Author Archive

The Challenges Of Changing Your Immigration Status During The Trump Era

Posted on: June 21, 2018 by in visas
No Comments

If you are in the United States with a non-immigrant visa, and if you need or desire to change your immigration status, keep reading. You’ll learn how to change to another non-immigrant category and how to change from non-immigrant status to legal permanent resident status.

You’ll also learn about the difficulties you may face as new regulations regarding changes of status are imposed by the Trump Administration, so keep reading.

WHAT ARE “NON-IMMIGRANT” VISAS AND VISA CATEGORIES?

Non-immigrant visas may be approved for immigrants planning to be temporarily in the U.S. More than forty categories of non-immigrant visas have been established.

Some non-immigrant visas are issued for temporary employment; others are issued to students, business people, tourists, and diplomats who will be temporarily in the U.S.

HOW DO YOU CHANGE YOUR NON-IMMIGRANT STATUS?

Changing your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant visa category can be complicated.

For instance, if you do not have work authorization, but if you’ve decided to seek or accept temporary employment in the U.S., your presumed employer must file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) on your behalf.

And if you entered the U.S. in one of the following nonimmigrant categories, you may not apply for a change of nonimmigrant status, and you must exit the U.S. on or before the expiration date printed on your Form I-94: These categories are K1, K2, J1, M1, C, D, S, WT, WB, and Q2.

WHO QUALIFIES TO REQUEST A CHANGE OF STATUS?

Your nonimmigrant status can probably be changed if you are not in one of the nonimmigrant categories listed above and if:

1. You lawfully entered the United States.

2. Nothing disqualifies you from any immigration benefits.

3. Nothing requires you to exit the U.S. before changing your status.

4. You apply to change your status prior to the expiration date printed on your Form I-94.

You may apply for a change of non-immigrant status beginning six months prior to your Form I-94 expiration date. Be sure to file your request at least sixty days prior to that expiration date.

Have patience. It will take time to process your change of status request.

Your paperwork must be complete, accurate, and on time, or your change of status could be delayed or even denied.

If you’re eligible, and if you need to request a change of status, an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can ensure that no mistakes or misunderstandings hold up the process.

WHAT IS “ADJUSTMENT” OF STATUS?

Adjustment of status is the process of changing from a nonimmigrant immigration status to permanent lawful resident status – that is, becoming a green card holder.

A temporary visitor may apply for lawful permanent resident status if the individual lawfully entered the U.S. and meets all other immigration requirements.

If you already have a visa and you’re already in the United States, you can probably have your status adjusted and acquire a green card without being required to return to your home country for consular visa processing.

WHAT’S THE FIRST STEP TO OBTAINING A GREEN CARD?

The first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you fall into a green card-eligible immigrant category. If you are in the United States, and if you are eligible for adjustment of status, you must file a Form I-485.

If you apply to become a lawful permanent resident under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you must complete both Form I‑485 and Form I-485 Supplement A. Let an experienced immigration lawyer guide you through these complicated forms.

After filing the form or forms, you’ll be scheduled for an appointment at a local Application Support Center to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. Your biometrics are used to verify your identity and to conduct the required background and security checks.

When you seek lawful permanent resident status in the United States, do it from the beginning with help from a good immigration lawyer who can answer your questions, help you compile the required documentation, and check your application forms for completeness and accuracy.

WHAT IS THE 90-DAY RULE?

Adjustment of status has become somewhat more difficult under the Trump Administration. In September 2017, the Department of State adopted a harsh new “90-day rule.”

Under this rule, 90 days must pass after admission before anyone in a nonimmigrant status can safely file an adjustment of status application for lawful permanent residency without the government claiming that willful misrepresentation was committed at entry.

HOW CAN YOU BRING FAMILY MEMBERS TO THE U.S.?

A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may petition for certain family members to live in the United States and acquire green cards.

A citizen or lawful permanent resident launches the process by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. To obtain a green card based on a family relationship, the immigrant must be in either the immediate relative or family preference category.

Form I-130 establishes a qualifying relationship so that the relative may apply for a green card.

WHAT ABOUT BRINGING YOUR FIANCÉE, FIANCÉ, OR SPOUSE TO THE U.S.?

Bringing your fiancée, fiancé, or spouse into the United States is a procedure that can take time, so you need to get started as soon as you can. Spouses, fiancées, and fiancés will require one of these “K” visas:

• K-1 for fiancés and fiancées of U.S. citizens
• K-2 for eligible children of fiancées and fiancés of U.S. citizens
• K-3 for spouses of U.S. citizens
• K-4 for qualified children of the spouses of U.S. citizens

The K visa is a nonimmigrant, temporary visa. The person receiving a K-1 visa has ninety days to marry the U.S. petitioner-citizen and request lawful permanent resident status. If no wedding takes place within ninety days, the K-1 visa holder could be targeted for deportation.

HOW IS A K-1 VISA OBTAINED?

The K-1 visa process begins when a U.S. citizen submits Form I-129F to petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to recognize a foreign citizen as the U.S. citizen’s fiancé or fiancée.

Evidence indicating that both parties are free to marry and in fact intend to marry must be included with Form I-129F.

By itself, approval of Form I-129F does not allow a fiancé or fiancée entry into the U.S., and it does not ensure that the State Department will approve a K-1 visa. If the K-1 visa is granted, it is good for one entry into the U.S.

Subsequent to the wedding ceremony, a K-1 visa holder may request lawful permanent resident status by filing Form I-485 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY HELP?

U.S. immigration law is exceedingly complicated, and in the current era, every immigration request an application will be scrutinized thoroughly. You’re going to need legal help and advice that you can absolutely depend on.

To obtain a visa, seek a change or adjustment of status, or bring someone you love to the U.S., start by scheduling a consultation with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney who will guide you through every step of the change of status or adjustment of status process.

Do You Have The Proper ID Documents?

Posted on: June 15, 2018 by in immigration
No Comments

What’s the best form of identification if you are an immigrant in the United States? Keep reading, because your ability to board an airplane or even to enter a federal building may depend on the identification card that you carry.

If you are an immigrant in the U.S., you need identification that is compliant with the federal government’s “Real ID” standards? What is “Real ID” and what are those standards? Here’s an explanation.

The United States does not issue or require an “official” federal identification card, so state-issued driver’s licenses, by default, are the accepted, official form of identification in the U.S. The states also provide similar, “official” ID cards to individuals who don’t drive.

WHAT IS THE REAL ID ACT?

Before the federal Real ID Act of 2005, every state established its own rules for issuing driver’s licenses and ID cards. The Real ID Act now sets the requirements for driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes.”

“Official purposes,” as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, include boarding commercially operated airline flights and entering federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

The law also gives the Secretary of Homeland Security unlimited discretion to require Real ID-compliant identification for any other purposes.

WHEN WILL YOU NEED A REAL ID-COMPLIANT CARD OR LICENSE?

To fly commercially from January 22, 2018 through September 30, 2020, anyone with state ID that does not comply with the Real ID Act (unless the state has received an extension) must present other ID acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Identification documents accepted by the TSA include valid U.S. passports and military IDs. As of June 2018, however, almost every state has either received an extension or is already issuing ID cards and driver’s licenses that are Real ID-compliant.

And beginning on October 1, 2020, the federal government will require your driver’s license or identification card to be Real ID-compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight, to enter a military base, a nuclear power plant, or most federal facilities.

If you do not apply for a federal compliant Real ID driver’s license or ID card, you will receive a federal non-compliant card with the words “Federal Limits Apply.”

Beginning on October 1, 2020, that non-compliant card cannot be used to board a domestic flight or to visit a military base, nuclear power plant, or certain other federal facilities.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO OBTAIN A REAL ID-COMPLIANT CARD OR LICENSE?

To acquire a Real ID compliant driver’s license or ID card, you must present proof of identity, your Social Security number, and proof of residency to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

However, if you have never held a green card, and if you do not have a U.S. birth certificate, you’ll need other documents, and you’ll need to act right away. An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can help.

The states have made considerable progress in ID card security since the Real ID Act took effect in 2005. More than 90 percent of U.S. drivers now hold licenses from states that have either satisfied the law’s requirements or have received deadline extensions.

If you’re an immigrant in the U.S., or if you hire immigrants at your U.S.-based business, and if you have questions about Real ID or any immigration-related legal matter, take your questions to an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney, and get the answers you need – right away.

Attorney Margo Chernysheva Speaks At AILA Annual Conference

Posted on: June 14, 2018 by in AILA
No Comments

As the Nevada Chapter Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), attorney Margo Chernysheva actively helps the nation’s immigration lawyers enhance their professional skills and stay abreast of current immigration developments.

An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney and the founder of MC Law Group, Ms. Chernysheva recently spoke at the 2018 AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law in San Francisco.

She was one of several immigration attorneys speaking on the topic “Mindfulness in Practice: Assessing Diversity and Implicit Bias.”

WHAT SPECIFIC TOPICS WERE ADDRESSED?

The panelists focused on cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity issues that are unique to the practice of immigration law – for example, diverse immigration attorneys from various backgrounds representing clients from various backgrounds and countries around the world.

Ms. Chernysheva offered the AILA conference attendees her insights and advice on how to collaborate effectively with attorneys and clients from different cultural backgrounds.

She also spoke regarding the ethical and practical considerations that immigration lawyers must take into account to balance open-mindedness and sensitivity with an awareness of implicit bias, and she explained how implicit bias can affect client representation and case strategy.

WHAT SUGGESTIONS WERE OFFERED TO CONFERENCE ATTENDEES?

Attorney Chernysheva and her co-panelists offered the immigration lawyers in attendance a number of practical suggestions in these four areas:

1. Effective and Culturally-Sensitive Communication Techniques When Working with Colleagues, Clients, and Opposing Counsel

2. Stepping into the Client’s Shoes: Educating Yourself in Order to Communicate Client Cultural Norms and Values When Presenting the Case

3. Effectively Communicating with Indigent Clients

4. Increasing Self-Awareness and Demonstrating Respect to Colleagues and Clients

WHAT MAKES CONFERENCES LIKE THIS SO IMPORTANT IN 2018?

In 2018, the future of immigration law is more uncertain than ever before. No one can be sure what Congress, the courts, or the Trump Administration will do regarding immigration in the coming weeks and months.

Now more than ever, it’s vital for the nation’s immigration lawyers to share insights and information with one another.

The 2018 AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law offered immigration attorneys the chance to share and learn by conducting a variety of panel discussions that included experts in the fields of not only immigration law but also business law, family law, and criminal justice.

The 2018 AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law was held at the San Francisco Hilton and Parc 55 Hotels from June 13th through June 16th.

Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California and an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, delivered the conference’s keynote address.

Audio recordings of the panel discussions from the 2018 AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law will be made available for purchase from the AILA website.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN FOR HELP WITH IMMIGRATION MATTERS?

MC Law Group helps clients with all aspects of immigration law including employment, family, and investor immigration. From its offices in Las Vegas; Glendale, California; and Guangzhou City, China, MC Law Group advises and represents clients from around the globe.

If you are an immigrant or a prospective immigrant, an international investor or entrepreneur, or a U.S.-based employer, MC Law Group offers you the experienced and trustworthy legal guidance you need.

Call today – at (702) 258-1093 – or email MC Law Group to arrange a no-cost consultation with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

Should Recipients Of H-4 Visas Fear Losing Their Businesses And Jobs?

Posted on: May 18, 2018 by in immigration
No Comments

The Trump Administration says that it is planning to revoke the eligibility of certain H-4 visa holders to seek employment or to hold a job in the United States.

For decades, although H-4 visa holders were allowed to live with their H-1B spouses in the United States, they could not work or obtain a Social Security number.

HOW WERE THE RULES FOR H-4 VISAS CHANGED IN 2015?

But in 2015, the Obama Administration extended eligibility for employment to the H-4 dependent spouses of those H-1B visa holders who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status – a green card – in the United States.

Currently, qualified H-4 dependent spouses need to file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with supporting evidence and a filing fee to obtain a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Under the current rules, an H-4 dependent spouse may work or seek work in the U.S. after USCIS approves the Form I-765 and issues the EAD.

At least, that’s how it has worked since 2015.

WHAT IS THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN?

But in April, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicated that USCIS is moving forward with a plan by the Trump Administration to eliminate employment authorization for H-4 visa holders, although no date has been proposed or set.

USCIS director Lee Cissna told the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, “our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility.”

USCIS has granted over 100,000 employment authorization documents to H-4 visa holders since the rule was changed in 2015.

WHO IS OPPOSING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN?

One libertarian think tank – the Cato Institute – strongly disagrees with the Trump Administration’s plan. Their senior immigration policy analyst, Alex Nowrasteh, told CNN that the plan is “shortsighted.”

Nowrasteh said, “Money earned is money spent. It increases economic output, economic growth and more jobs for more people in the U.S.”

“Immigrants are typically attracted to growing regions and they increase the supply and demand sides of the economy once they are there, expanding employment opportunities,” Nowrasteh told CNN.

Nowrasteh also insists that H-4 visa holders are not taking jobs from anyone here in the United States. That view directly contrasts with the view of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has said that authorizing employment for H-4 visa holders “hurts American workers.”

The Department of Homeland Security has additional plans for other changes to the H-1B visa program. One proposal would narrow eligibility for the H-1B visa “to increase focus on truly obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals.”

WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS OF H-4 VISA HOLDERS?

That’s lofty rhetoric, but the fears and concerns of visa holders like Alpa Gajera are somewhat more down-to-earth.

Gajera, a native of India, is in the U.S. with an H-4 dependent visa. Her husband is a Canadian software engineer who holds an H-1B visa and has been waiting for a green card since 2012.

In 2015, when employment eligibility was extended to H-4 visa holders, Gajera invested almost all of the couple’s assets to obtain two Rising Roll Gourmet Café franchises in Atlanta.

Business has flourished, and all six of Gajera’s employees are U.S. citizens. She plans to open two more outlets, but if her authorization to work is revoked, all of those plans will screech to a halt.

“I’m very concerned,” she told CNN.

Somewhat different fears and concerns are emerging for an immigrant doctor – an allergist in New Jersey – who may have to stop treating hundreds of patients. She asked CNN not to reveal her name.

“I’m not taking away a job from a U.S. citizen because there’s already a shortage in my specialization,” she said. “There’s already an ongoing shortage of allergists in the country at a time when allergy-related conditions are increasing.”

WHAT HAS ACTUALLY CHANGED?

At the moment, however, except for some pronouncements from Trump Administration officials, nothing has actually changed for H-4 visa holders.

It is important to stress that no “official” policy change has been announced.

Existing EADs (employment authorization documents) are not being revoked. USCIS is still approving EADs for H-4 visa holders, and it is still renewing their existing EADs.

H-1B visas are offered to international workers with specialized knowledge. In the U.S., they are hired as programming analysts, software engineers, and scientists.

WHAT CAN H-4 VISA HOLDERS OFFER?

Many of their spouses hold professional degrees and in fact qualify for similar positions. Prior to 2015, the prohibition on employment for their spouses – H-4 visa holders – created, in effect, a vast pool of wasted talent.

If the 2015 policy change is reversed – and H-4 visa holders are again prohibited from working or seeking employment – every U.S. citizen will again be deprived of the H-4 visa holders’ important talents and skills.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP?

Should H-4 visa holders attempt to switch to an H-1B or to some other visa? While no one should act in haste or in panic, it is a good idea for H-4 visa holders to review and consider their options.

H-4 visa holders and their employers should not hesitate to seek the insights and advice of an immigration lawyer.

Legal complications almost always arise in immigration-related employment matters, and employers must have someone they can trust to provide accurate answers to their immigration questions and concerns.

A good immigration attorney can also review an employer’s records and policies and provide advice about visas, visa petitions, and employer compliance.

WHAT IS THE ONE CERTAINTY REGARDING IMMIGRATION?

If you hire international employees to work for your company in the United States, or if you hold an H-4 or an H-1B visa and you have any questions or concerns regarding your visa or status, obtain the sound legal advice that an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can provide.

It remains to be seen whether or not H-4 visa holders will be allowed to work in the U.S. in the future.

The one certainty, however, is that immigration is changing, and that every employer and visa holder will need accurate and up-to-date immigration advice. Do not fail to get the help and advice that you need.

EB-5 Updates: “TEA” Letters

Posted on: April 21, 2018 by in EB-5
No Comments

Since 1990, the EB-5 Investor Visa Program has encouraged qualified international investors to become lawful permanent residents in the United States. The EB-5 program has now been extended through at least September 30, 2018.

If you hold an EB-5 visa or if you are seeking one, keep reading, particularly if you are investing or if you are considering making an investment in a Targeted Employment Area or “TEA.”

The states are currently updating their unemployment statistics. You are about to learn how that updating may affect TEA designations and your own involvement in the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.

EXACTLY WHAT IS THE EB-5 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM?

But first, here’s a brief overview of the EB-5 Investor Visa Program. Congress created the EB-5 program in 1990 to boost international investments in U.S.-based business ventures.

From 2005 through 2013, the EB-5 program was responsible for more than $5 billion in investments in U.S.-based businesses.

To take part in the program, investors must be admissible to the U.S. and must also meet the qualifications for an EB-5 visa.

HOW DOES THE EB-5 APPLICATION PROCESS START?

The process begins by completing an I-526 petition with the help and guidance of an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

Upon approval of the I-526, if the investor now resides outside of the U.S., he or she must file a visa application with the U.S. State Department. A consular affairs officer at a U.S. consulate or embassy will determine if the applicant is admissible to the United States.

If the applicant is already in the U.S. on a different visa, the applicant must apply to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) for adjustment of status. USCIS will conduct a background check and may require an in-person interview.

WHAT INVESTMENT OPTIONS DOES THE EB-5 PROGRAM OFFER?

International investors have two options for acquiring the EB-5 visa:

1. Invest at least $1 million in a U.S.-based commercial enterprise that will create ten or more full-time U.S.-based jobs.

2. Invest at least $500,000 in a designated high-unemployment region – what’s called a Targeted Employment Area or TEA.

WHAT DO INVESTORS NEED FOR A TEA DESIGNATION?

As you might imagine, getting a TEA designation for a particular EB-5 project can be critical.

If you are requesting a TEA designation, your request – and a “TEA letter” from authorities in the state where the project is located – should be included as part of your I-526 petition.

HOW IS A “RURAL” AREA DISTINCT FROM A “HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT” AREA?

To receive a TEA designation, the EB-5 investment project must be located in a rural area or in a region with high unemployment – 150 percent or more of the national unemployment rate. Here are the specifics:

1. To qualify as a TEA “rural” area, an area cannot be within what the U.S. Office of Management and Budget designates as a “metropolitan statistical area,” and the area cannot be adjacent to a town or city with a population of 20,000 or more residents.

2. To qualify as a TEA “high unemployment” area, the area’s unemployment rate must be at least 150 percent of the national rate, and the area must be in a county or a metropolitan statistical location with a population of 20,000 or more residents.

Most EB-5 investors work through an EB-5 Regional Center, a private-sector group that pools investment funds for hotels, resorts, and similar projects.

If you invest through an EB-5 Regional Center, they will tell you if that center’s investment projects are set in a Targeted Employment Area.

WHAT DO EB-5 INVESTORS NEED TO KNOW – RIGHT NOW?

In the next several months, many states will update their unemployment figures for targeted employment areas. The states will replace the 2016 unemployment data they’ve been using with more recent unemployment figures from 2017.

An investor submitting an I-526 petition must be certain that petition includes the most up-to-date TEA letter from the state where the investment project is located.

An outdated TEA letter will likely delay any action on your I-526 petition.

In fact, an outdated TEA letter will almost certainly generate an “RFE” (request for evidence) from USCIS, so you should make certain that USCIS gets a current TEA letter – to avoid unnecessary waiting and additional paperwork.

Illinois, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and California are already using 2017 unemployment data, so investors may request a new TEA letter from those states now.

The other states will be updating their unemployment information over the next several months.

WHICH INVESTORS WILL AND WILL NOT NEED A NEW “TEA” LETTER?

If your I-526 petition has already been approved, you will not need a new TEA letter, provided that the TEA letter you submitted was based on the unemployment data the state was using at the time you filed the I-526.

If what you have just read sounds complicated – selecting a qualifying investment project, filing an I-526 petition, and obtaining an up-to-date TEA letter – it is.

That is why international investors seeking to make an investment in the U.S. – and to acquire an EB-5 visa – must have the advice and insights of an immigration attorney who routinely guides international investors successfully through the EB-5 process.

WHO BENEFITS FROM THE EB-5 PROGRAM?

The EB-5 Investor Visa Program and the investments that are made through it are a benefit to everyone. Investors have the opportunity to bring their families to the United States and pursue the American Dream.

Business owners and developers acquire the investment funds to launch new projects – often bringing prosperity back to depressed businesses and communities.

The EB-5 program creates new jobs and new opportunities for U.S. workers. Everyone benefits.

WHEN SHOULD YOU START THE EB-5 APPLICATION PROCESS?

If you are an international investor, acquiring an EB-5 visa and determining which investment opportunity is right for you can take some diligence and determination, but most participants in the EB-5 program have found that their hard work and patience are abundantly rewarded.

And patience is something that EB-5 applicants will need. Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available each year, so you should start the process right away, and you should realize that you may be waiting a year or more until a visa becomes available.

The EB-5 is for international investors who have the resources, the will, and a vision for the future. Those investors will need immigration advice that they can trust.

Learn more about the EB-5 Investor Visa Program – or begin the application process now – by contacting an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer – online or by telephone – from anywhere in the world. The time to do that is now.

H-1B Visa Cap Surpassed For Fiscal Year 2019

Posted on: April 11, 2018 by in immigration
No Comments

No more H-1B visas will be available for fiscal year 2019.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the number of H-1B visa applications has already surpassed 65,000 – the number of H1-B visas authorized each year by Congress – for fiscal year 2019.

USCIS has also received more than enough applications for the additional 20,000 H1-B visas set aside for those applicants who hold at least a master’s degree.

H-1B visa petitions are accepted every year beginning on April 1st.

This is the sixth consecutive year that U.S.-based employers have requested more H1-B visas than the federal government issues, and the cap, for the sixth year in a row, was once again reached in the first week of April.

WHAT HAPPENS TO PETITIONS RECEIVED AFTER THE CAP WAS REACHED?

The H-1B visa applications that were received by USCIS after the cap was reached will be returned to the senders.

The accepted applications will become part of a lottery process. By June, the visa applicants who have been randomly chosen for review will be notified.

All applicants who are approved for H-1B visas will be able to start work on October 1st, 2018.

Employers – and their international employees – who have any questions regarding the H1-B visa or lottery should speak to an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney at MC Law Group.

PRECISELY WHAT IS THE H-1B VISA?

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that authorizes U.S.-based employers to hire international employees for up to six years – if a qualified U.S. citizen or resident is not available to take a specialized position.

An H-1B visa must be requested by the U.S. employer, not by the prospective employee. Workers who are hired on the basis of an H-1B visa must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER H-1B REQUIREMENTS?

Both the U.S. employer and the international employee must satisfy exacting qualifications before an H-1B visa petition can be approved. It is a lengthy, complicated visa petition and a tricky, difficult application process.

To acquire an H-1B visa, an international worker first must have a job offer in a specialized field such as medical research, engineering, architecture, computer electronics, or a similarly specialized industry.

The pay offered by the employer must be consistent with compensation for similar jobs in the same geographic region.

WHAT ARE AN EMPLOYER’S OPTIONS?

While it is now too late to apply for an H1-B visa for fiscal year 2019, it’s never too early to begin work on H1-B petitions for next year – or to consider potential alternatives to the H-1B visa.

An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney at MC Law Group knows how secure the H-1B visas that an employer needs – although employers must understand that because of the cap, not even one H-1B visa can be guaranteed.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

However, an MC Law Group attorney will also be familiar with several alternative visa options that may work equally well for some employers.

Every immigration procedure and visa application takes some time. Every visa applicant needs reliable legal insights and advice. That’s why you should contact us now at MC Law Group.

We are ready to help employers with their visa petitions, and we are ready to answer your questions and address all of your immigration and visa concerns.

USCIS Needs Your Current Mailing Address

Posted on: April 5, 2018 by in immigration
No Comments

Have you changed your address since arriving in the U.S? If you are an immigrant in the United States, it’s up to you to make absolutely certain that you are receiving the important immigration notices and documents you need – without delay.

It is absolutely imperative for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have your correct mailing address at all times – and now, it’s actually more important than ever. Keep reading to learn why.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN BEGINNING IN APRIL?

Beginning on April 2, 2018, USCIS will destroy all Permanent Resident Cards, Employment Authorization Cards, and Travel Documents that are returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service.

Permanent Resident Cards, Employment Authorization Cards, and Travel Documents will be destroyed by USCIS after sixty business days if USCIS has not been contacted by the document’s intended recipient and if the correct mailing address has not been provided.

If you requested or expected an immigration document, moved, failed to receive the document, and it is destroyed, you will be looking at a long wait – and probably an additional expense – to replace that document.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP YOU?

Immigrants in the United States may need the advice and legal services of an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney to help them understand precisely what the law requires and how to comply with it.

If you are an immigrant in the U.S., don’t hesitate to seek the legal help you need.

USCIS encourages every immigrant to report a change of address within ten days of relocating within the United States or any of its territories using the change of address procedures outlined at uscis.gov/addresschange. Exceptions include:

1. Diplomats
2. Official government representatives to an international organization
3. Certain nonimmigrants who do not possess a visa and who are in the U.S. for less than thirty days

WHERE ARE YOUR DOCUMENTS SENT?

If you are entering the United States on an immigrant visa, USCIS will mail your Green Card to the mailing address in the United States that you provided at the time of your immigrant visa interview or to the address you provided when you were admitted entry into the United States.

If you move after you arrive in the United States, please update your address. To avoid the inconvenience of extra waiting and additional cost, make sure that you always give USCIS your current mailing address.

Mailing address information may be used by and disclosed to U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel and contractors or other agents who need the information to assist in activities related to providing status information on a pending immigration benefit application or petition.

WHY IS IT VITAL FOR USCIS TO HAVE YOUR ADDRESS?

In other words, it is very much in your best interests for USCIS to have your current, accurate mailing address. Immigration authorities may need to contact you for a number of reasons, including immigration benefits and changes in your immigration status.

U.S. immigration laws are complicated and confusing. Changes in the law are frequent. Staying compliant and up-to-date with the law can take a little bit of effort.

If you have any questions regarding compliance with immigration laws, call today and speak to an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney to have your questions answered.

EB-5 Program Extended With No Change (At Least Until September)

Posted on: March 26, 2018 by in EB-5
No Comments

This is great news! In mid-March, President Trump signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which renews and extends the EB-5 Investor Visa Program through September 30, 2018.

You’re about to read a brief introduction to the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, and you’ll learn why the program’s extension is so important to so many.

The EB-5 program offers permanent U.S. residency to international investors who make a substantial investment in a U.S.-based business and create at least ten full-time jobs.

WHAT ARE THE MINIMUM EB-5 INVESTMENT AMOUNTS?

The investment amount must be at least $1 million in most parts of the country – or a minimum $500,000 in selected rural or high-unemployment areas.

The EB-5 Investor Visa Program was created in the 1990’s to encourage investors to put substantial amounts of capital into U.S.-based business ventures.

Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available each year. International investors should understand that it may take some time to acquire an EB-5 visa, so you should speak with an immigration attorney as quickly as possible.

An EB-5 visa does not require a labor certification or a sponsor. It creates permanent lawful residency (and a path to U.S. citizenship) for the investor and his or her immediate family.

However, finding the right investment and qualifying for the EB-5 Investor Visa Program will require an experienced visa attorney’s sound legal guidance.

WHY WOULD AN EB-5 VISA PETITION BE REJECTED?

The three leading reasons that EB-5 visa petitions are rejected include:

  • an incomplete or inaccurate visa application
  • a lack of required financial, educational, and employment records
  • a chosen investment option that does not qualify for the EB-5 program

EB-5 visa applicants also must show that the investment money was legally obtained, a requirement which prevents criminal funds from going into legitimate U.S. business investments.

WHAT CHANGES ARE BEING CONSIDERED TO THE EB-5 PROGRAM?

If you are an international investor who is interested in the EB-5 program, now is the time to learn more and obtain assistance from an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

The extension does not introduce any new requirements into the EB-5 program, although a number of changes have been proposed over the last several years.

It’s possible that changes to the EB-5 program will be made when the current extension expires in September.

Those proposals include increasing the minimum investment requirement to $925,000, setting aside visas specifically for rural investment projects, and increasing the safeguards against fraud.

The changes have been rejected, at least for now, and the EB-5 program remains unchanged at least until September.

That means now is the time to find an appropriate investment and apply for an EB-5 visa.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP?

An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can verify that your investment qualifies for the EB-5 program, review your visa petition and the accompanying documents, and see to it that you meet all EB-5 requirements.

Because only 10,000 EB-5 visas are offered each year – and because changes to the program may be coming in September – you can’t let any misunderstandings or mistakes or hold up or halt your investment plans.

The U.S. economy is booming at the moment. There’s probably never been a better time to make a substantial investment.

To learn more, speak promptly – from anywhere in the world – with a U.S. immigration lawyer who can answer your questions and help you participate in the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.

DACA’s Termination Date Passes (Now What?)

Posted on: March 14, 2018 by in immigration
No Comments

What are the latest legal and political developments affecting the “Dreamers” – the nearly 785,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents and have never known another nation as their home?

Here are three recent developments are important to the Dreamers right now:

1. Recent federal court orders will keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for Dreamers alive and in place, for the moment.

2. Immigration activists are now targeting March 23rd as the next key date for Congress to take action.

3. DACA application processing delays could cause a loss of legal protection and the loss of work permits for thousands of “Dreamers.”

CAN DREAMERS STILL APPLY FOR RENEWAL OF DACA PROTECTION?

What’s important is that the 785,000 Dreamers who have previously been approved for DACA can continue to file applications for DACA renewals – while Congress is determining their fates.

According to Las Vegas immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva, “The Supreme Court has decided not to allow the Trump Administration to stop the renewals of the DACA applications.”

If you an immigrant in the United States, and you qualified for DACA protection, how does this Supreme Court ruling impact you? Keep reading – you’re about to find out.

ONE ATTORNEY’S INSIGHTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Attorney Chernysheva explains that those immigrants who are approved for DACA “are currently protected and will be able to renew their work authorizations until the courts decide to change their position.”

She advises that anyone concerned for the fate of the Dreamers should “contact your congressperson and Senators to push for an actual immigration reform that would include DACA eligible individuals to receive a path to citizenship.”

March 5th was slated to be the final day of the DACA program, but a couple of unexpected court decisions have given the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program a new, extended life.

IF YOU HIRE DREAMERS, WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW?

According to National Immigration Forum Executive Director Ali Noorani, “The president … created a mess” by announcing the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Noorani told Bloomberg Law that “as a result, employers are faced with some really tough decisions in the time ahead.”

However, the most recent court rulings have eliminated the need for U.S.-based employers to let go of their DACA employees – at least for the moment.

HOW DID THE DACA PROGRAM ARRIVE WHERE IT IS NOW?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was initiated by the Obama Administration back in 2012.

The Trump Administration announced the scheduled end of the program in September 2017, and officials set March 5th, 2018, as the official last day for DACA.

Almost 20,000 of the Dreamers lost their DACA benefits after the White House made this announcement because they failed to apply for DACA renewal in the single month that was granted to them by the Trump Administration.

Recipients with work permits that were scheduled to expire before March 5, 2018, were permitted by the Trump Administration to file for DACA renewal, but only if they applied for their renewals before October 5, 2017. About 20,000 did not.

It was also after the September announcement from the White House that the federal courts began to take their own actions. Those actions are summarized below.

WHAT ARE THE RECENT FEDERAL COURT RULINGS REGARDING DACA?

In January, a federal court judge in California ordered U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to start accepting DACA renewal applications once again.

Another federal judge in New York subsequently issued a comparable order.

As a result, according to USCIS, more than 11,360 DACA participants applied for renewal in January 2018.

Both cases remain pending after the U.S. Supreme Court refused on February 26th to hear the Trump Administration’s appeal of the California judge’s order.

However, no one should read too much into the recent court activity. There is still no way to guess what will eventually happen to DACA and the Dreamers.

WHAT DOES DACA’S FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

Greg Chen, speaking for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Bloomberg Law, “The court process is extremely unpredictable.”

The courts’ orders leave the DACA program operating for now, but those court orders could be overturned by other courts.

Furthermore, the court orders only cover those Dreamers who have already been approved for DACA protection. The courts are not requiring USCIS to accept any first-time DACA applications.

In February, the U.S. Senate considered several proposals that would provide the Dreamers with some type of legal status, but lawmakers were not able to agree on a plan.

Still, according to Greg Chen, “The remarkable achievement in the past six months … is the bipartisan momentum that has developed and gained steam to get a permanent solution for dreamers passed.”

Chen also explains that the next “target date” for legislation is March 23, when the current continuing resolution for financing the government runs out.

R.J. Hauman, speaking for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told Bloomberg Law that it would be “extremely misguided” for Congress to reach a DACA deal in a “smoke-filled back room” and risk yet another government shutdown.

IF YOU ARE AN IMMIGRANT IN THE U.S., WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW?

USCIS is not now accepting new applications for DACA protection, but if you have had DACA protection in the past and you need to renew it, you may need an immigration lawyer’s help.

If you are an immigrant who does not qualify for DACA and you have any questions regarding your visa or legal status – or any other immigration concerns – seek an immigration attorney’s advice at once.

In its current form, the DACA program does not offer the Dreamers permanent lawful status or a path to U.S. citizenship, and it doesn’t qualify anyone for student aid or for any type of federal assistance.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN FOR HELP?

If you are a Dreamer, or if you hire Dreamers, and you need legal help or advice regarding DACA or any other immigration issue, let an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney help.

Immigration law has always been complicated and confusing. The system has needed comprehensive reform for years, and it still needs serious reform.

With the courts and Congress now actively looking at the DACA program and at the entire immigration issue, we can expect more changes and more confusion in the weeks and months to come.

Make certain that you have the sound legal advice you need from an immigration lawyer whose knowledge and experience you can trust.

U.S. Senate Fails Again To Provide A Solution For Dreamers

Posted on: February 19, 2018 by in immigration
No Comments

The hope of Dreamers is renewed with the new U.S. Supreme Court decision!

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government – at least for now – must keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program alive.

How will the immigrants known as “Dreamers” be impacted by the ruling? Here are the details.

HISTORY OF THE DACA PROGRAM

In September 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded the DACA program that protected 785,000 immigrant children from deportation and provided them with the right to work – renewable every two years.

Nearly 20,000 Dreamers lost their benefits following this announcement as they failed to apply for renewal in the month granted to them by the administration.

Several lawsuits filed in the Northern District of California were consolidated, and the U.S. District Court of San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction barring the Trump Administration from ending the DACA program while the lawsuit proceeds.

The order was issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco on January 9, 2018, requiring U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to keep processing DACA renewals for Dreamers who have been approved for the program in the past.

WITHOUT THIS COURT RULING, WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?

Had this decision not been rendered by the California Court, Dreamers would have begun to lose their benefits after the March 5th deadline. This decision gave new hope to Dreamers, and a light in the scary darkness they have experienced since the rescission of DACA.

The Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to approve its plan to close down the DACA program by reversing a lower court order that is keeping DACA alive.

In February, a week before the March 5 deadline, the Supreme Court refused to reverse the lower court order, which compels the Department of Homeland Security to continue to accept DACA renewal applications.

This will give the 785,000 Dreamers, who had been approved before, the protection from deportation and the right to work legally in the U.S. for another two years.

IS THE DACA PROGRAM STILL ALIVE AND FUNCTIONING?

The California Court’s order, at least for now, remains in effect, so DACA remains alive. The 785,000 Dreamers who have been approved in the past can continue filing for renewal, while Congress decides their fate.

The Trump Administration’s original intention to close down DACA by March 5th won’t happen now, and the ultimate fate of the DACA program – again – remains to be determined.

However, it should be noted, the Supreme Court did not “save” DACA. Instead, the justices returned the case to the lower courts and said, “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.”

The ruling was expected. The Supreme Court rarely accepts requests to bypass the lower courts.

Although this might not be a total win for Dreamers, it still provides them with a “safe haven” for the next two years, as long as they file their renewal applications timely.

WHO QUALIFIES FOR DACA PROTECTION?

To qualify for DACA, an applicant must:

1. have entered the U.S. prior to his or her 16th birthday and lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007

2. have been under age 31 on June 15, 2012 (that is, born on or since June 16, 1981)

3. have no felony convictions, no “significant” misdemeanor convictions, and no more than two misdemeanor convictions of any kind

4. have completed high school or a GED, or be attending high school, or be honorably discharged from the armed forces

Dreamers were raised and educated in the United States. They know no other home.

HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR DACA? AND WHO CAN HELP?

To apply for DACA protection, immigrants who qualify must pay a $495 application fee, submit several forms, and produce documents showing that they meet the DACA requirements.

DACA does not provide permanent lawful status or a path to citizenship, and it does not establish eligibility for federal assistance or student aid.

If you are a Dreamer and you need legal advice regarding DACA – or advice regarding any other immigration matter – an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can help.

As a number of courts consider DACA and other immigration issues, and as Congress considers a variety of related proposals, immigration law has perhaps never been more confusing.

Do not hesitate to seek the legal advice you need. Immigration laws are being strictly enforced in 2018, and anyone who is not in full compliance with those laws could be subject to deportation.

WHERE DOES THE FEBRUARY RULING LEAVE DACA – AND THE DREAMERS?

The February ruling by the Supreme Court leaves the fate of DACA, for the moment, pending before a California appeals court. Quick action by the appeals court is not expected.

February’s Supreme Court ruling also allows Congress more time to craft a legislative remedy, but so far, Congress has failed to reach any agreement regarding DACA and the Dreamers.

Earlier in February, the Senate considered three different options that offer a permanent solution for Dreamers.

A proposal that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers – but placed severe restrictions on legal immigration – secured a mere 39 votes.

Two other proposals were considered more moderate, but neither received the votes needed for passage.

Still, the issue is urgent, and Congress needs to act. Thousands have already lost their DACA protection, and thousands more will lose theirs in the months ahead.

WHO SUPPORTS DACA?

A CBS News poll released in January shows that almost nine out of ten adults in the United States – 87 percent – would allow the Dreamers to stay, provided they work or attend school.

The DACA program was established by the Obama Administration in June 2012 by executive action rather than legislation.

In 2014, President Obama announced a plan to expand DACA and offer its protection to more immigrants. That plan was ultimately rejected by the courts.

HOW MANY DREAMERS ARE PROTECTED BY DACA?

As of June 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received 844,931 applications for DACA status, and 88 percent of the applications (741,546) had been approved.

Plans to phase out DACA were launched by the Trump Administration on September 5, 2017. At that time, the President gave Congress six months to come up with a new plan for the Dreamers.

Congress so far has failed. Without the Supreme Court’s last-minute ruling in late February, DACA would have ended on March 5th without any action by Congress to help the Dreamers.

CAN EMPLOYERS HELP THEIR DACA EMPLOYEES?

Researchers have demonstrated that DACA increases the wages and employment rate of DACA participants, and it reduces the number of immigrant households in poverty in the U.S.

How can U.S.-based employers help their DACA-protected employees?

Concerned employers should consult an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

An immigration attorney may be able to identify some helpful visa options for DACA employees, and an attorney can help with the paperwork needed to obtain an appropriate visa.

An immigration lawyer can also identify and assist with particular immigration difficulties that an individual employee may need to resolve.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE DACA MATTER TO BE RESOLVED?

It may take months for the DACA issue to be resolved by the courts and for the Dreamers to learn their eventual fate.

And with Congress apparently unable to resolve the issue, immigration activists are already looking to this year’s midterm election and to a Congress that will not convene until 2019.

If you’re a Dreamer – or a Dreamer’s employer – you must have reliable advice regarding immigration law. Changes are coming, but there is no way to predict what those changes will be.

In the confusion of 2018, having the advice of a good immigration attorney – and adhering to that advice – is the best move that an immigrant or an employer of immigrants can make.