Tips that will make or break the PERM Labor Certification and I-140 Portability process

This blog tip is being posted to assist U.S. Employers and foreign nationals avoid the harsh consequences of failing to understand the key principle discussed below. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) through AC21 allows for foreign national employees who have a PERM Labor Certification and/or I-140 filed on their behalf to change employers without losing their respective priority date with the Department of State (“DOS”). The visa bulletin, issued monthly by DOS, allows foreign national applicants who are being sponsored by a U.S. employer to know when they are eligible to become a U.S. Permanent Resident.

While porting over priority dates for purposes of AC21 is ideal to capture one’s priority date and eliminate additional wait time; it is very important to ensure the two job descriptions match according to specific Federal regulations. We have seen where hiring a U.S. Immigration attorney to complete the porting over of the PERM Labor Certification and I-140 can save a foreign national much heartache when they change jobs midstream in the work sponsorship process. Both jobs must be identical to ensure that the U.S. work based sponsorship can “run the full course” to U.S. Permanent Status being achieved. Triggering U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to issue a NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny) as the result of filing the I-485 Adjustment of Status Application step can result in a denial of visa.

We provide legal guidance to H-1B visa holders, PERM, E-B1a, E-B1b, E-B1c, E-B2 and National Interest Waivers. We monitor the Federal Regulations, and receive daily updates from the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA). Laws are continually being updated on non-immigrant visas and permanent visas. Consular Processing through the Department of State and Waivers of inadmissibility are studied and aggressively used to assist clients. Representation by counsel at the National Visa Center (“NVC”) aids efficiency in processing of visas. I-601 A waiver(s) are the basis for many Waivers needed when encountered. Our law offices are based in Washington D.C, Rockville, Maryland and Fairfax, Virginia.

Our immigration lawyers are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and have 22 years of experience with Business Immigration law matters. You may contact us at one of our offices conveniently listed at www.vasselllaw.com or email info@vasselllaw.com to request a video or in person attorney consultation.

Is Your Visa Expired But Still In Status?

Is There Ever A Time When Your Visa Is Expired But Your Still In Status?

The answer is yes! I’ll explain. This is your U.S. Immigration Minute where we give you Immigration Tips & News without the Politics.

Whenever a foreign national travels to the U.S. On a temporary non-immigrant visa, he or she is issued an I-94 record which can be accessed electronically. As a general rule, the I-94 expiration date always rules over the visa expiration date.

Avoiding the 60 Day Au Pair Trap!

Here at ScottVassell Law Firm, our lawyers have had the pleasure of working with Au Pairs in the United States for the past two decades. We advocate and protect the status of these bright intelligent youth with great dreams and aspirations from around the world.

The Au Pair program is a cultural exchange program run by the Department of State (‘DOS’) that permits youth between the ages of  18 and 26 years old to provide childcare to U.S. parents who are typically professionals, executives and business owners. The program is for 12 months, but DOS may approve a one-time extension of 6, 9, or 12 months if the Au Pair complies with certain educational requirements and files at least 30 days prior to expiration. 22 CFR §§62.31(k), (o). An Au Pair may also return to the program for a new 12-month period after remaining outside the U.S. for 2 years. 22 CFR §62.31(p); 73 FR 34861 (June 19, 2008); 74 FR 15844 (Apr. 8, 2009).

Au Pairs of America is the primary placement agency for Au Pairs.  The agency uses its own U.S. immigration legal counsel to prepare the J-1 visas for Au Pairs accepted into the program. However, in contrast, the agency unfortunately does not provide legal representation for the Au Pair towards the end of his or her stay where the Au Pair is unable or unwilling to apply for an extension of Au Pair duties. We have seen this lead to the Au Pairs accruing unlawful presence in the United States, and lose their ability to receive any future U.S. Immigration benefits.

The Following Tips Are Essential For Au Pairs To Not Forfeit Their U.S. Immigration Options Or Aspirations In Planning For ‘Life After Being An Au Pair’:

First, do not accept legal advice from an Au Pair of America staff manager or member. Only a separate private immigration attorney can accurately advise, as  Au Pairs of America and the Au Pair have a  ‘conflict of interest’ where the program date is coming to an end.

The Au Pair agency needs to bridge the gap between the exiting Au Pair and the new Au Pair needed for the host family.  This is paramount, of course, for the Au Pair agency’s business. In contrast, the exiting Au Pair cannot and should NOT work even one day after expiration of status on the DS 2019.

Due to misinformation by the Au Pair staff agency, we have seen many Au Pairs fall out of status because they were told that ‘there is a ’60 day’ grace period to remain in the U.S. despite an expired stay. The Au Pair then falsely believes she may continue to work for the host family until the new Au Pair nanny arrives. At no time should an Au Pair feel obligated to work for her host family without valid work authorization from the agency in the form of a new DS-2019 extension. 

Secondly, talk to your host family about your J-1 visa well in advance of expiration. Host families in the United States are many times very understanding and helpful.  We frequently receive calls from the host family wanting to know how they might help their Au Pair stay in valid status. The 60 day grace period is not status while remaining in the United states, and a private Immigration lawyer can help the host family and Au Pair with concerns about child care during ‘the gap’ which occurs when an Au Pair’s DS-2019 expires.

Finally, the Au Pair should ideally consult with her own private immigration attorney at least 45 days before expiration of the J-1 visa especially if there is any consideration to remain in the U.S. at completion of one’s program. If, however, an Au Pair ends up remaining in the United States unauthorized due to misinformation about the 60-day grace period, an attorney can still help as long as legal counsel is enlisted asap BEFORE departing the United States. An experienced Immigration lawyer knows how to remedy and correct any unlawful status that might result. This legal step is ‘insurance’ so that an Au Pair will be able to change her visa status in the United States, reapply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad; and be eligible for travel (called advance parole) if being sponsored for permanent resident status based on employment or marriage.

Our immigration lawyers are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and we provide initial free 20-minute video consultations. You may contact us today with any questions. ScottVassell Law Firm has 22 years of experience with Business Immigration law matters. You may contact us at one of our offices conveniently listed at www.vasselllaw.com or email info@vasselllaw.com to request an initial 20 min free video or in person attorney consultation.

E-2 Visa Innovators & Investors Needed ~Partnering to Solve Pandemic Problems

While lockdowns and quarantines have placed the world on ‘pause’— we have witnessed businesses and investors respond to the pandemic as an opportunity to unite internationally in solving unprecedented problems. Finding solutions fast to grapple with the ‘new normal’ has become essential for society due to the crisis created by the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The ‘race seems to be on’ by organizations and communities alike to find ways to safely have children return to school; to find social distancing solutions, and ways to prevent the spread of the virus all together. The E-2 investor visa has allowed the average U.S. Citizen and international investors worldwide collaborate their resources to face one of the greatest challenges of the century.

In a famous quote by one of my favorite writers; he says ‘in times of trouble, whatever things are positive, whatever things are of a good report’ think on these things’.  So, despite the dire situation we face, it’s great to report that the E-2 Investor visa, a bi-lateral treaty between the U.S. and other countries, is leading to partnered international solutions between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to protect our children, and high risk populations as it pertains to this horrible virus. 

Our lawyers at ScottVassell & Lee Law Firm are excited to take part by representing business and investor clients around the world, and in the United States to bring their business plans and investments to life in the United States.

Despite popular belief, there are no minimum money investment required.  Rather, we work with our clients to ensure the U.S. Federal regulations are met by ensuring SUFFICIENT capitalization to meet the necessary monetary outlay for product or service development in the United States. Well, I hope that wherever you are in the world, you find this information positive and enlightening in these difficult COVID times. We invite you to contact our Immigration lawyers by emailing info@vasselllaw.com or call us at (703) 261.6881. We offer an initial free 20 min video and in-office consultation.

The Sensitive Matter of ESTA VISA Waivers & The Impact of COVID-19

With the arrival of  an unprecedented world pandemic, due to COVID-19, wreaking havoc on everything and everyone; individuals holding ESTA visa waiver status have been left in a unique sensitive ‘bind’. Specifically, their U.S. non-immigrant U.S. status has been placed at risk with  lockdowns, and flight cancellations just prior to his or her VWP expiration date.  It’s important to pause and remember the big difference between foreign national citizens who enter the country on the ‘sensitive’ VWP, versus foreign nationals that enter the U.S. on a traditional non-immigrant visa issued by a U.S. Consulate Post abroad.

The Visa Waiver Program allows Citizens of certain countries to apply for admission into the United States through a pre-clearance U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Centers. The VWP waives the need for eligible nationalities to go through the traditional U.S. Consulate application process. An ESTA recipient also waives their rights to the following: Extension or change of status in the United States, or to avail themselves of appeals and relief through the Department of Justice immigraiton court system in the event of immigration status complications.

Without much recourse, individuals in VWP status have hastily departed to border countries such as the U.S. and Canada to renew their ESTA status, and risked not being admitted to either country or readmitted after departing the United States. Our lawyers here at ScottVassell Law Firm, strongly disagree with ESTA VWP holders taking these risks. It’s important to work instead with a  U.S. Immigration lawyer who has a good working relationship with the U.S. ports of entry, and can represent you in front of U.S. Customs Border and Patrol (“CBP”).

Our lawyers have successfully helped countless individuals extend their ESTA without leaving the country by entering our representation with U.S. CBP, and resolving extension issues at land borders or airports while our clients ‘stay put’ in the United States. These extension requests must be made well in advance of the VWP’s expiration date. However, we also file ‘nun pro tunc’ requests for eligible applicants even in the event of overstay.

The above legal option should only be exercised with experienced legal counsel who are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (‘AILA’).

Visas & Viruses

How to Navigate Your Visa or “Non-Visa” ESTA Status During a Pandemic

“All flights are cancelled; I am here on a 90 day visa waiver; and it expires next week what should I do”? These are questions our lawyers at ScottVassell & LeeCC answer daily. We hope this short article post will reduce anxiety and allow you to safeguard your current U.S. ESTA visa waiver or temporary visa status set to expire amidst the pandemic.

It is very important to keep an eye on ‘future reentry’ to the United States versus the short-term crises. While overstaying a visa or visa waiver without acting seems plausible due to COVID-19, it should not be an option.  Temporary visas are issued by the Department of State (“DOS”) at U.S. Consulates abroad. The decision by DOS to extend a visa in the future is solely discretionary with no right of appeal. It is therefore incumbent upon any individual in the United States holding temporary visa status or registered in the ESTA visa waiver program to take aggressive steps to protect your status.

ESTA Visa Waiver Program

The ESTA visa waiver program is largely administered by U.S. Customs Border and Patrol (“CBP”), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. You should seek immigration counsel’s legal advice on how to manage your ESTA visa waiver, since this is not an actual visa. Our office connects directly with a land border or with U.S. CBP at the airports to document our clients’ visa waiver dilemma. We request government approval to remain in the United States.

The ESTA program requires a foreign national to sign a “contract” to waive all rights to courts and appeals if one overstays his or her visa. In circumstances beyond a client’s control, however, we have connected with the U.S. Ports of Entry through CBP to ensure our clients do not forfeit legal rights and their ability to use the ESTA program in the future.

Temporary Visa Status

While U.S. Immigration laws allow for an individual in temporary visitor visa status (B-1/B-2, F-1, H-1B, J-1 Au Pair, etc.) to later argue why he or she overstayed their visa, the U.S. Consulate abroad may still deny reentry. It can get complicated for a temporary visitor to reenter the United States in the future.  Rather, visa extensions may be obtained by hiring a U.S. immigration attorney to renew one’s visa in advance of expiration with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

We invite you to contact our Immigration lawyers by emailing info@vasselllaw.com or visit us www.vasselllaw.com for our contact information conveniently listed. We offer an initial free 20 min video and in-office consultation.

Saying Goodbye to Your Beloved Au Pair

When Saying Goodbye to Your Beloved Au Pair Causes You to Weep-Can You Help Them Stay? We have had the privilege of working with many families over the years who have hired Au Pairs to care for their young children. But then, the working relationship becomes more than that of an employee-employer. In fact, the Au Pair becomes just like part of the family. At the end of the authorized J-1 Visa Work Period as an au pair, it’s time to say good bye and everyone starts to weep.  I mean everyone… the children, the parents and the Au Pair.  Believing there is no way for the Au Pair to remain in the United States, and desperate for options, the lawyers here at ScottVassell Law Group have successfully navigated the complex J-1 Visa Department of State Rules to help.

Specifically, we have helped au pair’s remain in the U.S. with their “new found” family through a change of status. If you want to learn how we do this, stay tuned as we go into our  Immigration Classroom and explain!

From Thrilling to Chilling I-140 Employment Based Sponsorship

 

 

Your U.S. employer has agreed to foot all the legal fees to sponsor you in Employment Based (“EB”) Permanent Status in the United States. What could possibly go wrong? Your position is approved as an EB-2 or EB-3 category I-140 for adjustment of status purposes; and now all you have to do is sit back and wait as your employer and their lawyer handle ‘everything’. Well… not so fast. If you want to know the risks associated with having your U.S. employer’s lawyer handle your delicate status in the United States…keep listening!

E-2 Investor Visa Joy

 

 

With the rising popularity of Shark Tank, Creatives, Entrepreneurs & IPOs being lauded as lucrative career goals for young people; the ability to forge international business relationships has become invaluable. The reality is that young people connect with each other internationally everyday, and they are starting to realize they’re not bound within his or her own country when leveraging resources and strategic partnerships to launch a start-up company. Keep listening to learn more!