The United States immigration system is enormous, complex and constantly changing. Our immigration practice is well suited for providing legal counseling and services in virtually every area of immigration and immigration-related law. For either the recently arrived immigrant or the business concern looking to tap into the vast wealth of skilled foreign labor, navigating through this system can be frustrating and time consuming. Our team will work diligently to reduce the difficulties associated with the immigration process.
Business Visitor (B)
Nonimmigrants who wish to visit the US for business must obtain a B1 visa to enter the United States. Generally these visas are valid for five to ten years. However, the visa holder is only allowed to remain in the US while his or her I-94 card is valid. B1 holders should return to their home country or apply for a visa extension before their I-94 card expires. Failure to extend the visa or return home can result in the current visa being revoked and future visa applications being denied.
Specialty Workers (H-1B)
The H1B visa is for workers who will perform in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are specialty occupations.
The H1C visa is for nurses who wish to work in health professional shortage areas. Only 500 H1C visas are granted annually. The visa is valid for three years and cannot be extended. In order to qualify for the H1C visa, the nurse must be licensed or have obtained a nursing degree in the US and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Intra Company Transfers
The L1 visa is for executives or employees with specialized skills of multinational companies who are being transferred from an office overseas to a US office. The visa may also be used by a manager or executive to open a new office in the US. The L1 visa is initially valid for three years and can be extended to a total stay of five years. There is no prevailing wage requirement for the L1 visa.
The E1 visa is for nationals from countries with which the US has a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation who are coming to the US to engage in substantial trade between the US and the alien's country of nationality. The E1 visa employee must hold a supervisory or executive position or have skills which are essential to the successful operation of the enterprise. The E1 visa is initially valid for two years and may be extended indefinitely.
The E2 visa is designed for aliens engaged in international investment between the United States and the aliens’ country of nationality. E2 visa holders must make a active and substantial investment as well as perform an essential role in the enterprise that results in the creation of job opportunities for US workers. There is no set amount an E2 visa holder must invest as it depends on the type of enterprise. The E2 visa is initially valid for two years and may be extended indefinitely.
The E3 visa is specifically designed for Australian nationals who will perform in a specialty occupation in the US. A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are specialty occupations.
The R1 visa may be obtained by a religious worker who:
- Has been a member of a US religious organization for the preceding two years and
- Seeks to enter the US for five years or less
The R1 visa is initially valid for three years and may be extended for an additional three years. Applicants should qualify for the visa as long as there is a religious component to the position.
Aliens of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
The O-1 temporary worker visa status is designated for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, arts or athletics and individuals of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industries. The employer must provide documentation to prove that the individual’s ability has been demonstrated through sustained national or international acclaim. The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the final decision on whether or not the individual qualifies for the O-1 classification.
Internationally Recognized Athletes, Artists or Entertainers
The P visa is a non-immigrant visa allowing certain individuals to work temporarily in the United States. The P visa consists of four classifications and covers aliens that are internationally recognized athletes, artists or entertainers. The spouse and unmarried children of the P visa holder may also accompany the P visa holder to the United States during his or her duration of stay. The P visa allows for individuals that are part of a team or entertainment group to come to the United States and perform temporarily.
Family based green card
If an individual marries a US citizen, he or she may apply for legal permanent residence (green card) and obtain a work permit.
If the spouse is located outside of the US, the US citizen may apply for a K3 Fiancé(e) visa to allow the spouse to enter the US and obtain permanent residency. If the couple is not yet married and the foreign fiancé(e) is located outside of the US, then a K1 visa is appropriate.
A US citizen or permanent resident may sponsor their family members for permanent residency or US citizenship. For immediate relatives of US citizens (spouses, parents and unmarried children under age of 21), all the paperwork can be filed at the same time.
Employment based green card
PERM process allows US companies to employ foreign workers in the US on a permanent basis. It is designed to eliminate the traditional labor certification process and create a single automated process for labor certifications that is based primarily on the current procedures for RIR. The US companies must offer a job to a foreign national and offer to pay the prevailing wage for that position. The US company must advertise the position in house and in a local newspaper to give US workers an opportunity to apply for the job. Upon the conclusion of the advertisements, the US employee must show why the US applicants cannot perform the job and why the foreign national can.
The EB4 category is for religious workers. Applicants must be members of a religious denomination that has a nonprofit religious organization in the United States for at least two years.
Nurses or Physical Therapists
The Schedule A category is for nurses and physical therapists. Nurses and physical therapists are listed as shortage occupations and therefore do not need to undergo labor certification. As a result, nurses and physical therapists can obtain their green cards very quickly. Currently these visas are not available.
Asylum is a form of protection that allows individuals who are in the United States to remain here, if they have been persecuted in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her home country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Asylum applicants may apply for asylum even if he or she entered the US illegally or if he or she is in the US on an expired visa/I-94. Generally, asylum applicants must apply for asylum within one year of their arrival in the US but there are several exceptions that will allow the filing of an asylum application after one year. After the asylum petition has been pending for 180 days, the asylum applicant may apply for a work permit.
Each year the US Government, through its green card lottery diversity visa program, makes available 55,000 immigrant visas to persons meeting the eligibility requirements. Winners of the green card lottery win the right to live and work in the United States. Applicants for the green card lottery are initially chosen through a random computer-generated lottery drawing.
Investment based green card
The EB5 category requires an investment of $500,000 to $1,000,000 in a new commercial enterprise (buying an existing business or expanding an existing business is permissible in some instances) that will result in a benefit for the US economy and produce ten full time jobs for workers not related to the EB5 petitioner. There are 10,000 EB5 green cards available annually. Once the EB5 petition is approved, the investor becomes a conditional resident for two years and once the conditions are removed, a permanent resident.
Naturalization is the process where an alien becomes a US citizen. In order for an individual to go through the naturalization process, the alien has to meet certain requirements as follows:
- A permanent resident who has lived in the US for five years;
- Spouses of US citizens who have lived in the US as a permanent resident for three years;
- Asylees who have lived in the US as permanent residents for four years; or
- Permanent residents with three years of US military service.
- Citizenship Certificate
Certificate of Citizenship
A certificate of citizenship is a document issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as proof of a person having obtained US citizenship through derivation or acquisition at birth (when born outside of the United States).
- Replacement of Certificate of Naturalization
- Replacement of Certificate of Citizenship
Business or Pleasure
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2).
Applicants for visitor visas must show that they do not intend to immigrate, and must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
- They plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and
- They have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Immigration authorities have the authority to deny admission, and determine the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States. The Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, denotes the length of stay permitted
The J1 visa is designated for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the US Department of State and the Exchange Visitor Program and Designation Staff. The J1 exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences.
Some J1 visa holders are subject to INA §212(E) and will need to obtain a waiver before they can change their status to or to adjust their status to permanent resident.
Extension of Stay
Change of Status
Deportation and Removal
Removal proceedings are the court hearings in which an Immigration Judge decides whether an alien will be prevented from entering or remaining in the United States. Removal proceedings are similar to criminal trials. The removal hearing is preceded by an investigation and sometimes arrest. A removal proceeding may conclude with an order of termination, relief from removal or removal. An appeal of an order for removal is possible.