|August 5, 2015||Posted by admin under Practice Mgmt|
Have you ever hired a lawyer who you never met in person? No? Why not?
Technology has drastically changed the way companies do business, and continues to revolutionize solutions to the problems companies face every day.
If you looked inside yourself and asked why you never hired a lawyer who operates virtually, what would the reason be? Loss of control over the lawyer (i.e. a physical place where you know he or she will be)? Fear of an unethical lawyer disappearing with your money? Something else?
I believe the real reason is because you, the client, never knew it was an option. I challenge you to think of one type of transaction, other then the delivery of cash, that you could not have with your lawyer either through email, fax, telephone or U.S. mail.
A virtual office is a terrific option for many reasons:
(1) the client does not have to waste time in traffic,
(2) expend gas fuel,
(3) take time off work to meet with the lawyer,
(4) deal with finding a babysitter, and
(5) both the firm and the client can leave a lighter carbon foot print
To ease your fears about working with a lawyer virtually, why not follow him or her on social media, where you can see the lawyer discussing legal issues in real time? How about asking your lawyer if he or she is willing to do a weekly or biweekly phone check-in, even if there are no case updates?
I have clients at present who I have never met in person. They are often, but not always, busy corporate representatives who greatly appreciate the value of email, phone, electronic file uploads, Fed Ex, and so on. This use of electronic, or virtual, business transactions needs to gain greater acceptance by the public at large. Lawyers and clients alike will wonder why they hadn’t considered it sooner!
|July 12, 2013||Posted by admin under Family-Based Immigration||
The family-based second preference (“FB-2A”) visa category, for lawful permanent resident who wish to petition for their spouse or children under 21, is current as of August 1, 2013. This means that beneficiaries in this category do not have to wait in line until their priority date becomes current, at which time they can apply for their green card. However, you will have to file and wait for adjudication of an immigrant visa petition (unless you have one that was already approved). By the time the petition is approved, which is typically six months from filing or more, this visa category may retrogress and will no longer be current.
Nonetheless, if you are an LPR who has been putting off petitioning for a spouse or child under age 21, now is the best time to file.
|June 18, 2012||Posted by admin under Deportation & Removal||
President Obama passed an Executive Order last week allowing eligible young people to apply for an immigration benefit known as “Deferred Action”. This announcement was met with applause from the immigrant and immigrant-advocate communities and was viewed by many as passage of the Dream Act, a piece of legislation that has been debated but never actually passed in Congress, which would have provided a path to lawful status for young people who came to the U.S. through no fault of their own.
Deferred action however does not lead to a green card and does not provide a path to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. The benefit has been defined as an “administrative convenience” that merely de-prioritizes the grantee from deportation. On the up side, deferred action allows one to apply for work authorization. With work authorization, one can more easily apply for a social security card. As for driver’s licenses, Virginia is strict with who is eligible for one and who is not, and it will remain to be seen whether Virginia will allow those granted deferred action the right to apply for a driver’s license. Another plus is that it invites thousands of undocumented people to come out of the shadows and possibly sets the stage for a greater immigration benefit in the future.
It does not come without risks. The President announced that deferred action for eligible young people will be granted in increments of two years with renewal available at the end of that period. This is a benefit that can change with the political tide. If Mitt Romney is elected President, it may sunset long before the two years. The benefit will also require biometrics capture. Applicants must be aware that by applying they are coming out of the shadows for a benefit that does not confer substantive legal rights, all the while effectively putting them on the government’s radar screen.
So what is all this talk about “eligible” young people? The criteria is as follows: applicants must have entered the US prior to the age of 16; resided in the US for 5 years prior to June 15, 2012; must currently be no older than age 30, must be a high school graduate, possess a GED or have honorable discharge from the US military; and must have no serious criminal convictions or multiple misdemeanors. The government has also warned that fraud in the application will not be tolerated and those who submit fraudulent documents or information can expect full prosecution including referral for removal (deportation).
Deferred action is a good benefit for those in removal proceedings or who are subject to a final order of removal. For those who apply affirmatively – a group who are permitted to do so under Obama’s announcement – applicants should consult with a qualified attorney and carefully weigh the risks before applying.
|April 9, 2012||Posted by admin under Consular Processing||
The Department of State – not USCIS/Department of Homeland Security- has announced that it will be changing its fee schedule for both nonimmigrant and immigrant fees effective April 13, 2012. The fees will be paid to the US embassy or consulate in the country where the interview will take place.
For family-based petitions, the fiance(e) visa processing fee will be $240 and the processing fee for immediate relative and family preference petitions will be $230.
The B-1/B-2, F-1, J-1 and Transit and Crewman Visas will now carry a nonimmigrant visa processing fee of $160.
The new processing fee for the H, L, O, P, Q and R visas will be $190.
The new processing fee for the E visa will be $270.
The new processing fee for the Border Crossing Card for those age 15 and older will be $160 and for those under age 15 the fee will be $15.
The returning resident visa fee will be $275.
The diversity visa program fee will be $330.
Employment based applications will be $405 and other immigrant visa applications will be $220.
|March 7, 2012||Posted by admin under Business Immigration||
The U.S. Government allocates 60,000 visas per fiscal year for the H-1B specialty occupation visa program. An additional 20,000 visas are set aside for Master’s degree applicants.
The term specialty occupation is defined as an occupation that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a Bachelor’s degree or higher for that specialty. The government will accept the work equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in the specialty. The H-1B program includes special rules for H-1B dependent or willful violator employers, and has provisions regulating the “benching” of employees, roving and short-term placement employees, and proper termination of employment.
The first step in the H-1B process is filing the Labor Condition Application (LCA). The H-1B employer signs the LCA thereby making four attestations to which the employer promises to abide relating to the payment of wages, working conditions, strikes / labor disputes and notice of the LCA filing. The employer must maintain a Public Access File and have the file on hand in the event that the government chooses that employer for a randomly selected audit. The second step is filing the H-1B petition itself. There are numerous documents which must be supplied to your attorney so that she or he may thoroughly prepare a strong H-1B presentation on your behalf. Employers may begin filing H-1B petitions on April 1, 2012, until the cap has been reached (unless cap-exempt). It is recommended that the employer file on April 1, 2012 if at all possible, since the cap fills up quickly in some years.
The H-1B visa is not for everyone. If you are no longer in a period of authorized stay after your last entry into the United States, you are not eligible to change your status to an H-1B. If you entered on a B-2 visitor visa and you worked for the employer who wants to petition for you while you were on the B-2 visa, then you are not eligible to change status because you have worked without authorization on the B-2 visa.
A more common scenario for initial applicants is where the H-1B applicant is an F-1 student visa holder who has been granted Optional Practical Training (OPT) and who has been authorized to work for a specific employer. As long as the applicant meets all requirements for the H-1B visa, his or her employer may apply. Dependents of H-1B visa applicants may apply for the H-4 visa, but should be aware that this visa category does not permit employment.
|January 27, 2012||Posted by admin under Admission & Admissibility||
U.S. residents, also called “green card” holders, often hold strong ties to their home country. They may have family back home or a business they are still tending to. They may stay outside the United States for more than a year intentionally or accidentally or because circumstances arose beyond their control.
LPRs will hear from friends, family or a lawyer who tell them that staying outside the United States for more than one year will cause them problems. They are right. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) may deny your admission for having abandoned your permanent residence (and it will affect you when you apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen). This article discusses the former.
What can you do? Depending on your situation, the options below may protect you from losing your lawful permanent resident status.
- Apply for a Reentry Permit. A re-entry permit is good for 2 years. The application requires that USCIS capture your biometrics (fingerprints) for which you must be present in the United States. Your biometrics appointment will be scheduled within 2-3 months from the date that you file your application for a reentry permit.
- Apply for a Returning Resident or “SB-1” Visa from the US Embassy in Your Country. This visa is very fact and circumstance specific and is available to LPRs who have been outside the United States for one year or longer (or two years or longer where a Reentry Permit had been obtained) due to circumstances beyond their control. Retention of all documents to explain your situation is essential. Even if the SB-1 Visa is granted, be prepared to explain your case again when you reach a U.S. port of entry.
- Applicants for lawful permanent residence, that is those who have a Form I-485 pending with USCIS, must obtain an “Advance Parole” document before departing the United States. If you have no other status in the United States and you are waiting for your green card application to be approved, you will not be allowed to reenter the United States without an approved and valid advance parole document.