Categories Department of State News & Updates

Expansion of Visa Appointments in India and a Plan to Reduce Visa Wait Times

The U.S. Mission to India has announced 250,000 additional B1/B2 visa appointments. This move is possible due to the creation of special Saturday interviews, which is part of a larger effort to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants. The hope is that this effort will eventually open up to interviews for other types of U.S. visas.

Embassies and Consulates in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad all opened consular operations on Saturday, and there are plans to continue to open additional slots for appointments on select Saturdays. The plan also includes several additional prongs, including:

  • Expansion of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous U.S. visas.
  • Transfer of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies to India to increase processing capacity.
  • Increased hiring of consular officers permanently assigned to the Embassy and Consulates in India.
  • Consulate in Mumbai has extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments.

The goal is to have the U.S. Mission to India operating at this fully expanded capacity by this summer.

B1/B2 visas are granted to individuals who wish to travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes. The additional visas will provide more opportunities for Indian citizens to visit the United States for business meetings, conferences, and other professional engagements, as well as for tourism and leisure.

The U.S. Mission to India has stated that the additional appointments will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis, and that the process for applying for a B1/B2 visa will remain the same for now.

The move to issue additional B1/B2 visas is a positive step in strengthening the economic ties between India and the United States. It will provide more opportunities for Indian businesses and professionals to engage with their counterparts in the United States and vice versa. Additionally, it will also promote tourism, which is a significant contributor to the economies of both countries.

The relationship between India and the United States has been growing stronger in recent years, and this move to issue additional B1/B2 visas is a reflection of that. It is expected to further boost economic relations between the two countries and provide more opportunities for people-to-people interactions.

Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any questions, or contacts us at info@grahamadair.com, or 408 715 7067.

Temporary Work Visas
Categories Compliance News & Updates

How Layoffs Can Affect Workers with Temporary Work Visas

While Graham Adair immigration attorneys frequently work with employers looking to bring foreign-born workers to San Jose, Austin, and Lehi, we also work with companies based throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Unfortunately, the economic slowdown we have been experiencing in the U.S. is happening in many major countries around the world, which has resulted in an increase in layoffs affecting employees across the spectrum, including foreign nationals. These days, we are seeing more of those clients due to Q4 2022 layoffs.

Certain industries – primarily big tech – have been hit unusually hard by layoffs over the last two quarters. This is especially troubling for those of us who practice immigration law for the simple fact that tech companies make significant use of foreign labor. When times are good, they regularly utilize L-1 and H-1B visas to help foreign nationals move here to work.

When times are not so good, foreign national employees are impacted by layoffs along with the general workforce. Those affected by layoffs often do not understand their options. If they fail to act quickly, they could face the prospect of having to depart the U.S.

H-1B Employer Responsibilities

The rules regulating H-1B visas force employers to take some responsibility for laid-off workers who now need to leave the country. For example, employers who voluntarily terminate employment must pay to get foreign workers back home. But paying for airfare doesn’t cover the cost of shipping possessions, paying for other family members, and other related expenses.

Affected workers can be stuck with a significant financial burden as a result of being laid off. Making matters worse are layoffs that happen suddenly and without warning. Informing workers that layoffs are coming in just a few short weeks doesn’t give them much time to come up with contingency plans.

Having little time to prepare can be especially difficult for workers here on L-1 visas. The L-1 visa is governed by separate rules. For starters, a visa holder’s employer bears no responsibility for getting them back home. As such, the entire cost of travel and shipping falls on the worker.

What Laid-Off Workers Can Do

U.S. immigration law does not leave laid-off workers without options. The options are few and time constraints are looming, but laid-off workers can immediately start taking actions to keep themselves in this country. One of the first things we recommend they do is start looking for new jobs with employers willing to sponsor them.

Finding a new employer can keep the worker in the country. There is paperwork involved in order to transfer sponsorship from one employer to another, as well as some compliance issues to iron out. But with the help of an experienced immigration attorney, that delicate process can be navigated successfully.

For workers in L-1 status, it is unlikely they would be able to transfer their L-1 visa to another employer. If finding another job is not possible, laid-off workers could consider the H-1B visa or a self-employment option. There are a number of additional visa options that may require the individual to adjust the primary purpose of their status, which is not always desired. However, these options would enable a foreign national worker to stay in the U.S. while figuring out a more suitable arrangement. 

An increasing number of people have been looking at starting their own business venture. The advantage to a foreign national of starting their own business is that the company can be their sponsor going forward. Of course, there is the challenge of launching a viable startup and nurturing it to become a profitable venture.

Seek Expert Legal Advice

As a foreign national, finding yourself in the position of being laid off can be scary, at minimum. It can mean the end of a dream to live and work in the U.S. long enough to get a green card and eventually apply for citizenship. But do not assume that being laid off means it’s all over. There are often several options available.

We would recommend seeking out expert legal advice from an attorney that specializes in immigration law. An immigration attorney is the most capable person to advise on the best course of action. Above all, don’t give up hope. There are ways to lessen the blow and continue pursuing career aspirations. 

 

covid immigration law
Categories Department of State News & Updates USCIS

Is Your Company Revamping Immigration?

The State Department previously announced that the pandemic-induced lull in legal immigration to the U.S. is over. During the 12 months that ended on September 30, some 493,000 visas were issued to foreign nationals looking to work and live in this country permanently.

Where does your company stand in all of this? With heavy-handed COVID restrictions mostly removed, which weighs against a flat economy, is your company now revamping its business immigration policies? If so, it is going to be a complicated space for the foreseeable future. For these reasons, it would be wise to work with an experienced business immigration attorney or law firm that can help keep things moving along.

Consulates Are Open, People Are Traveling

Fiscal year 2019 saw an impressive number of visas issued by the State Department. Then COVID hit and the world shut down. Consulates were closed up and travel restrictions put in place. That put a huge damper on legal immigration. But now that consulates are open and people are traveling again, the numbers are back up.

The previously mentioned 493,000 visas represent a 73% increase from 2021 and 7% over 2020. Either way you look at it, legal immigration is working to get back on track. This is good in the sense that companies once again have access to foreign nationals looking to the United States for work. Companies can access that foreign talent pool much easier now that travel restrictions have eased.

The one thing that does not change is how visas are actually processed. There is still paperwork to complete; there are still deadlines to pay attention to; there are still T’s to be crossed and I’s to be dotted.

Many Ways to Get Workers Here

There are quite a number of different ways to get workers to the U.S. We deal a lot with the H-1B visa here at Graham Adair. These are mainly visas for temporary employment. But there are other options, including business visas, work visas, training visas, and exchange visitor visas.

Working with an experienced immigration attorney offers the advantage of being able to select the most appropriate visa program without having to possess the knowledge yourself. Tell us what your company’s needs are, and we can advise you as to the most appropriate way to sponsor people with the right skills and experience. Then we can work with you to facilitate the process from start to finish.

Transitioning from Temporary Visa to Green Card

We can also assist foreign national workers with the transition from a temporary visa status to green card, or permanent residency. A green card gives a foreign national permanent residency status. After a certain amount of time, a person with a valid green card can apply for U.S. citizenship. Once again, we can help.

At every step of the way, the paperwork needs to be completed the right way. Making mistakes delays the process and can even result in denials or other impacts to an individual’s immigration status. And given how strict the State Department is with some types of visas, delays can easily disrupt a company’s need to onboard a foreign national employee. It can even jeopardize a worker’s chances of being approved.

Graham Adair immigration attorneys are paperwork experts. Our attorneys know how to complete government forms in such a way as to give the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services exactly what it’s looking for. We make sure all required information is submitted so that processing is swift. We also ensure that our clients fully understand compliance and enforcement issues.

It is encouraging to know that immigration has opened back up now that the largest impacts of COVID have been pulled back. However, considering the struggling economy, many companies are taking a step back to re-evaluate their immigration policies. We can help by way of expert legal advice and assistance for you and your foreign workers.

 

Categories News & Updates USCIS

USCIS Proposed Fee Increases

USCIS proposed a fee increase for certain immigration services, including applications for naturalization and certain types of visas. The proposed fee increase would affect a wide range of individuals, including those seeking to become naturalized citizens, as well as those applying for nonimmigrant visas such as H-1B, L-1, and E-2 visas. The proposed fee increase would also apply to individuals seeking employment authorization documents and those seeking to renew their green cards.

The text of the proposed rule is now available and is noted at the bottom of this article. There is a variable fee for Form I-129 depending on the type of status sought, such as H-1B, L-1, TN, etc. The I-129 fee increase ranges between 70% – 201%. The current I-129 fee is $460.

According to the USCIS, the proposed fee increase is necessary to “ensure the agency has the resources it needs to maintain processing times, reduce backlogs, and improve its services.” The agency claims that it has not raised fees for many of its services in over a decade and that the proposed increase is necessary to keep pace with the rising costs of providing immigration services.

However, the proposed fee increase has faced widespread opposition from immigrant advocacy groups and some members of Congress. Critics argue that the fee increase would place an undue burden on immigrants and could discourage people from seeking legal immigration status. They also argue that the fee increase is unnecessary, as the USCIS already generates sufficient revenue through fees to cover its costs.

At this time, it is unclear when or if the proposed fee increase will take effect. The USCIS is required to allow for a period of public comment before implementing any changes to its fees. It is possible that the agency will make changes to the proposed fee increase based on the feedback it receives during this period.

In conclusion, the proposed fee increase from the USCIS has generated significant controversy and opposition. While the agency argues that the increase is necessary to maintain its operations, critics argue that it would place an undue burden on immigrants and is unnecessary given the agency’s current fee structure. Procedural rules require that the proposal go through a formal notice-and-comment period that will likely last 60 days, during which time any member of the public may submit feedback.

Here is a link to the proposed rule: https://lnkd.in/eQSvXPGY

Categories Department of State News & Updates USCIS Visa Bulletin

Will Congress Reduce Green Card Backlogs?

On December 7, 2022, the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on H.R. 3648, the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act, but the vote has reportedly been pushed into next week. The EAGLE Act proposes a number of changes to the employment-based immigration system in an effort to alleviate the immigrant visa backlog, including eliminating the “per country” limitation on employment-based immigrant visas, or green cards, over a nine-year transition period. This will be particularly beneficial to green card applicants born in China and India who are subject to the longest employment-based immigrant visa backlogs.

 

The Act also aims to permit foreign nationals who have been waiting in the immigrant visa backlog for two years to file green card applications and reserve a certain amount of green cards for nurses and physical therapists.

 

A number of immigration advocacy groups have also come out in support of the EAGLE Act since it was first introduced last year. Earlier this week, the White House issued a statement in support of passage of the EAGLE Act. In a statement released by the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management & Budget, the Administration confirmed that it “supports House passage of H.R. 3648, the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act, and its goal of allowing U.S. employers to focus on hiring immigrants based on merit, not their birthplace, by eliminating the “per country” limitation on employment-based immigrant visas (green cards).”

 

However, some advocacy groups feel that eliminating per-country limitations could negatively impact countries that have not historically experienced long waits for the green card. In an email newsletter this week, ILW.com opposed H.R. 3748, noting that passage of the law would increase the green card wait time for countries other than India and China by about 15 years and adversely impact the EB5 Immigrant Investor Program. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has also spoken out against H.R. 3748 stating that, “the EAGLE Act does not strike the right balance of eliminating per-country limitations without adversely impacting others. Therefore, AILA does not support the bill’s passage and urges Congress to find an equitable solution for all individuals waiting for lawful permanent residence.”

 

Graham Adair is monitoring the situation closely and will provide an update should the EAGLE Act be put to a vote next week.