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


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


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


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


Jennifer Grady, Esq. Addresses Investors at Sold-Out SelectUSA Investor Academy in Washington D.C.


John McKiel, Mario de Castro, Jennifer Grady, Esq., Ron Palladino, and Rahul Beri address a sold-out crowd of foreign investors and entrepreneurs

On June 19, 2016, Jennifer Grady, Esq. spoke to over 350 attendees at the SelectUSA Summit Academy, a precursor to the SelectUSA Investment Summit the following day.  The Summit Academy is an orientation for participants from companies, state and local governments, and economic development organizations (EDOs) to provide information and practical tips on topics such as regulations and investment incentives, investor visas, and analytical tools to better understand current foreign direct investment (FDI) and reshoring trends.


Raul Beri and Jennifer Grady, Esq., Summit Academy Panelists

The SelectUSA Investment Summit is the highest-profile event in the world dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. This signature event provides an unparalleled opportunity to bring together companies from all over the globe, economic development organizations from every corner of the nation, and other parties working to facilitate business investment in the United States. Featuring senior government officials, C-Suite business executives, and other thought leaders, each summit focuses on a timely theme related to the U.S. investment environment, industry trends, and new opportunities.

Summit Academy

As part of the “Investor Track,”  Ms. Grady and her fellow panelists, Mario de Castro, Ron Palladino, and Rahul Beri, and moderator John McKiel, spoke to a sold-out academy about tax, visa, and banking tips for foreign entrepreneurs and investors.  The panelists also provided “best practices” advice to help guide the audience through the process of establishing a business in the United States.  Mr. Beri provide a real-world example of the success he had with expanding his business, Teknol to the state of New York. Continue reading


How to Overcome the 3-Year and 10-Year Time Bar with the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” Waiver

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants who entered the US without inspection, or overstayed their visas, do not automatically gain US Citizenship when they marry or become engaged to an American citizen.  One reason for this is the unlawful presence “Time Bar”.  In the late 1990s, Congress decided to punish foreign-born people who spend time in the U.S. unlawfully without a visa, Green Card, or other official permission from the U.S. immigration authorities.

calendarIn doing so, Congress created a penalty that prevents undocumented aliens from returning to the U.S. for three (3) years or ten (10) years, depending on how long they stayed unlawfully in the country.  In addition, if the immigrant spouse has a criminal record, overcoming the bars to admission may be even more difficult, if not impossible. Continue reading


5 Secrets to Preparing a Successful H-1B Application

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

H-1B visaOne of the most notorious ways for foreign professionals to obtain a visa and even a Green Card in the US is through an H-1B visa, which 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.

However, with great benefits comes great competition. The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Due to the United States’ stability in an increasingly unstable world, in 2015, 233,000 foreigners applied for the H-1B, a significant increase over 2014 (172,500 applications), and nearly double the applicants from two years ago Lottery Balls(124,000). Because the average applicant with a bachelor’s degree has only a 27% chance of making the quota, it is essential to not only meet the requirements and have an outstanding application, but to first make it into the H-1B lottery. Continue reading


Apply Now for the Diversity Visa Lottery for the Chance to Obtain a Green Card (Lottery Open Oct. 1 to Nov. 3, 2015)

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

Lottery BallsStarting October 1, 2015, and until November 3, 2015, applicants from eligible countries can apply for a chance to win a Green Card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered annually by the Department of State. Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For Fiscal Year 2017, 50,000 Diversity Visas  (DVs) will be available.
There are no USCIS filing fees to register for the DV program. (*Be weary of potential scams from “notarios” or immigration agents and consultants).

Continue reading


Can’t Afford a Green Card Just Yet? How to Obtain Permanent Residency by Transitioning From the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa to EB-5

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

American Visa (XL)The E-2 treaty investor visa can be a great way for a foreign entrepreneur to open a business and live and work in the United States legally. What’s more, it is relatively affordable in that it only requires a “substantial” capital investment in a bona fide U.S. enterprise (usually in the amount of $100,000 to $250,000). The investor must be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

The E-2 visa allows the status holder from a treaty country, and his or her family, to come to the United States to open and operate a personal business; the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are able to attend school and work as dependents of the visa. Unfortunately, however, the E-2 treaty investor status does not offer a direct path to Permanent Residence. This means that unless the status holder, or the status holder’s immediate family, has a separate path to Permanent Residence, the visa holder and family will not be able to obtain Permanent Residence status, regardless of how long they maintain their E-2 status. This is further complicated by the fact that the E-2 status is temporary and must be regularly renewed with no guarantee of success.

Furthermore, because the E-2 visa is only available to member of treaty countries, it is not available to everyone. For example, citizens of mainland China, India, Russia, and Brazil are ineligible for the E-2 visa. Continue reading


What’s the Difference Between the E-2 and EB-5 Investor Visas?

handshakeFor foreign investors wishing to obtain a visa to live, work, and attend university in the United States with in-state tuition rates, there are two options available through the E-2 and EB-5 investor visa programs.

The E-2 Visa requires less startup capital (around USD $100,000 to $250,000) and is the fastest way to obtain a visa, although it is not a path to Legal Permanent Residency (Green Card). The E-2 is a temporary visa based on a reciprocal commercial treaty between the United States and the individual’s country of nationality.  The visa is only available to treaty countries, for which citizens of China, India, Russia, and Brazil are not eligible.  Its processing times are generally 2 weeks to 90 days. Continue reading


Should I Marry My Foreign Fiancé(e) in the US or Abroad?

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

marriageA frequent concern among couples applying for a fiancé(e) visa is whether there is a preference within immigration law when it comes to when and where a marriage between a U.S. citizen and a foreign fiancé(e) should take place. Specifically, couples may wonder whether it is more advantageous to get married outside the United States and then apply as the spouse of a United States citizen (IR1, CR1, or K-3 visa), or to apply as a fiancé(e) (K-1 visa) and get married in the United States.  The answer depends on several factors, which we describe in detail below. Continue reading


Looking for Path to a Green Card? Try the EB-5 Investor Visa

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

For foreign investors wishing to obtain a visa to live, work, and attend university in the United States with in-state tuition rates, there are two options available through the E-2 and EB-5 investor visa programs.  The E-2 Visa requires less startup capital and is the fastest way to obtain a visa, although it is not a path to Legal Permanent Residency (Green Card).  The EB-5 Visa requires an initial investment of USD $500,000 to $1 million, and comes with Legal Permanent Residency (Green Card), and ultimately, US citizenship.  This article will discuss the EB-5 “million dollar visa” option.  What may be surprising is that an investor can be eligible for this visa with only a $500,000 investment in a rural or targeted employment area. Continue reading


Start Preparing Your H-1B Application Now to Be the First to File on April 1, 2015

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

ImageOn April 1, 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting petitions for H-1B specialty occupation visas.  Approved applications will allow a foreign national to commence employment in the new fiscal new year, which starts on October 1, 2015.  USCIS limits the number of petitions it will accept to 65,000, and operates on a first come, first serve basis. Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of petitions submitted to USCIS.  Last year, on April 7, 2014, USCIS announced that it reached the statutory cap of 65,000 within the first week of the acceptance period. This year, the cap will likely be reached within the first few days of the April 1 opening.

For those wishing to file an H-1B petition, it is strongly advised that the application materials be received by USCIS exactly on April 1, 2014 to ensure that an application falls within the 65,000 cap. Note that petitions received before April 1, or after April 5, will most likely be rejected by USCIS. Continue reading


First Same-Sex Couple Receives Green Card in Post-DOMA Landscape


Same-sex couple immigrant receives Green Card through marriage

by Jennifer Grady, Esq.

The Supreme Courtof the United States struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, 2013.  Now the federal government must recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples with regard to federal benefits, which includes immigration law relief.

Since July 2013, immigrant beneficiaries of petitions filed by their same-sex U.S. citizen spouse have finally been able to obtain a Green Card, which grants them status as a Legal Permanent Resident and a path to U.S. citizenship.

Some of The Grady Firm clients have benefited from the change in this law and have been able to file an immediate relative Green Card petition and adjust their status to that of a Legal Permanent Resident.

Learn more about Janet and Marisa from Long Beach, California. Continue reading


Apply for a Specialty Occupation H1-B Visa by April 1, 2014 to Avoid Waiting Another Year and a Half to Work in the U.S.


Apply for an H1-B visa by April 1, 2014 to meet USCIS deadlines

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

The H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and science. Under the H1-B visa, a U.S. company can employ a foreign worker for up to six years (three years initially, plus an additional 3-year extension).  Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany the H1-B visa holder with an H-4 visa. Continue reading