When Temporary Protection Status Is No longer an Option…Think PERM!

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With the sunsetting of Work Authorization through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) fast approaching, thousands of employees will no longer be able to  legally work and remain in the United States. Several countries such as El Salvador and Honduras will no longer have TPS; and seeking new work and status options is essential.

TPS will be eliminated in 2019, leaving individuals who entered the U.S. without inspection undocumented. It is important to have a plan if you or someone you know is undocumented.  The good news is that U.S. employers may petition for his or her employee in TPS status with the assistance of experienced immigration legal counsel.  But first, the U.S. employer must complete a process called PERM. This is a labor certification program that is essentially a market test by the Department of Labor (DOL).

This market test is very involved and DOL guides the process and supervises as needed the U.S. employer.  The attorney’s role is to work with DOL and the U.S. employer to systematically work through each stage of the process, step by step.

The types of workers that are eligible to be sponsored by a U.S. employer include the following:

  •        Skilled Workers
  •        Unskilled Workers
  •        Professionals

 

To determine which category a job falls under, consult with legal counsel.  However, once the category is determined you and your lawyer will need to also complete the following steps:

 

  •        Check the Department of State (DOS) visa bulletin to see when your visa category

will be current

  •        Plan your PERM strategy taking into consideration status and visa expiration; along

with risk assessment;

  •        Discuss waivers such as I-601A required to overcome ‘entry without inspection’

status.

 

While the above legal process is very time intensive and complex, your U.S. immigration lawyer with careful planning can guide the U.S. employer and employee through each step providing a strong viable option once TPS status is eliminate in 2019.

Our lawyers have over 21 years practicing immigration law, and we are a full service immigration law firm. As members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA)  for over a decade, we keep abreast of fast pace new and emerging laws. This allows us to build stronger cases for our clients and determine how new laws can increase legal status options.

You may contact us at info@vasselllaw.com or visit www.vasselllaw.com to call the office nearest to you.

My Fiancée Visa I-129F is Approved What Next? And is There a Faster Way?

wedding-visa

FINALLY!!! You’ve met your knight in shining armor or your Cinderella and you’re ready to get married. The only problem is that you live on opposite sides of the globe.  You may have heard of the K-1 fiancée visa, but you don’t know where to begin.  Or maybe, you managed to complete the I-129F for the K-1 visa and get approved, but wedding bells are still not a reality!

In this article, we will discuss the two steps of the K-1 fiancée process; and how to ensure the fastest processing times. We will also briefly dispel a couple myths regarding ‘faster’ alternatives to the K-1 fiancée process.

Step 1: A K-1 fiancée visa is filed by a U.S. citizen on behalf of future spouse.  The first step requires filing form I-129F. This form is filed within the U.S. at the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).  Working with experienced immigration legal counsel is best when submitting the first step I-129F application to understand the approval process and prepare accordingly for the 2nd phase of the fiancée visa process.

Step 2: When an approval is received, the I-129F is then transferred from USCIS to the U.S. Consulate abroad. The U.S. Consulate requires another set of forms and fees to be completed, which can significantly delay the K-1 visa final approval, unless your U.S. immigration lawyer updates you in advance of the following: Any new requirements, fee structure, and any changes in forms required.

Once the Consulate sends the notice to the applicant, the applicants’ fiancée must then carefully complete all stages and steps before an interview is scheduled.

The fiancée should work closely with their U.S. Citizen petitioner and their lawyer to gather information and records needed to avoid unnecessary delays in Consulate interview being scheduled. Flush through any possible issues prior to meeting with the Consulate Officer who will make the final decisions on the K-1 fiancée visa. Once a successful interview is completed, a visa should be issued same day.

 

A Faster Way?

Processing time depends on a number of factors. However, it is important to dispel the following myths:

  1. We can just marry abroad, and a spouse visa will be much faster than the K-1 visa process. (i.e. K-3). This is false, as a non-immigrant spouse visa can often take longer, and the path to becoming a U.S. Permanent Resident becomes much more involved and expensive for the couple. Another myth…
  2. I know, if we use a different visa, such as a visitor B-1/B-2 it will be faster, and we can marry then. This is also false and may result in a finding of “fraudulent intent” by the U.S. Government when the couple applies for Permanent Resident Status in the United States.

 

Our attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (“AILA”) and have over 20 years of experience in U.S. Immigration matters. We are standing by to answer questions. We serve clients through the United States and abroad representing K-1 Fiancée visas, U.S. Consulate Representation, K-3 visas for married couple, ESTA, Visa waivers, Adjustment of Status, I-485, I-864 Support Affidavit, Appeals, Motions to Reopen, Motions to Reconsider, I-751, Waivers, VAWA, U visas & Removal of Condition Applications.

 

Our offices are located in Washington D.C, Virginia and Maryland. You may email info@vasselllaw.com or visit www.vasselllaw.com. (Phone and Video Consultations Available upon Request).

Tips on How To Handle Expiring Temporary Visas and Permanent Resident Cards

H1B-Green Card

This blog post answers two frequently asked questions about the following:

  • Renewing Your Green Card Set To Expire When Taking The Next Step To Naturalize; and
  • How To Juggle A Pending H-1B Work Visa When Your Work Authorization Through OPT Is Expiring And You Need To Keep Working.

QUESTION 1: My U.S. Immigration Green Card is about to expire and I would like to apply for Naturalization. Is it ok to skip the Green card renewal process and just apply for Naturalization to save time and money?

It’s important to note that although unconditional U.S. Permanent resident status requires a card renewal every 10 years, the U.S. Permanent resident’s status does not expire.  Regardless, an N-400 application to naturalize is often rejected when the Permanent Resident Card is expired.

Therefore, we recommend to all our clients that 90 days before expiration of their U.S. Permanent Resident status an application to renew their Green Card is promptly filed with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).  The N-400 may also be filed concurrently if necessary, but your immigration legal counsel should review your case before filing both together.

QUESTION 2: I am currently waiting for my H-1B visa to be processed by USCIS, and current premium processing is not available;  May I continue work for my U.S. employer while my visa is pending?

An F-1 student working in Optical Training Status (“OPT”) needs to be very careful.  If an F-1 student’s visa has been selected for a visa number and is pending, a U.S. Federal Regulation called the ‘cap gap’ may permit the student to continue working on an expired OPT employment authorization card.  However, the I-20 should be marked by the school’s Designated Student Office (“DSO) as “recommended for Cap Gap” and the employee and U.S. employer must maintain the expired OPT card on file as proof of legal work status.

The student-employee should consult with U.S. Immigration counsel to ensure cap gap eligibility before remaining in the United States and working on a pending H-1B visa application.

Our firm handles Optical Practical Training, OPT, Work authorization, Motions to Reopen, Motions to Reconsider, Appeals, Student visa, F-1, Complications with Designated Student Officer, I-20 H-1B, O, L-1A and E visas, Consular Processing, Deferred Inspections, Work visas, EB-1, EB-2, and Eb-3 employment based work visas. Adjustment of Status, I-140, I-485 and I-539 Change of Status and Extension of status.

Our attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (“AILA”), and have 20 years of experience in U.S. Immigration matters. We are standing by to answer questions. We serve clients through the United States and abroad.

Our offices are located in Washington D.C, Virginia and Maryland. You may email info@vasselllaw.com or visit www.vasselllaw.com. (Phone and Video Consultations Available upon Request).

Without These 3 Key RFE principles Your U.S. Work Visa Application Process May Be Doomed to Fail

Approved Work Visa

The current climate of Work and Employment visa applications (temporary or permanent) in the United States is “RFE heavy”.  RFE stands for a “Request for Additional Evidence”. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) initial review of a foreign national’s application for a work, investment or employment visa, usually results in an RFE being issued by the adjudicating U.S. immigration officer seeking stronger evidence in certain areas of the application process.  Understanding that an RFE is most likely unavoidable, you and your U.S. Immigration attorney must be willing to embrace the following principles in order to succeed and navigate the U.S. work and business visa application process. Below are a few key principals that increase the chances of success in being granted work or business visa status in the United States:

Principles to successfully Respond to RFEs:

  • The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is permitted and exercises its right to issue RFEs despite the best compliance efforts by applicant through Counsel in the preparation of an H-1B, L, E or O visa, to name a few.
  • RFE trends should be documented, reviewed and studied by applicants and their U.S. Immigration lawyer in order to prepare an application that may preempt lengthy and expensive responses to RFEs.
  • It is important for Immigration legal counsel to discuss, in advance of preparation and application submission to the government, a plan and time-line to address RFE’s issued by the U.S. government. This reduces frustration and ensures a response to an RFE is not delayed or result in abandonment of the entire process.

The standard time to respond to an RFE by law is 87 days or less. Applicants and U.S. employers, through his or her lawyer, require the maximum time allowed to prepare and gather additional information such as expert opinions, reports and conduct additional qualitative analysis.

DHS’s Request for Additional Evidence, if handled properly, are a great tool to use to understand what the USCIS or DHS adjudicator requires in order to approve your specific and unique case.

Our attorneys are members of the (“AILA”) and have 20 years of experience in U.S. Immigration matters. We are standing by to answer questions. We serve clients through the United States and abroad.

Our offices are located in Washington D.C, Virginia and Maryland. You may email info@vasselllaw.com or visit www.vasselllaw.com. (Phone and Video Consultations Available upon Request).