Clarification of STEM OPT Extension Reporting Responsibilities and Training Obligations

STEM guysCertain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT).  On August 17, 2018, USCIS updated the Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page of its website to clarify the reporting responsibilities for participation in the STEM OPT program. Students and employers must report material changes to the Designated School Official (DSO) at the earliest opportunity by submitting a modified Form I-983. Employers must report the STEM OPT student’s termination of employment or departure to the DSO within five business days.  As previously indicated on the webpage, students must report certain changes, such as changes to their employer’s name and address, to their DSO within 10 business days. Prompt reporting ensures that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is able to exercise effective oversight of the program.

Additionally, DHS is clarified that STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer’s principal place of business, as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. DHS will review on a cSTEM OPTase-by-case basis whether the student will be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the Training Plan, and verify that the employer that signs the Training Plan is the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience. Continue reading

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Update on the Travel Ban and DACA

Travel Ban

travel-ban May 2018On April 25th, 2018 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both sides on President Trump’s highly scrutinized “travel ban”. The travel ban, now in its third iteration, prohibits entry of travelers from five Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya), as well as North Korea and government officials from Venezuela. Although previous versions of the travel ban were initially partially blocked by U.S. District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland, the Supreme Court lifted such injunctions in December 2017.

Since Trump first issued his travel order, setting off widespread chaos at airports just a few days after his inauguration, the issue has strongly shaped public perceptions of the new administration. It has also led to a string of defeats in lower courts, where judges ruled that the measure exceeded Trump’s authority and, in some cases, said it reflected bias against Muslims.

 

However, the Supreme Court of the United States has provided a friendlier forum, on this topic. The justices issued a ruling in June 2017 that allowed the second version of the travel ban to take partial effect. Then, in December 2017, with only two dissenting votes, they set aside lower-court rulings to allow the administration to put the third version into practice, a strong indicator of where the majority was headed.

Justice Samuel A. Alito rejected the notion Trump’s order could be considered a “Muslim ban,” noting it does not apply to most of the largest Muslim nations.

“If you look at what was done, it does not look like a Muslim ban,” he said.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s appointee, questioned whether the challengers had standing to sue in the first place. Foreigners overseas do not have rights in U.S. courts, he said. Plaintiffs who live in Hawaii sued, contending the travel ban was illegal, but “third parties can’t vindicate the rights of aliens,” Gorsuch said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy portrayed the issue before the court as one of national security in which the chief executive, not the judicial branch, should be entrusted to weigh possible threats from foreign visitors.

 

A final decision by the Court is expected at the end of June. Meanwhile, the current version of the travel ban remains in effect during deliberation. Continue reading

Jennifer Grady, Esq. Speaks to Canadian Entrepreneurs at SelectUSA Canada

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Ms. Grady on a panel about US immigration considerations for Canadian entrepreneurs, along with US Customs and Border protection officers

On April 12, 2018, cross-border attorney Jennifer Grady, Esq. spoke to a group of 100 Canadian entrepreneurs and US Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) at SelectUSA Canada.  SelectUSA is a U.S. government-wide program led by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Since its inception, SelectUSA has facilitated more than US $25 billion in investment, creating and/or retaining tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. In addition to the annual Summit in Washington, D.C., it puts on local roadshows and events in countries around the world.

DSC03023Ms. Grady’s topic, “Moving people across the border: Immigration considerations for investors“, provided an overview of considerations and options for moving key personnel to the United States.  In addition, she provided tips on applying for visas and Green Cards based on investment, employment, and temporary business visits.  She was joined as a panelist by executives from the U.S. Consulate in Calgary, and Custom and Border Protection (CBP). Continue reading

Immigration As Usual? Moving Forward in Times of Uncertainty

by Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer Grady, Esq.

Recent announcements by the Trump Administration declaring enhanced vetting of current immigration cases; talks in Congress about major proposed changes to the immigration laws; and constant media discourse regarding the future of DACA, the Travel Ban, employment-based visas, and increased waiting times, may have the effect of chilling immigration applications.  However, with the right information, and a plan that takes these changes into account, it is still possible to submit a successful immigration application.  We discuss the latest updates, and our recommended responses, below.

I. “Enhanced Vetting”

TRUMPOne of the major elements of President Trump’s Presidential Campaign was the promise that he would take a hard line on immigration.  Since he has become President of the United States, this promise has materialized into a policy that enforces existing immigration laws by applying stricter review of immigration applications. Commonly referred to as “enhanced” or “extreme” vetting, the practice requires that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) spend more time reviewing immigration applications, conducting additional background security checks, adding in-person interviews. Continue reading

The Grady Firm joins MAPLE Canadian-US Business Council Delegation to Toronto; Partners with Canadian Immigration Firm to Offer Cross-Border Services

maple-jg-with-sign-e1507223473277.jpgOn September 21-22, 2017, Jennifer Grady, Esq. participated in a delegation of the MAPLE® Canadian-U.S. Business Council of Southern California on a cross-border networking event in Toronto, Ontario.  The delegation visited nine leading innovation, enterprise, and government organizations and hosted a sold-out cross-border networking reception to connect with Toronto-area business leaders.  A panel presentation called “Doing Business with Southern California” featured speakers from Economic Development & Tourism, Business and International Development at Greater Irvine Chamber in Orange County, and the World Trade Center Los Angeles.

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Outside MaRS Discovery District

The following organizations provided the delegation with insight into their work and shared opportunities for cross-border collaboration:

  • EY Canada
  • JLabs Toronto
  • MaRS Discovery District
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Ryerson University Digital Media Zone
  • Toronto Board of Trade
  • Toronto Global
  • Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • U.S. Department of Commerce

Continue reading

Travel Ban Update: U.S. State Department Issues New Guidelines Involving Close, Existing Relationships Within U.S.

by Raj Rathour, Esq. and Jennifer Grady, Esq.

trumpOn June 29, 2017, the U.S. State Department began implementing President Trump’s new visa criteria based in Executive Order 13780. The revised criteria bars U.S. entry for 90 days, for citizens without prior connections to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Stemming from a highly publicized decision by the Supreme Court, the current preliminary injunction has been narrowed to allow only “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States”. Current controversy revolves around the specific language, bona fide relationship,” and the potential for its interpretation of federal courts and officials.

Bona Fide Relationship

auditOn May 25, 2017, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of Executive Order 13780, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, which was an executive order signed by United States’ President Donald Trump on March 6, 2017.  That order placed limits on travel to the U.S. from certain countries, and by all refugees who do not possess either a visa or valid travel documents. According to its terms, it revoked and replaced the original travel bar Executive Order 13769, which was issued on January 27, 2017. 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

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

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

J-1 Cultural Exchange Visitor Visa for Entrepreneurs, Scholars, Au Pairs, Professors, and Trainees

globe with kidsThe J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant US visa available to cultural exchange visitors, scholars, and professors. The Exchange Visitor Program fosters global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges. It is often used by entrepreneurs, “au pairs, ” or to obtain business or medical training in the United States. J-1 visas are obtained as part of an exchange program, and the Department of State designates both public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. All exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of their program in order to share their exchange experiences.

The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) provides opportunities for around 300,000 foreign visitors per year to experience United States society and culture and engage with Americans.  Exchange visitors on private sector programs may study, teach, do research, share their specialized skills, or receive on-the-job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.   EVP participants are young leaders and entrepreneurs, students, fledgling and more seasoned professionals eager to hone their skills, strengthen their English language abilities, connect with Americans, and learn more about the U.S. There are fifteen different categories under the J-1 visa program, including: professors and research scholars, short-term scholars, trainees, interns, college and university students, teachers, secondary school students, specialists, foreign medical graduates, camp counselors, au pairs, and the summer work travel program. Continue reading

Jennifer Grady Esq. to Host Fireside Chat at UCI Blackstone LaunchPad

irvineOn May 23, 2016, Jennifer Grady Esq. will host 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 will take place at the Blackstone Launchpad of University of California, Irvine. The program will be recorded and available for later 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.

View More: http://elyanaphotography.pass.us/jennifer

Founding Attorney, Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

Jennifer Grady is an experienced speaker and accomplished mentor in the areas of business, employment, and immigration law.  She has lectured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Argentina, and Chile about business and immigration topics for entrepreneurs.   If you are interested in engaging Jennifer as a speaker or trainer at your company or organization, or to learn more about the event, please contact us.

USA Tops 2016 A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index 4th Year In a Row

The United States is the top-ranked FDI destination for the fourth year in a row. The US economy is proving resilient to the risks facing other countries, including many other developed markets.
Kearney index 2016

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Content excerpts courtesy of atkearney.com

In May 2016, A.T. Kearney released its annual FDI Confidence Index, which surveys C-level executives and regional and business leads from companies from 27 countries.  A.T. Kearney’s Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index®, established in 1998, ranks countries based on how changes in their political, economic, and regulatory systems are likely to affect foreign direct investment inflows in the coming years. Continue reading

Why is it So Important to Establish Credit In the United States?

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Many people who intend to relocate to the United States do not realize that their positive credit history won’t travel with them because in general, credit history does not transfer from one country to another. It is important to build credit in the United States in order to qualify for loans, credit cards, and other business activities that require creditworthiness.

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What is Credit?

“Credit” is when one party, usually a bank or similar lending institution, provides money or resources to another party without immediate reimbursement. Credit is generally provided with interest fees and/or other arrangement expenses. A lender will look to the creditworthiness of prospective borrowers before extending a line of credit. Continue reading

All Canadian Residents Applying for K-1 Visas Must Now Interview in Montreal

city-skyline-montreal-canada-pexelsAs of April 1, 2016,  the Vancouver offices of the U.S. Consulate General will cease processing of K-1 visas. Now, the K-1 visas, commonly known as”Fiancé(e) visas,” will only be processed by the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal.

While the Bureau of Consular Affairs acknowledged that this change may inconvenience some applicants who will now need to travel for their interviews, it promises that the adjustment will help the consulate schedule and adjudicate K-1 applications more efficiently. Continue reading