02 Sep 2019

ALERT!! EXPANSION OF EXPEDITED REMOVAL POST SEPTEMBER 01, 2019

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was scheduled to begin processing some undocumented immigrants under new expedited removal rules that greatly expand who can be deported without a hearing before an Immigration Judge.

Per a memo dated July 24, 2019, ICE Director Matthre Albence said the agency’s officers could beging processing cases under the new guidelines on or around September 01, 2019.

This alert is provided for both, Individuals as well as employers who need to be aware of this change so you can take appropriate measures to protect yourself, your loved ones or your employees/team members.

Background: The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) allows ICE officers the authority to remove from the United States, without the nee for a hearing before an immigration judge, people who:

1.      are either applicants for admission to the United States or satisfy the following conditions: have entered the United States without admission or advance parole and have been continuously physically present in the United States for less than two years,

2.      are inadmissible under certain statutory grounds primarily due to failure to comply with visa or other entry document requirements, and/or fraud or misrepresentation,

3.      make no claim to lawful permanent resident status, and

4.      do not seek asylum or express a fear of persecution.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), in 2002, then expanded the application of expedited removal to people who were either entering the U.S by sea, either by boat or other means; were not admitted or paroled into the U.S, and who have not been continuously present in the United States for at least two years.

Later in 2004, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded this even further to expand the process to any individual apprehended within 100 miles of any land or sea border and who entered the US without inspection less than 14 days before the time they are encountered.

What is Changing? DHS now asserts their right to enforce “expedited removal” proceedings against any individual found within the united states, irrespective of whether they are apprehended within 100 miles of a land or sea border of the United States. The new change transfers the burden of proof from an ICE officer to an Individual to prove his/her presence in the US for a continuous period of at least two years in order to avoid immedate arrest and deportation without access to an Immigration Judge.

Immigrants facing expedited removal should keep a folder ready at home and let a loved one know its location so it can be easily retrieved. The folder should contain any and all documents that can prove continuous physical presence in the United States, such as:

  •  lease for home or business and copies of letter from IRS for ITIN Number
  • pay stubs; bank statements; income tax returns
  • Marriage and birth certificates to show presence in the US during key moments
  • Any records from church or community/social groups you are a regular member/attendee of
  • Copies of high school graduation; transcripts from high school or college evidencing enrollment and presence in the U.S.

How this Affects Employers: The memo clearly states that the new removal designation will likely be used by ICE during worksite raids and working within the Criminal Alien Program, which partners with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to detain undocumented immigrants.

Questions? Please reach out to either myself or Kripa Upadhyay at Orbit Law, PLLC should you have questions or concerns. 

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02 Sep 2019

STEM OPT Worksite Inspections: What Employers Need to Know

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun conducting on-site inspections of F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) employment. Whilst Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has had the authority to make site visits since the regulations governing the program were revised in May 2016, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/03/11/2016-04828/improving-and-expanding-training-opportunities-for-f-1-nonimmigrant-students-with-stem-degrees-and

It is only from early August that employers have begun seeing and reporting site inspections against OPT STEM Students.

Pre Site Inspection: It is likely that ICE will contact the HR/Immigration manager to ask for the Form I-983 prior to the site inspection. The HR/Immigration Manager should provide any and all documents requested by ICE afterconsulting with your Immigration attorney. Additionally, the representative should attempt to set a date and time for the inspection and ask for ICE to allow the company’s attorney to be present either in person or telephonically during the inspection.

Preparing for the Site Inspection: Employers must ensure that they have a designated point of contact at each site where an OPT student is being trained or placed. Make sure you have a standard plan for which employee must be notified if ICE appears for a site visit and that officers should not be permitted to inspect files, tour the facilities or speak with employees without the designated company representative being present. his designated employee should also accompany officers during the entire site inspection and take detailed notes including the names of the officers; questions asked; documents inspected; places inspected etc. It is crucial that this designated employee also make copies of any and all documents provided to ICE officers.

During the Site Inspection: Employers should be aware that in addition to asking to see the student’s work space and tour of the premises, officers may also want to do the following:

  1. The purpose of the inspection seems to be to ensure that the employers are complying with STEM OPT requirements and meeting the obligations of Form I-983 training plans. In general, ICE will want to see evidence that the employer is carrying out a structure and guided work – based learning experience consistent with the regulations and with the specific training plan completed and signed by the organization. Employers MUST be well-versed with the contents of the training plans used for STEM OPT students.
  2. The inspection may include individual interviews with the company personnel, a review and discussion of the student’s training plan and the way it has been implemented. The officers may also want to inspect the student’s degree and review his/her skills in relation to the STEM degree and the training. Employers should ensure that the student(s) are aware that a Site Inspection may occur and they should be prepared to answer questions as to their education, training and its relevance to the training/work they are performing.
  3. ICE may also review wether the duties, hours and compensation of STEM OPT trainees are consistent with wage and labor laws of the city in which the student is placed. In order to make sure that students are not being paid less than similarly situated US Citizen employees, the employer may be asked to provide documentary evidence to show how they decide on wages and compensation for different level of employees.
  4. Employers must be aware that is a STEM OPT student is placed at an off site location, ICE has the authority to visit and conduct inspection of the client site.
  5. Additionally, although the purpose is NOT to find other violations, if during the course of the site inspection, ICE becomes aware of other violations of wage and labor or Immigration laws, they have the authority to address or refer inspection or follow up to the proper entity or agency.

I-9 Compliance: Employers need to be aware that every employee, including OPT STEM students must have a correctly completed form I-9 on file; therefore, please ensure that the I-9 forms are in order for all employees whether on STEM OPT or not.

Questions: Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need help with I-9 compliance or preparing for a site inspection.

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15 Mar 2019

What is the Interview Process for Employment-Based Green Cards?

If you have applied for an employment-based green card, as of October 2, 2017, you must appear for an in-person interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you filed an I-485, Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident for an EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 visa after March 6, 2017, the interview is mandatory.

Appearing before immigration officials can be a stressful event, particularly when you are being questioned in an interview. In this article, we will discuss some common questions about the process of obtaining permanent residency with an employment-based immigrant visa and what to expect in the interview process.

When will I be called for an interview?

If you have an approved I-140, Petition for Alien Worker and are eligible to apply for Adjustment of Status to get your green card, you will need to file an I-485 application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident. After you file an I-485, your application is forwarded to the National Benefits Center for adjudication. Once your application is ready for adjudication, USCIS will send you an Interview Notice stating the date, time, and location of your mandatory interview.

What should I expect?

On the day of your interview, it is wise to arrive early, if possible, at the location stated on your notice. This location will be a local USCIS field office. You have the right to bring a lawyer with you to your interview, but a lawyer will not be provided for you. You can also have an interpreter present.

You will typically be questioned by one UCSIS officer, but there may be other immigration officials in the room. The immigration officer’s job is to make sure that all of the information you have presented on your forms and the documentation you submitted is accurate and truthful. They will be determining whether you are statutorily eligible for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident.

What questions will I be asked?

During your interview, a USCIS officer may ask you information about yourself, family, employment, and past including:

  • Biographical information like your name, date of birth, place of birth, country of citizenship, etc.
  • Any questions listed on your I-485 application or I-140, Petition for Alien Worker
  • Information about your job, job duties, job skills, job history, and educational background
  • Questions about your criminal background and any previous arrests
  • Questions about your immigration history, previous entries into the United States, and past visas.

Naturally, if you are applying for an employment-based green card, you should be prepared to answer specific questions about your current and past employment history. The USCIS officer is likely to heavily focus on employment-related questions.

To be prepared for your interview, it is wise to collect all details about your current and past employment ahead of time. Tell your immigration lawyer if there have been any changes to your employment like job title change, demotion, promotion, termination, or change in job location.

If you change employers during the application process, expect that the details of both jobs and your job change will be closely scrutinized by the interviewing officer.

Will my family be interviewed?

If your spouse or child is a derivative beneficiary of your employment-based immigrant visa, then they will be called for a separate, individual interview before their own green card is approved.

During your spouse or child’s interview, they may be asked similar questions to those that you are asked during your interview, in addition to information that establishes their relationship to you. It is important that your spouse or child brings documentation to their interview to support their legal relationship to you such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or certificate of adoption.

Do I need to bring a lawyer with me to the interview?

If you are eligible to apply for Adjustment of Status based on approved I-140 Petition for Alien Worker, it is wise to have an experienced immigration lawyer present with you. Having a lawyer with you at your interview helps you to make sure your rights are being protected and the process is being administered fairly.

Call Orbit Law Today

Getting a green card can also be a complicated process. With numerous steps, various form numbers, and complex regulations, your immigration lawyer can help you to navigate the process in an informed way and advocate for your rights.

Call Orbit Law today and one of our experienced immigration lawyers will be happy to speak with you about your employment-based green card application and the interview process. Call Orbit Law at 206-623-3352 today!

The information available on this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain a more detailed advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Orbit Law PLLC and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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01 Mar 2019

Is your Spouse or Parent a Permanent Resident or US Citizen? See how you may Qualify for a Green Card!

If you entered the United States without inspection or you have been unlawfully present in the U.S., you may experience additional hurdles in obtaining a visa in the future. In this article, we will explore what a stateside waiver is, why you might need one, and how to apply for a waiver.

What is a stateside waiver?

Typically, if you are unlawfully present in the U.S. without having been “admitted” or “inspected” by a U.S. immigration officer, you may not obtain a green card. Even if you are a beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition, you cannot gain permanent residency if you have not been lawfully admitted.

To obtain a green card if you entered without inspection, you must leave the U.S. and reenter through consular processing. In this process, you will be inspected and admitted, fulfilling that legal requirement for lawful presence. The only problem is, if you entered the U.S. without inspection, you are barred from reentering the U.S. for a period of three years. This is called an unlawful presence bar.

However, U.S. immigration law provides a work-around for this predicament. Qualifying individuals can apply for a “provisional unlawful presence waiver” that allows them to depart the U.S. for consular processing with a pre-approved waiver for the unlawful presence bar, so that they will not be banned from re-entering the U.S. when they try to re-enter.

The goal of the process is to minimize the amount of time that U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are separated from their family members. Provisional unlawful presence waivers used to only be available to beneficiaries of immigrant visas through an immediate U.S. citizen relative. However, in August 2016, the Obama Administration expanded the availability of provisional unlawful presence waivers to all individuals who are eligible for an immigrant visa.

It is important to note that if you are eligible for an immigrant visa and entered the U.S. without inspection, you must still leave the U.S. and have your immigrant visa processed abroad at a U.S. consulate or U.S. Embassy.

The provisional unlawful presence waiver simply allows you to overcome the statutory unlawful presence bar and reenter the U.S. if you receive an immigrant visa and have a pre-approved provisional unlawful presence waiver.

Why might I need a stateside waiver?

If you are the beneficiary of an immigrant visa like an employment-based immigrant visa or family-sponsored visa petition, or you were selected to participate in the Diversity Visa Program, but you were unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days, you will need to depart the U.S. to process your immigrant visa through consular processing abroad.

Unless you obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, once you depart, your previous period of unlawful presence in the U.S. will trigger the unlawful presence bar and you will be banned from re-entering the U.S. for three years.

To avoid this ban, you must apply for and receive a provisional unlawful presence waiver before departing the U.S.

What are the eligibility restrictions?

Even though eligibility for provisional unlawful presence waivers was significantly expanded in 2016, there are a few limitations to eligibility. You may not obtain a provisional waiver if:

  • You are in open removal proceedings. If your removal proceedings have been administratively closed by an immigration judge, you may still be eligible for a provisional waiver.
  • You are statutorily ineligible because you do not meet the criteria described in the above section.
  • You do not meet one or more of the requirements listed on the I-601A application form.
  • You have a final order of removal, exclusion, deportation, or in absentia order of removal.

How do I apply for a stateside waiver?

To apply for a waiver, you must complete a Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver and submit it to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox.

For U.S. Postal Service deliveries:

USCIS
P.O. Bos 4599
Chicago, IL 60680

For UPS, FedEx, and DHL:

USCIS
Attn: I-601A
131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

After submitting an application, you will receive an appointment notice to provide biometrics (fingerprints) at an Application Support Center (ASC).

Contact Orbit Law Today

While you are not required to have a lawyer to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver, hiring an experienced immigration lawyer can help you to be successful in your application and save you significant time and stress.

Immigration law can be extremely complex to navigate. At Orbit Law, our immigration lawyers have helped countless clients to successfully obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver. If you believe you are eligible for an immigrant visa but have been unlawfully present in the U.S., call our law office today for a confidential consultation of your case. Call Orbit Law at 206-623-3352 today!

The information available on this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain a more detailed advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Orbit Law PLLC and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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15 Feb 2019

If You Receive a Green Card through a Business, does it Include Your Family?

Receiving news that you have been approved for a Green Card as an employment-based applicant is an exciting moment and undoubtedly brings a feeling of relief.

However, as you consider the new possibilities that will open by having a Green Card, you might be wondering what this means for your family.

Does it include your spouse and children? What about your parents or siblings? In this article, we will explore what impact an employment-based Green Card may have on your family members.

How do you receive a Green Card through a business?

A “green card” is the common term used to describe permanent residency in the United States. Foreign nationals can receive permanent residency in the United States for business purposes as an employee (“alien worker”) or an entrepreneur (investor) through employment-based immigrant visas.

To receive a Green Card as an employee of a business in the U.S., you must be sponsored by your employer. Your employer must file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

It is important to note that not all alien worker visas give you permanent residency. There are many non-immigrant alien worker visas, which will not give you a Green Card.

To qualify for an employment-based Green Card, you must fall into one of three priority categories. These categories include:

First Priority

  • Professionals with extraordinary ability in science, art, business, athletics, or education
  • Managers and executives who meet certain criteria
  • Outstanding professors and researchers

Second Priority

  • Professionals who hold an advanced degree with exceptional abilities that will substantially benefit the economy, cultural/educational interests, or welfare of the United States
  • Professionals for jobs that serve a national interest (National Interest Waiver)

Third Priority

  • Skilled workers in jobs for which qualified U.S. workers are not available
  • Unskilled workers in jobs for which qualified U.S. workers are not available
  • Professionals with a baccalaureate degree

Many of these categories have additional specific requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for a Green Card, including submitting additional evidence. After your application is submitted, you may be required to attend an interview or provide biometrics like fingerprints.

You may also qualify for an employment-based Green Card as an investor in a for-profit U.S. business. EB-5 visas are available to foreign nationals who invest either $500,000 or $1,000,000, depending on the project, in an “at risk” U.S. business.

Will your spouse and children be included?

While your spouse and children are not automatically included in your approved petition, they are eligible to apply for a Green Card as a derivative beneficiary with the same employment-based immigrant visa category and priority date as you.

To qualify as a derivative spouse, you and your spouse must be legally married. Same-sex marriages are treated the same as opposite-sex marriage.

Dependent children must be unmarried and under the age of 21. Each individual must complete a separate application. Your I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, should include information about your spouse and dependent children.

How do my spouse and children file for a green card?

The process of applying for a Green Card for your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 as derivative beneficiaries of an employment-based Green Card differs depending on whether your spouse and dependent children are currently abroad or in the United States.

If your family members are currently abroad, they will need to apply as a derivative beneficiary of your employment-based visa through consular processing in a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

If your spouse or dependent child is already in the United States on a non-immigrant visa, they will file an I-485 Adjustment of Status application, once the priority date becomes current. As a derivative beneficiary, you are eligible to file concurrently if an immigrant visa is immediately available.

Does it include your parents or siblings?

Parents, siblings, and other relatives are not eligible for permanent residency based on your employment-based Green Card. Only U.S. citizens can petition for their parents, brothers, and sisters.

Once you naturalize and become a U.S. citizen, you may then file an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for your parent or sibling.

Contact Orbit Law

If you have recently received or expect to receive an employment-based Green Card and have questions about petitioning for other family members, contact the experienced immigration lawyers at Orbit Law. We will help you to navigate the requirements and process to obtain permanent residency for your family members. Call us today at (206) 623-3352.

The information available on this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain a more detailed advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Orbit Law PLLC and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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01 Feb 2019

How to Petition for Citizenship for Your Relatives

Petitioning for Relatives

The majority of immigrants in the United States arrive on the basis of their relationship to a family member, whether a legal permanent resident or a citizen. To accomplish this, the family member files an I-130 form.

IR – Immediate Relative Immigrant

U.S. citizens can, without delay beyond processing times and backlogs, bring the following categories of people into the United States without waiting for a number in the queue to become available:

  • their spouse, if they have been married for over two years (IR1);
  • their unmarried child under age 21 (IR2)
  • an orphan adopted by them while abroad (IR3);
  • an orphan which they intend to adopt in the United States (IR4);
  • either or both of their parents, if the citizen is over the age of 21 (IR5).

If a spouse has been married to the citizen for less than two years, the visa is ‘conditional’, so the couple’s relationship must be ‘re-proved’ two years later. This is called a CR-1 visa.

F – Family Preference Immigrant

U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can bring certain other categories of citizens into the United States, but there is a waiting time while the queue progresses because only a limited amount of immigrants are allowed into the country on this basis each year.

U.S. citizens can bring the following categories of people into the United States, with the following wait times (excluding certain ‘listed countries’, as set out below):

  • their unmarried sons and daughters above the age of 21 (F1, ~7 years)
  • their married sons and daughters (F3, ~12 years)
  • their brothers and sisters, if the citizen is over the age of 21 (F4, ~14 years)

Permanent residents can bring the following:

  • their children under the age of 21 and spouses (F2A, ~2 years)
  • their unmarried sons and daughters above the age of 21 (F2B, ~7 years)

Waiting times vary for people born in a ‘listed area’. The estimated waiting times given above are for natives of all countries other than Mexico and the Philippines; Mainland China and India are technically ‘listed areas’, but are currently up to date. The waiting times are as follows for people in the listed countries.

For Mexico:

  • F1, ~21 years;
  • F2A, ~2 years;
  • F2B, ~21 years;
  • F3, ~23 years;
  • F4; ~20 years.

For the Philippines:

  • F1, ~12 years;
  • F2A, ~2 years;
  • F2B, ~11 years;
  • F3, ~23 years;
  • F4, ~23 years.

Waiting times may change at any time, because they are based on a specific numerical quantity of visas that may be issued each year and not a set amount of years.

Financial Requirements

The sponsoring citizen or legal permanent resident must have enough income and/or assets to sustain the proposed immigrant at 125% of the Federal Poverty Level.

They must sign a document which allows the sponsored immigrant to sue them for the amount owed if they do not sustain them at that level, as well as any welfare agencies which provide for the sponsored immigrant.

The sponsoring citizen or legal permanent resident must be above 18 to sign this form.

Inadmissibility

There are dozens of grounds of inadmissibility which will preclude the intending immigrant from going to the United States. Some of these may be waived; many may not.

You may consult with us on the availability of any waiver in a specific case. Some of the more common grounds are having committed certain crimes, lying to immigration officers to get an immigration benefit or having been deported from the United States before.

Process

The petitioner must fill out I-130, petition for alien relative. If the relative is a spouse, form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary, must also be filled out. Form G-1145 may be filled out if you would like to get an electronic notification when the petition is received. Where the petition is filed depends on where you live.

Immigrants who are inside of the United States at the time of filing must file for ‘adjustment of status’ in addition to their I-130 and associated forms.

The petitioner and beneficiary should be able to show that they have a bona fide relationship through means such as financially tying themselves together by buying property together, signing up for bank accounts together, getting credit cards together, taking out loans together, as well as having photographs of themselves together, text-messaging or e-mailing each other, and various other methods. The government will take into account the totality of your evidence in order to decide if your relationship is genuine.

Call Orbit Law Today

The process of applying for permanent residence may often be difficult or complicated, and certain mistakes could seriously delay or even cause the denial of your case. For an evaluation of your case, call Orbit Law at 206.623.3352 today.

The information available on this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain a more detailed advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Orbit Law PLLC and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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15 Aug 2018

How Does The U-Visa Process Work?

A U-Visa is a United States non-immigrant visa that is available for victims of certain crimes, as well as their family members. If the individual qualifies for the U-Visa, it can be a way for that person to obtain legal permanent residency status, otherwise known as a green card, and eventually U.S. citizenship.

However, it is important to understand what the qualifications are for a U-Visa and what certain issues may present themselves along the way.

What Are the Qualifications to Receive a U-Visa?

To qualify for a U-Visa, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The individual must have been a victim of a crime that falls within one of the designated crimes under the U-Visa program;
  2. The individual must have suffered “substantial physical or mental harm” as a direct result of the crime;
  3. The victim has information about the crime committed;
  4. The individual was helpful and assisted in the investigation of the crime;
  5. The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.

What Are the Qualifying Crimes?

To obtain a U-Visa, the applicant must have been the victim of a crime that falls under the list of designated crimes under the law. Not all crimes are applicable, and the person must have been the victim of one of the following listed crimes to be considered for a U-Visa:

  • Kidnapping, abduction or trafficking;
  • Domestic Violence;
  • Abusive sexual contact, sexual assault, rape, incest or sexual exploitation;
  • Slave trade or involuntary servitude;
  • Prostitution;
  • Female genital mutilation;
  • Extortion;
  • False imprisonment or unlawful criminal restraint;
  • Blackmail;
  • Extortion;
  • Fraud in a foreign labor contracting issue;
  • Hostage situation;
  • Felonious assault;
  • Manslaughter or murder;
  • Perjury or obstruction of justice;
  • Peonage;
  • Stalking;
  • Torture;
  • Witness tampering;
  • Other related crimes not listed.

While this list of crimes covered is fairly extensive, not all criminal offenses are included and thus do not qualify for a U-Visa.

If any questions exist as to whether a certain crime applies, contact an attorney experienced in immigration law, specifically with respect to U-Visas to get an opinion.

How Does the Application Process Work?

If an individual qualifies to seek a U-Visa, the first step is to seek a Law Enforcement Certification. This step coincides with the requirement that the victim of the crime must have been helpful to the law enforcement during their investigation of the crime.

The actual law enforcement agency will need to issue an official certificate showing that the victim did, in fact, cooperate with the investigation. The applicant can seek this himself or herself, or the attorney can help and get this for the victim.

Once the certification has been received, the applicant will then need to prepare a Form I-918 Petition for U-Nonimmigrant Status. In this application, the crime must be described, person must describe the harm caused by the crime and must submit any medical records that can help prove this harm.

If there was any psychological harm caused, a psychological evaluation will need to also be included.

The U-Visa applicant may also require a waiver from time to time. If the applicant came into the country illegally, this waiver may be needed for him or her to stay and avoid deportation. An attorney can assist in applying for this important piece of paperwork required.

How Long Does the Process Take?

How long the application process takes can vary greatly. On average, the government takes six to nine months to approve or deny the application. However, this depends on how many applications are received. Currently, there is a long waiting list for U-Visas, and the length of time to process an application can be up to five years.

The process can be even longer if the government requests additional information along the way. If the applicant is in the middle of an immigration cases, he or she can ask for the matter to be postponed or put on hold until the application is processed.

Once granted, the U-Visa can allow the individual to stay in the United States for a period of four years, to work and to even have family members stay through the U-Visa program. After the applicant has lived in the U.S. legally for three years, he or she can apply for a green card to stay permanently. Eventually, after getting the green card, the applicant can apply for citizenship.

Contact Orbit Law Today!

We are happy to schedule a consultation or conference call to discuss your immigration needs. Please call our office at 206.623.3352 to schedule your consultation today.

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06 Aug 2018

Employers Beware! ICE Has Overseen a Massive Surge in I-9 Audits

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 24, 2018, announced that they have served Notice of Inspections (NOI) to more than 5,200 businesses around the country since January demanding form I-9 records from businesses.

A NOI informs business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether they are complying with existing law. The NOI generally demands the original I-9 forms of all current employees and usually former employees for a period going back one to three years. Additionally, the NOI will include a list of all current and former employees including hire and termination dates; payroll records; quarterly wage and hour reports; business information, such as names of owners, Articles of Incorporation, and business licenses; and a list of related companies and subcontractors. An employer should contact their immigration compliance counsel immediately upon being served with a NOI.An employer has three days to comply with the NOI; therefore, compliance prior to receiving NOI is absolutely crucial.

The current scale of I-9 Audits and site visits to employers is at unprecedented levels, and is in keeping with the stated goal of a two-stage agency program aimed at creating a “culture of compliance” among employers.

  • There were 3,510 site inspections between October 01, 2017 – May 04, 2018. More than all site inspections conducted in FY 2017. Officials expect that number to reach about 5,500 by the end of the current fiscal year
  • ICE had initiated 2,282 employer audits between October 01, 2017 and May 04, 2018 (up from 1,360 in all of FY 2017)
  • ICE has also made 1,2014 arrests during the first part of FY 2018 (up from 311 during all of FY 2017)

Cost of Non-Compliance: Employers who violate I-9 rules are subject to civil and criminal penalties. Civil fines for I-9 paperwork violations range from $224 to $2,236 per violation, depending on whether the employer has committed repeated violations. Penalties for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ an unauthorized worker range from $559 to $22,363 per worker. ICE can further increase penalty amounts if there are aggravating circumstances. Criminal penalties are possible if an employer has engaged in a pattern or practice of knowingly employing unauthorized workers or has committed other serious violations.

In the current environment, it is crucial that employers have a comprehensive and effective immigration compliance program. Proper knowledge of completion and maintenance of I-9 forms along with a policy for Internal review of an organization’s compliance program can help to remediate errors, identify areas for improvement, and minimize the risk of future violations and penalties.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should your organization need assistance in this regard.

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01 Aug 2018

How Can I Get a Green Card?

Many different mechanisms can be used to obtain legal permanent residency in the U.S., and one of the more commonly-used methods is the green card.

EB-1 Priority Workers

An individual may apply for an EB-1 Priority Worker visa if he or she is deemed to have an extraordinary ability, is an outstanding professor or researcher or is a multi-national executive or manager.

In the extraordinary ability category, these individuals must be able to demonstrate that they have extraordinary abilities in arts, science, business, education or athletics through “sustained national or international acclaim” with achievements recognized in that person’s specific field with extensive documentation.

To qualify in the outstanding professor or researcher field (EB-1B), the applicant must be able to show that he or she has international recognition for outstanding achievements in a particular academic field.

He or she must have at least three years of experience in teaching or in research in that academic area and must be coming to the U.S. to either pursue a tenure or tenured track teaching position or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education.

Lastly, to qualify for an EB-1 Priority Worker visa as a multi-national executive or manager (EB-1C), the applicant must have been employed outside of the U.S. in the three years immediately preceding the application for at least one year by a corporation or firm. The applicant also must be looking to come to the U.S. to continue working for that firm or organization.

The applicant’s employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive capacity and must be with the same company or an affiliate or subsidiary of that employer in the U.S.

EB-2 Second Preference

The EB-2 classification allows the great majority of foreign workers in the U.S. workforce the ability to apply for an immigrant visa.

Just like the EB-1 category, the EB-2 one is broken up into different classes of workers, but these applications do require PERM applications or labor certifications before the visa will be issued, unless the labor certification requirement has been waived.

One category of EB-2 worker involves workers who possess an advanced degree or an equivalent, which means usually a baccalaureate degree and at least five years of work in his or her field, and an employment offer for a position that requires an advanced degree.

Another EB-2 category is for individuals who have demonstrated that they have an exceptional ability in the arts, business field or science. Applicants in this category must provide documentation that they have at least three of the listed criteria, including ten years of experience in the field, professional certification or licensure, high remuneration, a membership in professional associations, and recognition for achievements.

An additional EB-2 category is for individuals who have an advanced degree and currently are working in an industry that has a substantial national interest to the country. These individuals can request a waiver of the PERM application under a national interest waiver.

EB-3 Third Preference

Another category of green card is an EB-3 Third Preference green card, which is for professionals, including skilled and unskilled workers in an industry.

Similar to an EB-2 classification, a labor certification or PERM application must first be submitted and certified before an immigrant visa will be issued.

Those who are considered skilled workers must have at least two years of job experience or training in their specific field of expertise, along with a U.S. job offer.

Professionals who have a bachelor’s degree and are performing in a professional occupation may also apply for an EB-3 green card, so long as the occupation requires a bachelor’s degree and the foreign applicant has a U.S. job offer.

EB-4 Fourth Preference

The EB-4 visa/green card category is available for immigrants who are in a special category for religious workers, returning residents, and court dependents. Individuals in this category are referred to as “special immigrants.”

These individuals do not necessarily have a connection to employment or work per se but are more in categories for ministers or religious workers who have received job offers from U.S. religious organizations.

EB-4 green cards also cover foreign medical graduates, former U.S. government workers, children who are a part of the U.S. juvenile court system and international broadcasters.

EB-5 Fifth Preference

Lastly, individuals who are included in the EB-5 classification are immigrant investors or persons who invest money in the U.S. and create or maintain employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.

The Eb-5 visa has two separate components. The “regular program” which requires a minimum investment of $1,000,000 or the Regional Center Program which requires an investment of $500,000.

The EB-5 is a particularly complicated visa process and requires extreme documentation of the source of funds and the path of funds i.e. how you earned the income, and how the investment amount was transferred to the US in order to be used in your investment.

The current EB-5 Regional Center Program has been extended through September 30, 2018 with no changes to the minimum investment amount that is required of $500,000.

It should be noted that the government is seeking to increase the minimum investment required or eliminate the program altogether.

These are particularly complex visas that require expertise on the part of the attorneys. Please contact us if you have questions or are interested in learning more about the EB-5 visa option.

Contact Orbit Law Today!

We are happy to schedule a consultation or conference call to discuss your immigration needs. Please call our office at 206.623.3352 to schedule your consultation today.

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28 Jun 2018

Supreme Court upholds travel ban

The Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban Tuesday, ruling 5-4 that a proclamation Trump issued last September to impose new travel restrictions was constitutional and within the president’s statutory authority.

“The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

The ban, the 3rd version put forth by the White House after earlier versions were struck down by lower courts, has been enforced since December, following the Court’s decision to allow the administration to implement it while challenges played out in the courts. It applies to nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, with restrictions specific to each country. Chad was initially included, but was removed in April.

This version of the ban was issued in September after two earlier versions of the ban were deemed unconstitutional by lower courts. The current version was crafted more carefully than earlier versions. Roberts quoted some of the anti-Muslim statements made by the president in his opinion, but upheld the ban saying the proclamation was facially neutral in regard to religion, and was supported by a national security claim that he stated reflects “the results of a worldwide review process undertaken by multiple Cabinet officials and their agencies.”

Justice Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion, which states, in part, “Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus,” She went on to state  “That alone suffices to show that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.”

The Court’s ruling means that the existing travel restrictions will remain in effect unless the administration changes or lifts the ban. The Court remanded the case to a federal court in Hawaii for further proceedings consistent with the opinion issued today, which will likely result in the dismissal of the case. Citizens of the names countries have already faced many months of difficulties while being separated from their family members in the U.S.

We will continue to monitor this and provide updates as soon as they are available. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any assistance in this regard.

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