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.

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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.

H-1B Visas And Taxes

Columbus immigration attorneyH-1B visa holders are taxed on their income in one of two ways. Those categorized as “non-resident aliens” are taxed only on the income they earn in the United States, while those categorized as “resident aliens” are taxed on income earned both in the U.S. and elsewhere. A non-resident alien must complete tax form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ and may claim a benefit only if a tax treaty exists between the U.S. and the visa holder’s nation of origin. When a visa holder is for all practical purposes a resident, the authorization holder’s income is taxed like any other worker’s, and the visa holder may use Form 1040 and the necessary schedules. If you’re an H-1B visa holder in Michigan or Ohio with any questions or concerns regarding your visa or your employment in the U.S., speak at once with an experienced Columbus immigration attorney.

If married, the H-1B visa holder’s spouse must include an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security number on a joint tax return, regardless of the spouse’s own authorization status. Along with being required to pay state and federal taxes, H-1B visa holders must pay Social Security and Medicare, and they also qualify for Social Security benefits. Don’t hesitate to consult with a professional tax preparer regarding your own tax situation.

However, if you are a foreign worker in the U.S. with any concerns or questions regarding your status, or if you are a U.S.-based employer with any concerns or questions regarding foreign workers or visa sponsorships, you should speak to an experienced immigration attorney. Should you need legal representation regarding any immigration-related issue, an experienced immigration attorney will defend your rights and fight for the best possible resolution of your case. In Michigan or Ohio, if you are dealing with any immigration-related legal issue, consult right away with an experienced Columbus immigration attorney.

Not A Good Idea

Immigration - Not A Good IdeaIt’s an old piece of wisdom: Anyone who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. This is especially true if you’re from another country and you find yourself in a legal predicament, entangled with emigration officials or with the criminal court system.

Do not attempt to represent yourself. If you’re dealing with any immigration-related legal concern, get the legal help you need and contact an experienced emigration attorney. Many immigrants think the only time they will need an attorney is if they face criminal charges or deportation, but the truth is this; if you’re an immigrant in the United States, you should have the advice of a good immigration lawyer any time you’re dealing with any legal issue. Here are several “routine” situations where many people need a good immigration lawyer but may not realize it.

Many who seek a green card through marriage don’t see any need for an emigration lawyer – at first. But the paperwork for a green card is long and complicated, and the interview can sometimes be excruciating. Don’t handle the paperwork yourself or go to the interview without a good emigration lawyer. Experienced immigration attorneys have seen delays, green card denials, and more than a few broken hearts.

When a person who wasn’t born in the United States is a defendant in a U.S. courtroom for the first time, that person will be advised to the “right” to act as one’s own attorney. For many who enter the United States from other nations, this is an amazing freedom, making it a temptation that’s hard to resist. Do the wise thing; go to court accompanied by a good immigration lawyer with plenty of experience representing detained immigrants.

Businesses that hire foreign-born employees also need the services of an experienced emigration attorney. Increased enforcement and increasing scrutiny of H-1B and L-1 visa petitions mean that companies can’t make the mistake of filing visa petitions without legal review and counsel. A good emigration lawyer will help employers avoid the red flags that can lead to the rejection of your visa petitions.

These are only several of the “routine” situations where you really do need the services of a good immigration lawyer. If you need legal help regarding any matter related to immigration, speak right away with a good, experienced immigration attorney.

Employers Depend on J-1 Visas

Columbus Investor Visa AttorneyBusinesses in New Jersey are hoping to save a foreign-worker program that boosts the state’s tourist industry each summer. The J-1 visa allows hundreds of foreign college students to work in New Jersey’s hotels, amusements parks, and boardwalk shops in a season when the demand for summer workers exhausts the supply. According to the State Department, almost 6,000 foreign students worked in New Jersey’s tourist industry in 2012. Another 710 worked as camp counselors, and 728 worked as interns at New Jersey-based business.

Increasing scrutiny of the J-1 visa program came after employer abuses were discovered, including a Pennsylvania temp agency that stiffed hundreds of students for overtime and paid them a sub-minimum wage. Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told the Press of Atlantic City that new federal rules are designed to protect foreign students from inappropriate work, and employers are supposed to expose visiting students to American culture and society. “There’s too little oversight,” Vaughan said. “The abuses are rampant.”

Congress has included the J-1 visa program in the larger debate over immigration reform. Proposed changes in the J-1 visa program would impose stricter controls, higher fees, and potential fines for sponsors who are not in compliance with J-1 regulations. However, businesses in New Jersey point to the many students who return to work the following summer as confirmation of the J-1 program’s success.

Speak immediately with an experienced immigration attorney if you are an international student with any questions or concerns regarding your J-1 visa or status. If you employ foreign students, a good immigration lawyer can answer your legal questions, address your concerns, and help you with any immigration-related legal issue. With stricter enforcement of visa regulations and heightened scrutiny of J-1 visa petitions, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced immigration attorney and get the legal help you need.

Asylum Restrictions Eased

Columbus Investor Visa AttorneyIn February, the Obama administration eased restrictions on asylum seekers with only loose or incidental ties to terror groups. The change was approved by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry.

It allows individuals who provided “limited material support” to terror groups to be considered for entry into the U.S. Supporters of the change argued that a prohibition on anyone who has ever aided terrorists unfairly penalizes thousands of potential refugees. According to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), only persons whose acts were “so tangential and minimal that no rational person would consider them supporters of terrorist activities,” will be considered for entry into the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security offered several examples of individuals who might be affected and helped by the eased restrictions: a restaurant owner who served food to terrorists; a farmer who paid a toll to terrorists to cross a bridge to sell his food; or a Syrian who paid an opposition group to help him get out of war-torn Syria. “These exemptions cover discrete kinds of limited material support … that was insignificant in amount, provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, or humanitarian interactions, or provided under significant pressure,” a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said.

Critics say that despite these good intentions, the eased restrictions raise security concerns, particularly after recent reports of asylum fraud. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said, “We need to tighten security standards for asylum, not relax them even further.”

If you are seek asylum or face any other immigration-related legal matter, speak to an experienced immigration attorney and obtain the help you need. You may also be facing issues with work authorization documents, a visa, a violation of U.S. law, or you may be seeking residency or citizenship. A good immigration lawyer will assess your personal situation; give you sound legal advice; and work aggressively to protect your rights. If you are an immigrant facing a hearing, a trial, or a threat of deportation, please get the legal help you need and talk with an experienced immigration attorney today.

Work Visa Caps Hurts Students

Columbus Investor Visa AttorneyWhen Miami University of Ohio awarded Chinese native Han Cheng, 23, a degree in engineering almost two years ago, he assumed he would be able to work for several years in the United States before returning to his homeland. What Cheng didn’t learn in his engineering classes was how difficult it is to receive a temporary work visa. After graduating, Cheng sent out over 500 job inquiries, but he could not find an employer to sponsor him for an H-1B visa.

“When I was talking to recruiters back home about going to college in the United States, they all made it sound like it would be easy to get work because the degree would be so desirable,” Cheng told the Columbus Dispatch. He returned to Shanghai last summer as his student visa expired.

The H-1B permits U.S.-based businesses to hire specialized foreign employees for three years (with an option to renew for a second three years). However, H-1B visa sponsorship is too burdensome and expensive for many employers. Smaller companies are reticent to hire foreign students because there’s no guarantee they’ll get visas, and that could leave a smaller business in the lurch.

As the population of foreign-born students in the U.S. increases, immigration experts say that remaining here to work after graduation will only get more difficult for students like Han Cheng. More than 800,000 foreign students arrived in the U.S. during the last school year (2012-2013); most came from China, India, South Korea, Canada, and Saudi Arabia. With only 65,000 H-1B visas available annually, it’s clear that few of those students will be able to work in the United States after they graduate.

If you are an international student with any questions or concerns regarding your visa or status, you should speak immediately with an experienced immigration attorney. A good immigration lawyer can answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you with any immigration-related legal issues. Most importantly, an experienced immigration attorney will vigorously defend your rights and help you to achieve your goals in the United States. And if you are an employer seeking to hire international students, consult first with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you cut through the legal red tape. You’ll be glad you did.