H-1B Visa Filing Frenzy is Just Around the Corner

February 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

H1-B Visas Filing Frenzy

April 1st, the opening day for filing H-1B visa petitions, is just around the corner. Arguably the most sought-after nonimmigrant visa, the H Visa is available for professionals to work in a specialty occupation (i.e. requiring a Bachelor’s degree or higher).

Looking to Hire an H-1B Employee?

If you are an employer seeking to hire one of these professionals, you better act fast as there are only 85,000 new H-1B visas available each fiscal year—broken down as 20,000 for individuals possessing a U.S. Master’s degree or higher and 65,000 for all other applicants possessing a Bachelor’s degree.

The H-1B CAP

This quota is referred to as the H-1B CAP. Last year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received approximately 172,500 CAP-subject H petitions and the predictions for this year are even higher!

If the number of petitions filed with USCIS on April 1st exceeds the available amount of H-1B visas, which is very likely given the improving economy and lack of highly skilled workers in the US, a random selection lottery will be conducted.

Benefits of H-1B Visa for Employers

Even with the lottery, you still want to file for an H Visa as the benefits outweigh the risks: your employee will receive a 3-year H-1B visa, which can be renewed for an additional 3 years.

Additionally, H-1B visas allow for dual-intent, which means you can sponsor your employee for permanent residency (i.e. green card) and they can continue working for your company in the U.S. without interruption.

How to File an H-1B Petition

Complete H-1B petition packages include the required USCIS forms and filing fees, a Labor Condition Application (LCA), information surrounding the employer and the offered position, and documentation regarding the employee.

Not sure where to begin? Contact the GoffWilson H-1B Team for assistance. Our office has successfully assisted thousands of employers and employees with their H-1B petitions. Contact us today for more information and be a winner all the way around!

Immigration Executive Action: What U.S. Employers Need To Know Now

November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Visa Waiver Changes

On November 20, 2014, President Obama addressed the nation and announced his executive actions for improving the existing immigration system. Several of the President’s initiatives will directly affect U.S. employers. We have highlighted some of these initiatives below:

1. Initiatives for Skilled Workers

  • PERM Program Modernization: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has committed to modernizing the PERM Program (i.e. the first step in the employment-based green card process for employees) for the first time since the Program’s inception ten years ago. Specifically, the DOL plans to review the current regulations and seek input on key items such as labor force occupational shortages, recruitment requirements, premium processing possibilities, and typographical errors.
  • Adjustment of Status Timing: Individuals with an approved I-140 petition, who are waiting for their priority date to become current, will be permitted to file for Adjustment of Status (i.e. their green card application) earlier. This will allow the individuals to gain benefits of having an application pending, such as an EAD card and a travel document. This will also allow employees awaiting their green cards to switch employers more easily.
  • Employment Authorization for H-4 Spouses: H-4 spouses of H-1B skilled workers with an approved I-140 petition will be eligible to apply for employment authorization.
  • Clarifying Guidance on L-1B and Portability Provisions: Clarifying guidance will be provided to further explain the requirements of L-1B visa eligibility and clearly define “specialized knowledge.” Guidance will also be provided to clarify the definition of “same or similar classification” for employees wishing to port (i.e. switch) employers while their green card application is pending.

2. Initiatives for Investors and Entrepreneurs

  • Travel Authorization for Foreign Investors: Certain investors will be granted temporary authorization to travel to the U.S. to explore opportunities for job creation. This travel authorization can also be used to temporarily pursue research and development of new businesses in the U.S.
  • National Interest Waivers: Certain entrepreneurs, investors, and founders will be eligible to apply for a National Interest Waiver (i.e. a waiver of the job offer requirement for a green card applicant pursuing work in the U.S. that is found to be in the national interest).

3. Initiatives for Students

  • STEM OPT Expansion: Optional Practical Training (OPT) for STEM graduates (i.e. graduates with a degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) will be expanded to allow for a longer period of time in OPT. The relationship between the STEM graduate and their degree institution will be strengthened during this period.

The timeframe for each initiative differs, depending on whether full regulatory review is required for the initiative to be enacted. The earliest change expected is employment authorization for certain H-4 spouses, which could happen as early as December or January. The other changes are expected to follow in the coming months.

Questions on how the President’s executive actions apply to you? GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information.

How an E-2 Visa Lets a Foreign Worker Invest in a Company

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment


The E-2 visa is one of the most advantageous nonimmigrant visas available to foreigners who want to stay and work in the United States.

This investment visa is available for nationals of 80 countries with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. The applicant must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which she has invested. The E-2 visa is not for self-employment, but rather to create jobs for U.S. workers. The foreigner must be prepared to invest a substantial amount of capital.

The following are required for an E-2 visa:

First, the investor must have the necessary funds in his control and  they must be irrevocably committed to the business enterprise. Having an intent to invest is not sufficient. It cannot be a speculative business. You must show:

  • proof of incorporation
  • lease or purchase of business  premises
  • asset-purchase agreements
  • equipment purchase agreements

Second, the investor should make a “substantial” investment in the planned business. U.S. Consulates have considerable latitude in determining what is a substantial investment. Typically, $100,000 is the threshold investment amount to be considered viable for an E visa. Although, this does not mean that anything over $100,000 is guaranteed  E-2 visa. an approval.

Third, the investor must prove that the funds are “at risk.” Thus, if the business fails, the money would be lost. Money secured against the new business assets is not allowed for an E-2 visa as there is no risk involved.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the investment cannot be “marginal.” A marginal enterprise is one that only generates sufficient income to support the investor and his family. The goal of an E-2 visa is to create jobs for U.S. workers. Thus, the E-2 investment must be able to generate enough income to pay other workers. A strong, well-written business plan may accomplish this goal.

The duration of the E-2 visa is  initially two years and it can be extended for as long as the business continues to operate. The application is typically made directly at the U.S. Consulate in the country where the foreigner resides. In addition, unlike some other nonimmigrant visas (such as the H visa) the spouse of an E-2 visa holder can also apply for work authorization and is free to work anywhere for any employer.

There are other details involved in an E-2 visa application (such as the ability to allow non-investors to obtain an E-2 visa to be a manager or similar). We recommend you contact us with your questions about the E-2 visa for you or someone you know. It’s what we do!

New State Dept. Program For Canada, Mexico, Caribbean Travel Worth Checking Out

March 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Do you or someone you know travel frequently to our neighbor country to the North?

If you travel frequently to and from Canada, the new pilot program launched in January this year by the Department of State may be worth checking out.

On January 24, the Department of State’s Office of Passport Services launched a 90-day pilot program. It allows adult U.S. citizens living in the U.S. and Canada to apply for a passport card online.

Those applying online are not required to mail in their current passports. The wallet-sized U.S. passport card costs $30 for current passport holders, and is valid for land and sea travel to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It is not valid for international air travel.

To participate in the program, you need the following:

  1. Valid U.S. passport  with a 10-year validity period  that has at least 12 months of validity remaining
  2. Acceptable digital photograph
  3. Make an online payment in U.S. dollars via Pay.gov.

The Department of State began producing the passport card in 2008 in response to travel document requirements imposed by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) when all persons entering and leaving Canada and the US were required to now have a passport. Since then, more than 4.5 million cards have been issued.

To apply for the passport card using the online application, visit their website.

And if you have any questions about immigration law in general, feel free to contact us!

Employment Authorization Docs Get Makeover

October 28, 2011 § 3 Comments


That U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service form you’re holding?

It’s so last year.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced that redesigned Employment Authorization Documents are now being issued. The redesigned cards contain several security enhancing features, include a new holographic image, a laser-engraved tamper resistant photograph and a laser-engraved fingerprint.

For I-9 related purposes, the redesigned employment authorization cards are acceptable List A, Number 4 documents (Form I-766). Employers will also be happy to know that the card number on the redesigned card is listed on the front of the card. Employers should record the card number as the document number within List A on the I-9 Form.

USCIS simultaneously announced that redesigned Certificates of Citizenship are also being issued. Although the Certificates of Citizenship are now more secure, the certificates are still not acceptable to complete the I-9 Form. The Certificate of U.S. Citizenship was removed from the list of acceptable documents as of November 7, 2007.

USCIS anticipates that more than 1 million people will receive the new documents over the next year.

If you have any questions about these new documents, please email GoffWilson or call our office in Concord, NH: 603.228.1277 or 1.800.717.VISA.

USCIS Launches I-9 Central

May 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Friday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched a new website dedicated to the I-9 form called I-9 Central. They claim it will be an online resource for employers to address how to complete I-9 forms, documents accepted for I-9 purposes and retention requirements. We know from experience that completing the I-9 Form takes more than a government web site how-to! It requires hands-on training and practice.

We have the answers: GoffWilson offers comprehensive training workshops, guidance with internal audits, and I-9 compliance policy development.

Please contact us with your I-9 related questions.

Announcing Form I-9 and E-Verify seminar for November 2010

October 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Knowledge is power in the changing landscape of federal immigration enforcement.

GoffWilson, an immigration law firm with offices in New Hampshire and abroad, announces an encore presentation of the winning seminar for Employers and Human Resource Professionals, “Form I-9 & E-Verify: What You Need To Know 2010”. Back by popular demand for the third time, the training workshop will take place on Thursday, November 18, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Delta Dental Auditorium in Concord, NH.

Participants earn three Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) continuing education credit hours for completing the training.

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