Articles Posted in General

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Based on the recently released guidance from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), individuals who hold nonimmigrant visas in the U.S. are likely to face severe consequences if arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or a related offense. Earlier this year, DOS made public all unclassified content in its policy manual for DOS and its officers. According to its policy manual, DOS “has the authority to prudentially revoke a visa on the basis of a potential [health-related ground of] ineligibility” when DOS receives notification of “an arrest or conviction of driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, or similar DUI arrests/convictions that occurred within the previous five years.”

Please contact our office if you plan to travel internationally using a nonimmigrant visa and have been arrested or convicted for a DUI or a related offense. Please also contact our office if you have any questions.

For more information, please visit the following website.

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Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). However, from March 15, 2016 until fall 2016, travelers who do not have an eTA can board their flight, as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport. During this time, border services officers can let travelers arriving without an eTA into Canada, as long as they meet the other requirements to enter Canada. Exceptions to the eTA process include U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid visa for entrance to Canada. The eTA process is similar to the U.S.’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), and individuals who travel to Canada on a regular basis or may be seeking to apply to the U.S. consulates in Canada as Third-Party Nationals are encouraged to apply early.

A list of visa-exempt countries can be found here.

For more information on the eTA process and how to apply, please go to the following website.

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The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final rule, effective on February 16, 2016, revises regulations affecting highly skilled workers in the nonimmigrant classifications for specialty occupations from Chile, Singapore (H-1B1) and Australia (E-3); the immigrant classification for employment-based first preference (EB-1) outstanding professors and researchers; and nonimmigrant workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) classification.

In particular, DHS is including H-1B1 and principal E-3 classifications in the list of classes of foreign nationals authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer. This means that H-1B1 and principal E-3 nonimmigrants are allowed to work for the sponsoring employer without having to separately apply for employment authorization. Additionally, DHS is authorizing continued employment with the same employer for up to 240 days for H-1B1 and principal E-3 nonimmigrants whose status has expired while their employer’s timely filed extension of stay request remains pending.

This final rule does not impose any additional costs on employers and minimizes the potential of employment disruptions.

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Information on the 2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2017), including instructions on submitting an electronic entry, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), and a list of countries/areas by region whose natives are eligible for DV-2017 is now available. Entries must be submitted electronically between October 1, 2015, and November 3, 2015.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program will provide 50,000 Diversity Visas for the 2017 fiscal year. Diversity Visas are drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who meet strict eligibility requirements, and who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Successful Diversity Visa entrants must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.

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Although a foreign national entrepreneur must usually obtain authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through the immigrant or nonimmigrant visa process to live and work in the United States, there are a variety of options available to come to the United States to start or expand a business. For example, an entrepreneur may be eligible for certain nonimmigrant classifications such as E-2 Treaty Investor or a B-1 Business Visitor. An E-2 classification enables an entrepreneur from a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States to invest a substantial amount of money in a new or existing U.S. business. And a B-1 classification allows an entrepreneur to come to the United States to secure funding or office space, negotiate a contract, or attend certain business meetings in connection with opening a new business in the United States.

It is important to determine which classification works best as not every classification that USCIS administers will allow an entrepreneur to work in the United States. Most employment-based petitions are issued for a specific type of activity with a specific employer. Also, certain nonimmigrant classifications are subject to annual numerical limitations. These limitations can affect the amount of time it may take for an entrepreneur to obtain authorization to live and work in the United States.

We practice exclusively immigration law, and our office can assist in determining the appropriate visa classification for your circumstances and business plans. Please feel free to contact us to learn more information. We recommend that you consult with us early to best explore your U.S. immigration options in light of your business and personal goals.

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that removes the term “alien,” used in reference to foreign-born workers, from the California Labor Code. According to KPCC, Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia stated that removing the term was an important step toward modernizing California law because it is now commonly viewed as derogatory term.

To read the KPCC article please go to the following website.

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The employment authorization document (EAD) provides for employment authorization. Once the EAD expires, however, the employee must stop working. Continued employment is not permitted based on the filing an application to extend the EAD.

The USCIS is required by law to adjudicate EAD applications in 90 days. However, it has recently acknowledged that this requirement is not being met in many cases. The USCIS allows an EAD applicant or their counsel to initiate a service request once the person’s EAD application has been pending for at least 75 days. Such a request can be made by calling the National Customer Service Center or using its e-Request system. The expectation is that, once a service request is made, the USCIS will prioritize the case and issue the EAD within the 90-day timeframe.

We recommend applying as far in advance of the EAD expiration date to minimize the probability of a gap in employment eligibility. EAD renewal applications may be filed up to 120 days prior to the expiration date of the existing EAD.

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On January 29, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will begin accepting requests for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on February 18, 2015.

The expanded DACA program expands the population potentially eligible for DACA to individuals of any current age who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and have lived in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 2010. In addition, the validity period of DACA’s accompanying work authorization is extended from two years to three years.

Please contact our office if you need any assistance filing a DACA request, or if you have questions about the eligibility requirements.

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The Department of State (DOS) opened registration for the 2016 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2016) on October 1, 2014, and it will close at noon (EST) on November 3, 2014. Applicants must submit entries electronically during the registration period at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/. DOS encourages applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, as heavy demand may result in website delays. There is no cost to register for the DV Program.

The congressionally mandated DV Program provides a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas each fiscal year. Diversity Visas are drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who meet strict eligibility requirements, and who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. To be eligible, successful Diversity Visa entrants must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.

Please feel free to contact our office for more information about the Diversity Visa Program.

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A recent study from the Partnership for a New American Economy-a group advocating the economic case for streamlining and modernizing our immigration system-found that when companies have difficulty getting H-1B visas for highly-skilled immigrants, it is bad news for the local tech sector and for U.S. born computer workers who do not have college degrees. This study measured how different cities fared in the 2007 and 2008 H-1B lotteries. The study found that cities with a high number of H-1B petitions not selected in the 2007 and 2008 lotteries “[took] a hit” to their computer sectors and their U.S. born workers. These cities generated slightly fewer jobs for U.S. tech workers with college degrees, but many fewer jobs for U.S. born tech workers without college degrees. For more information, see the article in Vox: http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5779472/study-high-skilled-immigrants-jobs-Americans-h1b-visa-lottery.