Berardi Services at the Peace Bridge

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) encourages first time TN and L1 applicants to go to one designated ports of entry where applicants will receive optimized processing.  There are fourteen total ports designated for optimized processing. This includes the Peace Bridge located here in Buffalo, New York. 

What are “TN” or “L-1” nonimmigrant classifications? 

The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional visas, also known as the TN visa, allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, to seek temporary entry into the United States to work in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers.  

The L-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a U.S. employer to transfer individuals employed in an executive or managerial position (L-1A), or specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B), from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. 

Admissions Process

If you are a Canadian citizen, you are not required to apply for a TN or L-1 visa at a U.S. consulate.  Rather, you may establish your eligibility at the time you seek admission to the U.S. by presenting required documentation to a CBP officer at certain designated ports of entry, such as the Peace Bridge.  

A prospective employer may choose to file on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is outside the U.S. by submitting Form I-129 to USCIS.  If USCIS approves Form I-129, the prospective worker may then apply to CBP for admissions to the U.S. as a TN/L-1 nonimmigrant.

TN/L-1 Visa Interview at the Peace Bridge 

In both cases, individuals must appear for an interview with a CBP officer at the Peace Bridge.  CBP officers will ask a series of question about general eligibility for admissions to the United States.  If the CBP officer is satisfied with the answers, the applicant will receive the visa andpermission to enter the United States. 

This interview is very important!  Berardi Immigration Law is located just minutes away from the U.S.-Canadian border in Buffalo, New York.  Our team regularly meets with clients immediately before their interview to review their application and prepare them for the interview.   For clients applying at an alternative point of entry, we will help you prepare over the phone in advance of your interview.  

Here at Berardi, we enjoy a high success rate for our TN and L-1 visa applicants. If you are interested in applying at the Peace Bridge, contact our office to set up a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Immigration and Extreme Weather: What to Know

Natural catastrophes, such as extreme weather, can affect the processing of your USCIS application, petition, immigration request, or USCIS appointment. USCIS has the discretion to take the following measures, upon request, if you have been affected by a natural catastrophe or other extreme situation:

Extensions & Changes of Status

You may apply for an extension or change of status due to a special situation, such as extreme weather, that prevented your planned and timely departure. USCIS has discretion to take into consideration how the special situation prevented your departure. If you do not apply for the extension or change of status before your authorized period of admission expires, USCIS may excuse the delay if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control. 

Fee Waiver

If you cannot pay the fee for a USCIS service or benefit due to circumstances directly related to extreme weather or a natural catastrophe, you may request a waiver of the fee for certain forms by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or submit a written request to USCIS.

Appointment or Failure to Respond to a Request for Evidence 

If you have not appeared for a scheduled interview or appointment or did not submit evidence or respond to a notice or request in a timely manner for reasons directly related to a special situation, such as a natural catastrophe or extreme weather circumstances, you may submit to USCIS how the disrupting event affected your ability to appear for the interview or submit documents as required. 

Expedited Processing 

If you need USCIS to consider your request for a service or benefit more quickly due to your circumstances, you may make that request when filing or after you file. 

Please contact our office if you have any questions about your immigration appointments or status to set up a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

U.S. Citizenship for Children Born Abroad: Things to Know

The United States in one of 30 countries around the world that offers birthright citizenship to any person born on U.S. soil. Birth in the United States is the most straightforward way one can acquire U.S. citizenship, but it is not the only way a person is born a U.S. citizen. 

In addition to birth in the U.S., Congress has enacted laws which allow persons born outside the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent(s) may acquire or derive U.S. citizenship at birth.  Requirements for derivative U.S. citizenship is governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”)—if the requirements are met, the child automatically derives citizenship upon his or her birth abroad. 

Determining Whether You are a U.S. Citizen 

There are several categories of derivative U.S. citizenship available to children born abroad, each with different requirements. 

Child Born in Wedlock 

  • Child of Two U.S. Citizen Parents;
  • Child of U.S. Citizen Parent and U.S. National; or
  • Child of U.S. Citizen Parent and Foreign National Parent.

Child Born Out of Wedlock

  1. Child of U.S. Citizen Father; or
  2. Child of U.S. Citizen Mother. 

Establishing Your U.S. Citizenship Claim 

U.S. parents of children born abroad should immediately notify the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country of birth to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (“CRBA”). If the consulate determines the child has satisfied the requirements of one of the above categories and acquired U.S. citizenship, the consular officer will prepare the CRBA. This option is generally available to children under the age of 18, so the sooner the application process begins, the better. The CRBA is recognized in the U.S. as proof of acquisition of U.S. citizenship and it is acceptable evidence of citizenship for obtaining a passport, entering school, and many other purposes. 

Passport

It is recommended that parents apply for the child’s U.S. passport (Form D-11) at the same time they apply for the CRBA, since the CRBA cannot be used for travel. By filing the applications at the same time, additional documentation will not be necessary. Both the CRBA and U.S. Passport are proof of citizenship. 

Social Security Card 

A Social Security Card is another document to prove identity. Parents must complete Form SS-5 and provide documentation verifying age, citizenship, and identity. U.S. passports and CRBAs are acceptable documentation to submit.  As the application is for a child, at least one U.S. parent must show identification as well. Anyone over the age of 12 must be present for an in-person interview to obtain a Social Security Number (“SSN”). This interview can take place within the U.S., or abroad at a U.S. Embassy or consulate. 

Here at Berardi, we regularly handle a variety of citizenship cases.  If you have questions about claiming citizenship – or becoming a U.S. citizen – please contact our office to set up consultation with one of our attorneys.

Fee Announced for H-1B Electronic Registration

USCIS announced yesterday the fee involved with the newly required electronic registration of H-1B cap petitioners. The fee is $10 for each electronic registration, and it is intended to recover the costs spent on the new H-1B registration system. The proposed fee for electronic registration is now in a public comment period and will be through October 4th.

The changes go in hand with a new rule published in January and effective in April of this year.  The rule requires all H-1B Cap petitioners to electronically register with USCIS during a specified registration period.  Those whose registrations are selected will then be eligible to file their H-1B cap petitions.  USCIS anticipates the changes will make the H-1B cap petition process more efficient, saving petitioners and the government time and money.

USCIS does have the capacity to suspend the registration requirement, which they plan to do for the 2020 cap season.  The suspension is in deference of public feedback and should allow for further testing of the new system, ensuring it is fully functional.

The new changes to the H-1B cap petition should benefit petitioners with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education, making it about 11% more likely that they be selected during the cap season.  USCIS did so as part of their compliance with President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which prompted reforms specifically to the H-1B visa system.  It dictates that the visas should be awarded to “the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”.

H-1B applicants are foreign nationals temporarily brought in to benefit U.S. companies with their theoretical and practical knowledge in a highly specialized area.  Eligible fields include science, engineering and information technology, teaching, and accounting.  USCIS requires every applicant to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Berardi Immigration Law specializes in solutions for foreign national professionals, including those eligible for H-1B visas. If you interested in working in the U.S., be sure to call our office and set up a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Back to School: Tips for International Students

As summer break comes to an end for many F-1 international students, it is important to keep in mind a few tips for a smooth entry into the U.S. for the upcoming school semester. 

What to Have Ready at the U.S. Port of Entry 

When you re-enter at a U.S. Port of Entry, you should carry the following documents:

  • Your valid passport;
  • Your signed Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” from your SEVP-certified school you are attending;  
  • Proof of financial support for the duration of your stay in the U.S.  This can be the same evidence used during your visa interview;
  • Proof of payment for the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee; and
  • Name and contact information of your designated school official (DSO). 

What to Bring into the U.S. 

It is also important to know what you can and cannot bring into the United States.  In addition to inspection at the U.S. Port of Entry, you must complete a CBP Declaration Form 6059B, which lets the CBP officer know what you packed. 

Please refer to the CBP Know Before You Go page for more information as you prepare for your arrival in the United States. If you are flying, please refer to Transportation Security Administration to see what on the airplane. 

How to Maintain Status 

While studying in the U.S., it is crucial to maintain your F-1 student status.  Maintaining your status means fulfilling the purpose of your visa issued by the Department of State and following the regulations associated with that purpose. While studying in the U.S., F-1 students must:

  • Attend and pass all classes;
  • Complete their academic program by the end date listed on the Form I-20 or request a program extension;
  • Take a full course of study each term; and
  • Refrain from dropping classes without first consulting their DSO. 

If you are having difficulty doing any of the above, you should contact your DSO immediately, before proceeding.

Here at Berardi Immigration Law, we want you to have a great start to your school year!  If you have questions about your student status or working in the U.S. after you graduate, be sure to contact our office.  We wish you the best of luck for your semester! 

E-2 Visa Eligible Treaty Countries

The E-2 treaty investor visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows investors from treaty countries to work in the U.S. through their investment in a U.S. enterprise. To qualify for an E-2 visa, the enterprise must be bona fide and the investment must be a significant percentage of the value of the enterprise. Also, the treaty investor must be seeking to enter the U.S. solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. However, these requirements are contingent on the fact that the treaty investor must be from a country that holds a treaty of trade and commerce with the U.S.  

To qualify for the E-2 visa, the treaty investor must be a nationalof a treaty country.  Therefore, if the potential treaty investor is a legal permanent resident, he/she cannot apply.  It is important to note, the treaty investor does not need to be currently living in his/her treaty country. 

Treaties of trade and commerce can be added or removed at any point.  You can check the Department of State website to view the most current list of treaty countries.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published its study of the Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) E-2 visa adjudication process.  DOS and USCIS annually adjudicated about 54,000 visa applications or petitions from fiscal years 2014 through 2018 for foreign nationals seeking E-2 nonimmigrant status. 

Japan tops the charts for E-2 visas adjudicated with 13,511 submissions.  Next come Germany with 3,802, closely followed by Canada with 3,777.  The other top E-2 visas countries are France (3,238), United Kingdom (2,844), South Korea (2,565), Italy (2,237), Mexico (1,851), Spain (1,448), and Turkey (893). 

Here at Berardi Immigration Law, we have prepared successful E visa applications for foreign nationals from a variety of different countries.  If you believe you may be eligible for an E visa, contact our office to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Preparing for Your Marriage-Based Green Card Interview

Obtaining lawful permanent resident status by marriage to a U.S. citizen is a multi-step process.  The first step of the marriage-based Green Card process involves the filing of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Resident, by the U.S. Citizen spouse with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).  This involves the preparation and submission of a comprehensive package to USCIS emphasizing the legitimacy of the marriage. 

Upon approval of the I-130 petition, the applicant and his/her U.S. spouse will be scheduled for an interview at a local USCIS office. While there is no guarantee of what will happen at your interview, if you and your spouse take the time to prepare for your interview, there are many issues you can avoid.

What to Prepare

You will need to provide documentation proving your spouse is a U.S. citizen, that you have are in the U.S. legally, and that the two of you have a legal, legitimate marriage.  Some evidence to bring would be documentation of co-mingling financial resources or joint ownership of property, birth certificates for any children you may have together, and pictures from your time together.

To avoid any inconsistency during the interview, we recommend going over some key topics with your spouse beforehand.  Your examiner will be trying to determine if you have a bona fide relationship or not, so s/he may ask questions about your relationship development, wedding, daily life, nighttime routines, home, cooking, family, technology, and celebrations, and other details they would expect spouses to know about each other.

The Day of the Interview

You should both dress in business casual clothing and arrive early for your interview.  There will be security and wait times can vary.  Look to arrive 30-60 minutes before the time listed on your interview notice.

If you are interested in pursuing a marriage-based Green Card, give us a call!  Here at Berardi, we regularly prepare immigrant petitions for couples.