Immigration & Nationality Practice
Our immigration law team specializes in obtaining employment visas for foreign nationals and then assisting them and their families in obtaining permanent resident status in the United States.
Employment of foreign professionals raises complicated legal issues involving numerous government agencies. Our immigration attorneys regularly deal with officers of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the State Department, the U.S. Department of Labor and state employment service offices.
The firm’s immigration practice has assisted clients in the following other immigration-related matters:
- Long and short-term corporate planning and structure of international personnel transfers, including use of blanket transfer programs
- Representation of clients before legislative and administrative bodies
- Litigation before administrative boards and in the federal courts
- Design of J-1 cultural exchange and training programs and H-3 training programs
- Advice concerning withholding of social security and taxation of foreign nationals in the United States
- Expatriation of US citizens and other loss of nationality issues
- Obtaining Spanish documents, and EU / Spanish Nationality
We counsel clients on immigration matters relating to:
The B non-immigration visa is used by individuals to come to the United States for business (B-1) and pleasure (B-2). The trips are temporary and cannot involve employment in the United Sates or the undertaking of an academic study program. The business visitor (B-1) will be granted only a period of entry necessary to conduct his or her business. Most such visits are approved for less than three months, and only in unusual circumstances would a stay of more than six months be granted. Tourist in the B-2 category are automatically given a period of entry of six months.
The F visa is used by foreign nationals to enter the United Sates as nonimmigrants in order to engage in academic studies in this country.
These students can range from elementary school students to doctoral candidates and persons engaged in post-doctoral studies. As long as (F-1) students are bona fide nonimmigrants, they can pursue their academic goals in the United States without regard to the availability of similar training in their own country and can remain here for many years in order to complete a full academic program.
The spouse and family members may enter the U.S. with the student with an F-2 visa but cannot receive authorization to work.
To get a Student Visa in the American Embassy, the student must present a certificate of eligibility (or Form I-20) of where you want to attend college in the United States, and appropriate supporting documents. As part of the process, the student must prove that you have enough money to pay for the course of study for one year. This is the factor by which the majority of students are F visas denied by the U.S. embassy or immigration office in the United States.
Form I-20 is obtained after the student is accepted by the school. To be accepted by the school, it is usually required that the student is competent with the English language and have enough money to pay school fees for the first year.
If you wish to pursue full-time academic or vocational studies in the United States, you may be eligible for one of two nonimmigrant student categories: The “F” category is for academic students and the “M” is for vocational students.
The M visa is used for a college or professional. The student is allowed in the E.U. valid state during an academic program. His condition is not violated if the student completes the course within the time required by the college.
If you wish to participate in an exchange program you may be eligible for the “J” category for exchange visitors. The J visa program is for educational and cultural exchange programs.
The J-1 visa category is used by foreign students, scholar’s experts, medical interns and residents, “international visitors”, industrial and business trainees to enter the United States as “exchange visitors”, in United States government approved Exchange-Visitor Programs, for the purpose of gaining experience, studying, or doing research in their respective fields. The permissible period of stay for exchange visitors varies depending on the exchange visitor category in which the visitor is admitted.
Is used by foreign workers in specialty occupations and distinguished merits models to gain entry to the U.S. and working for an American company. A specialty occupation requires a college degree or higher degree in the specific specialty (or equivalent) minimum to carry the position in the U.S.
A person with an H-1B visa can enter the country and work for an initial three-year period. An extension can be ordered for a maximum period of three years. The person can not be in the E.U. for over 6 years with this H-1B visa. The family of the person with an H-1B visa can enter and study in the U.S. with an H-4 visa. The family includes wife, husband, sons, daughters under 21, and unmarried. The family with H-4 visa is not allowed to work during their stay in the U.S. but can study.
The procedure to obtain an H-1B visa requires three steps. This procedure begins with the company in the U.S. submitting an application for a certificate of the department of work and a petition to the immigration office. The person may submit their application for H-1B visa to the U.S. Embassy in your country after these two processes are completed.
The H-2B visa category is used by United States companies temporarily to employ skilled or unskilled foreign nationals in nonagricultural positions for which the employer has a temporary need and for which qualified United States workers are unavailable. The initial period of stay granted to the alien admitted to the United Sates in the H-2B status is governed by the period of time that his or her temporary services are needed. This period cannot extend beyond an initial period of one year. Extensions of stay in increments of one year are possible, but the alien employee cannot be continuously employed in the United States for more than three years.
The H-3 visa category is used by United States companies and institutions to bring foreign employees to the United States for a temporary period in order to participate in an established company-training program. Under its rules an outer limit of two years is placed on the training program length.
The E category is especially useful for business owners, managers, and employees who need to remain the United States for extended periods of time in order to oversee or work in an enterprise engaged in trade between the United States and a foreign state or that represents a major investment in the United States. The person is granted an initial period of stay of two years. This period can be extended almost indefinitely as long as the alien affirms that he or she will leave the United States when the period of authorized stay, including unlimited extensions, ends.
The O category is set aside for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics and certain aliens accompany or assisting those aliens and their family members. The initial period of stay can be approved for the time necessary to complete the event or activity or group of events or activities for which the non-immigrant is admitted, up to a period of three years. Extension of stay can be granted in increments of up to one year to continue or complete the event.
The L nonimmigrant visa category is one of the most useful tools available to international companies needing to bring foreign employees to the United States. An alien may be admitted to the United States in L-1 status for a period of time required by the employer, up to a maximum initial period of stay of three years. The total period of stay may reach seven years for L-1A managers and executives, and five years for L-1B specialized knowledge personnel.
The P Category covers those entertainers and athletes who cannot qualify under the extraordinary ability standard for the O category. The minimal period of stay can be approved for the time necessary for the specific competition, event or performance, up to a period of one year.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Visa
The Immigration Act of 1990 (“IMMACT 90″) created the Immigrant Investor Program as the fifth preference category for employment-based immigration, also known as EB-5. This was the first time a category specifically facilitated the admission of immigrant investors as lawful permanent residents and currently remains the only such category to do so.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is available to those immigrants who have invested, or are in the process of investing at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise employing at least 10 full-time U.S. workers. Individuals who invest in a targeted employment area only need to invest a minimum of $500,000.
The purpose of the EB-5 is to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by offering immigrants the benefits of permanent residency in the United States. Approximately 10,000 visa numbers are allocated annually to EB-5 investors. However, participation in the investor program has traditionally been far below capacity. In the first few years after establishment of the program, USCIS only issued 300-400 EB-5 visas. When the EB-5 visa was originally created, it did not include the Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. USCIS enacted a five-year immigrant investor pilot program, known as Regional Center Pilot Program, in 1993 in an effort to encourage more investors to apply for EB-5 permanent residency. The purpose of the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program is to attract more foreign investors to fund businesses and projects in specific “regional centers” that would otherwise find it difficult to attract domestic investment based on current geographical market trends. By bringing such investment into areas of economic hardship and high unemployment, Congress hopes to simulate job expansion, improved regional productivity and infrastructure, and promote the growth of innovative new businesses.
The EB-5 visa essentially offers a good immigration solution for those who have the financial resources. It does not require an employment offer from a U.S. employer as other visas categories do, nor does it require a labor certificate. After issuing four precedent decisions by the former INS Administrative Appeals Unit in 1998, it became very difficult for investors to qualify under EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. However, with the current economic downturn, USCIS has relaxed its requirements for the EB-5 program as a means to bring in more foreign investment. Most importantly, because the annual quota consistently exceeds the number of applicants, those who qualify for EB-5 status do not typically have to wait long for a visa as there is currently no visa quota backlog for the EB-5 investor category.
An Overview of the EB-5 Green Card Process:
The EB-5 visa is a three-step self-petitioning process consisting of Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur (I-526), Conditional Permanent Residence by Adjustment of Status (I-485), Consular Processing, and Removal of Conditional Residency (I-829).