Fairness for High Skilled Immigration Act-HR-1044

By | H1-B, Immigration, Immigration Policy, Uncategorized | No Comments

Many of you who are in some way connected to Employment Based Immigration know that Visa Numbers are set per country, and all countries get the same amount of quota. Since China and India are large countries with inordinate amounts of highly qualified individuals, the quotas for folks born in these countries fill up. As a result these Highly Skilled Legal Immigrants have to wait an inordinate amount of time to get their Permanent Residency. At present a Master’s Degree Holder who just happened to be born in India has to wait for 10 years before they can file for their Green Card. All the time, they pay taxes and maintain legal status.
This is simply unfair. A BIPARTISAN Bill was reintroduced in the House by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ken Buck (R-Co). The same bill was introduced in 2017 by Rep Kevin Yoder (R-Kan).
At the heart of this bill is FAIRNESS. Is it fair for folks to wait undue amount of time to get their Permanent Residency? People don’t CHOOSE the country they were born in.
Also, would it not be great to pass a bipartisan Immigration Bill in this divided country of ours?
Please contact your representatives and tell them what you think:

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Please contact Banerjee & Associates

The Proposed changes to H-1B lottery

By | Business Immigration, Citizenship and Naturalization, H1-B, Immigration, Immigration Policy, Uncategorized | No Comments

Please note that Citizenship and Immigration Service has been talking about changing the lottery system for years. Nothing was done until December 3, 2018, when Citizenship and Immigration Service published a notice and comment period with the intention of doing the lottery first with some information. Then, after the employee gets selected, the Citizenship and Immigration Service would require the whole petition.
While most attorneys, including American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, do not want this change, (hurts lawyers’ pocket books) I actually am in favor of it. However, the only thing I am concerned about is employers using it to file for numerous employees, many of whom will not qualify, thereby skewing up the lottery. The proposed rule also makes it easier for U.S. Master’s Degree Holders to score a lottery number.
When an agency like Citizenship and Immigration Service propagates a rule, the law demands that the agency propose the rule and gives the public 30 days’ notice to comment on the process and then make a rule after reading all the comments. Given the fact that this comment period ended on Jan 2, 2019, we doubt very much whether the new rule will be promulgated by March 2019. Agencies typically take at least 90-180 days to act.
Citizenship and Immigration Service also realizes the time crunch, and has said that it might not be possible to implement the new process this year. However, as we await the Citizenship and Immigration Service to release how many comments it received and its ability to act on the process, we are going to send out questionnaires for the employees, as well as a list of documents. I am just waiting on my questionnaire and forms program to be updated by software engineers with new questions that I designed myself. I was supposed to have that delivered last Friday, however I will wait one more week before sending out the previous questionnaires and document list.
Also note: that our fee structure will be based on the type of filing procedure, but will not exceed the current rate for this fiscal year. With the new procedure, the rates for entering the lottery is expected to be significantly lower.

For more information, visit Banerjee & Associates

What to do if your H-1B gets denied

By | H1-B, Immigration, Uncategorized | No Comments

As most of us know by now, Citizenship and Immigration Service is being arbitrary in denying H-1B visas. They have stock denial letters written out, and depending on the officers, are just sending them out without regards to what was sent to them in answering the Request for Evidence.

OPTIONS for EMPLOYERS:
If you need this employee, your best option is to sue Citizenship and Immigration Service in Federal Court. Requesting the Citizenship and Immigration Service to reopen and readjudicate the case is futile. The Citizenship and Immigration Service will take forever, and then grant you a denial. In a lawsuit, the bullshit reasons the Citizenship and Immigration Service gives for a denial falls apart.
If you win the case, the Employee gets reinstated. However, during the pendency of a lawsuit, the employee does not receive status, and if the employer loses in the suit, the employee may be subjected to penalties for unauthorized stay. Whether the employee wins or loses, depends on how the Employer has answer the Request for Evidence.
If the employee is on your current H-1B and wants to return back to her home country, you would have to pay for her return ticket back home. This is ONLY for the employee, who will not come back to the US, and not for any dependents thereof.
If the employee is on OPT, you can continue to hire her if her OPT is still valid and until such time as her OPT is still valid.

OPTIONS for EMPLOYEES:
Assuming the employee wants to stay in the US, her options are:
1 Converting to a B (Visitor’s) Visa: This might or might not buy the employee some time to resolve her affairs before leaving the US. However, beware, B visas are granted at the discretion of the adjudicating officers. A denial can have consequences for unauthorized stay

2 Converting to an F (Student) visa: If you want to further your education in the US, you can convert to an F Visa. Potential issues:
• You intent to leave the US (esp if you have an I-140 approved). The F Visa requires a strict NON IMMIGRANT intent, and the officer may deny the visa on that issue
• Having to reinstate out of the country: This is available if you are out of status, and you can go to a consulate (Canada, Mexico or your home country). This option is available, however——the Department of State might refuse if the school is not a good one, or they see it as just maintaining status. Also note: Government shutdown may affect Department of State’s budget
• Show sufficient funds to pay for the education—–This depends on how much money you have saved or do you have an affidavit of sponsorship

3 Converting to a dependent Visa—–like H-4, L-2 etc. If your spouse is in the US on a separate visa, this is a safer option

4 Marriage to US Citizen—–You might be able to get your Green Card, provided the MARRIAGE IS REAL. This should ONLY be used if you already have a US Citizen fiancé/fiancée

Whatever you do, make sure you do not have unlawful presence for more than 180 days at most. I would not advise of any unauthorized stay at all

For more information contact Banerjee & Associates

 

H-1B denials

By | Employer/Employee, H1-B, Houston Immigration, Immigration, Visa, Visa denials | No Comments

So you got your H-1B denied

If you read the denial and feel you ARE being denied on grounds that are flimsy and for documents already submitted—-we feel your pain. Unfortunately Officers are not even reading petitions and denying it with stock material that the officer is simply copying and pasting.  The problem is there is no leadership at the top, and each officer is left to deal with 4 words given by Trump: Buy American, Hire American.

We have to deal with this unfortunately. Please note that NONE of these remedies provide status to your employee, and your employee NEEDS to maintain status if he/she is in the US independently.  He/She can also go back to their home country and not accrue any unlawful presence. If the remedy is successful, they can come in with their H-1B visa.

The BEST WAY to deal with this is to sue Citizenship and Immigration Service in federal court. The court will:

  • Look at your initial filing
  • Request for Evidence
  • Reply to your Request for Evidence

If the reply to the Request for Evidence looks good (hereinafter referred to as the Record) the Court will rule in your favor.  Note though that you cannot add any other material to the record

The Positives in this scenario are:

 

  • Citizenship and Immigration Service has not been sued for business immigration before and does not know how to deal with it
  • The Citizenship and Immigration Service does NOT have the resources to hire their own expert, so your experts rule.
  • The venue is quite liberal, in CA and VT

Thus if your record is good: Multiple experts, letter from competitors, end client attestations, etc.  re recommend suing Citizenship and Immigration Service in federal court. If you choose this, please call us for costs/fees

Note: there is no time limit for this action.

 

The NOT SO GOOD WAY is following what the denial recommends, ie file a Motion to Reopen and reconsider/Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAO)  Please note that this should be only attempted if your record is not good.  You can add other expert opinions, etc.

Our experience and American Immigration Lawyer’s Association recommendation suggest that these can be useless, since most AAO is rubber stamping the Citizenship and Immigration Service decision. These have to be filed within one month of the denial.  These take a long time, 2-4 years  for adjudication, during which the employee needs to be in status if present in the United States.  You cannot pursue Federal Court (as in above) unless this process ends.

 

We really think its better to refile the case with next year’s quota and more documents, but of course the decision is yours.

 

For more information, contact Banerjee & Associates

 

H-1B transfer of Employer in an age of No Premium

By | Business Immigration, CIS, Citizenship and Naturalization, Employer/Employee, H1-B, Immigration, Immigration Policy | No Comments

AC-21 (ACWIA) was passed by Congress to bring business immigration into the 21st Century. It recognized the speed of modern business and deemed that an H-1B Employee can change employer and work for the new employer, “upon filing” of the H-1B case. The AC-21 law did not define “filing” and common law dictates that “filing” is done when the petition is dropped in the mail. The law also created fees ($750 for employers under 25 employees, and $1500 for employers with more than 25 employees) to educate the American workforce to reduce foreign dependence.

Citizenship and Immigration Service has slowly chipped away at the AC-21 law. If the employee changes jobs and the subsequent petition is denied, then the employee does lose status.  Usually such petitions were filed under Premium Processing and the results were received within two weeks.

However, since September 11, 2018, the Citizenship and Immigration Service took out Premium Processing for Change of Employer and new H-1B cases.  As of now it is scheduled to start again from February 19th 2019This does put the employee at risk of losing status if the petition is denied. At the same time, business in the 21st Century does not wait for Citizenship and Immigration Service to take forever.

The Ombudsman, who is a liaison between the public and Citizenship and Immigration Service is having a conference with the public on November 01, which I will be attending (via phone) and will input my comments on this issue.

So the question becomes can an employer reasonably wait for that length of time? If the employer does not wait, the options are:

  1. Take a risk and jump ship. Usually if the offer is from a large company, the petition should get approved
  2. Stay with the present company and risk losing the job

 

The answer will depend on: TAKE RISK IF:

  • Are you working in house?
  • The petitioner is a Large Company?

 

DO NOT TAKE RISK IF:

  • Your petition is filed by a computer consulting company, and especially if the end client is not a direct client. However even in this scenario, it will depend on what type of document is produced.

Contact Banerjee & Associates for more information

Take the Agency to Federal Court

By | Business Immigration, CIS, Citizenship and Naturalization, Employer/Employee, H1-B, Houston Immigration, L-1 | No Comments

For some time now, Citizenship and Immigration Service has been acting against legal Immigration, under a “policy” expressed in 4 words by Mr. Trump, “Buy American, Hire American” (hereinafter referred to as BAHA.) However 4 words are not adequate to form a solid policy, and it has been largely left up to the individual adjudicators on how they adjudicate Legal Business Immigration.

H-1B

The Citizenship and Immigration Service has since then tried to interpret the term Specialty Occupation, with no legal authority whatsoever that (1) Level 1 wage is not good enough; (2) Systems Analyst is not a specialty occupation, (although it was fine even 1 year ago—and there has been numerous Systems Analyst approved by Citizenship and Immigration Service)

L-1A and B

For L-1A for small companies it is virtually impossible, with Citizenship and Immigration Service raising questions about “managerial position” viability and anything under the sun. For L-1B, unless you have a patent, nothing is specialized knowledge.

There are huge number of denials, and appeals to Administration Appeals Office (AAO) are 1. Taking forever; and 2. The AAO is being told to rubber stamp the agency’s decision.

Therefore the time has come for us to sue the Citizenship and Immigration Service in federal court. The law is on our side! We DO NEED to “forum shop”. However, with I-129 petitions being mainly adjudicated in Vermont and California, those federal courts are still quite liberal.

There are two types of lawsuits:

  • MANDAMUS

This one compels the Citizenship and Immigration Service to adjudicate the case. However note that Citizenship and Immigration Service can adjudicate the case and deny it. This is advisable when there is a very strong case, and the OPT or other restrictions will render harm to the employee

 

  • DECLARATORY JUDGEMENT

This is applicable for denials. Business Immigration litigation is in an early stage. And the Citizenship and Immigration Service does not have the resources to hire experts, let alone defend many law suits. If we have a strong case, we will win. A word of caution though—Bad facts+ Bad lawyering = Bad laws. Therefore these cases should be handled by attorneys who specialize in Business Immigration and practices mainly business immigration

For more information visit Banerjee& Associates

 

CPT/OPT and H-1B portability Dangers

By | Business Immigration, Citizenship and Naturalization, Employer/Employee, H1-B, Immigration Policy, Immigration Reform | No Comments

 

On June 28, 2018 and July 13 2018, the CIS issued 2 memos that might drastically change the practice of Immigration law. Since I practice mainly Business Immigration Law, I will discuss the ramification of these two memos as they pertain to Business Immigration.

The RFE memo (July 13th) seems to say that RFEs will be issued for only those cases that does not meet the prima facia evidence. That evidence is just filing ALL THE REQUIRED FORMS. This memo starts from Sept 11.

The Notice to Appear memo (NTA Memo-June 28 ) says that That CIS will issue NTA (ie start removal proceedings) if CIS denies an application.

The guidance for the RFE memo is that we need to do our very best. It has not been interpreted yet, but we do need to file all control letters and Specialty Occupations letters at the filing stage.

But the NTA memo will have more far reaching consequences to Employment based applicants, particularly Stem students and H-1B portability.

An NTA is a document sent by ICE, when CIS refers the case to them. It starts the process of Removal. NTA’s are issued with no dates given on the Notice to Appear. It says TBD.  According to the Supreme Court Case Pereira V Sessions, 2018, the court ruled that writing TBD makes the NTA flawed. It has to specify the date, time and place to appear. Since that is not ICE’s procedure, lawyers have had varied success in getting those cases dismissed. Basically it depends on the judge. But those cases were before Pereira. Now though ICE has to give dates and times, so it remains to be seen what ICE will do.

 

Students on STEM

Current Request for Evidences are not based on third party sites, but on period of stay after obtaining the OPT. Students CANNOT have more than 90 days in a 12 month OPT, more than 120 days for 17 months; and more than 150 days for 24 months. Please note that voluntary work IS counted as work, so they will need employer verification.

What happens if the stem applicant gets a denial of their H status and does not have time left on their OPT?

We would like to have individuals maintain status. Please study in your subject in as good a school you can get in. Please do not take CPT. Please do NOT work illegally.

 

What happens if an H petition for transfer gets denied?

We are advising clients to file with Premium and not quit the first job. Of course the CIS will give an RFE, esp if this is a computer job, and can and does deny with no proof.

 

What happens with folks filing for Adjustment of Status has been on CPT, or has worked with no authorization?

Increasingly CIS officers, during Employment based interviews, are going through an applicant’s status and can deny based on any status issues. However, there is a remedy applicable for Employment based applicants. Under Section 245 K of the INA, the government can only look at status 180 days from the last entry. So as soon as any of these individuals receives their Advance Parole documents, we are sending them to Canada or Mexico just before the interview, so Citizenship and Immigration can ONLY adjudicate status from the last entry.

For more information contact Banerjee&Associates

 

Current Issues in Business Immigration Law

By | Business Immigration, H1-B, Houston Immigration, Immigration, Immigration Policy, Uncategorized | No Comments

Stem OPT:
Status: Students cannot have more than 90 days if the OPT is for 12 months
Students cannot have more than 120 days if the OPT is for 17 months
Students cannot have more than 150 days if the OPT is for 24 months
Make sure that the job is in the area of your subject

OPT extension-Third party: There is a fight between Citizenship and Immigration Service and Immigration and Customs enforcement about whether third party placement is allowed on the Stem extension. The problem is not who is wrong or right. The problem is that if using this excuse the Citizenship and Immigration Service denies the H petition, then the F student might get out of status.

CPT: Be very careful with the day one CPT. The Citizenship and Immigration Service will ask to prove that : 1 Your course needs you to have practical training. Also note that the schools MUST have classes as well. You cannot have a job say in a different city as the schools. Very often these are problematic and Citizenship and Immigration Service will rule that you do not have status. If you are out of status for
General advice: Keep in touch with the DSO at ALL times.

H-1B –Request for Evidence : Specialty Occupation-–The key to winning this is Expert opinion. However in third party placements, the Citizenship and Immigration Service wants an expert who has knowledge of the end project. We use folks employers know, rather than pay for stock expertise letters
H-1B Request for Evidence : Pay Level: This was more of a last year’s issue. We had an amazing brief that we wrote and won most of our specialty occupation Requests for Evidence. General advice: Stick to whatever the Employer states in the Labor Condition Application. Be careful for certain SOC codes.

For more Information visit Banerjee & Associates

Institutions for Non Cap H-1B

By | Business Immigration, H1-B, Uncategorized | No Comments

Institutions of Higher Education
H1B petitions filed by institutions of higher education, as defined in Section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), are exempt from the H1B cap.
Under the definition, an institution of higher education is one which:
• Admits students who have completed secondary education;
• Is licensed to provide education beyond secondary school;
• Provides educational programs for which the institutions award bachelors’ degrees or provide programs of not less than 2 years that are acceptable for full credit toward bachelors’ degrees;
• Is a public or non-profit institution; and is accredited or has been granted pre- accreditation status by a recognized accrediting agency.
Non-Profit Entities Related or Affiliated To A Higher Education Institution
H1B petitions filed by non-profit entities that are related or affiliated to an institution of higher education are exempt from the H1B cap.
1. The nonprofit entity is connected to or associated with an institution of higher education through shared ownership or control by the same board or federation;
2. The nonprofit entity is operated by an institution of higher education;
3. The nonprofit entity is attached to an institution of higher education as a member, branch, cooperative, or subsidiary; or
4. The nonprofit entity has entered into a formal written affiliation agreement with a institution of higher education that establishes an active working relationship between the nonprofit entity and the institution of higher education, and a fundamental activity of the nonprofit entity is to directly contribute to the research or education mission of the institution of higher education.—generally Hospitals qualify
Note: Other non profits might be ACWIA fee exempt, but not cap exempt.

For more information please contact Banerjee & Associates

 

H-1B multiple Filings

By | H1-B, Immigration, lottery, Uncategorized | No Comments

The Policy memorandum on H-1B that came out on March 23, 2018, and a lot of you might have heard about yesterday, does NOT affect all Consulting Companies. It affects the case of Multiple filings by related companies for the SAME employee.
The case it is based on: Matter of S, there were two companies: One was names S and the other was names C-LLC. They both filed a petition for beneficiary X for the same end client.
Although Company S and C-LLC had different ownership, different Federal Employer Identification Number, different locations, both were filing the same petition for the same employee ie X for the same end client. What happened here was that S had a contract with end client. S filed for X with end client. Then S did a sub agreement with C-LLC. C-LLC then filed for X as well, to increase X chance of getting in. Both petitions got in: ie S and C-LLC. So C-LLC withdrew their petition. The AAO still ruled that this violated multiple filing rule for H-1B and denied the petition of S.

For more information visit Banerjee and Associates