h 1b visa for spouses
Categories USCIS

Settlement Makes Life Easier For H-1B Spouses

As H-1B visa attorneys, we are happy to report that a recent settlement between the USCIS and a pair of immigrants (and their attorneys) should make life easier on the spouses of legal H-1B workers who are looking to work themselves. The settlement represents a complete turnaround from a policy previously in place.

Immigration Law Is in Flux

Immigration law in the U.S. can be complicated for this very reason. Our system allows federal bureaucratic agencies – like the USCIS – to change the rules without having to go through Congress. For all intents and purposes, this means our immigration rules are always in flux.

This is part of the reason so many foreign workers wanting to come to this country to work have such a difficult time navigating a system. Likewise for their employers. Employers are aware of the H-1B visa, as well as the other options for that matter, but don’t know how to facilitate the approval process.

If you have not guessed by now, this is why immigration attorneys can be so valuable. It takes a lot to keep up with immigration law and its frequent changes. But attorneys who specialize in immigration law make it their business to stay on top of things.

Both foreign-born workers and their employers be aware of the potential pitfalls of navigating the visa application process on their own. For starters, there is more than one type of work visa. The United States offers multiple types of visas depending on what a foreign-born worker does, the demand for their services, the length of time they will be working in the United States, and more.

The other thing is all the paperwork involved. As you know, the government loves paperwork. They also tend to slow down processing it if all the details are not just right. An experienced immigration attorney knows how to complete the paperwork and submit it in a timely manner to avoid delays and potential denials. For that alone, hiring an attorney to help with business immigration is very advisable.

Do Not Be Afraid to Ask

With the recent USCIS settlement now on the books, the rules regarding adjudicating work applications for the spouses of valid H-1B visa holders have changed yet again, and rest assured though that the rules are more than likely to change again in the future.

As a Graham Adair client, we hope you are never afraid to ask about things you do not understand. We don’t expect you to know and fully grasp all the rules. We do not expect you to be an expert on immigration law. That’s our job.

We are here to answer your questions. We are here to help you navigate the visa process as efficiently and quickly as possible. We are here to help you understand your rights and represent you as needed.

The spouses of current H-1B visa holders will no longer have to wait so long to be approved to work in this country. Thanks to the recent USCIS settlement, all the paperwork can now be bundled and adjudicated together.

You can easily contact us in Austin, San Jose or Utah.

 

h-1b visa price increase
Categories USCIS

USCIS Announces Fee Hike for H-1B Visa Applicants

U.S. Employers should be aware of a proposed fee hike recently announced by the USCIS. If the agency goes ahead with plans unaltered, the fees charged for H-1B visa applications could jump from the current fee of $460 up to $780, a 70% increase. Fees have not changed since 2016, so an increase now is not entirely unexpected.

Although immigration attorneys, employers, and foreign-born workers understand that fees go up, now could be the worst possible time to implement an increase. Strict regulations already make it difficult for employers, particularly in the tech sector, to get foreign workers here. Furthermore, many companies are looking for ways to decrease spending due to an economy that has flattened out, especially in the tech sector. Increasing application fees so drastically could put a further damper on efforts to recruit workers and bring them to this country.

Like Gasoline on a Fire

Business Insider’s Paayal Zaveri likens the proposed fee increase to pouring gasoline on a fire. Zaveri explains that immigration attorneys and their clients are already struggling to fill open positions in the tech sector. So much so that vacant jobs waiting to be filled may not be filled for some time. Higher fees for visa applications only puts another stumbling block in the way.

As for the USCIS, their proposal is being pitched as a way to speed up the adjudication process. They say the agency is still facing a backlog of applications they simply do not have the time and resources to deal with as quickly as they should. Increasing application fees would allow the USCIS to bring in more talent and resources. At least that is the explanation being given.

At the time of this writing, the proposed fee increase was on hold for the standard 60-day comment period required by law for all new federal rules. It is not likely that the USCIS will turn back their proposal even if the vast majority who comment on it voice opposition to higher fees.

Not the First Time

The Biden administration is taking heat for attempting to raise fees on H-1B visa applicants. But the administration says higher fees for the H-1B program will allow the government to keep offering other visa programs for free. For example, they do not want to start charging an application fee on foreign nationals seeking asylum in this country.

This is not the first time the asylum issue has come up. The Trump administration attempted to implement a $50 fee for asylum seekers. At the same time, the administration sought to bring an end to fee-waiver programs.

Someone Has to Pay

Both the Trump and Biden administrations have been criticized for increasing the financial burden on foreign nationals looking to come to the U.S. But when push comes to shove, someone needs to pay for application processing and adjudication. USCIS employs many officers to adjudicate and carry out the work to handle applications for immigration benefits. Whether efficiencies could be implemented to make each USCIS employee more effective is another matter.

The question then becomes one of who should foot the bill. Should it be immigrants looking to come to the U.S. or taxpayers who already live and work here? There is no easy answer to the question. It is one that has engendered debate for as long as any of us can remember.

We Will Keep an Eye on Things

Rest assured that we will keep an eye on things moving forward. If the new application fee does go into effect, it is undoubtedly going to have an impact on some companies and their ability to bring in foreign talent. We will be standing by as expert immigration attorneys ready to assist any companies that need our help.

You can easily contact us in Austin, San Jose or Utah.

 

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.