Who Qualifies For EB-5 Investor Visas?

International investors who are seeking a great investment opportunity should speak to an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer about the EB-5 investor visa program. International investors who are not familiar with the EB-5 immigrant investor program may appreciate a brief summary regarding what the EB-5 visa is, who qualifies, and why it’s important. The Immigration Act of 1990 creates five employment-based immigration categories. As the fifth employment-based immigration category, the immigrant investor program is designated “EB-5.”

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Like many nations, the United States seeks international investors who can create jobs and boost the national economy. The EB-5 immigrant investor visa allows those investors to become lawful permanent residents immediately upon entering the United States. Investors applying for the EB-5 visa must invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a U.S.-based business, take an active role in the business, and create at least ten full-time jobs. Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available each year, so if more than 10,000 investors apply for the visa in a single year, some of them may be placed on a waiting list.

The EB-5 investor visa is one of the most difficult immigrant visas to obtain. Investors must meet not only the eligibility requirements established for all immigrants to the United States, but the investment itself must also be approved. It’s best to work from the very beginning with a U.S.-based immigration lawyer located near your investment site – a Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney, for instance.

WHY DO EB-5 VISA APPLICANTS NEED AN ATTORNEY?

If you apply to obtain an EB-5 visa on your own, and you are unsuccessful, you may damage your chances of success in the future. And because you are expected to make the investment first and then subsequently apply for the visa and green card, you could be putting your money at risk if you make an investment or apply for a visa without first seeking an immigration attorney’s advice. EB-5 green cards expire in two years. That’s the amount of time an EB-5 investment has to create the necessary ten or more full-time jobs. If it hasn’t, or if an investor fails in some other way to maintain EB-5 eligibility, the green card is canceled.

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As long as an investor has the money to invest, and as long as the investment is in a for-profit business, the investor is not required to have any particular business training or experience. An investor who receives a green card must actually reside in the U.S. upon receiving it. The investor’s spouse and unmarried children under age 21 receive derivative green cards provided they meet all other immigration eligibility requirements.

An EB-5 investor can lose his or her visa and green card by living outside of the United States, committing a crime in the United States, or even by failing to report a change of address. A conviction for a crime or the violation of any terms of the visa makes a visa holder deportable. However, if an international investor retains a green card for five years and lives in the U.S. continuously during that time (which includes the first two years as a conditional resident), an investor can apply for naturalized U.S. citizenship.

WHAT INVESTMENTS QUALIFY FOR THE EB-5 PROGRAM?

EB-5 visas may be obtained with several types of investment. Most EB-5 applicants invest in an EB-5 “regional center,” a group that operates a business created by EB-5 investments. EB-5 regional centers are attractive because investors do not have to create their own businesses, and the minimum investment is only $500,000 rather than the $1 million minima that is otherwise required.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) designates and approves regional centers, which are designed to meet USCIS requirements for the initial, conditional EB-5 visa. Investors must take care to select a regional center that will actually deliver on its promises to meet USCIS requirements – not all can or do. An immigration lawyer in the U.S. – a Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney, for example –  can help you make the right EB-5 investment choice.

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Investors can also obtain an EB-5 visa by directly investing in their own businesses. The minimum requirement is a $1 million investment to create a new business in the United States or to expand or restructure an existing U.S.-based business. In certain designated rural settings and in other designated locations in the U.S. where unemployment is high, the investment minimum is $500,000.

WHAT ARE EB-5 APPLICANTS REQUIRED TO PROVE?

EB-5 investors are required to prove to USCIS that their investment money is theirs and that it was legally obtained. Investors will need to provide evidence such as pay records, tax records, and/or inheritance documents. Within two years, the business receiving the investment must create at least ten full-time jobs requiring at least 35 hours a week. Jobs held at the business by the investor or by his or her spouse or children do not count toward the ten-job requirement.

It’s also important for investors to understand that EB-5 investments require the investor’s active participation in either a management role or a decision-making role. Passive investments such as land speculation typically do not qualify for the EB-5 program. If an investor works with a regional center that is a limited partnership (most regional centers are), USCIS considers that to be sufficient participation. A direct EB-5 investment must create a new business, purchase a business that was established since November 29, 1990, or buy a business and restructure or reorganize it so that a new business entity is the result.

EB-5 is the only immigration category that allows international investors entry into the U.S. as automatic legal permanent residents. Even though the EB-5 program started slowly after the Immigration Act of 1990 became law, in recent years, international investors have expressed rising interest. In 2014, for example, EB-5 investments totaled approximately $2.6 billion and created more than 16,000 full-time jobs in the United States.

For those with the resources, the EB-5 investor visa is probably the best path to lawful permanent residency and naturalized U.S. citizenship. If you seek to become a lawful permanent U.S. resident, and if you have the ability to invest in a U.S.-based business, the EB-5 investor visa program may be right for you. Every visa and every immigration procedure takes time, so interested investors should speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer promptly to begin the process.

What are The Best Practices For U.S. Business Visa Interviews?

Several options for immigration are available for business visitors to the United States. There are five categories of “EB” visas (employment-based visas) for immigrants eligible to work in the United States as permanent residents, and employer sponsorship is sometimes required for those visas. Temporary, non-immigrant visas are also offered to those who want or need to work in the United States for a specified and brief amount of time. In most cases, healthcare workers, scholars, professionals, athletes, artists, investors, and business persons will qualify for a temporary non-immigrant visa.

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The Visa Waiver Program allows business visitors from 38 nations to visit the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, but if you are not entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, you will have to be interviewed for your visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. After you have applied for your visa, the National Visa Center will notify you regarding the date, time, and location of your interview.

You and any family member who is also applying for a visa to accompany you to the United States must schedule and complete a medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your visa interview date. Your interviewer will want to determine that you are a genuine and legitimate business visitor, that you are eligible for the visa, and that you do not intend to violate any of the terms of your visa. Be prepared to provide information during the interview regarding:

  • your company or business, its history, and its current prospects
  • your reasons and plans for visiting the United States
  • evidence of your plans, appointments, and meetings, especially letters or emails inviting you (If you plan to invest in the United States or buy U.S. products, this is in your favor.)
  • your strong ties to your home, community, family, and property, and your intention to return at the end of your authorized stay in the United States
  • your reservations and round-trip travel tickets
  • your resources to cover your expenses while traveling and staying temporarily in the United States

Be prepared and confident when you interview for a business visa. If you are even the least bit hesitant or nervous, the interviewer may think you are hiding something or being dishonest. Your interviewer will have a great deal of discretion regarding your business visa, but your interviewer will also probably have only a few brief moments to “size you up” and make a decision regarding your visa petition.

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If you speak English, interview in English and do not ask for an interpreter. Many business people are experts in their business, but they may not know English. If you don’t, you will need to request an interpreter. However, if you can communicate in English, it is in your favor, because English is still the predominant language in the U.S. business community. Almost no one speaks English perfectly, and no one expects you to speak it perfectly, either.

Nevertheless, you should be able to communicate clearly with your interviewer regarding your age, education, experience, your relationship with the company that is sending you to the United States, your employment with them, your marital status, and details about your children. You should be ready to provide the proof for all of these matters to the extent that it is possible. It is difficult to say precisely what documents will be required from you, as every visa petitioner’s circumstances are different. Of course, any fraud or misrepresentation while petitioning or interviewing for a visa could make you permanently ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa.

Applicants should dress formally for the visa interview, but they should also dress appropriately for their professional status. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer throughout the interview. Do not show any signs of nervousness such as tapping your fingers or tapping your foot. If you are going to the United States on behalf of your company, and if you can, wear your company’s ID to the interview in a visible manner.

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Do not wear inappropriate clothing or excessive makeup or jewelry to the visa interview. If others who work for your company have traveled to the United States on a business visa, it may be a good idea to ask them first about the kinds of questions they were asked and the documents they were asked to produce. Their situation may be comparable to yours, and your colleagues may be able to give you a clear idea of what to expect. Listed here are some of the questions you may expect to be asked:

  • Why do you wish to go to the United States?
  • When will you be traveling, and how long do you intend to remain in the U.S.?
  • How much will your visit cost, and who is paying for it?
  • What does your company do, and what is your role there?
  • Where will you go in the U.S., and whom will you meet?
  • How will this visit benefit you and/or your employer?
  • Who is going to accompany you to the U.S.?
  • Have you been to the United States before?
  • Can you prove that you will return at the end of your period of authorized stay?

After you have entered the United States on a temporary, nonimmigrant business visa, consult with an experienced immigration attorney before you do anything like starting a business, opening a bank account, investing, or purchasing life insurance. Those are all actions that indicate that someone may be planning to remain in the United States, so you will need an immigration attorney’s help and advice to avoid the suspicions of immigration authorities.

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If you are coming to the U.S. on business, a good immigration lawyer can answer your questions, address your concerns, help you with your visa petition, and discuss your visa interview. Today, of course, you can speak to an immigration attorney by phone or email from anywhere in the world. A good immigration lawyer will also defend your rights and help you achieve your goals. Still, the only person who can prepare you for a visa interview is you. Full preparation for the visa interview is essential if you want or need to do business in the United States.

What’s Next For The Supreme Court’s Dapa/Daca Immigration Case?

Back in 2014, when President Obama issued executive orders regarding immigration, no one foresaw the legal battle that would ensue. Now that two lower courts have ruled on the challenge to the president’s executive actions, the Supreme Court has made the case a priority. The justices will hear oral arguments in U.S. v. Texas on Monday, April 18th. The court could render a decision as early as June, ruling on several questions concerning the proposed “DAPA” program and the expanded “DACA” program. The decision – certain to be controversial – could be issued just days before this summer’s Republican and Democratic national conventions.

Texas and other states are disputing the authority of the president to allow the issuance of temporary work permits and to offer relief from the possibility of deportation to as many as five million immigrants in the U.S. who are here without documentation. Neither DACA nor DAPA offers a path to citizenship or even legal permanent residence. What the programs do offer to qualifying individuals is temporary authorization to work in the United States and temporary protection from deportation.

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WHAT ARE DACA AND DAPA, AND WHO QUALIFIES?

DACA offers deferred action on immigration to qualified immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as minors by their parents. DAPA offers deferred action on immigration to qualifying immigrant parents of children with citizenship or lawful permanent residence. The case the Supreme Court will hear does not impact the existing DACA program but only the president’s efforts to expand it. Qualifying immigrants may still request an initial grant or a renewal of DACA according to the original regulations implemented in 2012.

The White House argues that the executive actions are merely prosecutorial discretion – the government cannot possibly pursue five or eleven million people, so the White House believes that DACA and DAPA will free up enforcement resources so that immigration authorities can focus on dangerous criminals. Opponents of the president’s approach say it amounts to amnesty for lawbreakers and sidesteps the normal legislative process.

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Texas represents a coalition of states that oppose the Obama Administration. The president announced the DACA expansion and DAPA programs in executive actions in November 2014, and the dispute has been working its way through the lower courts since that time. The Supreme Court is currently short one justice after the unexpected death of Antonin Scalia in February, so in the case of a 4-4 tie, the lower court ruling – favoring the states and freezing the DACA and DAPA programs – would stand.

HOW WOULD DAPA BENEFIT EVERYONE?

The Center for American Progress says the DAPA program could create more than 20,000 new jobs a year for the next ten years. The Center additionally says DAPA could boost GDP by $164 billion over the next decade and add $88 billion to the personal incomes of working Americans. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), 72 percent of the undocumented immigrants in the U.S., despite their lack of legal status, will participate in the work force this year, and 3.7 million of them would qualify for DAPA. Those workers could pay up to $16.7 billion in taxes in the next five years if the Supreme Court gives DAPA a green light to proceed.

Some observers were surprised to see the court ask both sides in the case to address whether the president’s actions violate the “Take Care” clause of the Constitution, which says a president must “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Neither of the lower courts, which heard the case, addressed this legal claim. The Supreme Court’s request suggests that the justices want to resolve all of the issues in the case now, rather than to leave open a constitutional loophole that could be the basis for future litigation.

Alternately, the justices could dismiss the case for the lack of legal standing to bring a challenge. In other words, the Supreme Court may decide that the states may have no legal grounds to stand on. Texas and the other plaintiff states have argued that their legal standing is based on the added costs that states might incur to issue drivers’ licenses to beneficiaries of the deferred action programs.

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It’s likely that the DAPA program will proceed – possibly as early as this summer. Speaking for the Obama Administration last year, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said, “We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.” Immigrants who qualify for the DACA or DAPA programs should be prepared to act if the Supreme Court rules in their favor.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN TO LEARN MORE?

Some immigrants in the U.S. may be hesitant to speak with an attorney. Don’t be afraid or intimidated. When you obtain the advice of a licensed and practicing Ohio immigration attorney, anything you say or disclose to that attorney will remain confidential. When immigrants seek legal counsel, they’re sometimes surprised to find that they qualify for immigration benefits and that their legal situation was not as dire as they thought.

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If you are an immigrant who qualifies for the DACA or DAPA program, or if you are a U.S.-based employer who hires immigrant workers, right now is the best time to discuss with an immigration attorney how immigration law impacts you. While the final determination regarding the DACA and DAPA programs is being made by the U.S. Supreme Court, this is the best time for immigrants – and the employers who hire them –  to seek legal advice.

WHAT ELSE NEEDS TO BE DONE?

An estimated eleven million immigrants still live “in the shadows,” and honestly, even if the president’s executive actions are approved by the Supreme Court – and the DACA and DAPA programs proceed – much more needs to be done in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. Only Congress has the legal ability to do what ultimately needs to be done to fix immigration.

Until comprehensive immigration reform takes place, immigrants and the employers who hire them will continue to need legal help. A good Ohio immigration attorney, for example, can help employers, investors, and business professionals obtain the visas they need and can also provide legal advice and services to anyone seeking a visa or dealing with immigration issues. The Supreme Court’s ruling this summer in U.S. v. Texas will be vitally important to millions, but whatever the justices decide, plenty of concerns with the immigration system will remain.

Infographic – The Wait To Come To America

Applying for permanent residence in the United States can be quite the complicated process and each year the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) limits the number of visas available. These limits currently stand at 226,000 for family-sponsored visas and 140,000 for employment-related authorizations. Also, each month, the government announces wait times for visa applications, which vary based on the type of visa sought, the number of visas available, and the applicant’s current citizenship. Additionally, the wait could be even longer if you come from countries deemed “oversubscribed,” such as the Philippines, Mexico, India, and China. For more information and legal assistance on immigration-related issues, speak with an experienced immigration attorney.

The Wait to Come to America

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Where Do H-1B Visas Go?

In January 2010, the senior executives at Molina Healthcare, located in Long Beach, California, conducted a staff meeting. Dozens of people in Molina’s IT department would have to be laid off, the executives announced, because the company had done so poorly in the preceding quarter. What the laid-off employees did not suspect at the time was that on the day before the staff meeting, the U.S. Department of Labor had approved applications for forty temporary workers from India to replace them at Molina Healthcare. The laid-off workers, all U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, earned an average of $75,000 a year plus benefits. Their replacements would earn $50,000 a year with no benefits.

Big companies have been just as guilty of abusing temporary worker visas as smaller companies. In October 2014, 250 IT employees at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Florida were told that they would be laid off. Layoffs, of course, are not uncommon, but what made this layoff newsworthy was the sense that the workers had been insulted. They were told that in order to receive their severance pay, they would be obligated to train their own replacements – IT workers from India entering the United States with H-1B visas.

In response, two former Disney tech employees filed federal lawsuits against the company in January 2016, accusing Disney of conspiring to replace the workers with less costly foreign employees using H-1B visas. The lawsuits were filed in federal court in the Middle District of Florida by Leo Perrero and Dena Moore, who were among 250 Disney tech workers laid off in October 2014. The lawsuits seek class-action status.

Separately, more than twenty of the laid-off Disney workers have also filed complaints with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). Those complaints remain under EEOC review. The complaints allege employment discrimination by Disney based on nationality, race and age. The incident at Disney also launched another round of contentious debates about the use – and some would charge, the abuse – of H-1B visas. For international workers with a college degree and specialized skills in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), the H-1B is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa that is good for three years and renewable for a second three years.

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WHY THE CONTROVERSY?

Two competing, conflicting narratives confuse the H-1B visa debate and to some extent the entire question of immigration in the United States. One narrative tells us that immigrants are taking jobs from U.S. workers, and it emphasizes stories like the incidents at Molina and Disney. The other narrative says that attracting talented workers in science, math, engineering, and technology is essential for U.S. economic success and growth in the years ahead. Currently, Congress caps the number of available H-1B visas at 65,000 a year (and another 20,000 for post-graduate degree-holders in STEM fields). Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates are all strong advocates of increasing the number of available H-1B visas as a means of increasing U.S. technical and commercial ingenuity and strength.

The question many are asking about H-1B visas is simply this: Do international workers in the H-1B visa program fill a genuine gap in the labor force, or is the H-1B program being abused by some U.S. corporations simply as a way to save a few dollars at the expense of U.S. workers? Even the most expert economic researchers disagree. A report by the Economic Policy Institute alleges that some U.S. companies exploit the H-1B program merely to cut their labor costs. The Brookings Institution, however, has figures showing that the international workers who hold H-1B visas are actually making more than their comparably-talented American counterparts in similar positions. The H-1B visa program was designed so that U.S. companies could fill gaps in the work force with specialized employees they cannot find in the United States, but some companies apparently try to take advantage of the H-1B program’s technicalities and loopholes.

In fact, one corporation has already been fined for engaging in visa fraud. Infosys paid the government a $34 million penalty in 2013. Exploiting the H-1B visa program to boost the corporate bottom line is something we can all understand, but that is not what H-1B visas are for, and the government is now taking measures to ensure that the program remains fair to U.S.-based workers like those laid off by Disney and Molina. A large number of workers flooding into the United States and displacing U.S.-based workers is not what Congress intended when the H-1B visa program was established, so in 2015, the Department of Labor announced that it is beefing up its enforcement efforts and will be investigating companies that may be taking unfair advantage of the H-1B visa program.

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WHO GETS THE VISAS?

Where do H-1B visas actually go? One-fifth of all H-1B petitions approved in 2012 went to just four companies: Cognizant Technology Solutions, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, and Wipro. The latter three are among India’s biggest outsourcing giants. Cognizant, based in New Jersey, emerged out of a partnership between Dun & Bradstreet and an Indian firm. Many U.S. companies – Walmart and 7-Eleven, for example – hire these outsourcing firms for their IT needs. When Molina Healthcare fired its IT staff, for example, it did not apply to the government for H-1B workers to replace them. Instead, Molina got its new employees through Cognizant. And Infosys isn’t the only outsourcing company that has been investigated and targeted for legal action. In 2013, Tata Consultancy Services paid $29 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by Indian workers who were being forced by the company to hand over their U.S. income tax refunds.

Of course, when the H-1B visa program was invented by Congress back in 1990, no one thought that Indian outsourcing firms would be the biggest participants and beneficiaries. Does any of this mean that a typical small or midsize U.S.-based business cannot benefit from the H-1B visa program? Not at all. Even with the annual visa cap still set at 65,000, the government is working harder now than ever to ensure that the awarding of visas is conducted fairly and that no U.S.-based employer has an advantage over any other employer in the H-1B competition. Employers across the nation are already preparing for this year’s April 1 filing date, but if you haven’t started preparing, it’s probably too late to begin for this year, although it’s never too early to start preparing for next year’s H-1B filing period. The qualifications for H-1B visas are quite strict, and as you already know, the demand far exceeds the supply for these visas.

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WHERE CAN EMPLOYERS FIND HELP?

If you are an employer in the United States, a good immigration lawyer can help your company meet all of the requirements for obtaining H-1B visas, provide you with precise, comprehensive information, and help you avoid the mistakes and misunderstandings that keep many employers from obtaining the H-1B visas they need. In other words, an experienced immigration attorney can put employers in the best possible position to obtain H-1B visas and can probably also help employers identify appropriate visa alternatives to the H-1B. Employers who need H-1B visas should arrange to speak at once with an experienced Ohio immigration attorney.

Work authorization through the H-1B program is strictly limited to employment offered by a sponsoring U.S.-based employer. H-1B regulations do not compel a visa holder to remain with the sponsoring employer for a specific length of time, provided that a new qualifying employer agrees to sponsor the employee for another H-1B visa. And while a handful of companies still receive quite a large number of H-1B visas, there’s nothing preventing your company from obtaining H-1B visas if the other immigration and employment requirements are met.

U.S.-based companies applying for H-1B visas must prove they are “real” companies by showing the government documents like tax returns, a tax ID number, or financial statements. An H-1B visa petition will be rejected without adequate accompanying documentation. The application may also be denied if the job that’s being offered is not a “specialty” occupation. A good immigration lawyer can tell employers exactly what will be required.

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U.S.-based companies that hire foreign national employees with H-1B visas should understand from the start that they will have to comply with scores of sometimes confusing immigration laws and related employment regulations. Several federal government agencies may inspect and scrutinize your records and operations to verify your compliance. Investigations of employers are routine, and those investigations may be initiated by USCIS or by the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the U.S. State Department.

Admittedly, U.S. immigration laws are antiquated, exceedingly complicated, and sometimes just plain impossible to understand. If you are a U.S. employer who is interested in hiring temporary international workers, obtain the legal help you need right away from an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. You may not make this year’s April 1 H-1B deadline, but you can prepare for next year and learn about your other options and the alternatives to the H-1B visa. Employers, hiring managers, and international workers may speak to an experienced Ohio immigration attorney by phone or by e-mail to have your questions answered or to begin the complicated visa petition process.

April 1 For H-1B Petitions

It’s a deadline that’s approaching fast. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives H-1B visa petitions each year beginning on April 1, and with only 65,000 H-1B visas available, April 1 is the date that those applications must be received by USCIS. Across the U.S., employers are right now determining their H-1B needs for fiscal 2017 and retaining immigration lawyers to ensure that their H-1B visa petitions are on deadline, accurate, and complete.

By using H-1B visas, many employers based in the United States hire international workers for “specialty occupations” that require highly specialized knowledge. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 defines a “specialty occupation” as work requiring specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree – or its equivalent – or a postgraduate degree. International workers who may qualify for H-1B visas include but are not limited to engineers, programmers, mathematicians, and research scientists in fields such as robotics and biotechnology. The demand for qualified employees in those fields far exceeds the number of available H-1B visas, so when U.S.-based businesses apply for H-1B visas, they need the advice, insights, and services that only an experienced immigration attorney can offer.

HIGH DEMAND, FIERCE COMPETITION

For the employers who need H-1B visas – and for those who want to learn about H-1B visas – the first thing to know is that the competition for these visas is fierce. For more than a decade, the annual cap on H-1B visas has been 65,000, while another 20,000 H-1B visas are set aside for use exclusively by workers with postgraduate degrees earned from U.S. colleges and universities. Because the demand for H-1B visas surpasses the supply by more than a 3-to-1 ratio, USCIS has now put a “lottery” system in place for the distribution of H-1B visas. In 2015, 233,000 H-1B visa applications were received by USCIS in the first week of April. The deadline for 2016 is looming, so U.S. employers and their immigration attorneys need to begin preparing H-1B visa petitions and gathering the other necessary documents as quickly as possible.

The truth is that H-1B visas are tough – but not impossible – for companies to acquire. U.S.-based employers should engage an experienced immigration attorney to help your company meet the necessary deadlines, to provide precise and comprehensive information, and to help you avoid the errors, missteps, and confusion that keep too many businesses from obtaining the H-1B visas they genuinely need. In other words, an experienced immigration attorney can help position you for the approval of your H-1B visa applications, and if your petition is not chosen in the H-1B lottery, your immigration lawyer can help you find other acceptable visa options. With April 1 approaching, employers from anywhere in the U.S. can and should arrange at once to consult with an experienced Ohio immigration lawyer.

H-1B visas are provided only to international employees through sponsoring U.S.-based employers. If all other criteria are satisfied, an H-1B work visa is in effect for three years and may be renewed for a second three-year period. Visa holders are not obligated to remain with their first sponsoring employer for the entire three or six years, so long as a new, qualifying U.S. employer sponsors the worker as an H-1B employee.

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WHICH COMPANIES? WHICH WORKERS?

Employers should not make the mistake of thinking that H-1B visas only go to companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Businesses in all parts of the United States apply for and obtain H-1B visas every year. H-1B visa holders enrich not only their neighborhoods but also the nation as a whole by helping businesses create more prospects for new jobs, growth, innovation, and prosperity. International workers who are chosen to receive H-1B visas in April will have those visas in hand in October for the beginning of fiscal 2017. Right now, employers need to determine which international employment candidates are in need of H-1B sponsorship. Some job candidates may be working already in the United States with temporary work visas. Workers who may require H-1B sponsorship include:

  • Recent international graduates and current international students in Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) who will require employer sponsorship when the OPT or CPT expires
  • Those already holding H-1B visas and working for a cap-exempt employer (a college, a university, a non-profit, or a governmental research agency) who seek work with a cap-subject employer
  • Candidates with other nonimmigrant work visas who require a change to H-1B status

When an H-1B worker leaves a sponsored position or is terminated, the sponsoring business must notify USCIS as quickly as possible to have the H-1B petition canceled, because the business must pay the worker’s wages while the petition remains in effect. If the employer fires the sponsored employee, the employer must pay for transportation back to the employee’s last place of residence outside of the United States. Sponsoring businesses are not obligated for the return costs for an H-1B employee’s accompanying family members.

ABOUT DISCRIMINATION

U.S. companies hiring international workers must avoid accusations of discrimination. The advice and insights of a good immigration lawyer can help businesses avoid any discrimination allegations. Employers also face possible liability if they show any discriminatory favoritism regarding pay decisions, layoffs, promotions, benefits, or disciplinary actions. The Immigration and Nationality Act forbids discrimination by companies with more than four employees, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination based on national origin by businesses with fifteen or more employees.

Employers need to be fully prepared with the help of a good Ohio immigration lawyer when they petition USCIS for H-1B visas. Inadequate documentation will lead to the automatic denial of the visa petition. An H-1B application may be rejected if the sponsoring company does not appear to be a legitimate, real, active U.S.-based business with the ability to hire and compensate an H-1B employee. Employers must present tax returns, financial statements, tax identification numbers, and sometimes more. An H-1B petition may also be denied if the employment offered does not meet the definition of a “specialty occupation.”

Petitioning for any visa is an extremely complicated procedure. For H-1B visas, sponsoring employers must provide a precisely-detailed description of the employment being offered and the work location. If the visa application says that the employee will work at a client’s location, USCIS will want to determine if the employee will actually be working for the sponsoring company – or actually for that company’s client. The sponsor may be asked to produce a contract agreement and/or other evidence that only the sponsor will be the actual employer of an employee working at a client’s job site. Lack of documentation or specificity can result in the quick denial of a visa petition. However, an experienced immigration attorney knows exactly what information and documents will be needed.

H-4 VISAS FOR DEPENDENTS

In most cases, international workers approved for H-1B visas may bring their spouses and dependent children to the United States. Provided they meet all other immigration requirements, spouses and dependent children of H-1B visa holders qualify for H-4 visas to accompany an H-1B employee to the U.S. Since 2015, some H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders seeking lawful permanent resident status now qualify for work authorization in the United States. Eligible spouses must file Form I-765 (the Application for Employment Authorization) to acquire the Employment Authorization Document (or “EAD,” Form I-766). Upon obtaining an EAD, an H-4 spouse may accept employment in the U.S.

U.S. businesses that employ international workers should know from the start that they must comply with an assortment federal (and sometimes also state and local) immigration and employment laws, rules, and regulations. Several government agencies will have the right to examine your employment files, your job site or sites, and in fact your entire business operation to check on your compliance. USCIS, the Department of Labor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or “ICE”), and the U.S. State Department regularly conduct employer compliance investigations. The government is serious about enforcement, so let an experienced immigration lawyer confirm that your own business is compliant or show you what needs to be changed.

Ohio immigration lawyer

THE HELP EMPLOYERS NEED

If an employer is cited or investigated for non-compliance, a good immigration attorney can recommend the best legal strategy and the changes necessary to avoid further trouble in the future. If your company is investigated, cited, or currently appealing an unfavorable ruling or finding from a court or a government agency, your company will require the knowledge and services of a savvy and experienced immigration lawyer.

In the United States, no field of law is more complicated or confusing than immigration law. Moreover, immigration regulations and laws are constantly changing and evolving, so employers will want to place their immigration needs and concerns in the hands of an attorney who focuses exclusively on immigration matters. If you own, manage, or do the hiring for a U.S.-based company that hires international workers, you can obtain help right away from an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. Owners, hiring managers, and international workers themselves can contact an experienced immigration lawyer to have your immigration concerns addressed, your visa questions answered, or to initiate the H-1B visa application procedure. Do not wait. The April 1 H-1B deadline is almost here, so start preparing – and make the call – as quickly as possible.

If You Hire International Workers

Ohio immigration lawyerEach year, U.S. businesses submit their applications for the 65.000 visas for highly-skilled international workers that are made available each April 1. This year, the demand for H-1B authorization surpassed the 65,000 mark within a week. The 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for advanced degree holders have also been allotted. For U.S-based businesses that still need highly-skilled international workers, you can have help with visa applications, I-9 compliance, and other immigration matters by obtaining the advice and services of an experienced, Columbus-based Ohio immigration lawyer. A good immigration attorney can help you prepare now to apply for H-1B visas for next year. It’s not too early to get started. Many employers may also have a number of visa alternatives available to them; an emigration attorney can explain those alternatives and help employers consider their options.

Plainly, there simply are not enough H-1B authorization being issued to meet the needs of American businesses, so acquiring an H-1B visa cannot be guaranteed to any particular employer. A good immigration attorney can ensure that your visa petitions are accurate and complete, on deadline, and qualified for approval. Alternatives to the H-1B include but are not limited to:

  • E-1 or E-2 visas for investors or traders from certain countries
  • L-1 visas for intracompany transfers
  • O-1 visas for individuals of “extraordinary ability”
  • H-3 visas for individuals participating in a structured training program
  • TN visas for Mexican and Canadian professionals, the E-3 for Australian nationals, or the H-1B1 for nationals of Chile or Singapore

When an employer has international workers on the job, a variety of complicated laws, rules, and regulations apply. If your business employs highly-skilled immigrant workers, have the counsel of an experienced immigration attorney who knows the system and regularly helps employers to acquire the right authorization and stay in compliance with immigration laws. Don’t wait. Protect yourself and your company, and contact an experienced, Columbus-based Ohio immigration lawyer promptly.

Refugee Status For Some

Columbus immigration attorneyThe Obama Administration will give refugee status to a small number of youths from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, according to the Associated Press. Documented immigrants already in the U.S. will now be able to request – for children who are their relatives in those nations – resettlement in the U.S. as refugees. If you are an immigrant in Michigan or Ohio – with or without documentation – and you need to apply for refugee status, asylum, or for DACA, or if you’re seeking to bring a young family member here from Central America, get trustworthy legal help and speak at once with an experienced Columbus immigration attorney.

The new program will determine if a young person is eligible to join relatives in the United States. In a memorandum to the State Department in September, President Obama allocated 4,000 slots for refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean for next year. The number is a fraction of the number of children who are already awaiting deportation proceedings. The program would not provide a path for minors to join undocumented relatives and would not apply to minors who have entered the U.S. without documentation. Instead, it aims to offer an alternative to youths who otherwise might embark on a dangerous journey to join their families in the United States.

Under the new plan, the U.S. would process refugee requests for youths in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Similar programs were set up in East Asia after the Vietnam War and in Haiti in the 1990s. The plan was included in a White House memo to the State Department setting a total 2015 allocation of 70,000 refugees. In addition to specifying El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the memorandum also singled out Cuba, Iraq, Eurasia, and the Baltics as locations where the United States may screen individuals for potential refugee status. If you are an immigrant without documentation in Michigan or Ohio, get help now. You may qualify for DACA, for asylum, or for refugee status. If you need any legal help or advice with any immigration matter, or if you need to bring a family member here to the U.S. from another nation, speak at once with someone you can rely on and trust – an experienced Columbus immigration attorney.

Not How The Law Should Work

Columbus immigration attorneyThe story of Florida ophthalmologist Ashish Sanon, born in India and trained in Canada, illustrates almost everything that’s wrong with the current immigration system. A respected and otherwise law-abiding eye surgeon, Sanon now finds himself in federal court charged with visa fraud, which could be followed by a deportation battle. If you are having any immigration problems in Michigan or Ohio, get legal help at once by speaking to an experienced Columbus immigration attorney. If someone like Dr. Sanon can get into this kind of legal trouble this easily, it can happen to anyone.

Sanon, a naturalized citizen of Canada, has remained in the U.S. since 1998 by consistently renewing temporary visas granted under the North American Free Trade Agreement to doctors from Canada or Mexico who teach or do research. However, authorities now say Sanon went too far, operating a full medical practice as a self-employed doctor for more than a decade. In the past five years, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Sanon billed $5 million, enough to keep up homes on both glittery Clearwater Beach and at the prestigious Black Diamond Ranch golf community. Sanon’s attorney said the charge is the only negative mark against a man with good character who paid taxes on what he earned. “He’s ridiculously embarrassed about this,” the attorney said to the Times.

President Obama has promised that some immigration reforms will be forthcoming before the end of the year; certainly, it should be easier for people like Dr. Sanon to work, pay taxes, and serve their communities here in the United States. Reliable, trustworthy legal help is available to every immigrant, but you must take the first step and make the call. In the states of Michigan and Ohio, if you are a documented or undocumented immigrant and you need legal help with any immigration matter, or if you’re an employer with concerns about how immigration regulations impact your business, get legal help and speak promptly to an experienced Columbus immigration attorney.

Some Immigrants May Lose Health Coverage

Columbus immigration attorneyThousands of immigrants risk may financial aid for health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unless they clear up discrepancies regarding their citizenship and incomes, Obama administration officials said in September. At least 115,000 people who cannot not prove they are citizens or legal residents were scheduled to lose coverage at the end of September. The government claims it has repeatedly attempted to reach those individuals, but immigration advocates groups say the government has lost some of the documents submitted to prove eligibility. Those who are in the United States without documentation are not entitled to coverage under the law. If you are an immigrant without documentation in Michigan or Ohio, you really should speak with an experienced Columbus immigration attorney. Legal status is the only way to obtain many benefits in the United States. Let a good immigration lawyer help you.

Florida and Texas top the list of states with immigration-related cancellations, but California and New York run their own insurance marketplaces so they aren’t on the list; that could make the real number of cancellations substantially higher. The Health and Human Services Department also says some who received coverage have reported incomes that don’t square with what the government has on record. Those not submitting new documentation will have their premiums adjusted up or down in November. Many risk seeing their financial subsidies slashed. Some may no longer be eligible for any help with their premiums.

Supporters of the ACA fear that people will lose coverage or be discouraged from enrolling because of technicalities. If you are an immigrant in the United States – with or without documentation – and you’re in Michigan or Ohio, see an experienced Columbus immigration attorney immediately if you have any legal difficulties qualifying for or receiving the benefits that are legally yours.