The J-1 is a very popular visa that is administered by the State Department, not USCIS.

How does it work and who qualifies for the J-1 Cultural Exchange Visa?

The J-1 visa allows individuals such as students and trainees to come to the United States to receive practical training or participate in an internship program, to gain experience in a particular field of study, and take that experience and skill set back to the country of origin. The practical training or internship program should be one that is not available in the individual’s country of origin. The J-1 cultural exchange visa program allows the foreign national to obtain experience that they would not have otherwise obtained in their home country.

The J-1 visa requires a third-party sponsor that controls and supervises the J-1 program that the foreign national will participate in, while the State Department administers the filing process of the J-1 visa. The third-party sponsor also ensures that the foreign national will return to their country of origin at the conclusion of the cultural exchange program.

What types of training programs can foreign nationals participate in with this visa type?

Foreign nationals may participate in the J-1 cultural exchange visa program as au pairs, scholars, researchers, trainees, and professionals.

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What’s happening with DACA today?

In this post, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks all about the state of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and what you should know as a recipient of DACA.

In September of 2017 the Trump administration announced that it would be ending the DACA program, which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke on behalf of the administration and said that USCIS would not accept new requests for DACA but would allow DACA recipients with work permits expiring between September 2017 and March 5, 2018 to apply for a final 2-year renewal of their status including employment authorization.

This announcement put considerable pressure on Congress to pass legislation before March 5, 2018 to protect Dreamers from deportation.

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Overview: 

What is an E-2 visa?

The E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities, for a specified period of two years subject to renewal. Investment activities include the creation of a new business. Foreign nationals must invest a substantial amount of capital in a new or existing business. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.

Who can get it?

Only foreign nationals from treaty nations may apply for the E-2 visa. To find out if your country qualifies, click here.

Level of Investment

Therefore, the level of investment must be such that it is sufficient to justify presence of the treaty national in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business e.g. a speculative investment in undeveloped land would not qualify, whereas an investment in a real estate development project probably would. Also, a substantial part of the investment must have been made prior to applying for E-2 status.

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In this post, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the top reasons applications are denied at their citizenship interview.

Requirements to apply for citizenship:

In order to become a United States Citizen, you must meet the following general requirements at the time of filing your N-400 Application for Naturalization:

You must be:

  • A lawful permanent resident
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Maintained continuous residence in the United States since becoming a permanent resident
  • Be physically present in the United States
  • Have certain time living within the jurisdiction of a USCIS office
  • Be a person of Good Moral Character
  • Have Knowledge of English and U.S. Civics with some exceptions outlined below
  • Declare loyalty to the U.S. Constitution

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Overview:

What is the I-601 Waiver?

The I-601 waiver is an application that is filed by individuals who are ineligible to gain admission to the United States as an immigrant, or who cannot adjust their status in the United States to become a permanent resident, because they are barred from the United States. The I-601 waiver is essentially a form that is filed to gain permission to apply for permanent residence in the United States or gain admission through an immigrant visa. This form will allow individuals to obtain relief from the following grounds:

  1. Health-related grounds of inadmissibility (INA section 212(a)(1))
  2. Certain criminal grounds of inadmissibility (INA section 212(a)(2))
  3. Immigration fraud and misrepresentation (INA section 212(a)(6)(c))
  4. Immigrant membership in totalitarian party (INA section 212(a)(3))
  5. Alien smuggler (INA section 212(a)(6)(E))
  6. Being subject to civil penalty (INA section 212(a)(6)(F))
  7. The 3-year or 10-year bar due to previous unlawful presence in the United States (INA section 212(a)(9)(B))

Who is Eligible?

Not everyone is eligible. To qualify, you must have what is called a “qualifying” relative who will be the focus of the petition. A qualifying relative includes a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent. In cases where a waiver is filed for certain criminal grounds of inadmissibility a qualifying relative may also include a child who is a U.S. citizen.

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In this video, we discuss the difference between adjustment of status and consular processing.

What is adjustment of status?

Adjustment of Status is the process by which a foreign national applies for permanent residence, essentially their green card, within the United States. In order to apply for adjustment of status within the United States, the foreign national must have entered the United States lawfully (typically on a U.S. visa) and be married to a U.S. Citizen. The foreign national must not have entered the marriage within the first 90 days of entry to the United States. Doing so creates a presumption of fraud and the couple will be denied at the green card interview.

Example: The foreign national entered the U.S. on a student visa, and later met a U.S. Citizen. The couple then became engaged, and married in the U.S.

The process begins with the filing of the following forms typically at the same time:

  • I-130 petition for alien relative (signed by the U.S. citizen)
  • I-485 application for adjustment of status aka the green card application (signed by the foreign national)
  • I-765 application for employment authorization (signed by the foreign national)
  • I-131 application for travel document (signed by the foreign national)
  • G-325A biographical information (signed by both the U.S. Citizen spouse and foreign national)
  • I-864 Affidavit of Support (signed by the U.S. Citizen)

The process ends with a green card interview before a USCIS immigration officer at a field office near the couple’s place of residence. The purpose of the interview is to determine whether the couple has a bona fide marriage. Both the petitioner and foreign national must attend this interview.

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You’ve made it to the airport, but Customs and Border Protection has denied you entry into the United States, before even boarding the plane. What steps can you take to resolve the situation?

There may be various reasons why a CBP officer may prevent you from gaining entry to the United States. The most common reasons include:

  • When you have been in the United States in the past on a tourist visa and you overstayed the amount of time allowed in the United States
  • You were previously on a tourist visa in the U.S. and applied for an extension of stay, but that application was denied
  • You were previously in the U.S. on a tourist visa and you did not spend at least 6 months in your home country when you returned.
  • You are a legal permanent resident of the U.S. but you have lost your green card, you will not be able to board a plane
  • If you overstayed your visa and there is a record, you will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.

What should you do when you are denied entry?

Contact an immigration attorney to determine the reason you are not allowed to board the plane. Typically, individuals in this situation must file an inquiry to find out the reason they were denied entry. It may be worth it to visit a U.S. embassy to receive more information regarding the denial of entry. In some cases the U.S. embassy may be able to re-validate your visa, or you may be able to file a waiver if you have been barred from the United States for certain violations.

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What are some alternatives to the H-1B visa?

By now you know that the H-1B cap has been reached for Fiscal Year 2019. But what happens if you were not selected in the H-1B visa lottery?

In this post, we will discuss some alternatives to the H-1B visa that will allow you to stay and work in the United States.

  1. The O-1 “Extraordinary Ability” Visa:

This visa type is for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, athletics, motion picture, television, or arts industries who have received national and/or international acclaim in their field. An alien on an O-1 visa may live and work in the United States for a period of up to three years.

An O-1 visa is a great visa for people in the start-up world and technology sector. This visa is for people holding an advanced degree (at least a master’s degree) who have either started their own business, have patented inventions, are leading experts in their fields, and/or have gained notoriety in their fields as evidenced by awards and other national recognitions.

  1. TN Visa for Mexican and Canadian Nationals

The TN visa allows nationals of Mexico and Canada to work in the United States, provided their profession is on the NAFTA list. The maximum period of initial admission to the US is three years, but visa holders may apply for extensions in amounts of one year.

  1. E-3 Visa for Australian Nationals

Similar to the H-1B visa, the E-3 classification allows Australian nationals to travel to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent to qualify and must work in a specialty occupation often associated with the STEM occupational fields. The E-3 visa is issued for an initial period of no more than 2 years, with extensions granted in 2-year increments.

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Learn more about the new 90-day presumption of fraud rule in this video and how it affects the adjustment of status of foreign nationals living in the United States.

0:24 – New Rule Changes

0:52 – What is 90-day Rule Do?

1:37 – Our advice or suggestions for this new rule

Overview: 

WHO:

In September 2017 the Department of State released an amended version of the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), which is a manual used by governmental agencies and other federal agencies that directs and codifies information that must be carried out by respective agencies “in accordance with statutory, executive and Department mandates.”

WHAT:

The new amended version of the manual expands the definition of misrepresentation, the types of activities that may support a presumption of fraud, and establishes changes to existing policies that federal agents must follow in making assessments of fraud or material representation.

According to the amended FAM: If a foreign national engages in any of the following activities, and applies for an immigration benefit, the FAM directs immigration officers to apply a presumption of fraud or material misrepresentation when the foreign national seeks adjustment of status:

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In this video, we explain the process of obtaining a green card if you have been a victim of domestic violence.

As a battered spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen, you may self-petition for an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), without the abuser’s knowledge. If you have an approved petition, you may be eligible to file for a Green Card.

Overview: 

Generally if you have been the victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, as a spouse of a US Citizen, you may still apply for your green card (self-petition) without the US Citizen spouse, by filing the I-360 petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Once approved, you may file for permanent residency. A VAWA petition may be filed regardless of gender.

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