Anthony Mance, Esq. to Lead Immigration Department at The Grady Firm, P.C.

anthony-headshotThe Grady Firm, P.C. is pleased to announce that Anthony Mance, Esq., has been selected to lead its international immigration practice.  Over the last three years as an of-counsel attorney to the firm, Mr. Mance has helped dozens of clients obtain citizenship, a Green Card, or a visa based on family relations, employment, or investment. Specifically, he and Jennifer Grady, Esq. have submitted successful H-1B, F-1, OPT extension, J-1, E-2, L-1A, O-1, H-4, TN, EB-3, and EB-1 applications on their clients’ behalf.

Mr. Mance is an attorney with nearly a decade of experience in immigration and business law with which he has assisted individuals and businesses with the complexities of the immigration process.  Utilizing his knowledge of international policy, immigration law, business law and finance, Mr. Mance counsels his clients in a wide variety of personal and business ventures, and specializes in helping foreign entrepreneurs establish new businesses and careers in the United States, including corporate setup.  Mr. Mance’s clients include individuals, business owners, investors, institutes of higher education, non-profit organizations, and religious organizations.         Continue reading

The Grady Firm Speaks USC Gould Law School LLM Students

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Jennifer Grady and Andrea Graef

On April 11, 2017, business and immigration attorneys, Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Andrea Graef, JD, LLM, spoke to a group of foreign lawyers who are earning a Masters in Law (LLM degree) from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in downtown Los Angeles, California.

As a licensed attorney from Mexico and a alumna of the program, Ms. Graef spoke to the students about her experience transitioning from student to attorney, and how proper planning is essential to obtaining a job and work visa upon graduation.  one of the more popular strategies for recent LLM graduates is to use the one year available of Optional Practical Training (OPT), and apply for an H-1B visa during that time to take advantage of the cap-gap extension.

Ms. Grady explained the various visa options in detail, including the Specialty Occupation H-1B visa, J-1 Trainee visa, and TN visa for professionals from Mexico and Canada, and the E-2 Investor Visa for new and existing US businesses and L-1A option for executives, managers, and entrepreneurs opening an office of an existing foreign business in the United States. Continue reading

What to Do When DHS or ICE Comes Knocking at Your Door

By Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

ICE 2The Trump Administration has repeatedly indicated that it will take an aggressive and proactive approach to enforcing immigration laws. While it is not yet clear how and when this will translate into developed policy, it is prudent for employers to be prepared for increased oversight and enforcement. One issue that demands particular attention is how employers should handle on-site visits by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. These visits can range from basic inspections and audits to large-scale immigration raids and arrests. While such visits can be confusing and intimidating, developing a coherent plan for dealing with immigration visits and effectively communicating that plan to relevant employees will reduce the risk of making costly mistakes.

The following is a brief overview of immigration-related site visits, and what employers can do to properly prepare for, and react to, such visits. Continue reading

Germans Must Retain Their Citizenship Before Becoming Dual-US Citizens: Beibehaltungsgenehmigung

GermanyUnder the German Nationality Act “Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz”, the moment a German citizen acquires citizenship of another country, he or she loses German citizenship automatically because German law does not allow dual citizenship in this context. This means that if a US resident wishes to obtain US citizenship while retaining his or her German citizenship, the applicant must first petition the German government to allow the applicant to maintain his or her German citizenship.  This requirement is unique to German citizens, and provides an additional, preliminary step before the applicant may apply for US citizenship.

In the case of an applicant who is a Legal Permanent Resident, or habitually resides outside of Germany, particular consideration is given to whether the applicant has a continuing relationship with Germany, and if he or she will suffer disadvantages or hardship if he were unable to naturalize as an American due to this rule. Continue reading

USCIS Reaches FY 2018 H-1B Cap In Only 5 Days

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Lottery BallsWASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the “Master’s cap.”

USCIS began accepting applications on Monday, April 3.  It will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  However, USCIS suspended premium processing on April 3 for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally-mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Continue reading

Trump’s Travel Ban Unanimously Rejected by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

trumpOn February 5, 2017, President Trump’s controversial “travel ban” was unanimously rejected by the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, located in San Francisco, California. This controversial “travel ban” stems from President Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” that banned citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for the next 90 days, and suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

The Executive Order ignited protests in many airports around the country as US Customs and Border Protection officials struggled to interpret the new rules, and citizens of the banned countries were prevented from entering the United States.  Just three days later, the plaintiff, the State of Washington (“Plaintiff”) filed suit in the Seattle District Court, to stop the enforcement of the ban. Continue reading

DHS Announces New International Entrepreneur Parole Option for Startup Founders

international-flagsOn January 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new immigration avenue for foreign entrepreneurs who benefit the U.S economy. The “International Entrepreneur Rule” will serve as a pathway for qualified investors and foreign entrepreneurs to develop business enterprises which have significant public benefit in the United States.

This exciting news for start-ups and foreign entrepreneurs comes as a much welcomed development for those frustrated by the lack of immigration options available through the existing U.S. visas, which generally are not oriented to companies that are still in start-up mode.

Requirements

uscisThis new rule will be effective on July 17, 2017 and it will allow certain international entrepreneurs, on a case-by-case basis, to remain in the United States for up to five years in order to start or expand their businesses.  To secure the parole, three prerequisites are required: (1) applicant must submit the required application; (2) the application must be approved; and (3) a physical entry into the United States with the parole status is required. Continue reading

L-1B Intracompany Transferee Visa for Employees With Specialized Knowledge

international-movers-and-packersThe L-1B visa permits a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge from one of its foreign offices to one of its U.S. offices.  There is also the option for a foreign company that does not yet have an office in the U.S. to send an employee with specialized knowledge to the states to help establish a U.S. office.  Both the employer and employee must meet certain qualification requirements:

1. To qualify for L-1B classification in this category, the EMPLOYER must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad. Continue reading

Now is the Time to Start Preparing Your H-1B Visa Application

enter-usa-h1b-visaThe H-1B visa is one of the most popular ways for foreign professionals i specialty occupations to obtain a work visa, and even a Green Card in the United States.  A successful H-1B application requires sponsorship by the professional’s employer, and can be granted for three years, with one additional three-year renewal. The H-1B allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, and requires a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent.

Although USCIS will not begin accepting H-1B applications until April 1, 2017, it is critical
to start preparing your application now, as the competition for this coveted visa is fierce.  The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. However, the first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.  In 2016, USCIS received 236,000 H-1B visa applications within the first five days of the application period. Once USCIS receives enough applications to satisfy the 65,000 quota, it implements a lottery.  The applications that are not selected in the lottery are returned to the sender, along with their filing fees.  In 2016, there was a 25% chance of an application making it through the lottery with a Bachelor’s Degree, and a one third chance with a Master’s Degree.  Continue reading

Take Action on Your Immigration Application Before Fees Increase 12/23 and a New Administration Takes Office in January

trumpIf you are planning to file an application for a visa, Green Card, or naturalization, we highly recommend you do so before the end of the year.  Filing fees will increase by an average of 21% on December 23, 2016.  In addition, due to the uncertainty of the transition to a new President and GOP-majority Congress, we recommend filing your application now so that it will be in the queue in the event programs are taken away, modified, or application wait times increase.

Fee Increase

money-bagsFor the first time in six years, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be increasing its filing fees to help cover the increasing costs of providing its services.  Some increases will be substantial, others less so, and overall, fees will increase by a weighted average of 21%.  Some more common and popular applications that will be affected include the following forms,  which are used for Green Card, work permit, and citizenship applications: I-90, I-130, I-140, I-485, I-765, and N-400, to name a few.  For more detailed information on each of these changes, and all other fee increases, check out our recent blog post here. Continue reading

USCIS To Increase Filing Fees on December 23, 2016

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For the first time in six years, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has increased its filing fees by a weighted average of 21% for numerous immigration applications and petitions.  USCIS announced the increase in a final rule published in the Federal Register, noting that the increase will go into effect on December 23, 2016.  The department explained that because USCIS is primarily funded by these fees, an increase was necessary in order to fully cover the costs of providing its services.

fee-increaseOne of the steepest increases is the fee for EB-5 applications, especially Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneur), which will increase from $1,500 to $3,675 – an almost 145% increase.  Furthermore, USCIS also added a $3,035 fee for the I-924A – Annual Certification of Regional Center, an essential form for EB-5 applicants applying through regional centers.

Other popular forms that will also increase include the popular I-90, I-130, I-140, I-485, I-765, N-400, which are used for Green Card, work permit, and citizenship applications.

For more information about these fee increases view the official USCIS announcement here.  If you plan on filing any of these forms within the next few months, you can save money on filing fees by filing before costs increase on December 23,2016.  Due to the uncertainty that will follow the recent political elections, we recommend filing your application before new officials take office in January 2017.

Below is a chart highlighting and comparing these major fee changes: Continue reading

The Grady Firm Attorneys Speak to Students at UCI Blackstone Launch Pad on business and visa options for graduate entrepreneurs

Group photo.jpgRecently, Jennifer Grady Esq. and Anthony Mance, Esq. of The Grady Firm, P.C. hosted an informative “Fireside Chat” about the various immigration options that are available to foreign students upon graduation from U.S. undergraduate or graduate programs. The event took place at the Blackstone Launchpad of University of California, Irvine. The program was recorded and is available for viewing by members of the international Blackstone Launchpad community. 

uci blackstoneThe esteemed UCI Blackstone Launchpad was founded in 2007 with the goal of inspiring global entrepreneurship, and is accessible to over 500,000 university students globally.  This university-based entrepreneurship program is designed to mentor students, staff, and alumni of all disciplines and experience levels. The Blackstone Launchpad is an initiative of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and offers one-on-one mentoring, online tools, and a international community that supports ideas from the idea stage to execution and investment. Continue reading

The Grady Firm Co-Sponsors event for Businesses Starting or Relocating Within California with LA Mayor’s and Governor’s Office

 

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On September 27, 2016, The Grady Firm co-sponsored an event with the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce geared towards companies that are doing business in, or relocating to, California.  The event was attended by local business owners; members of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce;  Jeff Malin, Senior Business Development Specialist at Governor Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz); Eric Eide, Director of Mayor Garcetti’s Office of International Trade; and Jennifer Grady, Esq., business and immigration attorney at The Grady Firm, P.C. Continue reading

Immigrant Entrepreneurs May Be Able to Remain in the U.S. on Parole Under New Rule Proposed by DHS

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On August 31, 2016 , the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed an amendment to its regulations in an effort to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States. The proposed rule would allow for the use of “parole” on a case-by-case basis for certain Startup entrepreneurs whose entry into the United States would provide a significant public benefit through “the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation.”  Once the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45 days from the date of publication to comment. To submit comments in support of this rule, follow the instructions in the notice.

The new “International Entrepreneur Rule” would expand the opportunity for international entrepreneurs, inventors, and startup founders to receive “parole”, which is temporary permission to be present in the United States.  “Parole” is not considered an admission to the United States, and does not confer any immigration status.  In addition, once a person is granted parole, the parolee’s stay in the U.S. is at DHS’s discretion and may be terminated at any time consistent with existing regulations.  DHS has broad discretion to grant parole and may do so on a case-by-case basis. Continue reading

Apply NOW for U.S. Citizenship: Vote in November Elections & Have Your Application Reviewed Before a New President Takes the White House

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If you are a Legal Permanent Resident who has held off on applying for U.S. citizenship, now is the time to submit your application to USCIS so that it can be reviewed and approved before November 2016.

First, immigration will be a big ticket issue in the upcoming election, and the outcome and future of U.S. immigration policy could ride on your vote.  Click the links to read more about the immigration platforms of the current Democratic (Hillary Clinton) and Republican (Donald Trump) U.S. presidential candidates.

hillaryclinton.wikimediaSecond, as the new president and his or her cabinet may have a different vision of immigration reform than that held by the current administration, it’s prudent to apply for immigration relief before the powers in charge change.donaldtrump.wikimedia

Third, in anticipation of the upcoming election, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has reduced the processing period for naturalization and other immigration applications to between approximately three to six (3-6) months.

Even if you are not eligible for naturalization, you may be able to apply for legal immigration status under various other laws currently in effect.  But you must act now, as any of these laws could change based on the outcome of the November elections. Continue reading