Employment Based Visas

Every fiscal year, approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of US immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. These five preference categories include priority workers and persons with extraordinary ability, professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability, skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers, certain special immigrants, and immigrant investors.  Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants. Based on your approved petition, your spouse and minor unmarried children, younger than 21, may apply for immigrant visas with you. Like you, they must fill out required application forms, obtain required civil documents, pay the required fees, and undergo medical examinations.  To be considered for an immigrant visa under some of the employment-based categories listed above, the applicant’s prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Once received (and if required), the employer must then file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category. However, persons with extraordinary abilities category may file their own petitions. Employment based immigrant visa cases take additional time […]
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Travelling While on a Work Visa

If you are currently working in the U.S. on one of many non-immigrant visas, it is important to know whether your category imposes any restrictions on your activities while present here. The general rule of thumb is that you must remain in compliance with the purpose for which your visa was originally issued for the entire length of your stay. For example, if you are in the U.S. on a work visa, you may not use that same visa for any other purpose – for example, to study. One of the most popular non-immigrant work visas is the H-1B for skilled, educated individuals. This is a temporary visa that allows foreign nationals to work for one specific employer. The H1-B applicant is required to continuing working for the sponsoring employer for their entire duration of their stay. If they wish to switch employers, they must submit an H1-B Change of Employer petition to the government. If you hold an H-1B, or another type of temporary work visa like an E, H, L, O or TN, and you would like to take a vacation in the U.S. either after your job ends or before you switch to a different employer, there […]
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USCIS Proposes Filing Fee Increases

On November 14, 2019, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a proposed regulation, which would substantially increase the filing fees for many types of immigration benefits. The agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking, which is published in the Federal Register, explains that the proposed regulation would increase costs for most petitioners and applicants...
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New Public Charge Rule Effective Soon

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the final public charge rule last month, and it will go into effect this coming Tuesday, October 15, 2019. With this new change, individuals who are likely to rely on public benefits while in the U.S. could be denied either admission to the country or an adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident...
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Breaking News: Certain Ports of Entry No Longer Allowing L-1 Renewal Applications for Canadian Citizens

Berardi Immigration Law has recently learned that certain ports of entry along the Canadian border are now refusing to process petitions for renewal L-1 applications that are presented by Canadians pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This new policy affects both individual and blanket L petitions.  Initial reports indicated that this was a problem only at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) locations near Calgary. However, it has since expanded throughout several ports of entry and preclearance locations including Toronto Pearson International Airport (preclearance), Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (preclearance), Edmonton, Seattle, Pembina, Warroad, Pt. Roberts, Sumas, and more. Over the weekend, we have been informed that the Peace Bridge located in Buffalo, New York is now also enforcing this policy. This impacts all ports of entry under the Buffalo jurisdiction, including the Rainbow Bridge, Queenston/Lewiston Bridge, and Thousand Islands Bridge and all ports of entry on the northern New York/Canadian border. All L-1 renewal petitions for Canadians must now be submitted directly to USCIS for adjudication. The ports of entry that are refusing to process these petitions are relying on a section of the regulations (8 CFR §214.2(l)(15)(i)), which state that petition extensions […]
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USCIS Issues Crucial Clarifications to L-1 Requirements

In accordance with President Trump’s Buy American Hire American Executive Order, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reviewing employment-based immigration programs in an effort to eliminate fraud and ensure adjudications are consistent. As a part of this effort, USCIS recently published clarifications for the L-1 nonimmigrant classification foreign employment requirement...
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USCIS & CBP Extend Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Nonimmigrants

the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) California Service Center (CSC) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Blaine, Washington, port of entry (POE) announced a new pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The program was designed to evaluate how long USCIS needs to adjudicate these petitions and...
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