Coming Soon: H-1B Specialty Occupation Visas!

January 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

H1-B Visas Coming Soon!

April 1 is the annual roll out for the coveted H-1B Visa. The H-1B visa category is one of the most highly sought-after visa classifications by US employers and foreigners. It is open to professionals that will work in a specialty occupation that generally requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

The visa is issued for three years and is renewable. Last year, there were more H-1B visa petitions filed in the first 5 days than the entire allotment in the calendar year of 65,000. Hundreds of employers across the country were unable to hire all the professional talent that they needed.

Contact us if you have an employee you want to hire who requires an H-1B Visa to work for your company.

John Wilson to Speak at NH Institute of Politics Immigration Panel

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Immigration Panel at NH Institute of Politics

GoffWilson partner John Wilson will participate in the panel on Immigration from Canada and its Impact on Economic Development in New England on Tuesday, December 17 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anslem College.

The event, sponsored by Comcast Business, will take place in the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Auditorium from 8:00-9:45 a.m. To register online, click here.

The economic effect of Canadian firms making their way into New Hampshire and Vermont is an increasingly important issue for New England. During this panel, participants will address a range of questions, including:

  • Who can participate in the job-creating benefits of the EB-5 program?
  • Does the H1B visa fee hinder the development of STEM programs for New England youth?
  • Will relaxing the rules for H1B visas help grow the local economy?
  • Does the sharing of immigration information make it easier for Canadian companies to invest in New England?

The proposed panel of speakers includes experts with a range of relevant expertise, including:

The panel will be covered by Fox Business Channel and moderated by Mike Nikitas, New England Cable News (NECN) anchor and host of “This Week in Business.”

We hope to see you there!

Foreigners Can Join Military & Become US Citizens Faster

December 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Citizenship & the US Army

Do you know a foreigner currently in the US in nonimmigrant status who wants to join the military AND become a US citizen?

If so, the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program may suit them. Today, about 24,000 non-citizens serve on active duty, and about 5,000 legal permanent residents (LPR) enlist for active duty each year.

Recently, the Pentagon resumed a unique program to encourage non-citizen enrollment that had been suspended in 2009. The focus of The Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) recruitment pilot is to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered to be vital to the national interest, specifically those holding skills in languages and medicine.

Looking for physicians, nurses, and experts in language with associated cultural backgrounds, this pilot program hopes to recruit up to 1,500 people through May 15, 2014. The big advantage to this program is that, those so recruited will be given an expedited path to US citizenship. For accepted recruits, naturalization can occur right after basic training, or in about 10 weeks, as opposed to waiting 5 years for the right to apply for US citizenship.

To be eligible for MAVNI, applicants must meet the following criteria:

1) The applicant must be in a nonimmigrant visa category or an  asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status (TPS);

2) The applicant must have been in valid status in one of these categories for at least two years immediately prior to the enlistment date;

3) The applicant  must not have had any single absence from the United States of more than 90 days during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of enlistment.

It should also be noted that an applicant is still eligible even if they have an application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence pending.

Historically, non-citizens have long served in the US military. During the founding days of this country, many individuals embraced this vision, fighting for this belief during the Revolutionary War. Since then, the US Government has passed a series of acts and agreements, such as the Lodge Act of 1950 and the Military Bases Agreement of 1947, allowing non-citizens to serve in the US military.

If you have any questions on this topic or other immigration matters, contact us! We would love to hear from you, let us know how we’re doing and hope we can help.

USCIS Responds to Typhoon Haiyan

November 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Immigration-Typhoon-natural-disaster

Time after time we are reminded of the devastating impact of natural disasters.

Along with physical destruction and loss of life, these disasters impact a variety of different people and businesses. Typhoon Haiyan (referred to as “Yolanda” by Philippine authorities) formed off of the coast of the Federated States of Micronesia on November 2, 2013 and passed through the Philippines on November 8, 2013.

Recorded as one of the strongest storms on the planet, Typhoon Haiyan left a wake of destruction leaving thousands in precarious situations.

On November 15, 2013, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a statement reminding Filipino nationals of possible immigration relief measures, if requested. Understanding that natural disasters sometimes make establishing and maintaining a lawful immigration status difficult, USCIS has issued the following measures to ease the process for people affected from this disaster:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization application, where appropriate; and
  • Assistance to LRPs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards).

If you, a family member, or someone you know is experiencing immigration difficulties from Typhoon Haiyan, or have questions on what we can do, please give GoffWilson a call; we are ready to help!

Applying for a Social Security Card

October 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

How-To-Apply-Social-Security-Card

If you just received lawful permanent residence status or obtained a visa authorizing you to work in the United States, you may be wondering how to apply for a Social Security card.

The Social Security Administration provides Social Security cards to U.S. citizens, permanent residents (green card holders), and foreigners who have Department of Homeland Security authorization to work in the U.S.

The most convenient way of applying for a Social Security card is to request one as part of the immigrant visa application. During the visa application process, the foreign national may request a SSN on their visa application.  After the foreign national arrives in the U.S., the U.S. government sends the Social Security card to the U.S mailing address provided on the visa application.  So, there’s no need to wait in line at your local Social Security office!  The card should be waiting in your mailbox within three weeks of your arrival in the U.S.

Nonimmigrants with work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security, as well as immigrants who did not apply for a SSN during the visa application process, must visit a Social Security office to apply for a card.  In order for the Social Security Administration to verify your immigration information, you must wait 10 days from your arrival date to the U.S. to apply for the card.

After 10 days, you must complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) and provide current, unexpired documents proving age, identity, and work-authorized immigration status.  (Note: The Social Security Administration only accepts original documents or copies certified by issuing agency.)

The SSA requires the following documents:

  1. Immigration Status: The applicant must provide a current U.S. immigration document.   This could include: a Form I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card) with your unexpired foreign passport or an I-94 card.
  2. Age:  The applicant must present a foreign birth certificate.  If you are age 12 or older you must also be interviewed by the SSA to ensure you do not already possess a SSN.
  3. Work Eligibility: I-94 card or DHS work permit (I-766)
  4. Identity:  The Social Security Administration requires a current DHS document as proof of identity.  Acceptable documents include: an I-94 card, I-766 work permit from DHS, or a Form I-551 with unexpired foreign passport.

Additional documents are required for students and exchange visitors.  Foreign students with eligibility to work must provide a letter from their designated school official (DSO) identifying the applicant, confirming the school status, and identifying the employer and type of work the applicant will be doing.

The SSA also requires a letter from the student’s employer describing the nature of the job, the number of hours the applicant will be working, and the supervisor’s contact information. In addition, students must also provide their Forms I-20 as evidence of immigration status.

A card will be mailed to you at your U.S. mailing address as soon as the Social Security Administration, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, verifies your documents. This can take several days or weeks.  If you have any other questions, contact us. It’s what we do!

CBP rolls out New I-94 Process for Arrival/Departure Records

May 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

New I-94 Form Process

As of April 30, 2013, foreign travelers entering the United States (by air or sea) will no longer be issued a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Card.

Instead, Form I-94 will be an electronic documentation of arrival with information obtained by scanning a traveler’s passport. This automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security and reduce federal costs.

Customs and border officials will still stamp the passport with the date and traveler status at entry. Foreigners should then go to CBP.gov/I94 to review their record. Any errors discovered should be immediately reported to CBP.

If travelers need information from their I-94 admission record to verify immigration status or employment authorization, the record number and other information will be available at CBP.gov/I94.

Once the foreigner leaves the country, s/he will no longer have access to the records. Our immigration lawyers recommend that travelers print a paper version of their Form I-94 in order to maintain an immigration record of time spent in the U.S.

Please note that because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper Form I-94 at land border ports of entry.

Click here to see the dates and airports where the process will be rolled out, and please contact GoffWilson with any questions.

Don’t Miss Our Seminar on How to Complete the New I-9 Form and E-Verify

April 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

I9-Seminar-2013-HRCIEmployers and human resource professionals, do you have questions about how to complete the new 2013 I-9 Form? Don’t miss our training seminar, “The Brand New I-9 Form: How to Complete it & E- Verify for 2013” on Thursday May 16 at the Delta Dental Auditorium in Concord, NH.

We urge you to register early as this event always sells out quickly.

With a revised format and e-verification stipulations, it’s essential you understand how to properly complete the new I-9 which will be required for all new hires starting on May 7, 2013. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the new I-9 Form and how to complete it properly. We will also review E-verify.  The workshop will offer extensive I-9 compliance training, with topics including:

  • Lists of Acceptable Documents
  • Receipt Rules Samples
  • Establishing Office Procedures to Ensure Compliance
  • Issue Spotting, Retention Requirements and Social Security
  • No-Match Letters and E-Verify Requirements
  • Federal Contractor and I-9 Compliance Resource Guide

In addition to intensive I-9 training, attendees will receive three hours of HRCI credit, the updated version of the GoffWilson proprietary I-9 manual, and breakfast. Space is limited and this event sells out fast, so register today to reserve your seats!

Could Congress Increase H Visa Availability?

February 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

H1-B-Visa-Cap

Are the number of H visas released on their way up?

Not just yet, but as you have probably heard by now, there is serious discussion going on in the United States Congress to raise  the H visa cap.

If the cap is raised, more of these coveted immigration visas would be available for highly skilled candidates. Applications are accepted each year on April 1 for for specialized knowledge professions.

To keep you up to date, here is what we know so far:

  • The cap would be floating between 115,000 and 300,000 depending on demand (currently it is fixed at only 65,000 and another 20,000 for those with advanced degrees from U.S. schools);
  • The proposal would eliminate the “advanced degree” cap;
  • It would allow for employment authorization for spouses in H-4;
  • Those already in H could again apply for visa revalidation within the U.S. ( a step eliminated by regulations several years ago);
  • It eliminates quotas for STEM degrees.

The H-1B cap increase provisions will be hotly debated and it’s an issue to be followed closely if you’re an employer who hires skilled foreign workers. We will keep you posted on all H visa developments so please check our blawg for the latest news.

If you or your company or someone you know wants to apply for an H-1B Visa, now is the time to do it for employment beginning October 1, 2013. There are limited visas available. Don’t get left out! Contact GoffWilson today. Immigration law is what we do!

Are You Ready for H-1B Season? Get ‘Em Before They’re Gone!

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

How To Get H1-B Visa

It’s an exciting time of year for immigration lawyers. H-1B Season is almost here!

(It’s true, we’re not the most exciting bunch.)

These hard to get and always-valued visas will be up for grabs in less than 100 days. Are you ready?

Don’t miss out this year as we expect the cap of H visas (only 65,000 released) to be filled by the first week of April. As the economy improves, there is more and more call from employers wanting to hire IT consultants, healthcare workers and other high-tech folks and all of these professions require H visa status.

Keep in mind we can file April 1, 2013 for a visa that allows a foreign employee to work for your company beginning October 1, 2013.

There are always a lot of things to consider for an H visa, such as cap-gap issues, travel, staffing and consultant workplace issues and more.  Also, if you hope to employ a graduate now working for you in OPT status when that status runs out, you’ll want to file for the H visa on April 1.

GoffWilson can assist in H-1B visa applications and all areas of immigration law. Contact us today to discuss your options. It’s what we do!

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

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

E2-Visa-Immigration-Law

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!

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