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    Published on 01-05-2016 10:15 AM

    The TN Visa and the 3 year degree: TN Visa: What You or Your Client or Employee Need to Know Before the Border


    As part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the TN Visa allows Mexican and Canadian citizens to live and work temporarily in the United States for up to three-year increments, with extensions granted in up to three-year increments as well. While the TN visa has an incremental time limit, ...

    Published on 01-05-2016 10:04 AM

    EB-5 Legislation: Retrospective and Prospective


    I’ll be right up front with my opinion. I believe the EB-5 industry narrowly averted disaster in the EB-5 legislative reform process at the end of 2015. While any legislation, by the nature of the process, will have provisions that anyone on the political spectrum will both like and dislike (and certainly the final draft form of the Senate bill is no exception), the key is to guard against poison pills. In looking back on 2015, no matter what position you may take on the most controversial issue – urban vs. rural TEAs – in the end the poison pill was a new proposed system of “reserved visas”. Introduced for the first time in December, it would have resulted in most investors competing, not for 10,000 numbers, but for 4,000 numbers, which would have resulted in backlogs estimated by most observers to be at least 10 to 15 years. With the spectre of that provision in mind, the passage of a 9-plus month extension of the program with no changes was as good a result as could have been hoped for.

    Although ...

    Published on 01-04-2016 01:29 PM

    Is There a "Secret Immigration Policy" to Ignore Social Media?


    There is a supposed “secret policy” that prevented consular and immigration officers from checking Tashfeen Malik’s social media accounts where she wrote about jihad (possibly under a pseudonym or in personal messages). If her statements were discovered then she would have been denied a visa, preventing the atrocity.

    This is getting a lot of attention on blogs, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson responded by saying that there are certain limits that probably apply to personal messages, although he’s unclear. 

    After following this controversy, I heard from six different immigration attorneys that there is no such secret policy and their clients routinely have their social media accounts checked by immigration officials — or at least have heard of it happening. 

    Matthew Kolken of Kolken and Kolken in Buffalo, New York told me:

    The first time I confirmed that the government was investigating social media was around 2009 when an adjudicator at a marriage fraud interview confronted my client with a series of pictures he was tagged in on Facebook.

    The only person more surprised than me was his wife when she saw that the pictures were posted by his girlfriend the previous weekend. The silver lining is that when the officer witnessed my client’s rage he approved the application on the spot.

    Charles Kuck at Kuck Immigration Partners in Atlanta, Georgia wrote:

    USCIS and other government immigration agencies have been using social media for at least the last five years in naturalization, green card, and visa ...

    Published on 01-04-2016 12:10 PM

    Two Potential Additional Uses for the I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition


    Published on 01-04-2016 11:59 AM

    A new year’s gift from USCIS: 140 portability rules and much more


    As per President Obama’s executive action announcement of November 2015, a year later, we are presented with the much anticipated policy change rules that will likely make employment-based immigration better in some circumstances. The 181 page proposed rules (140eadexecaction fr text dec 30 2015 will be published to the Federal Register tomorrow Dec. 31, 2015.  It covers many grounds and much analysis will be required. There will be a 60 day comment period from tomorrow. After that, USCIS will consider those comments before finalizing them.  This is your opportunity to air your concern if the rules do not address what you had hoped to see.

    It is important to note that statute cannot be changed through this process but some issues can be reinterpreted and made consistent with other current rules. That is what is happening here. So, per country quota cannot be changed without Congress’s action.   These rules do not cover entrepreneur issues, I am still anxiously awaiting those.

    There are so many good things in my opinion in these rule changes, that I am excited and I want to take the opportunity to thank USCIS for painstakingly going through so ...

    Published on 12-31-2015 01:42 PM

    The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in Legal Directories



    Legal directories can be an excellent source of website traffic, so long as you stay organized from the beginning, use a consistent NAP (name, address, phone) and stick with the “Good” directories.

     “Legal directories are important because they dominate the search engine results,” said Conrad Saam of Mockingbird Marketing, who covered the key points in a Webinar presented with Dustin Curtis. A sample Google search for a lawyer produced results from Findlaw, Avvo, Justia and a newcomer: Thumbtack. “Thumbtack does extremely well in search engine results, they do excellent SEO and Google is one of their investors. It's new to the legal profession, so approach it as an experiment.”

    The Good

    Saam said there are a dozen “Good” directories: primarily Avvo, Justia and Lawyer Legion, the last of which ties into a lawyer's profile on the pro-marijuana site NORML. The full list is Avvo, Superlawyers, Justia, Lawdeeda, Lawyers.com, Lawyer ...

    Published on 12-31-2015 12:27 PM

    Current Immigration Topics


    1. Job market tightening indicates nation needs more workers

    Reuters reported on Christmas Eve, “U. S. jobless claims near 42 year low as labor market tightens,” a strong indication that inflation will haunt the nation in the coming year unless more workers can be found. The Reuters report showed that initial state unemployment benefits claims were at levels not seen since late 1973; that the national unemployment rate was still at a 7 ˝ year low of 5%; that it has dropped ...

    Published on 12-30-2015 12:43 PM

    Understanding DHS’ 2015 Deportation Numbers



    This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its fiscal year (FY) 2015 deportation numbers. According to DHS, immigration enforcement agencies apprehended 406,595 individuals nationwide and conducted a total of 462,463 removals and returns. These totals include both people deported at the border and those removed from the interior of the United States. However, in order to understand what these numbers actually mean and if they reflect DHS’s new enforcement priorities, a closer look at enforcement actions by Border Patrol versus Immigration and Customs Enforcement is necessary.

    First, border apprehensions conducted by the U.S. Border Patrol totaled 337,117 in FY 2015, compared to 486,651 in FY 2014. DHS reports that apprehensions of “Mexican nationals decreased by 18 percent from FY 2014, and apprehensions of individuals from countries other than Mexico, predominately from Central America, decreased by 68 percent.” The drop in Mexican apprehensions likely reflects ...

    Published on 12-30-2015 12:32 PM

    Banning Muslims from America?


    Donald Trump has called for a ban of Muslims coming in to America until we can sort out the terrorism problem. This blog is meant in no way as a commentary in favor or against his proposal, but rather it is an observation on my part.

    As a Board Certified immigration lawyer with offices in Houston and Miami Beach, I represent many Muslim clients, especially in Houston. I have actually noticed an uptick in recent weeks of new Muslim clients seeking to immigrate. It has occurred to me that this may be due to the anti-Muslim rhetoric from Trump and others, with regard to entering the USA.

    The ...

    Published on 12-30-2015 12:27 PM

    What’s Standing Between Your Genius Client or Employee and Their Visa?


    Hundreds of thousands of highly skilled workers in STEM industries are sought out every year to come work in the United States. The reason being these industries are expanding so quickly and the jobs are becoming more and more complex, requiring technical expertise the United States educational system is notoriously weak at preparing students for. More highly skilled engineers are needed every year than the US workforce ...
    Published on 12-29-2015 12:30 PM

    The Five Biggest Immigration Myths of the GOP Debate


    At the last Republican debate, the presidential candidates didn’t have many positive things to say about immigrants or refugees. This could be because they believe a lot of very inaccurate things about them. Here are the top five most egregious things that the GOP presidential hopefuls had to say in the last debate.

    #1 – Sen. Rand Paul: “Every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration.”

    This is wildly inaccurate. Since 9/11, according to the New America Foundation’s count, US-born citizens with various “right-wing” ideologies have killed more people and carried out twice as many terrorist attacks as jihadists.

    But even focusing on jihadists who have killed people in the United States over the last 14 years, less than half have been immigrants of any kind. The San Bernardino shooter, the Fort Hood shooter, and the Washington State killer were all US-born residents.

    Sen. Paul’s claim is baseless.

    #2 – Sen. Ted Cruz: “One of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight Bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees without mandating any background checks whatsoever.”

    Two claims are made here: 1) that the 2013 immigration bill gave President Obama “blanket authority to admit refugees” and did so 2) “without mandating background checks.”

    First, under the Refugee Act of 1980, the president already establishes the refugee limit in consultation with congressional committees. The 2013 bill didn’t affect this authority.

    The Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz made a similar claim last month, saying that provisions granting legal status to “stateless people” would “open the floodgates to Islamic refugees.”

    Published on 12-29-2015 10:17 AM

    Sponsored Spouses – Extension of Interim Work Permit Program


    Sponsorship of spouses or common-law partners for permanent residence in Canada may be carried out either inland, or overseas, depending on various circumstances. Where the inland process is available and utilized, total processing time can be well over two years.

    In December 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced a pilot project whereby spouses or common-law partners of Canadians being sponsored inland, could seek work permits while their cases were processing. This program has now been extended to December 21, 2016. (This program does not impact overseas sponsorships in any way.)

    Under this program, ...

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