It is H-1B Season! Do Not Delay! The Deadline to File is April 1, 2015

Do you have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent?
Will you be working in a specialty occupation?
Will you be earning a wage?
H1-B
The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Cap numbers are often used up very quickly, so it is important to plan in advance if you will be filing for an H-1B visa that is subject to the annual H-1B numerical cap. The U.S. government’s fiscal year starts on October 1, 2015. H-1B petitions need to be filed 6 months before the start date, which is April 1, 2015 for an October 1, 2015 start date.
To be eligible for H-1B you must:
  1. Have a minimum of a 4-year university degree or equivalent;
  2. Be paid at the prevailing wage for the job and location of employment; and
  3. The job must require a minimum four-year university degree (specialty occupation).
When submitting evidence to USCIS, it is important to fully and clearly explain how the submitted evidence establishes eligibility for petition approval.  The more clearly the petitioner can articulate his or her eligibility, the more efficiently and consistently USCIS can review and process the petition and determine eligibility for the benefit sought.
Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates’ experienced immigration attorneys will prepare and file all the required documents for foreign professionals and U.S. companies applying for the H-1B Visa.  Do not delay if you or someone you know meets the requirements.  Contact Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates immediately to begin the H-1B process!

House Votes to Reverse Obama’s Immigration Executive Order

On January 14th, the House of Representatives voted to try and block President Obama’s Executive Order relating to Immigration announced last November.  In a 236-191 vote, the House of Representatives passed a spending bill aimed to defund major parts of President’ Obama’s plan.  The vote triggers negotiations with the House and the Senate over the funding for the Department of Homeland Security that expires at the end of February.

While this move very clearly shows the Republican Party’s disdain for President Obama’s attempt at immigration reform, arguing his solo move was an abuse of power, the bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate, which is dominated by Democrats.  On the unlikely chance the bill passes through Congress, President Obama would likely use his executive authority to veto it.

There is clearly a need for bipartisanship and compromise between the two parties for immigration reform to be accomplished.

 

No Travel under Obama’s Executive Action

No travel

President Obama stressed the importance of family unity in his Executive Action on November 20th, however that may pertain only to families within the United States and does not allow families divided between the United States and their home-states to be reunited.  For Immigrants all over the world, a main priority of theirs is the ability to return to their home countries and visit parents, and children who were left behind.  While President Obama’s Executive Action will allow undocumented migrants to no longer live in the shadows of the fear of immediate detention and deportation, it will not reunite families.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants in the United States left behind children and parents for an attempt at achieving financial stability, and may still be tempted to illegally cross the border to visit with their families.  However with President Obama reallocating resources to bulk up border security and promising harsher treatment of those who are caught illegally crossing the border, these undocumented migrants now have more to lose as it will now jeopardize their new legal status and their ability to support families located in the United States.

Many provisions of the Executive Action do not fully go into force until the beginning of 2015, however it appears that those who will qualify by having U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children and having had been here for more than five years, may only be able to travel to their home countries with a special one-time permission usually granted only for emergency situations or family deaths.  Those who simply want to reunite with their families will not be able to do so.

President Obama’s 2012 Executive Action plan that established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) granted temporary deportation relief to illegal immigrant youths who met a number of strict requirements.  This program also does not confer the right to travel to those who qualify.  Technically under the Immigration and Nationality Act, those who are granted temporary relief from deportation are still technically considered illegal, and can only leave the country legally with assurance of return if they apply for a one-time emergency travel document known as ‘advance parole.’ Further, immigration officials have complete discretion of whether to approve or deny such requests, and the requests are frequently denied.

While President Obama stressed the importance of family unity and avoiding the harsh reality of dividing families, his Executive Action does nothing to assist family reunification with members who are not living within the borders of the United States.

Dispossession through Deportation

Helena's FirstA recent report released by the humanitarian advocacy group, No More Deaths  states that of the 400,000 people deported from the United States during the fiscal year 2013, nearly one third were deported without their personal belongings and money.  This is a serious issue that often goes unreported and continues under the radar, since these deported individuals simply can no longer fight for themselves.  One of our greatest American values is the right to property and it appears as though these migrants are not offered this essential protection.

The release of this report by humanitarian organizations fighting for people for whom it may unfortunately already be too late, as they are back in their home countries and their possessions are long gone may at least shed light on the problematic reality.  In 13% of the reported cases there was a complete failure of U.S. officials to return money and belongings.  Another problem was that the cash was returned in forms that cannot be accessed internationally such as Visa or Mastercard debit cards.  The report cites that in 5% of these cases immigration officials and border agents took the belongings and pocketed the money in plain sight.

The reason these migrants are separated from their belongings in the first place is due to the assembly-line justice system that has emerged at the border.  Daily court hearings are held where dozens of detained migrants plea to criminal charges of illegal entry.  After receiving prison sentences, the migrants are transferred to the custody of the US Marshals Service but the possessions remain with Customs and Border Patrol and are destroyed after 30 days.  Inmate bank accounts only allow for the transfer of U.S. currency, so foreign currency is destroyed.  This is unnerving as obviously the majority of these migrants have their own national currency and no ability to convert it.  Although recently CBP and ICE have acknowledged the concerns of these migrants and attention from advocacy groups in finding better ways to return the possessions, officials affirm that migrants are not entitled to receiving their possessions.

The loss of these possessions is a serious concern.  Financially, the quantity lost may have been the migrant’s entire livelihood, money saved up for years.  To be thrown back into these treacherous and dangerous countries without any economic support is terrifying.  The loss of identity documents such as passports and national identification cards leaves the migrant extremely vulnerable to encounters post-deportation.  They are harassed by police, cannot access money transfers from family since they cannot prove their identities, lack access to legitimate employment opportunities, and are more susceptible to falling into organized crime.  Loss of personal effects such as medication, cell phones, notes with vital contact information, irreplaceable keepsakes, etc. can affect a migrant’s well-being.  To lose all evidence of one’s history and connection to loved ones negatively impacts the migrant physically, spiritually and psychologically.

More awareness must be raised in combating this serious problem of migrants losing vital property rights once they are deported.  The plan forward should be promoting agency accountability and accessibility, ensuring access to money prior to the deportation and guaranteeing access to the belongings.

No More U-Visas for the 2015 Fiscal Year!

U-Visa Cap Met

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already approved the statutory maximum of 10,000 petitions for U-1 Nonimmigrant Status (U-Visas) for the 2015 fiscal year that began on October 1, 2014.  The cap was reached almost immediately due to the applicants who were on the wait list from the 2014 fiscal year. Unfortunately, this means that there will be no U-Visas available until October 1, 2016.

Each year, 10,000 U-Visas are available for victims of qualifying crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing and committed to assist law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute those crimes.

While the 10,000 cap for the 2015 fiscal year has already been reached, USCIS will continue to review pending U-Visa applications for eligibility. For those applicants who USCIS finds eligible, while a U-Visa will not be issued, USCIS will send a letter notifying them that they are on the wait list to receive a U-Visa when they become available again.  USCIS will also inform eligible applicants of options available to them while they are on the wait list.  Eligible applicants and qualifying family members must continue to meet eligibility requirements at the time the U-Visa is issued.

On October 1, 2015, the first day of the 2016 Fiscal Year, USCIS will resume issuing U-Visas.

Reciente Acción Ejecutiva del Presidente Obama!

Executive Action

La orden ejecutiva del presidente Obama anunció el 20 de noviembre 2014 tiene como objetivo hacer una serie de cambios en el sistema de inmigración actual. La Orden Ejecutiva ayudará a asegurar la frontera y combatir la inmigración ilegal, priorizar la deportación de criminales no las familias, y requerirá ciertos inmigrantes indocumentados que pasar una revisión de antecedentes penales y pagar su parte justa de impuestos, como ya que se registro para permanecer y trabajar temporalmente en Los Estados Unidos sin temor a la deportación. La Orden Ejecutiva también pretende racionalizar mejor la inmigración legal para impulsar nuestra economía a través de disposiciones en los sectores de empleo y de negocios.

Por favor, vea los detalles a continuación sobre si las disposiciones de la orden ejecutiva se aplican a usted:

Los padres de un ciudadano o residente permanente legal de Estados Unidos Niño (DAPA) ~ pueden ayudar a aquellos que ya tienen una orden de expulsión o deportación

Permite a los padres a solicitar la acción diferida y el empleo si:

  1. Tienen residencia continua en los Estados Unidos desde 1 de enero de 2010 (5 años);
  2. Son los padres de ciudadanos estadounidenses o residente permanente legal nacido en o antes del 20 de noviembre 2014;
  3. Pasar un chequeo de antecedentes / no tiene antecedentes penales; y
  4. Pagar impuestos futuros
  • Este estatus le otorgará un alivio temporal de la deportación durante tres años a la vez
  • Este estatus no proporciona un camino a la residencia legal permanente o ciudadanía
  • Este estatus le permitirá obtener una autorización de trabajo por tres años a la vez
  • No entrará en vigor hasta 20 de mayo 2015

 

Destinatarios  actuales del DACA, y Nuevos solicitantes del DACA

Permite a los beneficiarios actuales del DACA buscando la renovación y los nuevos solicitantes, incluidos las personas nacidos antes del 15 de junio de 1981 de:

  1. Aplicar para DACA siempre que cumplan todas las demás directrices;
  2. Tener residencia continua en los Estados Unidos desde 1 de enero de 2010 (en lugar del 15 de junio de 2007);
  3. Se extiende el período de acción diferida y autorización de empleo a 3 años (en lugar de 2 años);
  • Se extiende plazo para aquellos que son más de 31 años de edad
  • Este estatus no proporciona un camino a la residencia legal permanente o ciudadanía
  • No entrará en vigor hasta 20 de febrero 2015

Exenciones para indocumentados y personas ilegales

  • Permite al programa de exención provisional permitiendo cónyuges, añadiendo hijos o hijas de residentes permanentes legales o ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos para obtener una exención si la visa está disponible
  • Se aplica a:
  • Las personas indocumentadas
  • que han residido ilegalmente en los Estados Unidos durante al menos 180 días (6 meses); y
  • tienen ciudadano de los EEUU o residente permanente legal cónyuge, padres, hijos o hijas.

 

Disposiciones de empleo para aquellos en estado legal

Permite a personas que tienen Visas H-4 para trabajar legalmente

Las empresas en los EE.UU utilizan las visas H-1B para emplear a trabajadores extranjeros en ocupaciones especializadas. Los cónyuges y los hijos de los trabajadores H-1B son admitidos en los EE.UU. con visas H-4. Estas disposiciones propuestas permitirán a los titulares de visa H-4 para trabajar legalmente.

Cambios propuestos para ampliar y extender el uso del programa de Entrenamiento Práctico Opcional (OPT) existentes y requieren vínculos más fuertes entre los estudiantes OPT y sus colegios y universidades siguiente graduación.

National Visa Center No Longer Collecting Original Civil Documents

National Visa Center

On November 12, 2014, the National Visa Center, a U.S. Department of State agency,  stopped collecting original civil documents in support of immigrant visa applications.  Applicants will now be required to submit photocopies of documents to support their applications.  However, applicants may upon request be required to bring original documents to their scheduled interviews for review.

This new rule does not apply to Affidavit of Support forms, which applicants will still submit original versions to the National Visa Center.  The National Visa Center hopes that this system change will reduce customer wait times and improve overall customer experience.

President Obama’s Executive Order

Executive Action

President Obama’s Executive Action announced on November 20, 2014 aims to make a number of changes to the current immigration system.  The Executive Action will help secure the border and crack down on illegal immigration, prioritize deporting felons not families, and will require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay and work in the United States without fear of deportation.  The Executive Action also aims to better streamline legal immigration to boost our economy through provisions in the employment and business sectors.

Please see the below details on whether the Executive Action provisions apply to you:

Parents of a U.S. Citizen  or Lawful Permanent Resident Child (DAPA) ~ may help those who already have a removal or deportation order

  • Allows parents to request deferred action and employment if you:
    1. Have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010 (5 years);
    2. Are the parents of U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident born on or before November 20, 2014;
    3. Pass a background check / have a clean criminal record; and
    4. Pay future taxes
  • This status will grant you a temporary relief from deportation for three years at a time
  • This status does not provide a path to lawful permanent residence or citizenship
  • This status will allow you to obtain a work authorization for three years at a time
  • Does not come into effect until May 20, 2015

 

Current DACA Recipients and New DACA Applicants

  • Extends deadline to those who are over 31 years old
  • Allows current DACA recipients seeking renewal and new applicants, including individuals born before June 15, 1981 to:
    1. Apply for DACA provided they meet all other guidelines;
    2. Have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010 (rather than June 15, 2007);
    3. Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to 3 years (rather than 2 years);
  • This status does not provide a path to lawful permanent residence or citizenship
  • Does not come into effect until February 20, 2015

 

Waivers for Undocumented and Unlawful Individuals

  • Allows the provisional waiver program by allowing spouses, adding sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens to get a waiver if a visa is available
  • Applies to:
    • Undocumented individuals;
    • Who have resided unlawfully in the United States for at least 180 days (6 months); and
    • Have U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parents, sons or daughters.

 

Employment Provisions for those in Lawful Status

  • Allowing individuals holding H-4 Visas to lawfully work
    • S. Businesses use H-1B visas to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. H-1B workers’ spouses and children are admitted to the U.S. with H-4 visas.  These proposed provisions will allow H-4 visa holders to lawfully work.
  • Proposed changes to expand and extend the use of existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation

DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status Designations for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for 18 months.  The Secretary of DHS, Jeh Johnson, made these designations due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa.  Nationals from those countries who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS with USCIS and will not be removed from the United States and are authorized to obtain work authorization.  The TPS designations for the three countries are effective November 21, 2014 and will be in place for 18 months.

Lack of Transparency at Artesia Detention Center

Helena's

In June of this year, the Department of Homeland Security opened a federal immigration detention center in an isolated New Mexico desert town, Artesia.  This facility was built during this summer in response to the surge of women and children migrants from Central America, in particular Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  Although it was constructed as a temporary solution to respond to the wave of undocumented immigrants, it appears it may stay open until next summer.

The problem arises in that it appears that the conditions within this detention center are inhumane and the women and children detainees are suffering life-threatening consequences.  The center, made up of trailers, holds around 500 inmates, all women and children.  Artesia is renowned for hearings where judges set high bonds ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 for the purpose of dissuading detainees to drop their asylum claims and accept deportation orders.  These court hearings are typically held via video conference and most of the early cases were heard by judges in Arlington, Virginia.  The isolated area of Artesia does not offer proper legal services; rather there is a pro bono project crew and groups of immigration attorneys fly in each week from around the country.  This pro bono project is a recent development.  Children are suffering from chicken pox outbreaks and schooling was only recently provided in October even though federal law mandates it for detained children.

Recently immigrant rights groups filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to urge the release of documents regarding the use of the expedited removal process against families with children.  These groups allege that there is a lack of transparency as far as the government keeping the detention and deportation of these families secret.  The government has an obligation to provide due process, respecting the legal rights of a person and that does not appear to be happening for these detainees.

In the first weeks of the center’s opening, detainees were provided with only a video presentation about the rights of detainees as their only form of access to legal counsel.  This has changed overtime and now detainees are allowed to meet with their lawyer, which was previously forbidden.  The current structure of Artesia suggests that the government is denying these detainees the right to present their cases.  This is particularly troublesome as the population of women and children within Artesia is among the most sensitive and greatest in need.

There is an urgent necessity for the release of this information about the policies and procedures at Artesia, as there are plans for the construction of new family detention centers in Texas.  The fact that women and children are being returned to life-threatening conditions in their home countries is worrisome enough, but the lack of transparency on our home soil will also cost lives.  The U.S. government’s recent lack of transparency sends a strong message to the world that it is abandoning its obligations to provide detained families with opportunities to reasonably present their claims.