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Border Crisis: What to do with Unaccompanied Children

The Department of Homeland Security is facing a major border crisis with the waves of unaccompanied children crossing the border in recent months. An unprecedented number of undocumented children have entered the country since last year and it appears as though this trend won’t be slowing down any time soon. Border Patrol officials predict that upwards of 150,000 immigrant children will illegally gain entrance into the U.S. in the next year.[1] Under an anti-human-trafficking law passed in 2008 by the Bush Administration, unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada must be handed over to officials from the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours. They are then housed in shelters and, where possible, released to family members or sponsors in the US pending the resolution of their cases. Government agencies were not prepared for the sudden influx of such a massive number of child immigrants, and the facilities designated for holding such children are filled well beyond capacity. This situation raises a difficult question – what should be done with these children? Should they be sent back to their home countries where they may be exposed to sexual assault or gang violence? Should they be given asylum in … Continued

Renewing Your Deferred Action Status

The initial two-year grants of deferred action for early recipients of DACA are due to expire beginning in September of 2014. Our law firm can handle the DACA renewal process so that eligible individuals can request and receive an extension of their deferred action without suffering from any lapse in their lawful presence or work authorization. Eligibility For Deferred Action Status We can begin working on your DACA renewal case today, as USCIS has already released the new dual-use Form I-821D. In order to be eligible to apply for a renewal of their deferred action status, you must have been granted deferred action by USCIS and must have a current period of DACA which is set to expire within the next 5 months. What Renewed Deferred Action Status Provides Renewed Deferred Action status will allow you to continue to maintain your work permit, social security card, driver’s license, and the peace of mind knowing you will not be detained, placed into immigration proceedings, or be deported. It is extremely important to have a qualified immigration attorney complete your renewal application packet to ensure approval. Deferred action cases do not have an appeals process. Don’t risk getting your renewal delayed or even denied. … Continued

The P-1A Visa: For Internationally Recognized Athletes

Interested in coming to the U.S. to participate or compete in athletics? The P-1A visa allows you the opportunity to do so. The P-1A visa grants internationally recognized athletes permission to temporarily come to the U.S. to participate in an event, competition, or performance.[1] Athletes have the option of coming to participate as an individual or with a team. Many international athletes have come to the U.S. to improve their skills by competing in internationally renowned sports associations. International players have participated in athletics with the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), and more. Prominent athletes who have received this visa include Japanese baseball player Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees, Italian tennis player Stefano Ianni, and Mexican soccer player Mauricio Curiel Hernandez of the Omaha Vipers. To be eligible for this visa, athletes must be internationally recognized with a high level of achievement as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition that is above that ordinarily encountered – such that the athlete is renowned, leading or well-known in more than one country. For teams, the event in which they are participating in must be distinguished and require the participation of other … Continued

H-1B Visa Cap – Odds of Success and Alternatives for the Unlucky

This year, USCIS received enough applications to meet both the Regular H-1B Visa Cap of 65,000 and the Master’s Cap of 20,000 visas within the 1st week of filing.[1] For those who aren’t familiar with the H-1B, it is a highly sought after visa which allows U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers who have highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming. In total, more than 172,000 applications for the H-1B visas were received, a number far exceeding the 85,000 visas allocated by Congress. Many consider what happens in the event of excess demand to be an extremely unfair process of elimination. A computer-generated process randomly selects the petitions to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 visas under the advanced degree exemption. Petitions that aren’t selected are subject to a refund of their filing fees, unless a duplicate filing is to be found. Those individuals will have to wait an entire year to try again unless they qualify for another visa category. So what exactly are the odds that one’s petition will be selected? With this year’s H-1B visa cap, the chances are about 50/50. However, the odds are slightly … Continued

Activities Allowed with a B-1 Visa

The B-1 visa is an excellent tool for members of the international business community. This visa allows foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to engage in business activities for up to six months at a time. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between appropriate B-1 business activities and activities that constitute skilled or unskilled labor in the United States that are not appropriate on B status. Fortunately, certain activities have been deemed as acceptable by USCIS and the Department of State. A B1 visa holder may participate in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including, but not limited to: Consulting with business associates Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates Settling an estate Negotiating a contract Litigating Participating in short-term training Engaging in commercial transactions, which do not involve gainful employment in the United States (such as a merchant who takes orders for goods manufactured abroad) Undertaking independent research Attending board meetings or performing other functions as a member of a board of directors of a U.S. corporation Acting as a personal or domestic servant of certain foreign nationals in nonimmigrant status, or of … Continued

Immigration Options for International Students

Coming to the U.S. to complete your bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree is a great way to expand your horizons and gain a high-quality education. For many foreign students, the experience of living in the U.S. is so enjoyable, they find themselves not wanting to leave once they’ve completed their studies. So how do graduating foreign students go about turning their U.S. degree into a job that allows them to stay? Fortunately, there are several immigration options to choose from. Before completing the course requirements for their course of study, international students may apply for optional practical training, or OPT. [1] This gives international students authorization to work temporarily in a field directly related to their major area of study. Generally, a student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of their studies. However, certain students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (known as a STEM degree) may be eligible for a 17-month extension beyond this time, thus allowing them a maximum of 29 months in OPT. (Click here for a list of degrees that qualify for the STEM extension).[2] And if a foreign student decides to go back to school after obtaining … Continued

How to Get a U.S. Visa through Investment

Previously, we discussed how accredited investors who have lawfully obtained $500,000 and wish to invest that amount in a U.S. enterprise through the EB-5 program will qualify for a U.S. visa (see our article on EB-5 Strategies for more information). But what about those who are interested in coming to the U.S. through investment, but don’t have $500,000 sitting in the bank that they’re ready to invest? If you are a member of a treaty trader country, then the E-2 visa is an excellent option for you to obtain your U.S. visa through investment. To qualify for an E-2 visa, you must have the citizenship of a treaty country. Visit the State Department’s list of treaty countries to determine whether your country is a party to a qualifying treaty. Keep in mind that if you are planning on investing in the U.S. on behalf of a partnership or a corporate entity, the entity must have the citizenship of a treaty country in order to be eligible.[1] When multiple parties are involved, the rule of thumb is that a business can solicit the E-2 visa so long as persons with the treaty country’s nationality possess at least 50 percent ownership. [2] For example, … Continued

The O-1 Visa: Who qualifies as “extraordinary”?

The O-1 visa can be a great tool for talented individuals who have found opportunities to work in the United States, but getting a job offer is only the first step in the journey towards obtaining an O-1 visa. Only those with “extraordinary” abilities in the fields of science, education, business, athletics or the arts are eligible to come to the U.S. on an O-1 visa[1]. So what exactly does “extraordinary” mean? Well, it depends on what you are extraordinary in. If you’re an individual who works in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics, then the regulations are quite stringent; you have to be one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of your field to be considered “extraordinary”[2]. This can either be demonstrated by having received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field, or by a combination of factors such as having been published, having made original contributions of major significance in your field, or having received a high salary for your work, to name a few. In the motion picture or television industry, the rules are slightly more lenient; you have to be able to show that … Continued

Business Leaders Rally Support for Immigration Reform

2013 was an important year for business immigration reform efforts. With milestones such as the founding of FWD.us, a pro-immigration political advocacy group created by a collection of Silicon Valley giants, and the letter signed by more than 100 business leaders to House Speaker Boehner and Representative Nancy Pelosi calling on them to take “a long overdue step toward aligning our nation’s immigration policies with its work force needs”,[1] it seemed the business community’s momentum was likely to result in an immigration overhaul by year’s end. The latest attempt to raise public awareness on the issue of immigration reform came from a “DREAMer Hackathon” which took place in Silicon Valley late November.[2] This event consisted of a group of twenty immigrants coding for 24 hours straight at LinkedIn’s headquarters, a publicity stunt backed by FWD.us.[3] During this “hackathon”, the DREAMers worked on creating a new app that could help pro-immigration reform forces share their stories and contact members of Congress, along with one that will help high-profile people share their support for immigration reform on social media.[4] Over the past year, many prominent business leaders have also spoken out in favor of reforming employment immigration policy. Muhtar Kent, chairman and … Continued

Should You Use the TN Visa as an Alternative to H-1B?

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement created the TN visa category, a visa specifically designed for Canadian and Mexican professional workers who wish to come to the U.S. for employment. Although initially underused, the amount of TN admissions increased drastically when Congress expanded the validity period of TN visas from one year to three in 2008.[1],[2] As a result of this increase, the number of TN admissions has been almost twice the amount of H-1B admissions for the past few years. Last year alone, over 700,000 individuals were admitted in TN status compared to 473,015 in H-1B status.[3] These figures appear to indicate that for U.S. employers seeking to hire Canadian or Mexican nationals, the TN visa is a great alternative to using the H-1B visa category. There are certainly numerous benefits to using the TN visa; it has a much faster processing time than other visa categories and requires significantly lower application fees. Further, unlike other employer-sponsored visas, there is no annual limitation on the number of TN visas available, and the sponsoring employer need not prove there are no American workers available for the position. So what’s the catch? Unlike the H-1B visa category, a TN … Continued