The Purpose Driven Visa

The Wider Scope of B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa Explained

The B-1 and B-2 visa has mistakenly been limited and labeled as the ‘Tourist visa’. However, it is better referred to as the Visitor visa, which extends way beyond the purpose of touring the United States.  Rather, the purpose for which a Foreign National can visit the United States or change visa status to a Visitor in the U.S. is vast. 

This article post illustrates a few scenarios where a Visitor visa is appropriate.  For instance, our law firm often files visas with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services or the U.S. Consulate for clients seeking opportunities in the United States.  An intended visitor to the U.S. may apply for visitor visa with the purpose of seeking business ventures, visiting colleges & universities, medical or legal reasons, and meeting on-line connections in person… just to name a few possibilities.  

It is important to have U.S. Immigration legal counsel prepare an itinerary that clearly demonstrates and documents the purpose of the visit for the entire length of stay. We often represent clients who are in an alternative U.S. visa status to visitor status as well. For instance, if a foreign national is in the United States on a J-1 cultural exchange visa,  F-1 student visa, L-1, E-1 or E-2 visa  set to expire; a temporary change of status to a B-1/B-2 visitor visa is often ideal, to ensure no unlawful presence is accrued, while remaining in the country to pivot towards a new visa based on individual or family goals.   

If a U.S. citizen lives and works abroad there are B-1/B-2 visitor visas available for their nanny or housekeeper when traveling back to the United States. The requirements of eligibility are not explained in this article. 

The typical grant of stay in the U.S. on a visitor visa is six months. Foreign Nationals may change their status and extend his or her stay through experienced immigration legal counsel prior to visa status expiration needed. 

When applying for a visitor visa, strong evidence showing non-immigrant intent is required. Also, since work in the U.S. is not allowed while visiting in most situations, a financial plan to fund one’s visit is essential to be approved as a visitor to the States. Hiring an immigration lawyer from the beginning allows careful planning to prepare a visitor visa, since it is the most popular category of visa applied for and denied.  

Experienced legal counsel greatly improves the chances of an approved visitor visa from the outset, especially without any prior visa denials.

To schedule a consultation, you may email us at info@becapitallaw.com or call / text (703)966-0907. B&E Capital – Vassell Law Group,PC | http://www.vasselllaw.com | http://www.becapitallaw.com | Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association for over 20 years.

Know Your F-1 Student ‘Immigrants Rights’

No…. F-1 students, if you run out of money before finishing your program your only option is not to “depart the United States”.

Well-meaning university and college Designated Student Officers (“DSO”) fail to inform international students of their immigration “rights”. This short article post outlines your U.S. Immigration rights in the event your student visa status ends or, you or someone you know hits a financial, medical or other snag causing continued enrollment in school to be impossible.  

Change of Status. An F-1 student should consult with legal counsel on how to change to an alternative status BEFORE one’s I-20 status is terminated by his or her school. DSOs and school Immigration specialists are not allowed or qualified to give legal advice. Their primary role is to keep you enrolled and to safeguard the school’s status with the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), to operate an international student program. The requirements are strict for the colleges and universities.   

The requirements most often conflict with an international student’s interest in remaining in the country when hardships arise. Your immigration rights are safeguarded when you are legally advised on all visa alternatives.   

Visa options include, but are not limited to:  

  • Visitor Visa Bridge. B-1/B-2 visitor visas are a great option to bridge a student’s status in the United States. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS) accepts a variety of reasons to approve a change of status into this category. Valid reasons such as: to look for a new financial sponsor, less expensive school, embark on job interviews, or take time out for medical needs are eligible factors. It’s important to note, a visitor visa is not limited to tourism or pleasure as is often misconstrued.   
  • Medical issues. While studying in the United States a client of ours suffered kidney failure. She had to immediately stop studying. We were able to check her university’s student visa policy manual, and the federal regulations to allow medical leave without a violation in her status. There are also humanitarian options. An experienced U.S immigration lawyer can help you protect your status while dealing with medical crisis in the United States.  
  • Hostile OPT or CPT Work Environment. If you or someone you know is in his or her Optical Practical Training(“OPT”) work authorization period of F-1 status, it’s important to know that all U.S. Labor laws apply to international students.  

We recently had a client who had completed her PHD in cyber security. During her OPT her brother went missing in Ukraine. This caused severe mental health issues; and the shock caused her to need time off work. Her employer declined, and even became hostile. The student reported the problem to the school, and still no action was taken.    

We checked the Employment Assistance Program (“EAP”) for the student’s employer, and the federal regulations. We found grounds for the student to stop work without a status violation; and our firm successfully bridged her to an alternative status.”  

There are many other scenarios where F-1 students can remain the United States without accruing unlawful presence before termination occurs of F-1 status. Understanding who is your advocate during these stressful times is essential. In sum, a DSO cannot give you legal advice. Consulting with your own confidential immigration attorney dedicated to protecting your status, and finding visa options in your interest is your ‘immigration right’.

To schedule a consultation, you may email us at info@becapitallaw.com or call / text (703)966-0907. B&E Capital – Vassell Law Group,PC | http://www.vasselllaw.com | http://www.becapitallaw.com | Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association for over 20 years.

The Au Pair Alternative

Hiring a Nanny for Your Family on a Temporary or Permanent Visa

Balancing quality childcare and a career has become a real dilemma in the United States.  Juggling activities, sports and taking care of our kids’ intermittent medical needs, has become unsustainable for even 2 parent homes.

In this article, we discuss how proper planning can help families succeed in hiring a nanny from abroad, and/or keep their Au Pair after the maximum time allowance through a cultural exchange program.  The Au Pair J-1 cultural exchange program provides temporary nannies for a one-to-two-year period. Au Pairs are limited by age and visa. After age 26, they are no longer eligible for the program.

However, families may begin the process of permanently hiring them through permanent sponsorship.  The process takes time, and early planning is essential.  First, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) must do a market test and certify the nanny position. Our lawyers work step by step with our parents to get the required labor certification for a nanny. The next step is filing the I-140 petition through USCIS and completing an application for permanent resident status on behalf of foreign nanny.

We also, help Consular process nannies.  If parents seek to hire a Nanny while the potential nanny is living overseas, we work with the National Visa Center (NVC). The first step is still certification through DOL. However, the application would be processed through the Department of State (DOS) NVC.

This is a great option, where future parents can plan for childcare before having children, or where the need is not immediate for a nanny. Processing times vary for Nannies depending on the DOS visa bulletin which our attorneys monitor regularly to keep our clients aware of wait times.

A final option available to hire a foreign nanny is through the H-2B visa worker program. We invite you to inquire about this limited option for nannies, which temporarily would allow a nanny to work in the United States for up to a period of 3 years.

To schedule a consultation, you may email us at info@becapitallaw.com or call / text (703)966-0907. B&E Capital – Vassell Law Group,PC | http://www.vasselllaw.com | http://www.becapitallaw.com | Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association for over 20 years.

Understanding 3 Hurdles to Successfully Secure A Visa to the United States

A popular held belief that once a foreign national is granted a visa to the United States…it’s all-smooth sailing, is unfortunately not true. This short blog will explain the “behind scenes” screenings and audits with U.S. Customs Border & Patrol (CBP) or United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) that can cause exclusion or removal from the United States that all starts with what appears to be an approved temporary non-immigrant visa at one’s U.S. consulate abroad.

A visitor visa for business or pleasure is the highest sought visa to come to the United States. The first step is to apply at a U.S. Consulate. The DS-160 is an on-line application that must be filled out accurately and truthfully. Having a clear and verifiable itinerary, ties to your home & budget explaining how you will fund your entire visit is essential for approval. While one may not work in the United States, it’s totally permissible to look for jobs and business opportunities once it’s demonstrated that you have savings, friends or family that support your cost-of-living expenses while temporarily visiting the United States. 

Finally, determining, in advance, if a waiver is needed for any prior criminal, misrepresentation or prior overstay in the United States can result in an approved visa, notwithstanding these issues.

Once the visa is approved by designated U.S. Consulate, and you begin travel, the next important hurdle arises with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Most non-U.S. Citizens will not be screened or cleared by DHS U.S. or CBP until they actually land at a United States Airport. However, upon arrival you are in “no man’s land”. Essentially, you are once again applying for entry to the United States. Arrival at the airport represents landing at a border Port of Entry only.

U.S.CBP may screen passengers while enroute to the U.S. and determine even before arrival if secondary inspection is required. All non-immigrants seeking entry to the U.S. may have their social media or phones searched, baggage and person. Denial of admission can happen after a series of questions. Arrangements are immediately made for the foreign national to return to his or home country without being admitted. 

It’s important should this happen to you or someone you know ask for a copy of any written statement or recordings while being interviewed by U.S.CBP. Our immigration lawyers also request the file from CBP through Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), as the record could impact the ability of our clients to be granted a visa or approved to enter the country in the future.

The third and final hurdle that non-immigrant visa holders should be aware, is that despite having an approved B-1/B-2 Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) at the Consulate, and successful entry to the United States, one’s NIV can be revoked for mistakes, errors, fraud, or omissions. An example of what may trigger a visa being revoked is filing an application to change or extend status where inconsistencies are found; or applying for U.S. Permanent status with clear conflicting intent.

It is best to always be honest and ask questions when one is unclear about the visa application process to the United States. Consider hiring a U.S. immigration lawyer to represent you, your employee or family member whenever applying for any category of visa to the U.S.  

Oversight, mistakes, and inexperience causes thousands of denials to the United States each year.  We have over 25 years of experience representing our clients at all phases of the non-immigrant visa process and overcoming hurdles.

To schedule a consultation, you may email us at info@becapitallaw.com or call / text (703)966-0907. B&E Capital – Vassell Law Group,PC | http://www.vasselllaw.com | http://www.becapitallaw.com | Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association for over 20 years.

Don’t Sit on the E-1 Work Visa!

Eligibility When the E-2 Visa Is Not an Option

The E-1 Treaty visa is a fantastic work visa option that is often overlooked and not discussed as a viable work visa option!

We recently had a client who was disappointed that their country, Bolivia, was not E-2 treaty eligible.  They had a unique service they wanted to bring to the U.S. market and invest in the United States by opening a company.  However, when we looked closer at the client’s services to be exchanged with the United States and double checked the treaty laws, we were too happy to inform our Bolivian national that they were eligible under the E-1 treaty work visa program. Below we highlight important tips and takeaways from this story. We limit our discussion of E-1 visas to the trading of services here. 

The ‘Big Take Away’ & Important Tips For E-1 Work Visa Eligibility In The United States: 

·         The E treaty visa is divided into two parts: E-1(international exchange/trade) and; E-2 (investment into the U.S). It’s important to not assume that if one’s country is not E-2 investor treaty eligible, then it is entirely exempt from this bi-lateral treaty. The E-1 treaty ‘eligible country list’ does not parallel the E-2 treaty eligible countries. Here Bolivian nationals, while not eligible for E-2 visas, are fully eligible for the E-1 trade visa.

·         The E-1 Treaty visa and E-2 Treaty visa can accomplish two popular goals of our clients through either visa mechanisms: The two popular goals of our clients are: first, managing workflow, business goals and objectives abroad in the United States; and second, the ability to acquire a U.S. work visa to deploy their employee(s) to the United States.

An E-1 visa allows a country such as Canada, to operate a business in the United States and trade services such as accounting, consulting or engineering between the two countries. A Canadian worker may obtain an E-1 work visa to go to the United States to manage the operations goals and objectives such as workflow, growth and increased revenue.

Similarly, an E-2 Treaty investor can also open and operate a company in the United States and send an E-2 visa worker from Canada to manage the company’s goals and objectives, including return on investment, while establishing a presence in the United States.

The criteria for E-1 visa requires a determination by the U.S. government that:

(i)                 a treaty exists;

(ii)              the individual or business possesses the nationality of the treaty country;

(iii)            the activities the E-1 will engage in constitute trade within the meaning of the Code;

(iv)             (iv) the trade is substantial;

(v)               (v) the trade is principally between the U.S. and the treaty country of the applicant’s nationality;

(vi)             (vi) applicant, if an employee, is destined to an executive/supervisory position or possesses skills essential to the firms’ operations in the U.S.; and

(vii)          the applicant intends to the depart the U.S. when the E-1 status terminates.

E-1 and E-2 Treaty visas are complex and require experienced immigration legal representation to be successful. We have over 25 years representing our U.S. immigration clients.

To schedule a consultation, you may email us at info@vasselllaw.com or call / text (703)966-0907. B&E Capital – Vassell Law Group,PC | www.vasselllaw.com | www.becapitallaw.com | Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association for over 20 years.

The November Deadline to Begin is Here!

Best Practices for H-2B Visa Success

The race is on! The next available start date for H-2B workers to begin work in the United States is April 1, 2023. U.S. employers who seek to have foreign nationals begin work in spring should begin the H-2B process as soon as possible but no later than November 30th.  Best practices encourage U.S. companies or households to have hired a “seasoned” Immigration lawyer on or before this date as visa availability can change rapidly necessitating an alternate immigration strategy.

For a variety of reasons, U.S. companies and households are often unable to find U.S. workers qualified and able to fill professional, skilled and unskilled positions.  The inability to find workers timely can devastate a company or a family.  Reasons for this employment gap in hiring may be a result of the following:

  • Success in U.S. employer acquiring new contracts where additional workers are needed immediately
  • Spike in customers during certain seasons and difficulty scaling employment accordingly
  • Massive resignations due to pandemics, disasters causing a serious shortage as a company or family tries to rebound.
  • Skillset needed that is not commonly found in the United States work pool.
  • American workers’ traditional non-interest in certain jobs or industries.

H-2B temporary workers are not limited to corporations or businesses. U.S. households are also eligible to hire temporary workers on the H-2B visa program. Cooks, nannies, butlers, housekeepers, grounds keepers and the like are challenging for families to hire.

Best Practices Tips

To achieve success in hiring H-2B temporary workers, we provide the following tips to discuss with a U.S. immigration lawyer:

  • Determine if you have a one-time need, seasonal need or intermittent need for temporary worker(s).
  • Collect documents and information that has resulted in the need to hire foreign nationals temporarily. Document with Contracts, Organizational charts, Payroll records reflecting trends and shortages, medical records and other information that gave rise to temporary need.
  • Since H-2B visas are limited by the yearly congressional cap, determine how many workers you need and for what positions ASAP. Do not wait to find the workers before beginning the process with an immigration attorney. The priority is securing the temporary work visa(s).
  • Be careful using recruitment companies without first checking with an immigration lawyer. There are risks and disclosures that should be considered before hiring a recruitment company.
  • Have your immigration lawyer file a Prevailing Wage Determination (“PWD”) with the Department of Labor (“DOL”) as the first step in the H-2B process. As a practical point, U.S. employers need to know what the U.S. government mandates as the wage for the temporary worker(s).

We hope you found these tips helpful. Our lawyers are accepting new H-2B cases for the upcoming new season in 2023. If you are interested in hiring one or several H-2B visa workers for the first part of 2023 please contact us prior to November 30th . Our lawyers are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association- AILA, and we have over 25 years of experience. Based in the Washington D.C. area, we serve clients throughout the United States and internationally.

Seeking an Employment Based Green Card?

Sorting through PERM Confusion – Prevailing Wage vs. PERM  9089 Registration/Application

The PERM Labor Certification is the first step for most employment based sponsored Green Cards in the Employment Based Category 3, (EB-3) where a U.S. employer permanently sponsors a foreign national. PERM is basically a market test to determine if there are any U.S. workers qualified, ready and available for a position. This fact must be established before the employer can be certified to recruit and employ workers from abroad.

The process begins with getting a Prevailing Wage from the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). It is often confused with the employer registering to submit a PERM 9089 application with DOL.

The Prevailing wage is filed on the DOL’s FLAG website. The position and respective wage must be approved by the U.S. government. The U.S. employer must pay 100% of the wage approved by DOL.

In contrast, PERM 9089 is filed on a different website. The instructions are found at: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ETA/oflc/pdfs/PERM_Webinar_Business_Existence_Registration-08.22.18.pdf . The employer must directly register on this website. Then the employer can create a sub-account for his or her attorney who will go in and draft/file the PERM on the U.S. company’s behalf.

The entire process of U.S. employment-based sponsorship for employees seeking U.S. permanent resident status is complex and requires an experienced U.S. immigration attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (“AILA”). Our lawyers have been members of AILA for over 20 years. You may contact us today for an initial consultation by emailing info@becapitallaw.com or call us at our central line at (703)829-5881. 

Our offices are based in the Washington D.C. area, and we serve immigration clients throughout the United States and globally.

www.becapitallaw.com G. Del Evans, Esq.

When Tragedy Strikes Back Home & Your In the Middle of Adjusting Status to a U.S. Permanent Resident…What can You do?

As a rule, if you or someone you know is applying for adjustment of status (“AS”) to a U.S. Permanent Resident based on an Employment Based Petition (I-140), or a Family petition (I-130), your application will be denied if you leave the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) will consider the application abandoned.  “However, you might say, “what happens if I learn my family member is dying back home, or my minor child has been abandoned by their entrusted caregivers…what can I do?”

The solution is to apply for expedited travel permission. The process is called advanced parole which is completed on form I-131. In order to get expedited treatment of your I-131 application to travel, you will need to meet DHS’s criteria. DHS U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Division (“USCIS”) site explains the following:

USCIS considers all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis;

May require additional documentation to support a request; and

Has the sole discretion to decide whether to accommodate a request.

Because granting an expedite request means that USCIS would adjudicate the requestor’s benefit ahead of others who filed earlier, we carefully weigh the urgency and merit of each expedite request. We may consider an expedite request if it meets one or more of the following criteria or circumstances:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure to:
  • Timely file the benefit request, or
  • Timely respond to any requests for additional evidence;

Your lawyer will need to call USCIS and request Info pass, and explain the nature of your urgent travel. You will need to bring all USCIS receipts, passport, proof of emergency such as court documents from abroad, funeral arrangements, death certificates, completed I-131 etc.  Also, bring passport size photos too…in case they give you a paper Advanced Parole (“AP”) on the spot.

If USCIS does not issue the AP immediately, they will send their recommendation/approval of expedite to the National Benefits Center (“NBC”), and a travel document will be issued that will be good for at least one trip out of the country. It is very important to check with an immigration attorney in your local district to see if AP packets are accepted at the USCIS window and approved on the spot.

Our lawyers have been practicing for over 25 years and are members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association – AILA.  We have real lives and lawyers on our legal staff have published books where they share their stories to encourage humanity.  Ask us, and we will provide you a free copy.

Contact us today and schedule a low-cost consultation at info@becapitallaw.com or info@vasselllawgroup.com. We are based in Washington D.C. serving clients throughout the United States and the world.

B&E Capital Law Group

http://www.BECapitallaw.com G. Del. Evans, Esq.