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Category Archives: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Categories Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Finding Your I-797 Expiration Date and What it Means

The I-797 Notice of Action form is a critical document in the U.S. immigration process, serving as an official notification from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Attached to some I-797 approvals is an I-94 document, which provides the official expiration date of a person’s authorized stay in the United States.

I. What is the I-797 Notice of Action?

The I-797 is a document issued by USCIS to communicate various immigration-related actions. It may serve as a receipt notice, approval notice, transfer notice, or request for additional evidence. Within the context of work visas, such as H-1B, L-1, and O-1, there is an I-797A, I-797B, and I-797C. I-797A is issued ONLY to people who are currently in the U.S. and those who are undergoing a change of status, for example from F-1 to H-1B.
The A means that the applicant can continue to remain in the U.S. and work. Because of this, I-797A will have an I-94 attached to the bottom.
I-797B is issued to those who had never been to the U.S. or to those whose change of status cannot be approved. This means that the recipient is qualified for the job, but a change of status cannot be approved. Therefore, those receiving an I-797B will need to apply for an entry visa at a U.S. consular post outside of the United States (except for citizens of Canada).

I-797C is a copy issued to sponsoring employers.

II. Locating the I-797 Expiration Date:

The expiration date on the I-797 is located at the top right of the page. For I-797A approvals, there will also be an I-94 document attached at the bottom, which will also show the expiration date, as pictured below:

I-797 expiration dateIf you depart the United States and re-enter, you will receive a new I-94 document, which can be retrieved at: www.cbp.gov/i94. This new I-94 document will have an expiration date that now overrides the expiration date on the previously issued I-797.

I-94 Expiration DateThe date on the I-94 will often be the same as the expiration date on the I-797. However, if it is different, the last action rule dictates that the I-94 date governs. Therefore, it is critical to check the new I-94 every time a person re-enters the U.S. If there is a mistake on the I-94, it should be raised to an attorney to assist in getting it corrected.

III. Significance of the I-797 Expiration Date:

Understanding the expiration date on the I-797 is crucial to ensure the person remains in valid status during their stay in the United States. If an individual wishes to extend or renew their immigration status, they must initiate the process before the I-797 expiration date to maintain continuous legal presence.

Individuals planning international travel should be mindful of the I-94 expiration date, as it may impact their ability to re-enter the United States without a valid visa or approval notice.

Please contact us with any questions at info@grahamadair.com.

What Employers Need to Know Before Hiring Immigrant Workers
Categories Immigration and Customs Enforcement

What Employers Need to Know Before Hiring Immigrant Workers

Immigration has been part of the American landscape from the very beginning. It is often said that we are a nation of immigrants, which is hard to argue if you know our history. As such, it should be no surprise that companies in the U.S. are usually more than willing to hire immigrant workers as readily and willingly as they do those born here.

With all that said, there are laws on the books governing how immigrant workers can be hired. There are both legal and illegal ways to do it. As immigration attorneys, Graham Adair assists companies and their foreign-born workers committed to doing things the right way. We are immigration law experts with a special focus on business immigration.

If you are new to the whole business immigration concept, here are some things you need to know before you start looking into hiring immigrant workers:

1. Immigrant Doesn’t Mean Illegal

Unfortunately, the terms ‘immigrant’ and ‘illegal’ are used together far too often. Yes, there are people from other countries who enter the U.S. without proper documentation. But that is not true of all immigrants. It is not true of all immigrant workers.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, some 28.6 million members of the civilian workforce in 2021 were legal immigrants. That accounts for about 17% of the total civilian labor force. These were legally registered immigrants who followed the rules and got jobs. Their contributions to our economy are no less important than anyone else’s.

2. Workers Need Visas

Immigrant workers must have visas to work legally in this country. The most important thing in this regard is the fact that there are literally dozens of types of visas issued by USCIS according to the circumstances and needs of each applicant. One of the visas we specialize in is the H-1B.

The H-1B visa is designed for professional workers who will only be in the U.S. temporarily. Similar visas for professional workers include the E-3 and TN visas. H-2A and H-2B are temporary visas for seasonal laborers.

There are many others, including the L-1, P-1, E-1, E-2, and R visas. Here is the point: you need to know what kind of visa a worker must possess before you can hire them. This is one area in which the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney is invaluable. Immigration attorneys understand the different visas and their applications.

3. Employers Must Verify Eligibility

Next, know that employers are required by law to verify the eligibility of any immigrant workers they hope to employ. Job candidates provide the necessary documentation. Employers are required to verify this documentation and to keep copies as proof of compliance. Eligibility is also verified by way of Form I-9.

Employers must furnish proof of eligibility upon request from authorized government agencies. Therefore, it is in an employee’s best interest to keep meticulous records where employee eligibility and verification are concerned.

4. Use of the E-Verify System

The federal government maintains an E-Verify system employers can use to verify eligibility online. The system is open to all employers across the country. It is voluntary from a federal standpoint, but some states mandate the use of E-Verify for any and all hires. Employers need to know whether the system is voluntary or mandatory in the states in which they hope to hire.

Business immigration can be challenging at times. If you need assistance, feel free to contact Graham Adair. If your case is something that we can help with, we can collaborate with you to come up with a plan of action moving forward.

What Happens to a Non-Immigrant Employee Who Gets Laid Off
Categories Immigration and Customs Enforcement

What Happens to a Non-Immigrant Employee Who Gets Laid Off?

Non-immigrant employees and their employers often need to jump through hoops to satisfy the requirements of immigration law. Bringing foreign born workers into the country is rarely easy on either party. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? What happens to a non-immigrant employee who gets laid off prior to visa termination?

Under normal circumstances, non-immigrant employees are likely to think that they have no other choice but to leave the country within 60 days. But that is not necessarily true. There are workarounds to being laid off, workarounds that are at least worth exploring. Here are just four possibilities:

1. File for a Change of Non-Immigrant Status

Non-immigrant employees are automatically given a 60-day grace period upon termination of employment. During that period, an employee could file an application to change their status. As long as the filing is deemed non-frivolous, accruing time against the grace period is paused while the case is adjudicated. Even if adjudication takes a year, no additional time will be accrued against the employee’s automatic 60 days.

Filing for a change of status could mean:

  • Filing as a student.
  • Filing as the dependent of a spouse.
  • Filing to seek new employment under the same or a different status.

Once again, the key here is filing a non-frivolous application. A claim deemed frivolous would be rejected and accrual against the 60-day grace period would continue unabated.

2. Filing for an Adjustment of Status

Without the help of an employer, filing for a change of non-immigrant status may be difficult. A second option is for the employee to self-petition the government for an adjustment of status. This particular option isn’t open to all workers under every type of employment visa. However, it does give those eligible workers an opportunity to remain in the U.S. while seeking to obtain a temporary Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

3. File for a Compelling Circumstances EAD

An EAD is a temporary work authorization document allowing non-immigrant workers to remain in the U.S. for a predetermined amount of time. Similarly, the Compelling Circumstances EAD is a temporary stopgap that allows qualified workers to remain here while they seek permanent resident status.

Generally speaking, non-immigrant employees who successfully petition for an EAD will not accrue unlawful presence time in the U.S. as long as the EAD remains in force. Note that certain eligibility requirements are attached to the Compelling Circumstances EAD.

4. File a Petition to Change Employers

U.S. immigration law allows job portability among nonimmigrant workers who may be laid off before visa expiration. For example, eligible H-1B workers can search for new employers willing to file new petitions on their behalf. An approved petition would extend the amount of time the worker could remain in the country.

Similarly, a non-immigrant worker with a valid adjustment of status application pending for at least 180 days might be able to transfer a current work petition to a new employer within the same or a similar work classification.

It should be noted that all these options are subject to strict rules and qualifications. There is no guarantee that a laid off worker would qualify for any of them. However, the four options are worth looking into should an affected worker decide not to return home.

If any of your non-immigrant employees are facing potential layoff, we may be able to help. Graham Adair immigration attorneys can look at your cases and offer sound advice regarding how you might proceed. There may be a way to keep those employees in the country.

How to Improve Your Business Immigration Prospects for 2024
Categories Immigration and Customs Enforcement

How to Improve Your Business Immigration Prospects for 2024

A tight labor market that shows no signs of easing continues to put strain on employers unable to find the necessary talent here at home. The search for talent overseas isn’t helped at all by the U.S. immigration process, as many of our clients have experienced firsthand. So heading into the new year, it might be in your best interests to improve your organization’s business immigration prospects.

How do you do that? It is not a matter of implementing a single policy or procedure. Rather, it’s a matter of stepping back and assessing how you handle business immigration from start to finish. A proper assessment will reveal pain points executive management can address as well as successes that can be leveraged for the future.

1. Hook Up With Business Immigration Attorneys

One of the first things we recommend is hooking up with business immigration attorneys. Look around for a law firm you can develop a long-term relationship with. Business immigration attorneys are experts in things like H-1B visas and the annual H-1B lottery. The legal expertise they can offer could prove valuable to your business immigration efforts in 2024.

2. Plan for a Comprehensive Audit

Although improving your business immigration prospects is a worthwhile endeavor, you don’t want to jump into anything without figuring out where your organization currently is. Plan to do a comprehensive audit as early in the year as possible. Your goal is to thoroughly examine your business immigration processes and policies.

An audit will help identify inefficiencies. It will reveal bottlenecks in the system, redundant practices, and areas of weakness that only slow things down. The results of a comprehensive audit will pave the way for any changes your organization decides to make.

3. Make a Commitment to Staying Informed

It has been our experience that many organizations in need of business immigration attorneys are sorely lacking in up-to-date information. This isn’t a slight on employers. Rather, it is a reminder of just how frequently U.S. immigration law changes. As a specialist immigration law firm, we need to put a lot of effort into staying up to date. We understand how difficult it is for our clients simply because they don’t specialize in the law.

At any rate, your organization can improve its business immigration prospects for 2024 by making a commitment to staying informed. Select a point person to monitor for any rule changes. That person can also keep an eye on legislative efforts, court cases, and other points of interest.

4. Work on HR Improvements

Finally, commit to working on HR improvements that go above and beyond assisting foreign nationals in their attempts to successfully immigrate. In other words, take care of them once they arrive. Make sure they have a positive experience so that they will want to renew their visas. Make sure that, upon returning home, they have nothing but good to say about your organization.

We suggest:

  • Working on improving communication channels.
  • Developing training programs and resources for the HR team.
  • Implementing new technology that makes HR more efficient.
  • Looking for ways to improve how immigrant workers are onboarded.

Our experience tells us that U.S. employers will continue depending on foreign born employees to fill the skills gaps they are currently experiencing. As long as there are overseas workers willing to come here to work, business immigration remains a high priority.

Here at Graham Adair, business immigration is our specialty. Contact us for assistance with H-1B visas, the annual lottery system, or even advice on completing and submitting paperwork for your foreign-born employees.

H-1B and EB-1 Different Visas With Different Purposes
Categories Immigration and Customs Enforcement News & Updates USCIS

H-1B vs. EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3: Nonimmigrant Visas vs. Immigrant Visas

Immigration law is complicated. There are no two ways about it. One of the things that makes it complicated is the fact that there are so many different kinds of visas people can obtain in order to gain authorized entry into the U.S. For example, consider the H-1B and EB-1 visas. They are two distinctly different visas with different purposes. Yet that doesn’t prevent confusion among both employers and their foreign-born workers.

As immigration attorneys specializing in business immigration, it is our responsibility to understand the different types of visas that employers might need for their foreign-born workers coming into this country. We pass on our knowledge as we assist both employers and potential employees in their attempts to navigate U.S. immigration law.

The H-1B Visa Is Temporary

The biggest difference between the two visas relates to how long a valid visa holder can remain in this country. Under the H-1B visa program, an employee’s stay is temporary. H-1B visas are typically granted for an initial term of three years. Foreign born workers can renew their visas for another 3 years, providing them with up to six years total. After that, a worker must either change to another status or leave the country.

Statute dictates that the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa. In other words, a company is may not be hiring an H-1B visa holder with the goal of making them a permanent resident in the country. Although, in our experience, most companies that are willing to sponsor someone for an H-1B are likely to eventually sponsor them for an immigrant visa down the road. It is important to remember that the H-1B is for temporary work status only.

Foreign Nationals With Special Skills

It is also worth noting that the H-1B visa is not for just anyone. The program is intended to give employers access to foreign nationals with special skills. The skills in question are limited in scope. They are often science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related. At a minimum, the position must require a bachelor’s degree. If it’s a foreign degree, it must be evaluated as being equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. A person may also qualify through a combination of education plus experience that equates to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. 

Employers hoping to bring in foreign nationals under the H-1B program, who then wish to sponsor the employee for an immigrant visa,  typically must demonstrate that they cannot find sufficient talent here at home to fill open positions. They must attest to the fact that an offer of employment under the H-1B program is temporary only. However, H-1B status is considered “dual intent,” which means the person can be in a nonimmigrant status such as H-1B, while also intending to become a lawful permanent resident. 

The EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Visas Are Permanent

Where the H-1B visa is technically temporary, the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 are permanent. They are immigration visas that give the holder the legal right to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. They are essentially permanent resident visas. But like the H-1B, the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 are not available to everyone. They are specifically designed for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability, skills in the national interest of the United States, professional-level employees, and other skilled workers.

These are typically people with skills that are hard to come by. They are professors, scientific researchers, senior executives, and other types of business professionals that are in short supply in this country.

Employers should understand that EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 visas can take several months to process, at minimum. More complex applications could take years. EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 visas are also highly competitive and require a significant amount of documentation. Many categories are oversubscribed, so the employee may potentially need to wait years before receiving lawful permanent residency. This is why having another work status such as H-1B is so critical because it enables them to live and work in the United States while waiting for an immigrant visa. 

EB-1 Visa

The EB-1 is so designated because those who qualify for it are at the top of the list of preferences. Each subsequent EB visa is designated by a number indicating order of preference. There are five EB visas in total. In this article we covered only EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 because they are the most common. 

Do not let the complex nature of business immigration and visas scare you. If you are looking to bring foreign nationals into the country on a temporary or permanent basis, Graham Adair is here to assist. We can help you navigate the system, complete documentation correctly and on time, and do everything else required to secure those visas.

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