J-1 visa.
Proof of Strong Ties to your home country
One of the most important aspects of the application is providing documentary evidence that your stay in the United States will only be of a temporary nature and that you will depart the United States at the end of your student visa or trainee program. To show that you intend to remain in the United States only temporarily, you must provide proof that you have obligations/ties to your home country that require your eventual return.
What types of evidence can be provided to fulfill this requirement?
There are a variety of different types of evidence that can be provided to show strong proof of ties home. The most common types of evidence include proof of residence abroad, proof of employment abroad or a future job offer that will require you to return to your home country, enrollment in an academic program to be attended in the future, military obligations abroad, property ownership abroad, business operations or business ownership abroad, evidence of familial obligations, etc.
All non-immigrant visa applicants must show that they have the financial ability to support their stay during the duration of their student or trainee program. This can be shown by providing your most recent bank account statements to prove that you have sufficient capital to support your stay.
Alternatively, applicants may provide proof of sponsorship. For purposes of sponsorship, the applicant must have a friend or relative who meets the income requirements sign Form I-134 Affidavit of Support. The sponsor must sign a statement that they will be financially responsible for the applicant’s expenses throughout the duration of their stay in the U.S., and the sponsor must also provide supporting financial documentation showing their ability to sponsor the applicant.
Knowledge of the English Language
In order to obtain a F-1 or J-1 visa, you must demonstrate at your consular interview that you have at least a basic command of the English language to be able to effectively participate in your student visa or trainee visa program.
Please note: You will need to be able to speak for yourself at the time of your interview. You will not be allowed to bring a parent, relative, or anyone else to speak for you at your interview.
Explain how your program of study will relate to your future career in your home country
At the time of your interview you must be prepared to explain to the consular officer how your chosen program of study or training relates to your future career in your home country. For example, if you have chosen to study hospitality management in the United States, you may wish to explain to the officer that you plan to work in the hospitality industry in your home country, and your US degree in hospitality management will help you be an attractive candidate for employers in your home country.
This will increase your chances of success at the time of your interview.
Be clear and concise
Remember that you only have a limited amount of time to speak to the consular officer and show that you qualify for the visa. All of your answers to the officer must be clear and concise. Answer exactly what the officer is asking, nothing less nothing more.
Do not bring voluminous documents to your interview. Be organized and bring only documents that are necessary for your interview.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we discuss an important topic relating to family-based immigration: how can I immigrate my parent to the United States?
How do you immigrate a parent to the United States?
You must be a United States citizen (over 21 years of age) to immigrate your parent to the United States. The process of immigrating your parent to the United States depends on where your parent is residing at the time of filing.
Adjustment of Status
The most common scenario is where your parent has entered the United States on a non-immigrant visa for a non-immigrant purpose (such as visiting the United States) and several months later a decision is made to adjust the parent’s status to permanent residence. In this scenario, the appropriate process to immigrate the parent to the United States is through a process known as adjustment of status to permanent residence.
During this process, the United States citizen child will file a petition with USCIS called Form I-130 to immigrate their parent to the United States as well as Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. The United States citizen child must sign Form I-864 Affidavit of Support to prove they have the financial ability to provide for their parent until the parent becomes a US citizen. If the United States citizen child cannot prove financial ability, a joint sponsor will be needed who can prove their financial ability. At the same time, the parent will file Form I-485 with USCIS to change their status to that of permanent residence. In addition, the parent may choose to apply for employment authorization and a travel permit by filing Forms I-765 and I-131, in order to work and travel internationally while the green card application is in process.
Once these petitions are filed with USCIS, the parent can wait in the United States until the green card process is completed. The process is considered complete once the parent is approved following the green card interview.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we have some bad news for H1B visa holders, some very very alarming statistics. If you want to know what they are watch this video.
H1B Visas and Rate of Denials
Based on a recent statistic, between 2015 through 2019 there has been a significant increase in H1B visa denials. H1B visa denials have quadrupled in denial rates.
Similarly, the volume of requests for evidence issued to H1B petitioners have increased by 60 percent.
The H-1B season for fiscal year 2021 will bring some important changes. Firstly, USCIS has imposed a new online electronic registration requirement for H1B petitioners to streamline the H1B lottery process.
When we see a quadrupling in the rate of H1B visas denied for strong H1B petitions, it is apparent that the government is trying to send a message, which is that they want to limit the amount of people who can actually file for H1B visas. In the requests for evidence we have received for H1B extensions and transfers, we see a trend in which USCIS is using the most narrow interpretation of what a “specialty occupation,” is which by definition limits the pool of candidates eligible to receive an H1B visa.
We are seeing almost automatic denials for our marketing and business positions because USCIS is being so restrictive in how they interpret and define a “specialty occupation.” USCIS is taking the position that marketing and business positions are not “specialty occupations.”
USCIS has time and time again refused to accept the complexity of these positions, legal arguments in support of a finding that these positions are in fact specialty occupations, and ignored expert opinions supporting such positions as “specialty occupations.”
From what we have seen in our own filings and from conversations we have had with other attorneys and law offices, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get H1B visas approved for positions and occupations are were normally approved without difficulty in the past.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we bring Polish citizens an exciting new update regarding the Visa Waiver Program.
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the addition of Poland, as a country eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program.
What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes without having to apply for a tourist visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. The period of time that a traveler may remain in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program is 90 days or less.
How does it work?
Citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver program may travel to the United States without a visa by using their passports and an approved ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) form that can be completed on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website in a matter of minutes.
Poland Joins Visa Waiver Program
Beginning November 11, 2019, Polish citizens may travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. This means that as a Polish citizen or national, you will not need to apply for a visa in order to enter the United States as a tourist or for select business purposes.
Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we talk about the different investment visa options available under current law.
E-2 Non-immigrant Visa: Visa through Investment
The first option is the E-2 visa. This is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals from eligible treaty nations to invest in a new business in the United States. The required investment amount will vary depending on the type of business.
Not every country participates in the E-2 visa program. You must be a national of a treaty nation in order to qualify. For a complete list of qualifying countries please click here.
The amount of time a foreign national may remain in the United States with an E-2 visa depends on the applicant’s country of nationality. The average processing time to receive an E-2 visa is approximately 3 to 5 months. In order successfully obtain an E-2 visa, the applicant must be able to demonstrate the source of funds of the investment, hire employees to work for the business, and the business must be real and operating.
It is important to note that the E-2 visa does not lead to a green card but can be extended.
EB-5 Immigrant Visa Program: Green Card through Investment
The EB-5 Immigrant Visa Program allows you to invest half a million dollars into a regional center government approved project, or a million dollars direct investment in your own project. To qualify, your investment must create at least 10 jobs and the business must be succeeding and growing.
After November 21, 2019, the minimum investment will increase from half a million to $900,000 for investment in a regional center, and from one million to 1.8 million for direct investments.