November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
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.
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!
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.
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.