Criminal convictions are always accompanied with consequences.  However the consequence for immigrant visa-holders can be dire.  Depending on the nature of the crimes committed, immigrants can face deportation, inadmissibility or other visa problems. Serious crimes that involve violence or deceitful conduct such as aggravated felonies or crimes of moral turpitude carry heavy penalties. Any visa holder that is facing criminal convictions should consult with an attorney to determine how the conviction will affect one’s stay in the United States.
to-protect-and-serve-542937-mWhile there are many different convictions carrying different degrees of seriousness and penalties, here are a few of the most serious convictions that can lead to deportation, inadmissibility or other consequences

Crimes of Moral Turpitude
A crime of moral turpitude is a phrase to describe a broad category of crimes, but generally is described as a crime that “shocks the conscience, ” is dishonest or is contrary to society’s rules of morality. These crimes include murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, fraud, and aggravated assault among others.  This triggers deportation as well as inadmissibility into the United States Continue Reading

Part of the executive action announced by President Obama for immigration reform last November was a parole program for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are extremely valuable to American business and are responsible for many start up companies in the US. To make it easier for entrepreneurs to come to the businessman-with-the-notebook-1-1362246-mUS and set up businesses, parole could be extended to entrepreneurs who qualify.

The executive action called for an additional program specifically for entrepreneurs under the “significant public benefit” parole already in force. This benefit will allow immigrants to take part in the immigration system when it is established that the entrepreneur will bring a significant public benefit to the US. The new parole program for entrepreneurs will also be an option for inventors and researchers.

Although comprehensive details have not been fully laid out, the new program will allow the DHS to extend parole on case-by-case a basis to entrepreneurs who qualify. Eligible founders of start up businesses may include those who either:
(1) demonstrate substantial US investor financing or (2) otherwise show promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies.

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This year 233,000 applicants competed for the 65,000 H-1B visas available. This means over 150,000 applicants were not considered and denied the opportunity to apply. The unlucky applicants can wait and try again next year, but in the meantime there are other options available. This video gives a breakdown of the 6 alternative visas.

In addition to the options discussed in the video, below are some of the options explained further.

F-1 Student Visa

Students going to school in the US can apply for a F-1 visa. The F-1 visa allows the student to stay in the US as long as the student is enrolled in an accredited school and are active in a program that will result in a degree. Continue Reading

When a child is born outside the United States it seems logical that the child would not be granted automatic US citizenship. However, if the child is born to one or two US citizen parents, the child may be granted US citizenship derivatively.

tree-climbing-2-874401-mDerivative citizenship is a way to obtain citizenship through U.S. citizen parents if the child is not a U.S. citizen when born. If the child gains citizenship derivatively, citizenship is granted automatically even if the child does not have a US birth certificate or other documentation confirming citizenship. The child can later file an N-600 to receive a certificate of citizenship.  Derivative citizenship is a complicated concept that calls for many requirements to be met. Derivative citizenship contains several intricacies to account for many different situations that occur when a child is born outside the U.S. Determining if derivative citizenship applies to a specific situation requires careful consideration.

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All employers must ensure that Form I-9 is properly filled out for each employee.   Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of each employee coming to the United States to work. Form I-9 is a simple form, which asks the employee to complete identifying information such as name, address, date of birth, U.S. social security number, and immigration status.

business-man-1338212-mImmigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents inspect Form I-9  to ensure all provided information is correct. Incorrectly or fraudulently completed Form I-9 can subject the employer to fines or criminal penalties depending on the seriousness and type of violation.

Fines can be considerable depending on the number of offenses and the severity of the offense.  The USCIS has listed some of the violations and corresponding penalties on its website (last reviewed 2011). Specifically, continuing to employ a person with knowledge that the person is not authorized to work in the United States carries a minimum fine of $375 for each employee for first time offenders. The maximum fine for first time offenders is $3,200 per employee. If this behavior continues the minimum fine for third time offenders is $4,300 per employee and maximum fine is $16,000 per employee.   The fines can add up quickly and it is very important to correct any discovered errors on Form I-9.

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Generally, every child born in the United States is granted American citizenship. This is known as birthright citizenship. This policy has recently been the subject of scrutiny as many opponents of birthright citizenship have expressed desire to end this historic tradition. The main argument for ending birthright citizenship is the concern that children of undocumented parents can become American citizens if born in the United States.

kids-1166018-mRepublicans in Congress have argued that birthright citizenship can lead to birth tourism, where immigrants come to the United States solely to have a child in order to gain American citizenship. Bills have recently been introduced in the House and Senate, which propose an end birthright citizenship.

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The last step when applying for a green card for applicants already in the United States on a non-immigrant temporary visa is the process of adjusting one’s status from the temporary nonimmigrant visa to a permanent immigrant visa. When the foreign national is outside the United States; he/she will directly apply for the Green Card at the US Consulate abroad In many cases, there is a long wait time before this final step can be completed.

flag-853814-mThere are only so many preference category immigrant visas/green cards that are issued each year per country and generally there are more applicants than visas available. The green cards that are issued each year are divided between the different preference categories (family-based, employment-based, etc.) and each country is assigned the same number of visas. Thus, India and China each have the same number of immigrant visas allotted to them as any other country, like Switzerland or Germany. Obviously, there is a shortage of visas for Indian and Chinese nationals as compared to German or Swiss nationals. So each applicant has to reserve his/her place in the line. Applicant’s place in line is determined by their priority date(s). Priority dates are given to each applicant and can be found on Form I-797, the approval notice for their Immigrant Visa Petition.

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A few weeks ago we blogged about a new regulation allowing H-4 visa holders (dependents of H-1B visa holders) to work in the United States. However, a case has just been filed in Washington D.C. federal court challenging this regulation. The lawsuit, Save Jobs USA v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was filed last Thursday by Save Jobs USA, a group representing former California computer workers, claiming that the regulation violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and asking the court to vacate the H-4 rule allowing spouses to work in the United States.

courthouse-1330873-mSave Jobs USA backs up its claims by stating there is no statute that authorizes H-4 visa holders to work in the United States and that in promulgating this rule, the Department of Homeland Security has exceeded its authority. The effect of this, as much of the complaint is focused on, is the increase in foreign competition, which in turn burdens U.S. citizens by increase the difficulty of finding a job. Specifically it states the new rule will increase the foreign workforce by 179,000 in the first year and 55,000 following years. Save Jobs USA goes on to list three instances of Save Jobs USA members who have been replaced by H-1B visa holders.

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This year the USCIS received a record number of H-1B applications, totaling over 233,000. With only 85,000 H-1B visas available, including the additional 20,000 for the United States Master’s quota, only 36% of applicants have a chance of receiving a coveted H-1B visa.

Applications are up from 172,500 for the 2015 fiscal year and 124,000 for 2014 fiscal year. This not only means that the number of applications have greatly increased but with the quota remaining at 85,000 visas, the chances of receiving a visa have dropped by half, from 69% to 36%.

work-work-work-539382-mInterestingly enough there’s no shortage in demand for workers in the technology field. According to USA Today, of the highest paying companies in America, nine of the top fifteen are technology companies that depend on H1B to find talented, highly-skilled workers to drive their businesses.

There has been such rapid growth in the information technology sector that the labor market can’t keep up the demand. These technology-based companies require highly-skilled workers which many foreign workers qualify for. Many technology companies prefer to bring the workers into the company to work, and not out-source the work, because of the level of judgment the worker must exercise in these jobs.

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H-1B holders working at multiple worksites must have a Labor Condition Application (LCA) on file for each worksite. Last week the USCIS Administrative Appeals released a decision that states any geographic change in the workplace listed on the LCA accompanying all H-1B visas requires filing an amended application. Also, any material change in the terms and conditions of the employment requires the filing of an amended H-1B with a new LCA.

Matter of Simeio Solutions, Inc., the case decided last week, reinforced this requirement. In the instant case, a foreign worker in India obtained an H-1B and applied for the visa at the United States Embassy in New Delhi. During the interview at the embassy the applicant indicated that he performed services not reflected in his application. This prompted an investigation by the USCIS, which included a visit to the worksite.

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