Posted On: July 31, 2012

IMMIGRATION-RELATED AUDITS: What Employers Need to Know

There are three potential “hot spots” for audits and investigations for the government related to the immigration and nationality laws. The first has to do with the documentation that the employer is required to maintain in connection with the H-1B nonimmigrant professional and specialty and occupation worker visa. The second area of potential audit concerns the employer’s obligations under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”) [Pub. L. No. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359] (known to HR Professionals as the “I-9 Process”). The third area of audit surrounds the Labor Certification Application Program called, “Permanent Electronic Review Management” (“PERM”).
Each of the foregoing government programs anticipates compliance through “audit”. Even a rudimentary understanding of the complex documentary requirements for each of these programs can help an employer avoid potential liability.

It appears clearly to be the case that immigration-related programs that are undertaken by employers may be subject to either directed and/or random government audits from the DHS and/or the DOL. Failure to adequately comply with government regulations can result in penalties. The employer’s familiarity with the intricacies of the auditing and compliance are likely to save a considerable amount of both time and money.

The backbone of a healthy corporate immigration policy is ensuring a company's compliance with regulations designed to protect U.S. workers and ensure that its workforce is made up of individuals lawfully authorized to work in the United States.

MVP Law Group provides a full suite of flexible, high-quality compliance services in order to help employers ensure continuous compliance with the ever changing regulatory environment. We offer a number of personalized services, both ongoing and project based that can assist businesses with maintaining compliance mandated by the Department of Labor (DOL), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9),), among others.

Posted On: July 30, 2012

MVP "Immigration Q & A Forum" - This Friday, August 3, 2012

We wanted to find a new way to engage our reader base. Every other Friday, we will post the ten (10) best/most frequently asked questions received during the week from our h1bvisalawyerblog, Facebook, and Twitter readers. We will answer those questions and provide the Q&A on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

If you have a burning question, are seeking assistance with a difficult immigration related case, wish to discuss your views on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, DREAMers, priority dates, the monthly visa bulletin, adjustment applications, etc., please contact us by submitting your question/comment/viewpoint in our comment box provided on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

Our next “Q & A Forum” will take place this Friday, August 3, 2012. Act now and submit your questions!

THANK YOU!

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.

Posted On: July 23, 2012

Updated Service Center Processing Times

Processing Time reports for all of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Service Centers were released on July 19, 2012 with processing dates as of May 31, 2012.

If you filed a petition with one of the Service Centers, please review the links below to determine the applicable processing time associated with your particular case.

California Service Center
National Benefits Center
Nebraska Service Center
Texas Service Center
Vermont Service Center

**Please be aware that the data provided above is approximately 45 days old at the time of posting.

If your petition is out-side of the normal range listed, contact USCIS. (1-800-375-5283)

If you are a client of MVP Law Group and would like our assistance please contact our office.

Posted On: July 20, 2012

MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, July 20, 2012

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.


Question #1 – General
Is it necessary that I have someone sponsoring me when I apply for a visa?

Answer #1
It depends, as almost all types of visas require sponsorship whether employment based or family based.


Question #2 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B
Next year I will be traveling to India, so while returning do I need to go for fresh Visa Stamping with new H-1B sponsors approval notice or I can come with the old Visa Stamp (with old employer) as my current visa is valid till Mar 2014? Kindly advise.

Answer #2
You can come back to the United States based upon the valid visa stamp in your passport; however, upon appearing before a CBP Officer, you will present the new I-129 approval from the new H1B sponsor.


Question #3 – Temporary Work Visa
Will a criminal conviction impair my ability to receive a temporary visa?

Answer #3
It depends upon the type of criminal conviction. Depending upon the seriousness of the criminal conviction, it is possible to be inadmissible and/or deportable for certain criminal convictions – crimes of moral turpitude, crimes involving domestic violence.


Question #4 – Green Card
My EB-3 priority date is October 25, 2006 and I have a pending I-485 application filed back in July 2007 when all categories were current. My fiancé and I are getting married in January 2013. Since my I-485 is not approved yet, I heard that it is possible to include her in my green card application so that both of us can get our green cards when my priority date is current. Is that true? If so, when and how should I start the process?

Answer #4
You will need to wait for your priority date to become current before you are able to file your spouses’ I-485, Adjustment of Status application.


Question #5 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B
My company is considering merging with another company, if we do merge, will we need to file amended petitions for each nonimmigrant worker to be in compliance? I will still remain President of the organization, and the workers will remain in their respective positions and nothing else will change except for the name of the company. Please advise.

Answer #5
Under the Visa Waiver Permanent Act of October 2000, a person is no longer required to file an H1B amendment after a merger, consolidation or other corporate restructuring in many cases if the new job is identical to the prior job before the merger, etc. We would recommend the applicant carry a letter explaining the merger for travel purposes.


Question #6 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B
What types of questions are asked during the H1-B visa application interview process?

Answer #6
During the interview the Immigration Officer has the authority to ask questions regarding the applicant’s educational background, experience, the sponsoring employer, vendor/end client, if applicable, and any information contained in the submitted H-1B petition. Accordingly, you should be thoroughly familiar with this information.


Question #7 – Naturalization/CitizenshipWhat are the eligibility requirements to apply for naturalization?

Answer #7
The general requirements for administrative naturalization include: a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States (if LPR – period of 5 years; if LPR spouse of U.S. Citizen – period of 3 years); an ability to read, write and speak English; a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government; Good moral character; attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and favorable disposition toward the United States.


Question #8 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B
Can more than one (1) employer file a temporary (part-time) H1B visa application on my behalf at the same time? For a part time H1B worker, what is the minimum number of hours per week and days per week of work required to be eligible for maintaining the part-time H1B visa status?

Answer #8
Simply put, yes more than one employer can file a temporary part-time H-1B visa application for you during the same time period, as long as a certified LCA covering the jurisdiction of employment is obtained and the I-129 petition and additional supporting documentation reflects this part-time period. 40 hours + per week would be considered a full time employee, therefore, anything less than 40 hours per week would be considered part-time.


Question #9 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B
If I plan to continue working for my employer in the United States, at what point should I apply for an extension?

Answer #9
For the H-1B (Specialty Occupation) nonimmigrant visa, you are able to apply for an extension at least 6 months prior to the visa’s expiration date.


Question #10 – General
Can you obtain permanent residence outside of the country in which you intend to be a resident?

Answer #10
Yes, this process is called Consular Processing. After the necessary forms are filed and approved by the USCIS, an individual will be scheduled for and attend a visa interview at a U.S. Consulate abroad where a Consular Officer will decide within their discretion if an applicant is eligible to receive the requested benefit.


MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.

Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, August 3rd, 2012!

Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our H1B Visa Lawyer blog!

Posted On: July 16, 2012

MVP "Immigration Q & A Forum" - This Friday, July 20, 2012

We wanted to find a new way to engage our reader base. Every other Friday, we will post the ten (10) best/most frequently asked questions received during the week from our h1bvisalawyerblog, Facebook, and Twitter readers. We will answer those questions and provide the Q&A on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

If you have a burning question, are seeking assistance with a difficult immigration related case, wish to discuss your views on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, DREAMers, priority dates, the monthly visa bulletin, adjustment applications, etc., please contact us by submitting your question/comment/viewpoint in our comment box provided on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

Our next “Q & A Forum” will take place this Friday, July 20, 2012. Act now and submit your questions!

THANK YOU!

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.

Posted On: July 12, 2012

Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) Processing Times

Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) Processing Times were released with processing dates as of July 1, 2012.

If you filed an appeal, please review the link below to determine the applicable processing time associated with your particular case.

Administrative Appeals Office

The current processing time for an I-129 H-1B Appeal is 17 months; for an I-129 L1 Appeal - 22 months. The current processing time for an I-140 EB2 Appeal for an Advanced Degree Professional is 12 months; for an I-140EB3 Appeal for a Skilled or Professional Worker is 35 months.

**Most other cases are within USCIS' processing time goal of 6 months or less.

Posted On: July 11, 2012

AUGUST 2012 VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State has released its latest Visa Bulletin.

Click here to view the August 2012 Visa Bulletin.

The August 2012 Visa Bulletin shows employment based second preference (EB-2) as oversubscribed with no numbers presently available in the EB2 classification for China and India. Employment based third preference (EB-3) visas are also listed as oversubscribed.

According to the Visa Bulletin, numbers will be available for China and India Employment Based Second Preference cases beginning October 1, 2012 under the FY2013 numercial limitations. Every effort will be made to return the China and India EB2 cut-off date to the May 1, 2010 date which had been reached in April 2012.

Note: Readers should be advised that it is impossible to accurately estimate how long that may take, but current indications are that it would definitely not occur before Spring 2013.

**The priority date is current if there is no backlog in the category, or if the priority date is on or before the date listed as current in the State Department's monthly Visa Bulletin.

Posted On: July 6, 2012

MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, July 6, 2012

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.


Question #1 – General
What exactly is the Visa Waiver Program?

Answer #1
As provided on the Department of State website, The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of 36 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business (visitor [B] visa purposes only) for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The program was established to eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulating the tourism industry, and permitting the Department of State to focus consular resources in other areas. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. Nationals of VWP countries must meet eligibility requirements to travel without a visa on VWP, and therefore, some travelers from VWP countries are not eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel, are screened at the port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program.


Question #2 – Employment Based: Green Card
Is labor certification required for ALL Employment or just some?

Answer #2
Labor certification is not required for ALL Employment based preference categories; however, it is required for Employment Based 2nd and 3rd preference categories.


Question #3 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
How does premium processing for the H-1B visa work?

Answer #3
Premium Processing is an option that allows a case to be adjudicated within a period of 15 calendar days from the date the USCIS receipted the case. For an additional USCIS filing fee of $1225.00, the USCIS will review the case and make a decision within the specified time period. If an RFE is issued, once the response is received by the USCIS, the clock begins to run again for 15 calendar days. Regular processing is currently taking 2-3 months from the date of filing to be adjudicated by the USCIS.


Question #4 – General
How much are the Required Visa Filing Fee’s?

Answer #4
Click to review the USCIS filing fees.


Question #5 – Aslyee
What is an Asylee?

Answer #5
According to Webster’s Dictionary, an aslyee is an alien in the United States or at a port of entry who is found to be unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality, or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear thereof must be based on the alien’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. For persons with no nationality, the country of nationality is considered to be the country in which the alien last habitually resided.


Question #6 – Temporary Work Visa
What’s the difference between an E work visa and an L work visa?

Answer #6
The E-1 visa allows individuals to enter the U.S. temporarily to engage in substantial trade. There are strict requirements as to the nationality of individuals and the level of trade necessary to qualify for the visa. As an advantage to this category, individuals may apply directly at a U.S. Consulate.
The E-2 visa allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the U.S. temporarily to carry out substantial investment and trade activities. To qualify for this visa, the applicant must be a key employee of their company and a national of a country that has an investor treaty with the U.S.
The E-3 visa is exclusively reserved for Australian nationals. The visa allows Australian Professionals to come to the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation, similar in many aspects to the H-1B nonimmigrant worker visa.
The L-1 visa allows companies operating both in the U.S. and abroad to transfer certain types of employees from its overseas office to the U.S. office for up to seven years. This visa comes in the following categories: L-1A - for executives and managers; and L-1B - for personnel with specialized knowledge.


Question #7 – Refugee
What is a Refugee?

Answer #7
According to Webster’s Dictionary, a refugee is any person who is outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution or the fear thereof must be based on the alien's race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. People with no nationality must generally be outside their country of last habitual residence to qualify as a refugee.


Question #8 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
If I did not use all six years on my previous H-1B visa, can I apply to USCIS to use the remaining years now?

Answer #8
Yes, if you have time remaining on your H-1B nonimmigrant visa status and have applied for the visa within the past six years, you are not subject to the H-1B numerical cap and are able to apply to use those remaining years now if you have an employer willing to sponsor you for your employment in the Specialty Occupation.


Question #9 – Employment Based: Green Card
What is a good type of employment position and employment duties to have so my labor certification/green card process goes quicker??

Answer #9
There is no such thing to speed up the process. The Department of Labor operates on a first come, first serve basis. Accordingly, when a prevailing wage determination is submitted, others who submitted their requests prior to yours will be served first, before you. Additionally, when submitting the Labor Certification Application to the DOL, again, it operates on a first come, first serve basis.


Question #10 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
When does my time on my H-1B visa start? The day that is approved or when I first enter the U.S. using it?

Answer #10
The six year period begins to accrue when you first enter the U.S. on a valid H-1B nonimmigrant visa. Your I-94 card will be stamped to reflect the date you arrived.



MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.

Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, July 20th, 2012!

Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our H1B Visa Lawyer blog!

Posted On: July 3, 2012

MVP "Immigration Q & A Forum" - This Friday, July 6, 2012

We wanted to find a new way to engage our reader base. Every other Friday, we will post the ten (10) best/most frequently asked questions received during the week from our h1bvisalawyerblog, Facebook, and Twitter readers. We will answer those questions and provide the Q&A on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

If you have a burning question, are seeking assistance with a difficult immigration related case, wish to discuss your views on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, DREAMERS, priority dates, the monthly visa bulletin, adjustment applications, etc., please contact us by submitting your question/comment/viewpoint in our comment box provided on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

Our next “Q & A Forum” will take place this Friday, July 6th, 2012. Act now and submit your questions!

THANK YOU!

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.