Tag: queens immigration attorney

Skill Level for Immigration has effect on Wait Time

On December 5, 2011, in Immigration, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Highly Skilled Immigrants

(Information for the following article was obtained from NY Times, November 30, 2011, Highly Skilled Immigrants May Wait Less for Visas, by Julia Preston)

The House of Representatives last week passed a bill that will make it easier for highly skilled immigrants from India and China to become legal permanent residents.  The bill will reduce visa backlogs which are often seen as a huge impediment for visa petitioners who sometimes had wait times of decades before they would receive their documents.  The bill eliminates limits on the number of green cards based on employment that is available annually to each country.  Currently, 140,000 green cards are available each year for immigrants based on their job skills, with each country limited to 7 percent of those visas.  Under the bill, after a 3 year transition, all employment-based green cards will be issued on a first come first serve basis, with no country limits.

The bill also includes measures that will more than double the green cards available for Mexicans and Filipinos, the two national groups facing the longest backlogs on the family side of the system.  It will raise the country limit for 226,000 family green cards each year to 15 percent from the current 7 percent.

Many of the highly skilled immigrants from India and China will have master’s degrees and doctorates in science and engineering.  The immigrants and their employers have passed labor market tests showing that qualified Americans were not available for the jobs they hold.  This will be a boon to American technology companies who have been anxiously awaiting Congress working with them to offer more green cards for their foreign employees.

As always, for all of your immigration questions and needs, we here at the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC can be of assistance.  Please feel free to contact us at (516) 858-2620 or visit our website at www.vaughnweberlaw.com.

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!

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.

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