Tag: citizenship and immigration

Investor Visa Options

On December 1, 2011, in Immigration, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Investor Visa Options under EB-5

The EB-5 visa is a federal program aimed at immigrant investors.  Created by the Immigration Act of 1990, the visa provides immigrants the opportunity to obtain a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States.  Individuals who can invest $1,000,000 or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area while creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers may be granted the EB-5 visa.

A foreign national whose petition is approved will be granted conditional permanent residence valid for two years.  The investor must provide evidence documenting the full investment and or jobs created and must be submitted in a timely fashion.

In 1992, Congress created a temporary pilot program designed to stimulate economic activity and job growth, while allowing eligible aliens the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents. Under this program, foreign nationals may invest in a pre-approved regional center, or “economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment.” Investments within a regional center provide foreign nationals the added benefit of allowing them to count jobs created both directly and indirectly for purposes of meeting the 10 job creation requirement.

The Startup Visa Act (projected EB-6 visa), introduced in Congress in 2010 and subsequently in 2011, is planning to use unallocated numbers from the EB-5 visa.

The program is limited to 10,000 visas annually. Potential Immigrant Investors are trading a preferred immigration status for a $500,000 investment and job creation in a rural area or a community with high unemployment.

The foreigner must invest the money in a United States enterprise that has received preliminary approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After a background check, the immigrant makes the investment and applies for a conditional green card, good for two years. If the investment meets program guidelines, the temporary green card is replaced by a permanent one.

The program’s beneficiaries not only include the Immigrant Investor but also economically depressed areas of the United States where there is desperate need of job creation.  The Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC can assist with the EB-5 visa as well as all other immigration needs.

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!

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.

USCIS Waiver of Filing Fees

In addition to the timelines and stress of dealing with the government, many people find that the costliness of filing fees involved with visas and petitions prohibit them from proceeding with their Immigration issues.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is funded largely by application and petition fees, however they have instituted a few policies which make it possible for certain individuals to have their Immigration Fees waived.  A person who seeks to have the fees waived must demonstrate an inability to afford to pay the fees associated with certain applications and forms.  The USCIS has created a form I-912 which will waive the fee for benefit services including but not limited to Applications to replace Permanent Resident cards, Applications for Travel Documents and Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.  In the case of the latter, Asylum seekers and/or battered or abused spouses may have their fees waived because of their special circumstances.  The granting of any fee waiver is at the sole discretion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) however an immigration attorney may help navigate through this difficult process.   As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (516) 858-2620!

 

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