Category: Immigration law

I Have Temporary Protected Status. Can I Adjust Status to Legal Permanent Residence in the U.S.?
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I Have Temporary Protected Status. Can I Adjust Status to Legal Permanent Residence in the U.S.? | Claudia Slovinsky

{ 7:54 minutes to read} There are currently more than 340,000 foreign nationals in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). These are individuals who arrived before a designated date from countries that the U.S. government has determined to not be safe to return nationals because of conditions there, including war, hurricanes, earthquakes, disease epidemics and other catastrophes.

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DHS Proposed Filing Fees Will Increase Financial Burden on Immigrants
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DHS Proposed Filing Fees Will Increase Financial Burden on Immigrants | Claudia Slovinsky

By Leena Khandwala, Associate Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC {6:18 minutes to read} The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to raise the filing fees charged by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which, if successful, would significantly increase the cost of applying for most immigration benefits. The average proposed increase across the board is 21%. While the most significant increases are for visas in the employment-based categories, including H-1B visas for professionals in specialty occupations, L-1 visas for intra-company transferees, and EB-5 visas for immigrant investors, family-based categories will see substantial increases as well.

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What to Consider When Transferring H-1B Workers Overseas
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What to Consider When Transferring H-1B Workers Overseas|Claudia Slovinsky

au{4:35 minutes to read} By Dominic Kong, Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC Recently, an employer asked me whether it can send one of its H-1B workers to manage an assignment at its overseas office in Shanghai, China, for a 2-year period and what impact this would have on his immigration case.  This is one of the frequently asked questions for companies with a global presence. To answer it, we need to analyze how this outbound immigration may or may not impact the foreign national employee’s H-1B status and pending employment-based Green Card process, as well as the employer’s obligations and liabilities in regard to these applications.

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Popular Visa Waiver Program Gets New Restrictions
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Popular Visa Waiver Program Gets New Restrictions | Claudia Slovinsky

{4:18 minutes to read} A law went into effect on January 21, 2016, that puts new restrictions on the U.S. entry program utilized by millions of tourists and business visitors from 38 countries. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens from these designated countries to bypass the general requirement of applying for and obtaining a visa from a U.S. Consulate abroad before being able to enter the U.S. Those individuals who are now excluded from the program under the new law will have to make an application for a visa at a U.S. Consul before traveling to the U.S.

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“Sorry Boss, those documents that I gave you years ago for Form I-9 were phonies!”
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“Sorry Boss, those documents that I gave you years ago for Form I-9 were phonies!” | Claudia Slovinsky

By Dominic Kong Senior Associate Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC What do you do as an employer when your employee presents you with a new social security number and an employment authorization document and tells you that the documents that he or she previously provided to you were not genuine? The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has discussed this scenario in a letter responding to an employer’s inquiry. The letter only discusses the potential liability of the employer and the corrective action the employer should take. It does not address any issues the employee may face in having used false documents or documents that were not his or hers.

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Say “no” to Fear and Hatred and “yes to America”
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Say no to Fear and Hatred and yes America | Laraine Schwartz

Winograd and Schwartz, PC, would like to wish each of you a peaceful and healthy holiday season. These are certainly troubling times. As Americans, we value the power of the vote – democracy at work. This year’s presidential race is proving a challenge to the mind and our country. Along with the repercussions of Citizens United, money in politics has taken on a new meaning. And with his own bankroll of his campaign,

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What Happens When the I-130 Petitioner Dies?
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What Happens When the I-130 Petitioner Dies? | Claudia Slovinsky

{ 11 minutes to read} Family reunification is a key principle underlying U.S. immigration policy. And family based sponsorship remains the most frequently used means of immigrating to the U.S. According to the Congressional Research Service, 66% of foreign nationals admitted to the United States in fiscal year 2013 as lawful permanent residents (LPRs) were admitted on the basis of family ties. U.S. Immigration law allows for U.S. citizens and LPRs to sponsor various categories of family members, including:

  • Spouses;
  • Parents;
  • Children; and
  • Siblings.

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The Right Side of History
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The Right Side of History | Laraine E. Schwartz

The images pouring out of the Middle East right now are heartbreaking. Men, women and children are fleeing war by piling into rafts that are not seaworthy and often sink. For a brief moment, it looked like the world was waking up to the reality of this nightmare when little Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body was photographed face-down and sinking into the sands of a Turkish beach. Aylan had been the victim of a capsized raft. Gone, too, were his mother and brother, leaving his father as the only member of his family left alive. And the world did react, with Europe opening its borders ever so slightly only to shut them a week later. Canada joined effort, taking in thousands of refugees as did Syria’s neighbor, Jordan. In the United States, President Obama committed to accepting 10,000 refugees – only to be greeted by howls of protest.

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USCIS Proposes Positive Change to Extreme Hardship Evaluation in Waiver Cases
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USCIS Proposes Positive Change to Extreme Hardship Evaluation in Waiver Cases | Claudia Slovinsky

{ 4:36 minutes to read} The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a proposed change to their policy guidelines as to how “extreme hardship” will be determined in deciding various waivers of inadmissibility that require extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. Public comment on the change can be submitted until November 23, 2015. Foreign nationals who are applying for green cards can be found to be inadmissible on a number of different grounds:

  • Fraud;
  • Some criminal convictions;
  • Having overstayed in unlawful presence in the United States.

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DAPA and DACA Arguments Heard by the Fifth Circuit
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DAPA and DACA Arguments Heard by the Fifth Circuit | Laraine E. Schwartz

On July 10th, President Barack Obama’s Executive Orders on deferred action for undocumented immigrants were argued before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Both Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, (DAPA) are being challenged by a group of 26 states that assert Obama overstepped his authority with these Executive Orders.

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H-1B/H-4 Visas
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Starting May 26, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B extension of stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. Premium processing remains available for all other Form I-129 H-1B petitions, including petitions subject to the H-1B cap that are requesting a change of nonimmigrant status or consular notification.

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Entrepreneurial Visas: The Extraordinary Ability Visa – EB-1
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Entrepreneurial Visas: The Extraordinary Ability Visa – EB-1 | Steve Maggi

{4 minutes to read} One of the most underutilized visa categories is the EB-1, extraordinary ability green card. It is actually an employment-based category, but does not require an employer. The EB-1 can be used by individuals who are at the top of their fields and can self-sponsor their green card. Essentially the idea is for people not to be dependent on employers. If you have an employment based visa, you are always at the mercy of the employer:

  • Going bankrupt;
  • Downsizing;
  • Cutting staff;
  • Not renewing your visa;
  • Withdrawing sponsorship and thereby nullifying your status.

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Entrepreneurial Visas: EB-5, the Investor Green Card
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Entrepreneurial Visas: EB-5, the Investor Green Card | Steve Maggi

The EB-5 is an employment based green card which allows foreign nationals to invest money in projects or businesses that in turn create at least 10 full time jobs per investor. Regional centers have proliferated over the years but the trend in terms of investing is a more entrepreneurial one, called Direct Investment, which does not utilize a regional center.  Direct investment is where somebody can set up their own business, or purchase a business or franchise, and have a hands-on role in the management and operations of that business.

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Problems for H-1B Workers with Job Site Changes
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On April 9, 2015, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a precedent decision which will significantly impact the immigration compliance practices of many companies. It basically held that if a company wants to employ an H-1B-sponsored employee at a location in a different Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), this would be a material change in the conditions stated in the I-129 petition.

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L-1B Adjudications Should Get Easier
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It is common knowledge that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) adjudications of L-1B petitions have become increasingly difficult during the last few years. The March 2015 report issued by the National Foundation for American Policy indicates a denial rate of 35% for FY 2014. The denial rate in 2006 was 6%. USCIS posted a “Memo for Feedback” on March 24, 2015 addressing many of the public’s concerns about the toughened L-1B adjudication process with recommendations for more reasonable standards regarding adjudications under the L-1 regulations to meet “common-sense” business needs. Once implemented, this should liberalize adjudications and result in many more L-1B approvals.

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Entrepreneurial Visas: L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
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Entrepreneurial Visas: L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visa | Steve Maggi

(5 minutes to read} In my last blog, I discussed the E-2 investor visa for entrepreneurs.  In this blog, I want to talk about another kind of entrepreneurial visa, which actually is a little broader in scope than the E-2. The E-2 is only available to people from countries that have treaties with the U.S.  There are approximately 80 countries around the world that have such a treaty, but since the BRIICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, People’s Republic of China, South Africa) are among those which do not have a treaty, as well as more than 100 more, approximately two-thirds of the world’s population cannot qualify under E-2.

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What Your Immigration Attorney Needs to Know About You
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What Your Immigration Attorney Needs to Know About You | Laraine Schwartz

When you meet with your immigration attorney, you will be asked to provide certain information. Although some questions may seem intrusive and unnecessary, full disclosure of your criminal history and past immigration history is essential. Criminal History If you have a criminal background, have ever been fingerprinted by authorities, had a mugshot, or just taken to the police station for questioning, you need to tell your immigration lawyer. An arrest does not mean that you will be barred from becoming a Legal Permanent Resident

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Establishment of U.S. Hospitality Businesses is a Win-Win for Foreign National Investors and the U.S. Economy and Culture
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Establishment of U.S. Hospitality Businesses is a Win-Win for Foreign National Investors and the U.S. Economy and Culture | Steve Maggi

{5:36 minutes to read} The most international city in the U.S., New York City, is full of ethnic businesses, especially in the restaurant industry, where every nationality’s cuisines have representative places to eat. Fueling the growth of foreign fare restaurants is the E-2 investor visa. Immigrants with a reasonable amount of capital and a solid business plan to start a new company, or buy a business or franchise, can apply for the E-2 visa depending on their nationality(ies) and whether the U.S. has an investor treaty with their country(ies).

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A Cure for the “Shopping Visa?”
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A Cure for the “Shopping Visa?” | Steve Maggi

{3:18 minutes to read} USCIS announced on February 24th that they’re going to extend the eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 visa dependent spouses. An H-4 dependent spouse is the husband or wife of someone who holds an H1-B employment visa. The H4 Visa The H-4 visa has traditionally been considered useless except that it allowed spouses to be physically present in the U.S. This is because it does not allow the spouse to work and therefore has been nicknamed the “Shopping Visa.” Essentially, if you get an H1-B visa, you have up to 6 years to work for your employer, or other employers if you change sponsors, but unless your spouse changes from the H-4 to another visa that allows them to work, they literally have their hands tied as far as being able to find gainful employment. This has been problematic because it discourages married couples from coming to the U.S. under the H-1B category.

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A Great American
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A Great American | Steve Maggi

{3:45 minutes to read} When I was 11-years-old and in 6th grade, I was going to school in Spanish Harlem. That year, I read the slave narrative of Frederick Douglass. My class went to Douglass’ former residence in Anacostia, Washington, D.C., where he had lived (close to where I lived when I went to law school). His book and his legacy changed everything for me. Having originally come from Argentina, to the streets of New York, I could never have conceived or understood the horrors of slavery in the South. His autobiography opened my eyes.

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Covering All Bases in the H1-B Visa Process
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Covering All Bases in the H1-B Visa Process | Steve Maggi

{Time to Read: 4 minutes} Starting April 1, 2015, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H1-B visa petitions, used by U.S. employers to hire skilled professionals from abroad. If lessons are to be learned from the last two years, employers who are serious about hiring a foreign national should start planning their strategy and preparing their paperwork NOW. What many employers do not realize is that two potential time-consuming obstacles exist that may make the process longer – measures that have to be taken before H-1B applications are accepted on April 1st.

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News! News! – – Start Getting Your Documents in a Row for Expanded DACA
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News! News! – – Start Getting Your Documents in a Row for Expanded DACA | Steve Maggi

{Time to Read: 1 1/4 minutes}  Since my last article was published on Executive Action and the new immigration reform, USCIS has announced that they will begin accepting applications for the now-expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative (DACA) on February 18, 2015. The basics are the following: Who: Individuals with no lawful immigration status who came to the United States under the age of 16, and are seeking protection from deportation and employment authorization.

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No News is No News – – Don’t Be Scammed on Immigration Reform
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No News is No News – – Don’t Be Scammed on Immigration Reform | Steve Maggi

[Time to Read: 3.2 mins]  We are almost a month into 2015 and so far there has been no news on immigration reform.  It looks like the regulations and the guidelines on the new remedies under the Executive Action won’t be released until at least mid-February. Expectations are that the extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), will probably begin sometime in February.

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Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates Hires Director of Business Development
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Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates Hires Director of Business Development | Michael Zwaik

Ronkonkoma, New York -- Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates is pleased to announce that former Senior Congressional Aide, Leah Sullivan, has been hired as their new Director of Business Development. Leah will be responsible for the firm’s expansion and educating the public on new immigrant policies and initiatives. “We’re thrilled that Leah is joining our team,” said David Zwaik, Business Manager. “We’re confident she will help us expand into new territories and educate the public.”

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Our I-140/I-129 Expertise
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“Immigration Briefings,” a well-respected publication in the field of immigration law from Thomson Reuters, will soon be publishing an article written by our partner, Herbert Weiss, further distinguishing him as one of the truly recognized experts in this field. For many years Herb has been successfully preparing petitions and responding to complex Request for Evidences (RFE) in the areas of EB1, EB2, EB3 and for “O” visas. Noteworthy, among the petitions he has recently obtained approvals for are:

Click here to read Charles Goldsmith's full article...

NYC Identification Cards
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In January 2015, New York City introduced the country’s largest municipal identification program. These IDs will help undocumented immigrants to:

  • Rent apartments;
  • Fill prescriptions; and
  • Provide IDs for police and government agents requesting identification, etc.
Unfortunately, these cards will not bestow any immigration status nor result in eligibility for Social Security cards.

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H-1B Season Begins
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If you are thinking of sponsoring a foreign national for an H-1B visa, please contact our office as soon as possible. Although petitions for new H-1B employment that will commence on October 1, 2015 cannot be filed until the first week of April, 2015, the sooner we start the process the greater the likelihood we will be able to file the best petition we can prepare before the April deadline. As you may know, issues often arise during the preparation which sometimes take time to resolve, so beginning as early as possible is strongly recommended.

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Employee Sponsorship Returns as a Real Possibility
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Visa Availability (3rd Preference Employment-Based) Surges Ahead After years of backlogs and a demand for numbers that far exceeded the yearly quota, one’s chances of winning the lottery seemed far greater than capturing a number in the third preference visa category.  For many years the wait in this category was so long that obtaining a green card through an employer seemed more of a pipe dream or an object always out of reach; never mind trying to convince an employer to start the green card process when it could take anywhere from 6 to 10 years to complete.

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NYC’s Municipal ID Card Program Officially in Place
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NYC’s Municipal ID Card Program Officially in Place | Rio Guerrero

On Monday, January 12, New York City officially introduced the country’s largest municipal identification program, issuing ID cards to residents regardless of immigration status. This is a welcome measure for undocumented immigrants, who without government-issued ID cards, have found it difficult to obtain access to city services and institutions, or to carry out many routine activities such as opening a bank account, filling prescriptions, and renting an apartment. The ID card can also be used as a library card.

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