I-9 Information for Employers

April 30, 2014: The Dept. of Homeland Security has begun issuing electronic arrival/departure cards to travelers entering the US.  This means that non-immigrants entering the US will no longer receive paper I-94 cards. The foreign national may access and print out the electronic I-94, but it will look different than the former I-94 card. This is important to employers because employers are required to document that each new employee is authorized to work in the US by maintaining a completed I-9 for each employee.  An I-94 form is one of the documents that an employee may produce to verify employment authorization.  Since the printed electronic I-94 looks different than the paper I-94, employers might be confused about what document to accept for proof of employment authorization.   The paper I-94 card will have an original stamp and writing on it.  The printout of the electronic I-94 will have no original writing or stamps.  Both paper versions and printouts of the electronic I-94 are acceptable. For more information on completing I-9 forms watch  this  short video provided by USCIS : http://www.uscis.gov/videos/video-form-i-9-employment-eligibility-verification-section-one

Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) Automation

April 24, 2014:  In the past few months, Customs and Border Protection, CBP, began issuing electronic Arrival/Departure Records (Form I-94) for those who enter the US at air and sea ports of entry.  Upon admission to the US, CBP will provide an admission stamp in  each traveler’s passport, but will not routinely provide a printed I-94 form.  In order t o obtain a printed copy of the arrival/departure record, travelers will need to access the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94.  Although the admission stamp in your passport, can serve as evidence of a lawful admission to the US, we strongly advise international travelers to use the CBP website to print their arrival/departure records.  Please note that travelers who are US citizens, or permanent residents (green card holders), do not receive I-94 records.  For more information about I-94 automation, visit the CBP website at http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/i94_factsheet_2.pdf

Tips for Choosing an Immigration Lawyer

April 22, 2014: Questions to Ask before Choosing an Immigration Lawyer

1.  How long has the lawyer been practicing in the area of immigration law.  It is a common practice for lawyers to state that they have been licensed to practice law for a specific number of years, without including the information that the amount of time they have been practicing in the area of immigration law is less than this amount of time.

2. Look for evidence of professional standing.  Has the lawyer published articles, spoken at professional associations, received recognition from others in the profession?

3. Does the lawyer use retainer agreements that clearly spell out the services that will be provided and the fees that will be charged?

4. Does the lawyer provide educational programs, or educational materials on immigration law topics?

5. Does the lawyer employ staff that are polite and helpful on the phone?

6. Does the lawyer have experience in the particular area of immigration for which you need help?  For example, some immigration lawyers exclude employment immigration, or representation in immigration court, from their practice.

For more tips click on choosing an immigration lawyer

Extension of TPS for Haitians

April 18, 2014: The Immigration Service (USCIS) recently announced that it would extend TPS status for Haitians from July 23, 2014, to January 22, 2016.  Those who re-register, may apply for a new Employment Authorization Document. Please note that this applies only to those Haitians who have already registered for TPS status. For more information go to the website listed below.

http://www.uscis.gov/news/temporary-protected-status-extended-haitians-0

I am an undocumented immigrant. What can I do now to prepare for possible changes in the law?

April 18, 2014: If you are in the US without immigration papers, or if your immigration papers have expired, you may be an undocumented (sometimes called “illegal”) immigrant. You may not be able to file any immigration papers now, but it is possible that the law may change in the future to provide a path to legalization for those who are undocumented. To learn more about what kinds of papers you should start saving, click on path to legalization.

What is Two-Year (Conditional) Residence?

April 9, 2014:  What is a Two-Year Green Card? There is an important difference between conditional residence and permanent residence.  When you receive a green card based on marriage to a US citizen, in most cases, you receive conditional residence.  This means that you and your US citizen spouse will need to file papers to remove this condition from your card within two years of the date that your green card was approved.  This is different from permanent residence, or a green card not based on marriage to a US citizen, or based on a marriage to a US citizen that took place more than two years before filing a green card application. Read more  at Two-year green card.

Permission to Work for Refugees and Asylees

April 9, 2014:  If you are a refugee or an asylee you have permission to work in the US.  USCIS (the Immigration Service) recently issued guidelines for refugees and asylees on how to provide proof of work authorization to an employer.  For more information on this topic, go to the website below.

http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/D2en.pdf

Good News for Spouses of H-1B workers.

April 8, 2014:  Good News for Spouses of H-1B workers. The White House announced that it will soon publish rules that would allow the spouses of some H-1B workers to have work permission. Although this rule is not yet in effect, it will be something to watch for in the future. For answers to common questions about H-1B visas click on H-1B FAQ.

For more information on the proposed rules go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/07/fact-sheet-strengthening-entrepreneurship-home-and-abroad

H-1B Cap Update

  1. USCIS FY2015 H-1B Cap Reached
    April 7, 2014: USCIS announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for FY2015 for both the general category and the advanced degree exemption category, and will close the filing period after today. A random selection “lottery” will occur at a later date.

Permanent Residence (Green Cards) May Not be Permanent

April 3, 2014: Once you have your green card, you have permission to live and work in the US indefinitely.  You may however lose your green card status under certain circumstances.  For example, many kinds of convictions can make deportable.  This means you would be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings in immigration court.  You would have to defend your self against being deported.  In some cases, there may no defense to these charges. This issue can also come up every time you cross the border to return to the US.  You may be found to be be inadmissible based on a conviction.  This means that you may not be able to re-enter the US

Another way that you can lose your green card status is by leaving the US without having enough proof of your intention to return to the US to live. This issue comes up when you return to the US from a trip abroad.  This includes trips to Canada. The longer you stay out of the country, the more customs inspectors will question you about the purpose of your trip and your ties abroad versus ties to the US.

For more information on how to maintain your status as a green card holder click on green card.