More information will be forthcoming. Keep in mind, this is early information, and not to be relied upon without consulting with a qualified immigration attorney. However, here is what comprehensive immigration reform might look like for the undocumented, based on the 17 page memo recently released from the Senate’s bill:
The Undocumented – Some will be granted a Registered Provisional Immigrant Status:
- December 31, 2011 is the cut off. People who entered after this date will be ineligible to take advantage of this Registered Provisional Immigrant Status
- Those who are not DREAM Act Eligible will be required to pay a $500 penalty plus any back taxes that are owed. We, at SwagatUSA, have long advised people that even undocumented must file accurate tax returns. It is evident that taxes will be taken into account.
- Those convicted of crimes such as felonies, aggravated felonies, 3 or more misdemeanors, or an offense under foreign law, as well as any who have unlawfully voted in an election will be ineligible.
- Spouses and children will be protected also as derivatives
- Individuals currently outside of the US who were deported, but would have qualified for this status if not for the prior deportation, will be eligible to apply and reenter.
- Those eligible will be able to work and travel outside of the US.
- Individuals in removal proceedings or with removal orders will be eligible as well.
- RPI status does not render one eligible for public means-tested benefits, or premium assistance tax credit.
- Initial approval will be for 6 years, and if good character is proven over this period, it may be renewed again, with another $500 penalty.
People in DREAM Act and Agricultural Program, can get their green cards in 5 years, and DREAM Act kids will be eligible for citizenship immediately upon receiving their green cards.
As we are slowly winding down with the H-1b season of FY2014, I thought it would be a good idea to make a blog post about some not-so-common common knowledge about H-1B Applications.
First, some observations: How quickly the H-1B cap fills has a direct correlation with the economy. In fact, H-1Bs tend to be the early predictors of a future economy. So when things seem to be on the upswing with the economy, expect numbers to be filled MUCH faster than if we are on a down-swing. Take for example this year. While the numbers are still pending, the prediction is that the H-1B numbers (65,000 applications) will be exhausted within the first week. This is drastically different from the previous three years.
Second, many may not realize that it takes AT A BARE MINIMUM 2 weeks to prepare a good standard H-1b Application. This is because the first step is to do a Labor Conditions Application, which takes 7 business days to approve. Often, when it comes to brand new companies, the first step is to get the company’s FEIN to be recognized by the USCIS, which adds at least two business days to the total processing time. Then, factor in the time it takes to mail the application, get it signed by the appropriate signatory of the company, and you are looking at 2 weeks or longer as the bare minimum time frame, easily.
Third, it makes a huge difference when an application is thoroughly prepared. I often see denials from older applications where the reason for denial is that the application was not well-supported. The relevant fields on the forms were filled with bare minimum information, and the job category was not fully vetted before filling out the application. The time that it takes to communicate and strategize with the company regarding the preparation of an application is CRUCIAL in increasing approval rates. It is no wonder that firms who bulk process H-1B applications often see lower approval rates. At the end of the day, the best way to save money, is to have your application approved. The easiest way to lose money is to try to save money by having a low-fee high-volume firm process your application in a bulk manner. We focus on each application individually and our focus on these applications is easily noted by the results we obtain.
Fourth, do your research on who specifically will work on your H-1B application within the firm. This is particularly crucial for smaller companies who are not yet experienced on the process of H-1b and the various complexities that can result. Often times, you choose the firm, but the firm chooses the case-worker. You should have some knowledge as to the experience and education level of the people involved in the processing of your H-1b application. Is it being passed off on a junior paralegal? Is it being worked on by a new law school graduate? If you are concerned about your application being approved, you should pay attention to the inside of the law firm processes as well as the overall reputation.
Fifth, and finally, is the law firm willing to work with your company’s culture? Often times high-volume firms do not take the time to understand your company and therefore are not able to work with you effectively. We like to take our time getting to know each of our clients so that we can work with you in an effective and efficient manner.
For those of you who have Cap Subject applications, you may need to wait until 2014 to get started. When you do, keep the above points in mind. For those who are fortunate enough to be cap-exempt, you must keep the above in mind before contacting an attorney.
As an immigration attorney, I often get calls from students who have received an RFE, and sometimes a second RFE, on an OPT application. They are searching for immigration attorneys to help respond. I explain to them that responding to an RFE is often not as straight-forward as providing what is being requested. Often times, the documents requested indicate a deeper problem in proving a fundamental element of the OPT requirements. Perhaps they are suspecting CPT abuse and require proof of addresses. Perhaps they want to know if you have maintained a full-time student course load as required for F1 visas. Or maybe there is a discrepancy in your F1 and OPT application, and for immigration purposes, discrepancies raise suspicion of fraud. Whatever the matter, the application must be responded to thoroughly. An attorney, no a GOOD immigration attorney, is necessary.
In any case, often the client raises the objection for fees, and always with the same reason “I am only a student.” I am going to write in this blog post, what I do not have time to explain to people who consult with me over phone. The issue that I have with students does not have anything to do with the fact that they have lack of money. It’s the lack of experience.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I was a student once, too. I remember what it is like. Free food is the best marketing tool for student organization meetings, and saving a buck or two is worth spending a half hour planning. You skip luxuries and even manage to skimp on certain ‘necessities.’ I know. I get it. But think for a minute. What is the whole purpose you have decided to attend college in the US, to pursue whatever degree you are pursuing? My guess is – to secure a brighter future – right? Now your whole future in the US hinges on your immigration status. And after all of the work and effort you have put into it, you still decide to self-file an OPT application. And sometimes even respond to the first RFE by yourself. Then, when you are in deeper trouble, facing a ‘do-or-die’ situation, you call an attorney, and even then, some object to the fees being too high? Really?
What this tells me is that the problem isn’t really lack of funds. The real problem is lack of experience. Many students have yet to experience the problems that a badly prepared immigration application can cause. They haven’t been in the position where they are looking at a rosy 80-90k paying job hinging upon the decision of a difficult H-1b application. They have not had to deal with immigration law, and immigration attorneys. So far, the international student office has been filing everything for students, for free. So many students do not value their immigration status yet because they have not had the required experiences to value it.
To make matters worse, most students ask for advice from other students, who also have not had the required experiences to understand the critical importance of their immigration applications, and of choosing a good immigration attorney.
When I think of F1 students, it reminds me of little baby turtles, who hatch in the sand, and face their first hurdle of making it through to the water. Many perish. Those who make it still have a long way to go and many struggles before they become free flowing adult turtles. But once they are adults, life is great. They have few predators (other than humans of course) and live a very long life. The OPT application is your first hurdle. Believe me, there are many more to go before you are able to be a US Citizen. So make wise decisions. The $100-$200 you are trying to save on the very critical application isn’t really worth it in the long run.
I wish you all a very bright future. May you all become adult turtles swimming freely. And I hope that you never have to look back and regret key decisions you make regarding your immigration applications.
Know a friend who can benefit from this? Pass it along. Want to know how to find a good immigration attorney? Click Here.
For many months now, we have been awaiting a change in the waiver process. It is finally final! The provisional waiver for i-601 (or the i-601a) rule goes into effect March 4, 2013.
Whom does it affect?
This affects spouses of US citizens who entered the US unlawfully. Spouses of LPRs are not yet covered. This may change in the future, but as of today, they will have to go through the old processing route.
What is the change?
Whereas before, the applicants had to go overseas to their country to file the final waiver. Now, they can go overseas with an initial approval from the United States. This significantly reduces the anguish and stress of going overseas and the fear of not being able to return. It also cuts down on the amount of time that applicants must spend overseas.
What does not change?
The standard remains the same. I-601 waivers are judged by the same standards they have always been judged on. The standard of Extreme Hardship to a qualifying relative. To learn more about this standard, Click Here.
How can we help?
We can help you file I-601 waivers of unlawful presence no matter where you live in the country. Simply contact us for a free consultation.
When should you start filing the petition to take advantage of this provisional waiver?
Ideally you should contact an attorney before beginning the I-130. The reason is this: the preparation for waivers is extensive and you need the time to be able to prepare. If you begin the I-130 right now, you will mostly be able to take advantage of the i-601 / i-601a provisional waiver. If you are at the NVC stage (which is the 2nd stage) you will likely still be able to take advantage of it. However, if you already have your appointment scheduled for interview, or if your interview is scheduled BEFORE March 4, 2013, you will not be able to take advantage of this provisional waiver.
How you can get more information?
Sign up for our free newsletter, where we will be sending you immigration updates on an ongoing basis.
Other important points
Remember that the provisional waiver is only for spouses of US Citizens. So far, not for spouses of permanent residents, or children of permanent residents or citizens.
Also, a common misunderstanding is that one does not have to leave the country at all. This is false. There is a need to leave the country after the provisional approval, but the departure will be for a short period of time (weeks, instead of months or years), and you will go knowing for sure that unless something changes, you will be able to return legally and obtain a green card.h
Historically, Mexico has had a relatively high approval rate, whereas the approval rates for countries like China are notoriously low. Having a provisional waiver determined in the United States ensures efficiency as well as fair and balanced adjudication for those of other countries. Therefore this is particularly useful for those who are citizens of countries other than Mexico.
Keep in mind that many people have been awaiting this change in the process. The sooner you get started, the better. I-601 waivers are VERY COMPLEX and hiring a competent and experienced attorney greatly improves chances of success.