May was a very busy month for Berardi Immigration Law. We met a total of 23 clients at the Peace Bridge to present TN and L-1 petitions to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We also had several complex cases regarding admissibility issues. Below is a recap of two interesting matters we advised upon this month.
• Immigration is NOT a DIY project and family unification can be at stake!
One of our clients was a Danish woman and Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the U.S. Her son, a 15-year old Danish citizen, had entered the U.S. last year on ESTA. He lived with his mother and U.S. citizen stepfather in New York. Unbeknownst to the family, he overstayed his ESTA admission period and remained in the U.S. to enroll in and attend public school for a year. A year after his ESTA entry, he and his mother departed the U.S. to visit his family in Denmark. Upon reentry, the son was denied admission to the U.S. on the basis of his ESTA violation and failure to obtain an F-1 visa. He returned to Denmark, and his mother stayed in the U.S. to file an application for Humanitarian Parole with USCIS.
Regrettably, the application was filed without the help of U.S. immigration counsel and was denied. Shortly after receiving the Notice of Denial, the family retained the services of Berardi Immigration Law. We filed a standalone Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) on behalf of the boy and his U.S. citizen stepfather. Afterwards, we submitted a request to CBP at the Peace Bridge requesting that they admit the boy into the U.S. on the basis of Humanitarian Parole while the petition was pending – by that point, the minor had been separated from his mother for more than eight months! CBP approved our request. The boy’s mother met him in Toronto, and they drove down to meet Rosanna Berardi at the Peace Bridge. He was admitted to the U.S. and is now able to live with his family while the I-130 application is pending.
• Under the right circumstances, it may be beneficial for Canadians in F-1 status to utilize the NAFTA treaty to work in the U.S. in TN status, preserving OPT work authorization for later use.
Our client is an accomplished student who is currently enrolled in F-1 status as a Ph.D. medical student at an ivy league school. He currently has two Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in Economics and in Molecular Biology. In the past, he held TN status for an advisory and capitalization company focusing on the biomedical industry. He was offered a summer position as an Economic Analyst with this company and contacted our firm to inquire about the possibility of switching from F-1 to TN status for a few months. We confirmed that this is indeed possible, and we facilitated the application process at the Peace Bridge for a TN approval on the spot. We advised our client that prior to resuming his studies at school in the fall, he will need to ensure that his school updates their SEVIS record. He will need to obtain a new I-20 Form, and he will exit/re-enter the U.S. to “reactivate” his F-1 status.
The strategy behind obtaining TN status for our client over securing employment authorization under Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) was two-fold. First, an OPT request takes approximately 90 days to process; upon obtaining the job offer from his employer, our client wanted the ability to immediately begin work; TN status gave him this ability. Secondly, an F-1 student is limited to a total of 12 months of full-time OPT, plus an additional 17 months for students in STEM fields. The Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) an F-1 student receives through OPT allows them to work for any U.S. employer in any position, provided the work is directly related to the student’s major area of study. By obtaining TN status instead, our client was able to preserve his OPT time for a future job offer that may not fall appropriately under the NAFTA treaty, thus giving him additional flexibility for prospective employment opportunities in the U.S. (For more information about recent changes to the OPT program, click here: http://www.berardiimmigrationlaw.com/uncategorized/changes-to-opt-period/.
As you could imagine, no two immigration applications are ever exactly alike. Without the assistance of a knowledgeable immigration attorney, the nuances in each case could prove disastrous when preparing and/or submitting a petition. Thus, it is best to seek guidance from an attorney who can properly screen, prepare, and present your case. If you have immigration-related issues or questions, please schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys today and cross the border with confidence!