Applicants for U.S. Visas and Green Cards Must Now Disclose Social Media Profile Information

In response to the Trump Administration’s “extreme vetting” of foreign nationals entering the United States, the U.S. Department of State has increased the amount of personal data foreign nationals must provide when applying for a U.S. visa abroad. Federal government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have dramatically expanded their social media monitoring programs in recent years by collecting a vast amount of user information in the process, such as political and religious views, data about physical and mental health, and the identity of family and friends. DHS increasingly uses this information for vetting and analysis, including for individuals seeking to enter the United States and for both U.S. and international travelers.

As of May 30, 2019, applicants completing the Form DS-160 (the standard online platform for all non-immigrant visa applications) and the Form DS-260 (the standard online platform for immigrant (“Green Card”) applications), must now provide information on all social media accounts used in the past five years. This information will be used to prevent visa and Green Card fraud.

Using dropdown menus, the Form DS-160 and DS-260 requires applicants to provide the names of all social media accounts used (lists 20 of the most popular social medial platforms), and the applicant’s username or “handle” for each account. The form also provides a text box to provide social media information not listed in the drop-down menu.

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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.

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U.S. House Passes Significant ‘Dreamer’ Immigration Bill with Potential to Grant Permanent Residency to 2 Million Undocumented Youth

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an ambitious immigration bill aimed at providing a path to citizenship to almost 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “Dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children.  This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain aliens, and provides such aliens with a path toward Legal Permanent Resident status.

The bill, titled American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, would provide a 10-year conditional permanent residency to recipients of the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and for other qualified young, undocumented, immigrants. To be eligible, immigrants must have been younger than 18 when they came to the U.S., and must have lived in the U.S. continuously over the previous four years.  Applicants will also need to possess an American high school diploma or GED, and pass a background check. Applicants who have committed certain crimes would be ineligible under the bill.

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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.

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):

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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

Will the H-1B Lottery Change in 2019?

H-1B visaIn an attempt to change the lottery system for H-1B applications, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a rule that would require all H-1B petitioners to pre-register online for the H-1B lottery prior to submitting their H-1B filings. According to the proposed rule, only those H-1B petitions that have been selected in the lottery could then be submitted for the adjudication by USCIS. The rule is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OBM), which is the first step toward implementing such changes.

Other proposed changes would benefit applicants with Master’s Degrees by adding them to the initial round of 65,000 Bachelor’s Degree applicant visa spots lottery.  Then, if there are any Master’s Degree applications left over after the initial lottery round, the remaining Master’s Degree applications will be added to the lottery for the remaining 20,000 Master’s Degree cap. 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

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

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.

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The Grady Firm, P.C. celebrates its Sixth Anniversary

JGrady Firm-Logo-2016On March 19, 2018, The Grady Firm, P.C. celebrated its sixth anniversary.  Founded in 2012, the firm has evolved from assisting startups in the Silicon Beach area of Los Angeles, to adding immigration, employment, and intellectual property law departments with a network of twelve of-counsel attorneys in offices in Beverly Hills, Irvine, and San Diego, California.  Moreover, the firm partners with attorneys licensed in Texas, Louisiana, Washington, Canada, Italy, and Germany to assist its international clientele with their matters in those jurisdictions.

In addition to assisting individuals, the firm acts as the outside legal counsel for rapidly expanding companies that add employees to its offices across California and the United States by providing on-demand employment and immigration counsel.  For its international clients, the firm is the main point of contact for successful entrepreneurs who bring their ideas and business acumen to the United States.

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The Grady Firm’s Fifth Anniversary party in April 2017

 

The Grady Firm thanks its attorneys, clients, and referral partners for their support and confidence over the years.

 

 

 

 

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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

Jennifer Grady, Esq. Speaks as Expert Practitioner Panelist at SelectUSA, the Top FDI Event in the Country

panel

Jean-Christophe Le Feuvre and Jennifer Grady speaking on issues to consider when hiring US employees

On June 18, Jennifer Grady, Esq., spoke as a panelist at SelectUSA Investment Academy held during the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., a top foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

The Summit, hosted by Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, connects global businesses with U.S. economic development teams to facilitate investment in the U.S.  The theme of the Summit was “Grow with US” which focused on the innovative business climate in the U.S. and opportunities for investment across the country.

2017-06-19 13.09.13

(c) Jennifer Grady

This year’s Summit had a tremendous turnout with more than 2,800 international business investors, U.S. economic developers, service providers, members of the press and other key stakeholders.  Economic development organizations (EDOs) from 51 states and territories and investors from over 60 international markets were in attendance.  CEOs from BMW, Oracle, ABB, Siemens USA, GE, General Motors, and other leading global

SelectUSA exhibit hall

Economic Development Organization Exhibit Hall (Photo Courtesy of SelectUSA: https://www.selectusa.gov/2017-investment-summit)

companies were in attendance.  Senior government speakers included Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.    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