Articles Posted in Frequently Asked Questions

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In this segment, we answer 4 of your most frequently asked questions received on our social media platforms and our website. Please remember that every case is different and every immigration journey is unique. You should not compare your situation to anyone else’s. We hope that our answers will provide you with further guidance while you embark on your immigration journey. If you have any further questions, please call our office to schedule a free first time consultation. We serve international clients and domestic clients in all 50 states. We thank you for your continued trust in our law office. For more information on the services we offer please click here.

Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and the Affidavit of Support

Q:  I am a US Citizen married to a foreign national. We have a child together. We recently moved to the United States from abroad.  My husband and son entered the United States on a B-2 visa and we are planning to apply for their adjustment of status. My question is regarding the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. I have just secured employment and will be able to sponsor my family. I want to know what documents are required in support of the Affidavit of Support as proof that I have sufficient income to support my family. At the moment I do not have pay stubs. I plan to start my employment next month.

A: Thank you for your question. If your child was born abroad, your child may acquire U.S. Citizenship by filing for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA, Form FS-240) before your child reaches their 18th birthday. To do so, the U.S. Citizen parent must report the birth of the child at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Anytime that a child of a U.S. Citizen parent is born abroad, the parent must report the birth to nearest U.S. Consulate as soon as possible. This will allow the Consulate to issue a Consular Report of Birth Abroad as an official record of your child’s claim to U.S. Citizenship. The CRBA may be used as proof of your child’s U.S. Citizenship and allows the child to obtain a U.S. passport. A child with a consular report of birth abroad receives the same privileges as a child born in the United States. It is recommended that you first contact your closest U.S. embassy or Consulate before filing a petition for your son, because it is likely that you will not need to go through the immigration process for your son.

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This week USCIS announced that over 236,000 H-1B petitions were received by the agency for fiscal year 2017 (including petitions for the general cap and advanced degree exemption), compared to last year’s 233,000. Following the close of the filing period, USCIS conducted a random computer-generated lottery on April 9, 2016 beginning the selection process for the 20,000 available visas for advanced degrees first. Unselected advanced degree petitions were then placed in the lottery to fill the 65,000 general cap. Foreign workers holding an advanced degree from the United States were thus given two chances at selection. Any petitions that were not selected by USCIS will be returned along with official rejection notices, and original filing fees. This year, our office filed 15 advanced degree petitions and 40 bachelor’s cap petitions for a total of 55 H-1B petitions. Of these petitions, 46 were filed with regular processing, and 15 were filed with premium processing. The majority of these petitions were filed with the California Service Center.

As of this afternoon, we have only received 4 selection emails from the California Service Center (CSC) for advanced degree petitions filed with premium processing, and only 1 selection email for a bachelor’s cap petition filed with premium processing. We do not expect to receive any ‘receipt notices’ for petitions filed with regular processing until late April through the month of May. At this point, it does not appear that USCIS has begun cashing filing fees for selected petitions. If the filing fees for your H-1B petition have not been cashed, this does not mean that your H-1B petition was not selected. It is too early to make this conclusion. Employers should monitor their bank accounts closely within the next 2-4 weeks.

This year, USCIS received approximately 3,000 more petitions compared to last year. As in previous years, the H-1B cap was reached within the first five business days of the H-1B filing period. This year the chances of selection ran at roughly 65% for foreign workers holding a U.S. advanced degree, and roughly 35% for foreign workers holding a bachelor’s degree. Last year, the chances of being selected was about 60% for advanced degree holders, and 30% for bachelor’s degree holders.

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For this blog we are answering 5 questions we have recently received through our social media platforms and our website. Please remember that every case is different and every immigration journey is unique. You should not compare your situation to anyone else’s. We hope that our answers will provide you with further guidance while you embark on your immigration journey. If you have any further questions, please call our office for a free legal consultation. We serve international clients and domestic clients in all 50 states. We thank you for your continued trust and interest in our law office.

Change of Status B-2 to F-1

Q: I need advice regarding my change of status. I am currently in the United States on a B-2 tourist visa. I have filed a change of status application to change my status to F-1 student. My B-2 duration of stay will expire today and my change of status application to F-1 student is still pending with USCIS. I informed my school that I will be postponing my classes and was notified that I need to file a new I-20 and provide some missing information. I have time to make adjustments to my application but I would like to know the steps to correct any missing information. I also wanted to know if I need to leave the United States immediately since my F-1 application is still pending. Please assist.

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For this series, we bring you our top tips for filing a successful E-2 visa petition. 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. Investment activities may include either the creation of a new business venture or purchase of a pre-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. The E-2 ‘investor visa’ is available to an applicant who invests a substantial amount of his own money into a U.S. business, which he can control and direct. Foreign nationals from treaty countries who have made a substantial investment in the United States may qualify for E-2 Treaty Investor status. There is no set minimum level of investment, which may qualify for E-2 status, however the lower the investment the less likely one is to qualify. Therefore, the level of investment must be such that it is sufficient to justify presence of the treaty national in the United States. For the E-2 visa petition, the United States business entity serves as the petitioner of the visa petition, while the Beneficiary serves as the investor.

Tip #1 Ensure that your business entity has been properly set-up

If you do not know how to properly set-up your business entity, you should consult with and retain a licensed attorney to properly set-up the business entity for you. Proper set-up of a business entity, entails much more than filing the company’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and applying for a Federal Employment Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. It is for this reason that many applicants are more comfortable retaining a licensed attorney for the E visa process. Our office handles this aspect of the application as part of the E visa preparation package.

Why is this important?

Proper set-up of the business entity ensures that the entity is a bona fide business enterprise that is real, active, and producing goods or services for profit. Improper set up may cause the denial of a petition and increases the company’s liability.

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On January 21, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act would begin to be implemented. As a result of the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino county and abroad, Congress passed the Act in an effort to protect Americans from potential attacks and to secure the border. The Act increases travel restrictions for certain nationals seeking admission to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program.

Presently, the Visa Waiver Program allows nationals from 38 designated countries to travel and seek admission to the United States without a visa, for a maximum duration of 90 days. Visa Waiver Program travelers must have an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel.

As of January 21, nationals of visa waiver participating countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 will no longer be eligible to travel or seek admission to the United States under the visa waiver program.  Nationals from visa waiver participating countries who maintain dual nationality with any of the aforementioned countries, are also excluded from traveling or seeking admission to the United States under the visa waiver program. Instead, these individuals must apply for a tourist visa at a United States Consulate or Embassy abroad before seeking admission to the United States. Part of this process will require a nonimmigrant interview to be conducted, before issuance of a tourist visa. DHS expects that this new legislation will not adversely impact visa waiver program travelers, since the Act does not ban these individuals from traveling to the United States, rather it removes the privilege of traveling under the visa waiver program, and requires these individuals to apply for a tourist visa.

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Beginning December 18, 2015, H-1B and L-1 filing fees will increase for H-1B/L-1 dependent employers, employing 50 or more employees, with more than 50% of those employees in H-1B or L nonimmigrant status. This increase in fees comes with the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 recently signed into law by President Obama, to be enforced until September 30, 2025. The new fee will apply to initial and change of employment H-1B and L petitions filed on or after December 18, 2015. The additional fee will be $4,000 for H-1B petitions and $4,500 for L petitions. USCIS will be revising Form I-129 and I-129S to reflect the new law and the additional fee. Petitioner’s are advised to accurately complete Item Numbers 1d. and 1d1. of Section 1 of the H-1B Data Collection Supplement and Item Numbers 4a. and 4b. of the L Supplement. Failure to complete this information accurately and include the appropriate fee where necessary may result in the rejection of your petition beginning February 11, 2016. CIS reserves the right to issue a request for evidence to determine if the additional fee will apply. In these cases, the original filing date will be maintained as the date of receipt of the petition.

Other fees that may be included in the H-1B petition are as follows:

  • I-129 processing fee $325;

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This morning, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments for and against the extended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the new Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. If the government succeeds in its appeal, millions of undocumented immigrants will be granted temporary employment authorization, ‘deferred status’ meaning that these individuals will no longer need to fear deportation, and other benefits such as the ability to apply for a social security number. This decision is a victory for the Obama administration since it leaves open the possibility that the Supreme Court will lay down an important legal precedent in the midst of the presidential campaign and Obama’s exit from the White House.

  • To learn how expanded DACA is different than the initial DACA program click here.
  • To learn about the DAPA program click here.

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What is the H-1B Visa? The H-1B visa is a work visa that is awarded on a lottery basis. The H-1B visa program allows American companies and/or qualifying organizations to employ foreign workers to fill specialty occupations temporarily. The foreign worker must posses a combination of education, specialized training, and/or experience that is equivalent to training acquired by the attainment of a U.S. bachelor’s or higher. The H-1B program was first enacted by Congress with the intention of helping American employers seek out distinguished foreign workers, possessing the skills and abilities necessary to perform the duties of the specialty occupation. The H-1B program has remained popular because it has allowed American employers to remain competitive and provides highly skilled foreign workers a path to permanent residence.

The provisions of the H-1B visa program allow qualified foreign workers to attain temporary employment having met specific requirements. H-1B visa recipients typically work in the STEM fields as scientists, engineers, computer programmers, software developers, business analysts, etc. although fashion models are also classified under the H-1B category.

USCIS will begin to accept H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2017 beginning April 1, 2016. April 7, 2016 is the absolute deadline to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. Please note: employers cannot file an H-1B petition for an employee more than 6 months before the employee’s intended start date. If accepted, H-1B visa workers can begin employment by October 1st. The H-1B visa is issued for up to three years but may be extended for another three years.

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Do’s and Don’ts

If you are considering applying for a temporary visitor visa to travel to the United States for purposes of leisure or to receive temporary medical treatment, there are several things you should be aware of. First, you should understand what you can do while on a temporary visitor visa and what you cannot do. You may travel to the United States on a visitor visa if your visit will be temporary. The proposed visit must be either for recreational purposes such as to visit your friends and relatives in the United States, receive medical treatment, attend a short course of study related to the nature of your trip, or to engage in activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature. You may not enroll in a course of study that exceeds your authorized duration of stay of is unrelated to the nature of your trip, and you may not seek employment during your stay. If approved, a visitor visa is generally authorized for a 6-month period which may be extended for an additional 6 months by filing Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

Does your country participate in the visa waiver program?

Before applying for a visitor visa , you should verify whether you are a citizen of a country that participates in the visa waiver program. Presently 38 countries participate in the visa waiver program, as shown below.

Andorra Hungary Norway
Australia Iceland Portugal
Austria Ireland San Marino
Belgium Italy Singapore
Brunei Japan Slovakia
Chile Latvia Slovenia
Czech Republic Liechtenstein South Korea
Denmark Lithuania Spain
Estonia Luxembourg Sweden
Finland Malta Switzerland
France Monaco Taiwan
Germany the Netherlands United Kingdom
Greece New Zealand

If your country of citizenship participates in the visa waiver program, you may not need to apply for a tourist visa at a US Consulate or Embassy abroad. If you have been previously denied a United States visa, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will automatically deny your ESTA submission and you will not be eligible to travel under the VWP even if your country participates in the program. Note: The House of Representatives and the Senate is presently in talks to approve a bill that will block individuals who have traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran, or Sudan during the last 5 years from using the visa waiver program.

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Yesterday, December 2, 2015 the state of Texas brought suit against the federal government and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), before the United States District Court in Texas Health and Human Services Commission V. United States et al., 12/2/15. In its suit, the state of Texas claims that the federal government and the IRC acted unlawfully in their attempt to resettle Syrian refugees without prior consultation and direct cooperation with the state of Texas, as required by federal law. The lawsuit was brought by the Texas Health and Services Commission (THSC) representing the interests of the state of Texas in court. The THSC is an agency responsible for the administration and development of the refugee resettlement program in Texas. The state of Texas discovered in a phone call with the IRC that the Committee intended on resettling 6 Syrian refugees in Dallas, Texas on December 4, 2015 without consent. On December 1, 2015 Texas addressed the Committee in a letter requesting a halt to the resettlement of Syrian refugees until the state would receive security assurances and discuss proper screening procedures for said refugees. The IRC responded on December 2nd that it would continue the resettlement process as planned resettling the refugees in Texas.

Refugee Resettlement Program

Texas administers the refugee resettlement program along with the assistance of local government agencies responsible for the financial costs associated with the refugee’s resettlement and transition to the state of Texas.  In order to accomplish its endeavors, all federal and state agencies must adhere to strict framework’s established by the Refugee Act of 1980, which require collaborative and cooperative efforts between all entities involved in the process of refugee resettlement. According to Texas, “instead of adhering to that statutory framework, the federal government and the Committee have left Texas uninformed about refugees that could well pose a security risk to Texans and without any say in the process of resettling these refugees.”

Arguments for the state of Texas

In its suit, Texas aims to re-assert its sovereignty and obligation to protect the safety of its residents. Texas claims that the government’s failure to adhere by the law has raised legitimate security concerns involving potential complicity between refugees and terrorists.

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