Zach Ahlstrom Joins Berardi Immigration Law as Associate Attorney

Congratulations to Zach Ahlstrom who was officially sworn in as a licensed New York State attorney yesterday and is now an Associate Attorney with Berardi Immigration Law!  Zach started with Berardi Immigration Law as a law clerk during his second year of law school in March 2017. He passed the bar exam in October 2018. He focuses on a wide range of petitions, including everything from employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions, to marriage-based green cards and naturalization applications. Beginning on his first day with our firm, it was immediately clear that he was destined to be an immigration attorney. He possesses a unique ability to write and has developed a deep understanding of the complexity and nuance that is natural to U.S. immigration law and regulations.  Zach graduated summa cum laude from Mercyhurst University in 2014 with a degree in Political Science. He then went on to pursue a law degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law. While attending law school, Zach was a writing fellow for two years. In his spare time, he enjoys golfing, baseball and riding his bike — anything to get him outdoors. Berardi Immigration Law is proud to have Zach as the newest […]
Continue Reading

E-Verify Expiration: What Employers and Employees Using the System Should Know

Many employers are familiar with the E-Verify system, which allows employers to check the employment eligibility for all of their employees. This system compares information completed on an employee’s Form I-9 with records from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). E-Verify is administered by DHS, which is one of the agencies that remains without government funding. The E-Verify program has expired as a result of a lapse in funding due to the partial government shutdown in the U.S. The program will be unavailable until necessary funding is received.  There are major implications to the expiration of E-Verify. While the government is shut down, employers will be unable to access the services E-Verify provides. This includes enrolling in the program; accessing E-Verify accounts; creating new cases; viewing or taking action on a case; adding, deleting or editing accounts; changing passwords; editing company information; terminating accounts; or running reports. Importantly, employees will not be able to correct any E-Verify Tentative Non-confirmations (TNCs) while the program is expired.  A TNC occurs when employee information does not match with DHS or SSA records. Nonetheless, employers are still required to complete the steps on their end to verify work […]
Continue Reading

New Bill Could Make E-3 Visas Available to Irish Nationals

Irish nationals interested in relocating and working in the United States might just be in luck. A bill providing Irish nationals with several thousand additional work visas annually is scheduled for a vote in the Senate. Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan holds ancestral and political ties to Ireland and is responsible for pushing this bill. The bill has already passed the House and according to a Republican aide, the bill has a good chance of passing the Senate.  This bill would provide Irish nationals with access to E-3 visas. Currently, E-3 visas are only available for Australian nationals who have a legitimate offer of employment in the U.S., possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials, and will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation. This visa category requires a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. If this bill passes, in addition to Australian nationals, Irish nationals would also be eligible to apply for an E-3 nonimmigrant visa. The E-3 category would still favor Australian petitions, but Irish nationals would be able to access any of the E-3 program’s 10,500 visas not used by Australians.  This bill would allow for reciprocity, meaning more Americans would be able to be […]
Continue Reading

U.S. Government Shutdown’s Impact on Immigration Services

With the government experiencing a shutdown due to the lapse in annual funding, many are concerned about the consequences in the realm of immigration. Fortunately, the majority of immigration matters are largely unaffected by the current situation. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices will remain open despite the shutdown. Individuals should attend scheduled appointments with USCIS. Additionally, USCIS will continue to accept most petitions and applications.  A large portion of immigration-related processes are already sufficiently funded or fee-based, which is why they are not affected for the time being. There are several USCIS operations that will be affected by the shutdown, as they are expired, suspended or have not been reauthorized. The following programs are based on appropriated funds, and are therefore nonoperational during the shutdown: EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program: While the actual EB-5 immigration category is itself not impacted by the shutdown, the related regional centers are. The EB-5 regional centers are public or private economic units in the U.S. that are involved with promoting economic growth in the country. USCIS designates regional centers for participation in the Immigrant Investor Program. Regardless of the shutdown, however, the EB-5 program will continue to operate.  E-Verify: E-Verify is […]
Continue Reading

New Canadian Law Will Make Travel to Canada with a Past DUI More Difficult

Following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, the Canadian government is cracking down on driving violations that occur while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. New legislation is scheduled to take effect on December 18, 2018 and will have a major impact on visitors to Canada.  Under current law, non-Canadians who have ever been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence may be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada and denied entry. This is regardless of whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony. While United States law differentiates the severity of certain offenses in determining criminality, Canadian law does not in this context. The consequences of the current law are harsh; however, after 10 years without any additional offenses, individuals are deemed rehabilitated. This means they are able to enter Canada with no additional paperwork, fees or waivers.  After December 18th, the consequences of driving while under the influence will be even more severe. Individuals will no longer be considered rehabilitated, even after a 10-year period with no new offenses. According to Correctional Service Canada, anyone who has already been deemed rehabilitated prior to the new legislation taking effect will not be affected and can continue to […]
Continue Reading

Proposed Changes to H-1B Rule Could Spell Major Changes to Lottery System

In an effort to make the H-1B visa program more effective and efficient, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new notice of proposed rulemaking. This proposed rule is also prompted by the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, which specifically suggested reforms to the H-1B program to ensure that these visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid beneficiaries.  This proposed rule would require H-1B cap-subject petitioners to electronically register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period. Additionally, this proposed rule would place more emphasis on merit-based aspects of a petitioner. USCIS would reverse the order by which it selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption. This move is projected to increase the number of beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education selected for an H-1B cap number, should this proposed rule take effect.  The current H-1B program allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialized occupations who posses a body of specialized knowledge and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree on a temporary basis. USCIS generally receives more petitions than required by congressional mandate. In order to reconcile […]
Continue Reading

USCIS Releases Update for Notice to Appear Policy

On November 8th, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a press release notifying the public that it is continuing to implement an earlier Policy Memorandum (PM) from June 28, 2018.  USCIS may issue Notices to Appear (NTAs) based on denials of Applications for T Nonimmigrant Status; Petitions for U Nonimmigrant Status; Petitions for Amerasian Widow(er), or Special Immigrant; Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions (when the beneficiary is present in the U.S.); Petitions for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant; and Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with regards to the underlying form types previously listed. It is important to note that applicants, beneficiaries or self-petitioners whose petitions are denied and do not have authorization to remain in the U.S. and fail to depart may be issued NTAs. USCIS plans to continue its efforts to send denial letters for these applications and petitions in a timely manner to ensure adequate notice regarding period of authorized stay, checking travel compliance, or validating departure from the U.S.  Originally, USCIS began implementing the PM for Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and Applications to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This was part of an effort to introduce these changes through an […]
Continue Reading