Listen to our Podcast on Strategies for Responding to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) from USCIS

Join Beverly Hills immigration attorneys, Jennifer Grady, Esq. and Anthony Mance, Esq. as they share tips and insight into how to prepare a winning RFE response that will stand out and position your application for an approval.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released new data confirming that employment-based immigration applications have seen a sharp increase in Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and denials since fiscal year (FY) 2018, which was when President Trump released his “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.

  •  For H-1B visas, the rate of denials more than doubled between FY 2017 and FY 2018, and it more than tripled in FY 2018 compared to FY 2015.  The number of RFEs increased by nearly 15%.
  • In the first quarter of FY 2019, the RFE rate for L-1 visas jumped to 51.8 percent, compared to 46.1 percent in the first quarter of FY 2018.
  • The overall rate of TN visa application denials increased from 4.9 percent in FY 2015 to 11.8 percent in FY 2018, and the RFE rate rose threefold, from 17.3 percent in FY 2015 to 28.2 percent in FY 2018.

Don’t be part of these statistics!  An RFE response is your opportunity to share as much relevant information and analysis as cohesively as possible.  Learn from Jennifer and Anthony’s success preparing hundreds of successful applications and dozens of successful RFEs.  They will share current trends in RFE topics and provide practical advice on preparing a persuasive cover letter and attractive presentation that will catch the eye of your reviewing officer.

Find out what USCIS is looking for, the most common types of RFEs, and how to prepare a winning response by listening to our podcast

In addition, download or FREE info booklet on RFE Response tips and tricks here.
 

About The Grady Firm, P.C.

JGrady Firm-Logo-2016

The Grady Firm works with dynamic employers and employees across the country to prepare successful employment-based visa and Green Card applications. In addition, we help individuals, families, employees, business owners, and investors obtain non-immigrant and immigrant visas (B-1/B2, H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, E-2, E-3), as well and Green Cards and citizenship based on family relationships, investment, or employment.

Click here to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

Jennifer Grady, Esq. to Speak at Export Trade Assistance Partnership on Immigration in Today’s Global Economy on June 20

On June 20, 2019, Jennifer Grady, Esq. will be speaking at the Export Trade Assistance Partnership Program 2019 (ETAP) Session on International Shipping and Legal Issues covering export distribution considerations for US companies exporting abroad. This event is sponsored by the U.S Small Business Association and the Riverside County Economic Development Agency Office of Foreign Trade. Jennifer will speak with company owners about which visa options are best for bringing talent from abroad to the US, and will give tips on sending employees abroad.

The other speakers in this session are Ken August of August Law Group, on International Export Agency & Distribution Agreements, and Margaret Brunk of BGI Worldwide Logistics on the fundamentals of export logistics. ETAP is hosted and produced by the Riverside County Economic Development Agency Office of Foreign Trade in a five-part weekly series lasting from May 30, 2019 through June 27, 2019 at the Rustin Conference Center in Riverside, CA. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Other sessions throughout the cover a range of topics including global business opportunities for small business, market research and cross-cultural communication, international trade finance and methods of payment, and e-commerce. Every session is moderated by Paul Smith, a District International Trade Office for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Continue reading

Getting Married? Take $100 off our Green Card Application Package

GREEN CARD BASED ON MARRIAGE WEDDING SEASON SPECIAL

Before getting married, engaged couples should start preparing their application to apply for a Green Card based on marriage to their US citizen spouse so that they can apply as soon as they receive their marriage certificate. Just in time to commemorate the start of wedding season, The Grady Firm is offering $100 off on our “Gold” Green Card Application Package, now through May 20, 2019. Just mention the code, “LOVE”.

We offer several levels of service to fit any budget, beginning with our most economical Bronze package at $1,000. For applicants wanting more hands-on service, or for complicated cases, we have our Gold and Platinum packages.

Our attorneys can help you understand the importance of excellent legal guidance through this critical process, and help you determine which service package is right for you.

Start preparing your application today–after all, what would be better than getting a work permit shortly after your Honeymoon?

ABOUT THE GRADY FIRM P.C.

The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys help couples achieve a Green Card based on marriage to their US citizen spouse, and guides our clients during this time of uncertainty in immigration.

To learn more, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

Cap on H-1B Visas for FY 2020 Reached Within 5 Days

Each year, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants 85,000 H-1B visas to applicants in “specialty occupations”. This cap has not increased since 2004, and has been greatly outweighed by demand over the last few years. Within the first five days of the 2020 fiscal year application filing period, which started on April 1, 2019, the cap was reached, as 201,011 petitions were received by April 5. This marks a 5% increase in petitions from the previous year.

Immigration legal experts at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have lamented that the limitation on the supply of high-skilled foreign workers is detrimental to continued economic growth of the U.S. economy. H-1B visa holders and applicants are filling a critical and ever-growing void in the U.S. economy by providing needed expertise, particularly in the Information Technology (IT) and tech development industries. Without meeting the demand for these talented foreign professionals, future growth and innovation are stifled.

Even as the economy and labor demand has continued to grow in the past several years, the maximum accepted applications has remained steady for the past sixteen years. The number of applicants has surpassed the numerical cap of 85,000 for the past seven years. The next opportunity to apply for an H-1B visa is April 1, 2020, which would have a job start date of October 1, 2020 or later, depicting on when a decision is reached on an applicant’s case.

Continue reading

H-2B Visas for Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers

landscape contractorThe H-2B visa permits US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States for the purposes of filling temporary, non-agricultural jobs.  It is commonly used for occupations in the hospitality (hotels, ski resorts), retail, and service industries (landscape contractors).

Congress has set a numerical limit, or “cap” on the number of H-2B visas to be issued on an annual basis, currently set at 66,000 per fiscal year.  The cap is split into two parts: 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – December 31). H-2B visas are valid for a period of 9 months.

Who May Qualify for H-2B Classification?

ski instructorTo qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must establish that:

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.  The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):
  • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.  The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):

Continue reading

When Is the Best Time to Apply for an H-1B Employee Visa?

H-1B visaThe most highly anticipated visa of the year begins its application season in Q1 2019. The coveted H-1B visa allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in jobs that are “specialty occupation” positions, which involve the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.  H-1B visa holders often possess STEM degrees, such as jobs in fields such as science, engineering, logistics, and information technology.  To apply for an H-1B visa, the applicant must have a bona fide job offer from a U.S. employer, a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in their specific specialty or its equivalent, and meet the other requirements of the visa.

The H-1B visa is valid for three years, with an optional three-year extension, and provides the employee with the opportunity to apply for a Green Card if sponsored by the employer.  Accordingly, because the H-1B visa can last for 6 years (and even longer under some circumstances), the H-1B visa is one of the most popular ways for foreign professionals obtain a work visa, and ultimately, a Green Card in the United States. 

US FlagAs H-1B applications require a third-party academic credential evaluation of foreign degrees and the processing of a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor before an applicant is eligible to file an H-1B application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), H-1B applications can take 2-4 months to prepare.  Therefore, a prudent applicant will begin his or her application preparation in December or January because it can take several months to get documentation prepared and signed by the employer, obtain important documents from third parties, and have the application prepared by an attorney. Continue reading

When Do I Need a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa? Can I Just use ESTA to Visit the US?

businessman-in-airport-with-smartphone-800x532If you are coming to the United States to establish a U.S. presence of your foreign business; investigate whether you want to open a business in the U.S.; or attend conferences, look for commercial space, or interview potential investors or employees; you may be eligible for the B-1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa.

I. B-1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa

1.  Real Examples of When to Use the B-1 Visa

For example, if you own a business abroad but want to come to the United States to speak at conferences, meet potential clients, and conduct marketing activities, but have no plans to live or work in the U.S., the B-1 visa would be a good option for you.

In addition, if you have a business abroad and are looking to open an office in the United States, you can come to the US for several months to look for an office or warehouse space, interview potential employees, meet with investors, and do research for the business. Continue reading

USCIS Temporarily Suspends Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

enter-usa-h1b-visaAs of April 2, 2018, USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap.  This cap was reached in just four days, by April 6, 2018.
USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, USCIS will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap.
USCIS will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.

During this temporary suspension, USCIS will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, both forms will be rejected.

Once USCIS resumes premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.

Requesting Expedited Processing

While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and USCIS encourages petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of its office leadership.

The Reason for Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

This temporary suspension will help USCIS reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, USCIS will:

  • Process long-pending petitions, which it has currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.

Look for USCIS’ updates on the H-1B FY 2019 Cap Season webpage.

Continue reading

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

USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap in Just Four Days

enter-usa-h1b-visaWASHINGTON, D.C. – On April 6, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2019. 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 2, and reached its cap within just four days.  It will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

As of May 15, USCIS completed data entry for all fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in its computer-generated random selection process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS cannot provide a definite time frame for returning unselected petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of their cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.
Based on last year’s applications, receipt notices were sent out around May for cases that were accepted in the lottery, and applications that did not pass the lottery were returned (along with the original application and filing fees), by July.
Additionally, USCIS may transfer some Form I-129 H-1B cap subject petitions between the Vermont Service Center and the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. If your case is transferred, you will receive notification in the mail. After receiving the notification, please send all future correspondence to the center processing your petition.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. 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 2019 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

H-2B Visas for Temporary Non-Agricultural Jobs at Hotels, Ski Resorts, Landscaping Companies, and Entertainment Companies

ski instructorThe H-2B program permits United States employers and agents to bring foreign nationals to the United States for the purposes of filling temporary, non-agricultural jobs.  An H-2B visa is generally used for non-specialty employees who will fulfill a temporary, seasonal, peak-time, or one time employment position.  The H-2B classification is commonly used by employers such as hotel resorts, ski resorts, landscaping companies, and entertainment companies that have a regular, temporary need for trained, unskilled labor.

The H-2B application process involves multiple steps and two separate government organizations: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Labor. Continue reading

Visa Options for Fashion Models (O-1B, H-1B3, and P-3 Visas)

NYFW 2Do you dream of walking down the runway at New York Fashion Week?  Are you interested in becoming a brand ambassador for a prestigious luxury brand?  Whether you’ve mastered the catwalk or discovered your niche in commercial modelling, several visa options are available depending on your level of achievement and reason for coming to the U.S.

Fashion models typically enter the U.S. in one of two ways— the O-1B visa (for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement) or the H-1B visa (for Specialty Occupations, Department of Defense Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models).  The majority of fashion models will apply for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, while a third option for models is the P-3 visa (for Artists and Entertainers who are Participating in a Culturally Unique Program).

H-1B3 Visa for Fashion Models

Melbourne-Model-Casting-Call-3-EditTo qualify for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, you must be a fashion model of “prominence” and the model must possess distinguished merit or ability. Continue reading

O-1B Visa for Artists or Actors with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement in the Arts or Motion Pictures

filmmakerCalling all talented artists and actors!  Are you an actor trying to make a breakthrough in Hollywood?  Or perhaps you are a renowned violinist, famous choreographer, or an award-winning pastry chef?  If you excel in your field of arts or the motion picture industry, you may be eligible for the O-1B visa.  The O-1B visa is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry who will perform in the U.S. in an event or project associated with this ability.

The O-1 visa can be an alternative to the highly competitive H-1B visa (for skilled workers in specialty fields), which in recent years has reached its annual cap of 65,000 visas within days after opening the program.  Unlike the H-1B visa, the O-1 visa has no annual limit on the number of visas available, it can be filed year-round, and the length of stay can be extended indefinitely based on the time required to complete a project or event.

Individuals who are essential to the O-1 applicant’s successful performance in the U.S. may apply for an O-2 visa in conjunction with the O-1 visa application. Continue reading

Q-1 Visa is an Opportunity to Share Your Culture through an Employer’s International Exchange Program

Q-1 visa

Photo courtesy of http://bit.ly/2ur8zu2

Are you interested in sharing your home country’s cultures and traditions while working in the U.S.?  Are you an employer interested in obtaining approval for an exchange program in your company so that you can hire international employees on a Q-1 visa?

If so, the Q-1 visa may be available to meet your company’s specific needs for international employees.  Known as the “Disney visa” because it was originally designed by Disney to meet their need for “cultural representatives” to work in Epcot World Showcase, the Q-1 visa is for individuals wishing to participate in an international exchange program administered by an employer.  It is most popularly utilized to obtain short-term employment with Disney and used by some hotel chains to temporarily employ chefs. Continue reading

Professional Athletes, Gamers, and Entertainers who are Internationally Recognized are Eligible for the P-1 Visa

gamers

Photo courtesy of http://lat.ms/2vEE8z5

The P-1 visa is a viable alternative for athletes and entertainers who may not meet the “extraordinary ability or achievement” requirement of the O-1 visas.  If you are an internationally recognized athlete coming to the U.S. to perform individually or as part of a team, you may be eligible for the P-1A visa. Professional athletes from a wide range of sports including soccer, taekwondo, and online gamers receive P-1A visas.

If you are an entertainer who is part of an internationally recognized entertainment group coming to the U.S. to perform with the group or are joining an internationally recognized entertainment group in the U.S., you may be eligible for the P-1B visa. Examples of a P-1B visa recipient are foreign artists who perform at a SXSW festival, a group of stage actors, and circus performers.

Continue reading