New Executive Order Suspends Entry of Certain Persons Connected with Certain Industries in Iran

The President has issued an executive order imposing sanctions against certain persons connected with the construction, mining, manufacturing, or textiles industries in Iran. This executive order includes the suspension of the immigrant or nonimmigrant entry of such persons into the United States. The entry of Iranian immigrants and nonimmigrants in these fields is hereby suspended, except when the Secretary of State determines that the person’s entry would not be contrary to the interests of the United States. This includes when the Secretary determines, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General, that the person’s entry would further United States law enforcement objectives.  In furtherance of the government’s foreign policy objectives towards Iran, the United States is seeking to deny Iranian government revenues, including revenues derived from the export of products from key sectors of Iran’s economy that may be used to fund and support its nuclear program, missile development, terrorism and terrorist proxy networks, and malign regional influence. In his executive order, the President stated that this new policy is based on a finding that Iran continues to be “the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism” and Iran “has threatened United States military assets and civilians through the use of military […]
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CBP Begins Pilot Program to Collect DNA from Some Migrants

On January 6, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiated a pilot program to assess the operational impact of proposed regulatory changes that would require the collection of DNA samples from certain individuals in CBP custody.  This “limited, small-scale pilot program” will last 90-days in only two locations: the U.S. Border Patrol in the Detroit Sector and the Office of Field Operations at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry in Southwestern Texas.   In late October 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to amend regulations to mandate DNA collection for almost anyone detained, even temporarily, while crossing at official entry points.  This proposed amendment would significantly expand CBP officials’ power to collect DNA samples, which was previously only permitted for migrants prosecuted in federal court for criminal offenses.  Additionally, this proposed amendment would remove a provision that authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to exempt certain aliens from whom the collection of DNA samples was previously not feasible due to operational exigencies or resource limitations.  Further, it restores the Attorney General’s absolute legal authority to authorize and direct all relevant federal agencies to collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested, facing charges, or convicted, and from non-U.S. persons who are detained under […]
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Iranian Nationals Undergoing Increased Scrutiny at Ports of Entry

Iranian nationals are increasingly hesitant to travel after dozens of Iranian citizens were held by U.S. immigration agents at the Canadian border in Washington state this past weekend.  On Saturday, January 4, 2020, dozens of Iranians and Iranian-Americans were held for hours in secondary screening at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington.  It is estimated upwards of 60 travelers, many returning home to the United State from work trips or vacations, were held for additional questioning about their political views and allegiances.  Most of the detained travelers were released following the extra scrutiny, however some were denied entry into the United States.  Many of the detained travelers, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said that after checking their documents, border officials would bring them inside the port to a room filled with other Iranians and Iranian-Americans.  Many also faced similar questions regarding their background, citizenship, military experience, travel history to Iran, and details about their parents and siblings, including dates of birth and employment.  Matt Leas, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), disputed the accounts from advocacy groups that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a directive to detain those with Iranian heritage entering the […]
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New H-1B Lottery Registration Tool: What You Need to Know

Background  On January 31, 2019, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a final rule making significant changes to the H-1B visa lottery process.  This rule added an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to submit H-1B cap-subject petitions and reversed the order by which USCIS selects petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemptions.  In September 2019, USCIS published a proposed rule that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to pay a $10 fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS for the H-1B selection process.  The registration fee is part of an agency-wide effort to modernize and more efficiently process applications to live or work in the United States.  What is it? On December 6, 2019, USCIS announced it has completed a successful pilot testing phase and is implementing the electronic registration process in the upcoming H-1B lottery.  Employers seeking to file FY2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay an associated $10 fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS.   When will it start? Under this new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration […]
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Tax Relief for Accidental Americans

Who is an “Accidental American”?  There are on occasion individuals born inside the United States to non-U.S. parents or individuals born outside the United States to U.S. citizen parents, are often unaware of their status as U.S. citizens for years.   These individuals are commonly referred to as “Accidental Americans.”  While this can initially feel quite exiting for these individuals to discover they are U.S. citizens, the excitement soon fades as they discover they have been U.S. tax residents since birth.  U.S. citizens, wherever in the world they reside, are subject to U.S. individual income tax on all sources of income, regardless of where this income is sourced (within or outside the U.S.), as U.S. tax residents.  At this point, the value of U.S. citizenship may drop for Accidental Americans, as they must come into compliance with U.S. tax law.  New Option: Relief Procedures  On September 6, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced procedures to provide a measure of tax relief for certain Accidental Americans.  While the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures could be utilized to bring Accidental Americans into compliances with (a) the requirements to file U.S. income tax returns and FBARs, and (b) the Exit Tax Regime, many Accidental Americans had strong motivations to […]
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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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