New Zealand Nationals Now Eligible for E-1 & E-2 Treaty Trader & Investor Visas

Beginning June 10, 2019, eligible New Zealand companies and nationals are now able to apply for E-1 treaty trader and E-2 treaty investor temporary visa status. The U.S. Embassy in New Zealand announced the availability last week, following the enactment of the Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors (KIWI) Act, which was signed by President Trump on August 1, 2018. E-1/E-2 visa eligibility generally requires: A treaty between the U.S. and a foreign country or Congressional act; That majority ownership or control of the trading/investing company is held by treaty country nationals; and That each employee or principal of the company seeking E status is a treaty country national. Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) can join the E-1 or E-2 visa applicant in the United states for the duration of his/her stay. In this case, the dependent must apply for a derivative E-visa. To learn more about the E-1 and E-2 visa, please visit the E Visa Center page of our website. If you are interested in learning more about the E-1 or E-2 visa, be sure to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
Continue Reading

New Social Media Presence Question on DS-160 & DS-260 for U.S. Visa Applicants

If you are applying for your nonimmigrant or immigrant U.S. visa abroad, you will likely notice a new question on the DS-160 and DS-260 applications. This new question asks for the applicant’s username and handle for any social media or online presence within the last five years. It specifically requests the information for more than 20 social media outlets including: ASK.FM DOUBAN FACEBOOK FLICKR GOOGLE+ INSTAGRAM LINKEDIN MYSPACE PINTEREST QZONE (QQ) REDDIT SINA WEIBO TENCENT WEIBO TUMBLR TWITTER TWOO VINE VKONTAKTE (VK) YOUKU YOUTUBE It is mandatory that this question is answered – it cannot be skipped. The password for each account does not need to be given. The U.S. Department of State has noted that this information will be collected and used for “identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards.” If you have questions on obtaining a U.S. visa or the application process, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
Continue Reading

Foreign Affairs Manual Update Could Mean Major Implications for H-1B Adjudication

The Department of State (DOS) recently updated the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). This update is intended to provide additional guidance to U.S. consular officers in terms of what role they should play regarding confirming the validity of a petition being used to apply for a visa. The update encourages officers to take a more active role in verifying the information provided in a petition. Special emphasis appears to be placed on H-1B visas. The FAM is a crucial document that provides U.S. consular officers with official guidance. The FAM already contains instructions explaining that it is the responsibility of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate petitions, rather than consular officers. The manual explains that for I-129 based petitions, such as H-1Bs and L-1s, officers should not request additional evidence or send the approval back to USCIS for reconsideration unless relevant information is found during the visa interview process that was not available to USCIS. The FAM works under the assumption that a majority of approved H petitions are valid and that “disagreement with USCIS interpretation of the law or the facts … is not sufficient reason to ask USCIS to reconsider its approval of the petition.”  Despite […]
Continue Reading

New USCIS Policy Allows Adjudicators to Issue Denials Without RFE or NOID

On July 13, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a guidance document restoring an adjudicator’s ability to exercise discretion and deny applications, petitions or requests without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) should they include (1) insufficient initial evidence, or (2) evidence for which there is no legal basis for the benefit or request sought (statutory denial).  Insufficient Evidence Under the new policy, an adjudicator may deny an application for insufficient initial evidence if it (a) includes little or no supporting evidence, or (b) no official document is submitted, where the regulation, statute or form requires a submission. For example, an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), if required, was not submitted with an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485). Statutory Denial The new policy also restores an adjudicator’s ability to deny an application where (a) there is no legal basis for the benefit/request sought, or (b) a request for a benefit/relief is submitted under a terminated program. Note: This Statutory Denial does not affect the (Request for Evidence) RFE and (Notice of Intent to Deny) NOID policies that apply to any case under litigation or […]
Continue Reading

Visa Validity and Waivers

A consular officer may recommend a waiver for most grounds of inadmissibility under INA § 212(a). Some grounds of inadmissibility, however, cannot be waived, including INA §§ 212(a)(3)(A)(i)(I), 212(a)(3)(A)(ii), 212(a)(3)(A)(iii), 212(a)(3)(C), 212(a)(3)(E)(i) and 212(a)(3)(E)(ii). Regardless, waivers are only available to applicants that otherwise qualify for the visa classification being sought, and, even then, there is no guarantee that a waiver will be granted. The issuing process is up to the discretion of the consular officer submitting a waiver recommendation and the CBP Admissibility Review Office (ARO) in reviewing it. In considering whether to recommend a waiver, a consular officer will consider a variety of factors, such as: The recency and seriousness of the activity or condition causing inadmissibility;  The reasons for the proposed travel to the U.S.; The positive or negative effect, if any, of the planned travel on U.S. public interests; Whether the incident in question is isolated or there is a pattern of misconduct; and Evidence of reformation or rehabilitation.  Generally, with the exception of C1 and D visas, a consular officer will recommend a five-year waiver. If granted, that waiver will be valid for multiple entries, but it will only be valid for the validity of the […]
Continue Reading

Visa Applicants May Soon be Required to Turn Over Social Media Handles

The Trump administration has just announced plans to start requiring a majority of visa applicants to turn over five years of social media history when applying for entry into the U.S.; countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program would be exempt from this new requirement. The move follows the President’s emphasis on “extreme vetting” and would put the social media handles of nearly 15 million would-be immigrants under a microscope.  The decision, however, will not take effect immediately. The planned changes were published in the Federal Register on March 30 which started a 60-day clock for the public to comment on the move. The new vetting protocol would cover 20 social media platforms, and most of them are based in the United States such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, Myspace, Flickr, Google+ and LinkedIn. Several, however, are based and operated overseas, including Douban, QQ, Sina, Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Youku, VK, Twoo and Ask.fm. Keep in mind, this is not the first time the White House has attempted to collect social media information from travelers coming to the U.S. Following the San Bernardino terrorist attack in 2015, the Obama administration placed greater attention on immigrant’s social media use […]
Continue Reading

Visa Denial for “Public Charge”

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a foreign national can be found inadmissible to the United States for both a nonimmigrant and immigrant visa for a number of reasons, one reason being that you are likely to become a public charge. If a consular officer believes an applicant is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense,” the applicant can be denied entry to the U.S. In making that determination, an officer is required to take into account the totality of the foreign national’s circumstances at the time of the visa application, including age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, and education and skills. In addition, the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), which details Department of State regulations, was recently updated to include an additional factor — officers are now permitted to consider “past or current receipt of public assistance of any type.” On top of the enumerated factors, an adjudicating officer may also consider an affidavit of support, which is generally submitted on behalf of an applicant with his or her immigrant visa application. This […]
Continue Reading