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Immigration Law Blog

Friday, March 15, 2019

What is the National Interest Waiver?

The national interest waiver is an individual petition under the US’s second preference program for the employment-based immigrant visa (the “EB-2”). The EB-2 visa allows individuals to work in the U.S. based on their specific employment-related skills. To qualify for the EB-2 visa, individuals must have either an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability. To qualify for advanced degree eligibility, the applicant must possess a baccalaureate degree plus five years of progressive work experience in that field. Alternatively, an individual may show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. “Exceptional ability” is defined as “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”

To meet the criteria for exceptional ability, at least three of the following must be met:


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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

USCIS Reinstates Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

USCIS will resume premium processing on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 for all H-1B petitions.

If a request for evidence (“RFE”) for a pending petition has been received, the RFE response should be included with the premium processing request.

Please note that when an H-1B Petitioner has properly requested premium processing service, a 15-day processing time is guaranteed by USCIS.  If the processing time has not been met, USCIS will fully refund the premium processing fee and continue to expedite processing of the petition.

Read more . . .


Friday, March 1, 2019

What is the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for issues pertaining to immigration laws. It is an administrative appellate body that reviews decisions made by United States immigration courts and district directors of the Department of Homeland Security, among other departments. The Board of Immigration Appeals is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

What are the Powers of the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals has the authority to review and potentially overturn decisions made by immigration courts, the United States’ Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. While the Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for immigration law, it is not the highest authority. Some decisions made by the Board of Immigration Appeals can be appealed to the United States’ Court of Appeals, and then potentially to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Who Makes up the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is authorized to be comprised of up to 21 Board Members with a Chairman and Vice Chairman. A current list of Board Members can be found here.


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Monday, February 25, 2019

The Basics of Naturalization

For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is a long-awaited dream come true. However, the process of naturalization can be complicated and is often not well-understood. As an overview, the first step is to assess your eligibility to apply for naturalization. If you’re eligible, then you will need to file an application for naturalization. After the application has been assessed, you may be invited to attend an interview and then to take an English and civics test on U.S. history, government, and other areas deemed necessary to assimilate. The following subsections will address each step in more detail.

Eligibility

To apply for naturalization, you must first meet several eligibility requirements set out by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”):


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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Premium Processing Resumed for H-1B Petitions Filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, USCIS resumed premium processing services for all H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018.

If you received a transfer notice on a pending H-1B petition and are requesting premium processing service, it will be necessary to submit the premium processing request to the service center reflected on the transfer notice, along with a copy of the transfer notice to avoid any delays that might be associated with the timely receipt of the premium processing request.  For Requests for Evidence (RFE) on a pending petition, you will also need to include the RFE response with the premium processing request.

Please note that in the event a premium processing request (on a transferred petition) was sent to the wrong service center, the petition will be forwarded to its current center location by the USCIS, but the premium processing clock will not commence until the request has been received at the correct center.

Read more . . .


Friday, February 15, 2019

Gaining Citizenship Through Your Parents or Birth

There are four primary methods of becoming a U.S. citizen: (1) being born on U.S. soil, including U.S. territories, (2) being born to American parents, (3) at least one of your parents becoming a naturalized citizen, or (4) becoming a naturalized citizen by living in the U.S. legally. This post will focus on the first three methods of obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Being Born in the U.S. or in a U.S. Territory

Many individuals who were born within the U.S. or a U.S. territory but have lived abroad their entire life may not realize that they are still U.S. citizens. If you were born within the U.S., you instantly receive U.S. citizenship. However, birth in a U.S. territory, such as Guam or the Virgin Islands, does not automatically grant U.S. citizenship. Individuals born in a U.S. territory may be granted citizenship if one or both parents were U.S. citizens and physically present in the U.S. or one of its territories for a continuous period of at least one year at the time of birth.


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Monday, February 4, 2019

An Overview of the Citizenship Test

Being born in the United States (“U.S.”) is not the only way to become a citizen, although it is certainly the simplest method. For those who weren’t born in the United States, the route to becoming a U.S. citizen is termed “naturalization.”

To be eligible to become a citizen through naturalization, you must meet the following requirements at the time of filing the application for naturalization:


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Thursday, January 31, 2019

DHS Announces Final Rule for H-1B Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule which will amend regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions. The final rule will reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B “cap” petitions for processing and will introduce a requirement for electronic registration for those petitioners filing H-1B cap-subject petitions. This rule will be effective April 1, 2019, although the requirement for electronic registration will be suspended for the Fiscal Year 2020 cap season (i.e. that requirement will take effect for next year’s cap filing season).

USCIS will initially select H-1B “cap” petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries and those eligible for the advanced degree exemption starting April 1, 2019. USCIS will then select from the remaining advanced degree exemption eligible petitions. Previously, the advanced degree exemption “mini cap” was selected first. The reverse of this selection order is expected to result in an estimated increase of up to 5,340 (or 16%) workers in the number of selected petitions possessing a U.S. Master’s or a higher degree. 

Read more . . .


Monday, January 28, 2019

What is the Board of Immigration Appeals

The Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for issues pertaining to immigration laws. It is an administrative appellate body that reviews decisions made by United States immigration courts and district directors of the Department of Homeland Security, among other departments. The Board of Immigration Appeals is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

What are the Powers of the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals has the authority to review and potentially overturn decisions made by immigration courts, the United States’ Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. While the Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for immigration law, it is not the highest authority. Some decisions made by the Board of Immigration Appeals can be appealed to the United States’ Court of Appeals, and then potentially to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Who Makes up the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is authorized to be comprised of up to 21 Board Members with a Chairman and Vice Chairman. A current list of Board Members can be found here.


Read more . . .


Friday, January 18, 2019

Tips for the Immigration Interview

To become a U.S. citizen, you must either have been born in the U.S. or go through the naturalization process. To be eligible for naturalization, several requirements must be met, including residing in the U.S. for a specific amount of time prior to filing. Once you have determined that you meet all of the requirements for naturalization, you may complete the application and file it with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

After reviewing your application, a USCIS officer will contact you to schedule an interview. In the interview, the USCIS officer will ask you questions specific to your application and may also ask more general questions. When preparing for the interview and during the interview itself, make sure to follow these helpful tips:


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Friday, January 4, 2019

Deportation: Extreme Hardship and the 601 Waiver

If you have illegally resided within the United States (“U.S.”) for more than one year, you will likely receive a 10-year reentry ban. This ban means that you cannot return to the U.S. for a 10-year period. Similarly, if you have been deported for reasons of crime or immigration fraud, you will also receive a reentry ban, although this ban could be permanent in certain instances. If you have been deported, or are being deported, you may be able to claim extreme hardship and file an application for a 601 waiver. The 601 waiver may allow you to remain in the U.S. or legally reenter the U.S. despite being inadmissible.

When considering a 601 waiver application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) policy manual requires the officers to “make extreme hardship determinations based on the factors, arguments, and evidence submitted. The extreme hardship must be shown in relation to a qualifying relative – not just to the applicant. A qualifying relative is a member of your immediate family (e.g., daughter, son, mother).

Overall, the USCIS officer must consider the totality of circumstances when determining the presence of extreme hardship. While there is no express identification of what constitutes extreme hardship, such circumstances may include:


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