H-1B, H-2B and Other Business Visas

On August 23, 2011, in Immigration, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Business Visas

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognizes that there is a shortage of American workers available to fill specialty occupations at businesses and professional organizations in the United States and therefore allows certain business visas. Approximately 65,000 H-1B Specialty Occupation visas are available through the USCIS each year. Typically, the visas are granted for three years, but may be extended an additional six years. In addition, if the sponsoring employer is willing to continue sponsoring the specialty worker for residency status, the employee may apply for green card status to remain legally in the United State permanently.  There are several occupations that are currently listed by the USCIS as specialty occupations, and additional occupations may be considered on a per-applicant basis. The list includes occupations such as:

  • Certain healthcare professionals
  • Accounting professionals
  • Computer analysts
  • Programmers
  • Database administrators
  • Engineers and scientists
  • Licensed professionals such as architects and lawyers

Eligibility

In order for an applicant to be eligible for an H-1B Specialty Worker visa, one requires:

  • Profession must be a “specialty occupation”
  • Petition must be submitted by the employer (there are some exceptions to this requirement)
  • Bachelor’s degree required or requisite experience
  • Employee must have a bachelor’s degree or US equivalent or experience in the specialty occupation
  • The employer must pay the employee the prevailing wage
  • The employee meets state licensing requirements if such license is required

H-2B Visas

Employers may file H-2B visas for their semi-skilled or skilled employees to meet seasonal, intermittent, one-time occurrence or peak time needs. For instance large resorts that cannot meet their staffing needs are eligible to file an H-2B visa to meet their “seasonal” needs. The employer must file a labor certification application with the Department of Labor (DOL) and demonstrate that no qualified worker is able to fulfill the position. Subsequent to meeting this requirement, the employer may file an H-2B petition with the USCIS. Unlike the H-1B visa, the employer may file a blanket petition for their workers. Thus multiple employees may be included in the labor certification and USCIS petition. Since there are only 66,000 visas allotted for the year, it is important that the H-2B petition is filed before the H-2B cap is met.

Other Business Immigration Visas

In addition to H-1B visas for specialty occupations, the USCIS also grants business immigration visas for workers who lack the requisite college education, but have recognized experience in the field. Other business immigration visas include, TN visas under NAFTA, and E-1 treaty traders visas.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (516) 858-2620 to speak to an Immigration Attorney!

Visas for Spouses

On August 23, 2011, in Immigration, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Visas for Spouses

American citizens have two means of bringing their foreign husbands or wives to the United States to live.  You may “sponsor” your spouse’s immigrant visa for entry to the United States. If you follow this process, your foreign spouse will complete the visa process completely outside the U.S., and then arrive in the United States and obtain permanent residency status immediately. You will need to submit an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative.  After the USCIS, the National Visa Center and the U.S. Embassy complete all the necessary administrative processing your spouse will be granted an immigrant visa. Your spouse will receive an IR1 or a CR1 visa.  An IR-1 (IR stands for “Immediate Relative”) visa allows your spouse to immigrate to the U.S. A CR1 Visa (CR stands for “Conditional Residency”) will be given to you if your marriage is less than 2 years old. It is conditional for two years.

You can also obtain a non-immigrant K-3 visa.  K3 visas are granted normally within a few months. You should use the K3 visa to start the process outside of the U.S. and then travel to the U.S. to complete the immigration process. Please note that in this case, the application must be made in the country where the marriage took place. If your marriage took place in the U.S., your spouse must apply for a K3 visa through the U.S. Embassy in the country of his/her residence. In addition, the applicant needs to have also filed a Petition for alien fiancé on his/her behalf.  Usually the USCIS requests a Petition for alien fiancé rather than a Petition for alien spouse. After the visa has been issued, the spouse can travel to the US.

To obtain either visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be legally married. Merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration.  Unmarried partners are ineligible to sponsor visas to the United States.
  • In most cases you must have a residence in the U.S. to apply.
  • You must be 18 years old before you can sign the Affidavit of Support, which is a form that will be required later in the process.

If you live outside the U.S.:

If you want to bring your foreign spouse to the U.S., but you are currently living outside the U.S., you must submit a visa petition to either your local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office or directly to the U.S. Embassy where your foreign spouse resides.  Once the visa petition is approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a packet from the National Visa Center (NVC).  The packet informs your foreign spouse of the various documents which must be presented at the immigrant visa interview abroad (e.g., passport, police clearances, results of medical examinations, etc.). The packet includes certain documents requesting biographic data that must be completed, signed and forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Usually, the foreign-born spouse is interviewed and granted an immigrant visa within three to six months.  If you and your spouse are planning to remain outside the U.S. indefinitely, it is not recommended that you apply for a Green Card. The Green Card could be cancelled at the Port of Entry to the U.S. if you have spent more than six months outside of the US. The Immigration Officer at the Port of Entry will have to determine if the U.S. is your main home, so be prepared for a myriad of questions.

If you both already live in the US:

The U.S. citizen must submit a Petition for Alien Relative to the appropriate U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office to prove that the marriage is genuine.  The petitioner must also include in his package a plethora of biographical information which will determine his or her eligibility.   At the same time, the foreign-born spouse, assuming he or she entered the U.S. lawfully, should submit an application for adjustment of status.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (516) 858-2620 to speak to an Immigration attorney! The Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC will be glad to be of assistance in any Immigration matters you may have.

Immigration Options for Battered Spouses

On August 2, 2011, in Family Law, Immigration, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Immigration Options for Battered Spouses

Generally, U.S. citizens (USC) and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) file an immigrant visa petition with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of a spouse or child, so that these family members may emigrate to or remain in the United States. The Petition for Alien Relative is filed by the USC/LPR, the petitioner, on behalf of the family member who is the beneficiary. The petitioner controls when or if the petition is filed. Unfortunately, some U.S. citizens and LPRs misuse their control of this process to abuse their family members, or by threatening to report them to USCIS . As a result, most battered immigrants are afraid to report the abuse to the police or other authorities. Immigration history protects persons whom are being beaten by their spouses.

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress in 1994, the spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPR) may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency. The immigration provisions of VAWA allow certain battered immigrants to file for immigration relief without the abuser’s assistance or knowledge, in order to seek safety and independence from the abuser. Victims of domestic violence should know that help is available to them through the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 [TDD] for information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about self-petitioning for immigration status.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the law that governs immigration in the United States. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provisions relating to immigration are codified in section 204(a) of the INA. Rules published in the Federal Register explain the eligibility requirements and procedures for filing a self-petition under the VAWA provisions. These rules can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 CFR § 204. The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000 (BIWPA) made significant amendments to section 204(a) of the INA.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (516) 858-2620 to speak to an immigration attorney! The Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC will be glad to be of assistance in any Immigration matters you may have.

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