THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY…IN IMMIGRATION REPRESENTATION

Lately I have come across friends and family members who received service ranging from poor to extraordinary from professionals in various fields.  Their experiences have reinforced the importance of hiring the best immigration representation one can afford.

Talent Matters

Recently a family member, Beth, wanted to sell a condominium for a fair price in what was considered to be a good market.  The problem was that at the time, there was an almost identical unit in the complex that had been on the market for four months, with a similar asking price, that had not sold.  Beth  called a real estate agent whom I had used in the past.  The agent, Bob, was professional, responsive, and presented well.  He met with Beth, walked through the unit, made suggestions, took detailed measurements and expressed confidence that the unit would sell quickly.  He prepared an impressive statistical analysis of the area.  Once Beth signed the broker agreement, Bob took detailed measurements, sent a professional photographer to take pictures of the unit, and advised Beth that the house would not be listed on the MLS until two days before the open house.  The photos and presentation on the MLS were so breathtaking that Beth had second thoughts about selling the unit!  She accepted an offer to purchase that home for the full asking price within two days following the open house.  This was after Bob suggested that the initial lower offer by the same buyer be rejected.  To make the story even better, within a week after my family member’s unit sold, the competing unit that had been on the market for several months sold as well for a similar price.  Because of Bob’s expertise, the complex had become desirable.

The moral of this long story?  Talent matters.  A great doctor can mean the difference between life and death, a quality lawyer can mean the difference between freedom or confinement and in extreme cases, life and death.  On a lesser scale, a talented chef will create an unforgettable meal, and a fantastic secretary can make an office run like clockwork.

IMMIGRATION REPRESENTATION:  THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

When it comes to immigration representation, finding quality representation can be a minefield for the uninitiated.

Notarios

Some immigrant communities have notarios who accept fees to complete immigration paperwork and offer advice.  These people are the most dangerous of all as they are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and often take money from unsuspecting foreign nationals and fail to file forms or even worse, file incorrect or fraudulent documents with the government.  This in turn leads to a terrible mess for those who would have been in a better position had they never hired the notario.

Lawyers

Then there are the lawyers.   Immigration law is federal so it can be practiced by anyone who has passed the bar of any state.  Passing the bar is a great accomplishment however, it does not ensure that the attorney has had any exposure to immigration law.  In fact, the bar exams that I took (New York and Massachusetts) did not cover immigration law at all.  Some states, such as Florida and California certify immigration lawyers.  When hiring a lawyer in a state that offers certification, this would be a helpful criterion to consider.

The General Practitioner

There are lawyers who handle criminal law, divorce, bankruptcy, small business matters AND immigration.  It is hard enough to be great in any one of those areas, never mind three, four or five of them.  I know physicians who are wonderful in their specialties but would be the first to admit that you should see a cardiologist for your heart problems or a neurologist of you have had a stroke.  I have yet to meet a doctor who practices dermatalogy, neurology and orthopedic surgery.  There are of course Primary Care Doctors, who tend to know if and when to refer patients to the appropriate specialists.  However the PCPs are not themselves the specialists.

There was a criminal lawyer who advised a client who was undocumented in the United States to file a naturalization application.  Luckily he consulted with us before proceeding.  Many people, including lawyers, are not aware that immigration laws are very complex and that it requires far more than completing forms to obtain benefits under the law.

Choosing an Immigration Lawyer

The immigration process, especially through employment, can be a long one.  You want an immigration lawyer who knows what they are doing, someone you can feel comfortable talking to and addressing your concerns with.  Can your friends or family recommend a good immigration lawyer?  How about an attorney you have used for another matter in the past?  Take their recommendations, then do your research.  You can find a fair amount of information about immigration firms online.

If you do not have any personal recommendations, then an online search may be all you have to go by.  Just like when choosing a good restaurant or hotel, read reviews, visit sites such as avvo.com that lists attorneys by practice area, read articles they have written, and check to see if their practice concentrates on immigration law.  Even more specifically, find out if they have experience in the type of immigration case you have.  Our office does not handle asylum or deportation cases.  However we have a fairly extensive EB-5 practice, which is an area many other lawyers do not like to touch.  Finally, schedule a consultation.  Meet the lawyer to determine if they are a good fit.  Are they knowledgeable, approachable?  Is this someone you would like to have representing you for the next few  months, or years?  The consultation is almost always worth the few hundred dollars it will cost.  If you decide to hire the firm, many lawyers will credit the cost of the consultation to the matter they are retained to handle.

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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USCIS PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR FY-2015 H-1B PETITIONS SUBJECT TO CAP TO BEGIN APRIL 28

According to a USCIS Alert:  “On April 28, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2015 cap, including H-1B petitions seeking an exemption from the fiscal year cap for individuals who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher.”

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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REQUESTING RENEWAL OF DACA (DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS) FROM USCIS

According to a USCIS Update:  “In September 2012, USCIS started deferring action for certain childhood arrivals and issuing employment authorization for a period of two years. Beginning in September 2014, the initial two-year grants of deferred action for early recipients of DACA from USCIS are due to expire under their own terms, and USCIS is actively preparing for the DACA renewal process so that eligible individuals can request and receive an extension of their deferred action without experiencing any lapse in their lawful presence or work authorization.”

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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VISA BULLETIN FOR MAY 2014

The Visa Bulletin for May 2014 in now available.

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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ABOUT 172,500 FY 2015 H-1B CAP PETITIONS RECEIVED BY USCIS

According to a USCIS News Release:  “USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.”

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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HAVE SOME GREEN? GET A CARD TO GO WITH IT!

According to a Citizenship and Immigration Canada New Release:  “EAP 2014 announced the government’s intent to terminate the federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) and Federal Entrepreneur (EN) Program, eliminate a large and longstanding backlog of applications, and pave the way for new pilot programs that will actually meet Canada’s labour market and economic needs.”

If you wanted to pursue the investment avenue to immigrate to Canada, this is an unfortunate development.  However, if you were considering investing to immigrate to the United States, this option remains available.  When it works as it is supposed to, the EB-5 program allows foreign nationals to invest as little as $500,000 and pay legal and processing fees in return for permanent residence for themselves and their dependent family members.  It is a viable immigration option that is underutilized by people from most countries.

Of course the devil is in the details and for more information I encourage you to visit our firm’s website devoted to US immigration through investment at www.americainvestorvisa.com.

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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USCIS REACHES FY 2015 H-1B CAP

According to a USCIS News Release:  “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015.  USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U. S. advanced degree exemption.

Before running a random selection process, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period which ended today. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date on which it will conduct the random selection process.

A computer-generated process will randomly select the number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions that are not selected, unless found to be a duplicate filing.”

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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WAS YOUR H-1B DELIVERED?

According to AILA, some lawyers are reporting problems with Federal Express deliveries of H-1B packages to the Service Centers.  The USCIS is looking into this.  You may want to use the Federal Express tracking number to confirm delivery of your petition to ensure that it was received.  All petitions that were filed by Maged Rost were delivered to the appropriate Service Centers on 4/1/2014.

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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USCIS ANTICIPATES FY-2015 H-1B QUOTA WILL BE EXHAUSTED BY APRIL 7, 2014

According to a USCIS News Release:  “USCIS anticipates receiving more than enough petitions to reach both caps by April 7. The agency is prepared to use a random selection process to meet the numerical limit. Non-duplicate petitions that are not selected will be rejected and returned with the filing fees.”

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

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H-1B DEMAND EXPECTED TO BE HIGH FOR FY-2015

H-1B demand at our office as well as at our colleagues’ firms leads us to believe that the H-1B cap will be reached on the first day petitions will be accepted by the USCIS, April 1, 2014.  If this is the case, the USCIS will conduct a lottery of all petitions received the first week to determine which ones it will accept for adjudication.  It will accept 65,000 cap-subject petitions plus an additional 20,000 petitions from those who have earned at least a Masters degree from a US institution.

Only One Bite at the Apple

Given the expectation that numbers will be exhausted early on, it is imperative that the filing be error-free because if it is rejected due to an error, there will be virtually no chance to refile it in time for the beneficiary to begin employment on October 1, 2014.  Below are some tips to ensure the petition is not rejected due to a filing error:  (1) make sure to send the petition to the correct Service Center; (2) ensure filing fee check amounts are correct, although one check is acceptable, it is best to send separate checks for premium processing, the USCIS filing fee, the training fee and the fraud fee, and (3) be sure that a certified LCA is included with the filed petition and that the LCA number matches what appears on the Form I-129.  Of course there are a myriad of other issues to consider which is why it is recommended to have an experienced immigration lawyer prepare the H-1B petition.

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com and find us on Yelp!

 

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