First Time Entry with An Immigrant Visa

Whether you are pursuing a marriage based green card, immigrating for your work, or being sponsored by a family member, obtaining a visa to enter the United States can be a time-consuming, stressful, and frustrating process. Every step of the way something more is required of the applicant. After most of the twists and turns are over, there is still the question of what the applicant should expect when first physically entering the United States. First and foremost, the applicant should keep in mind that a visa is not a guarantee of entry; it simply allows an individual to travel to a U.S. port of entry, such as an airport. If an individual’s visa application has been successful, however, the individual should have no trouble entering the country. It is important for the applicant to bring all the required documentation for entry, including an immigrant visa, passport, medical X-ray report, and the sealed envelope provided by the consulate after the visa immigrant interview. This documentation will need to be presented to immigration officials at the port of entry. The applicant will be taken to a special room or area where the visa in his or her passport will be inspected […]
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New Rulemaking Brings Significant Changes to EB-5 Program

A new rule from USCIS, published July 24th, implemented significant changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.  The changes will take effect November 21stof this year.  USCIS reports that the changes were necessary, as the EB-5 program has “drifted away from Congress’s intent” since its creation nearly 30 years ago. The goal of the EB-5 program was to bring foreign investments and economic growth to the United States.  It allows eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents if they invest at least the designated amount in a U.S. commercial enterprise, as well as create or preserve 10 permanent, full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. There have since been concerns that the program has allowed for gerrymandering and that the minimum required investment amounts has failed to account for inflation.  The goal of the new rule was to address these and other concerns.  The revisions include the following:   Raising the minimum investment amount from $1 million to $1.8 million.This is the first raise since its inception in 1990 and reflects the amount’s inflation from the past 29 years.  USCIS will also now recalculate the inflation of the initial $1 million every five years on Nov. 21st. Revising the standards for certain Targeted Employment Area (TEA) […]
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Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens

On May 23, 2019, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens. The Administration is obligated to enforce existing immigration laws and protect the American taxpayer. According to this memorandum, all federal agencies must update and issue guidance and regulations to comply with current law and to ensure that ineligible immigrants do not receive federal means-tested benefits. Most family-based and some employment-based immigrants must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support when they apply for status as a lawful permanent resident. The individual signing the affidavit of support, whether the sponsor or joint sponsor, agrees to accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant.  Over the next several months, federal agencies will develop and implement guidance related to the president memorandum to ensure that agencies enforce these requirements.  Specifically, USCIS is now required to remind a sponsor at the adjustment of status interview that the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract. The sponsor needs to understand and accept that by signing this contract he or she agrees to accept legal responsibility for financial support of the beneficiary. If the beneficiary collects any public benefits, the sponsor (or co-sponsor) will […]
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Client of the Month: Aaron Hakim

Aaron Hakim has been a client of Berardi Immigration Law since 2014. As a Canadian citizen, we have successfully procured TN status for Mr. Hakim on two occasions now. But earlier this year, Mr. Hakim approached our firm to secure a more permanent U.S. immigration benefit, a green card. As an expert in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Economics, and Medicine, Mr. Hakim has acquired extraordinary ability and has earned industry awards for his accomplishments in research and science. He has also had many of his articles published in various industry publications throughout the course of his career. This made him a clear fit for the EB-1A green card category. Additionally, Mr. Hakim is a graduate of Yale University where he received dual Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Economics and Molecular Biology and is currently working towards his Doctor of Medicine degree. While completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Mr. Hakim was working for a U.S. company specializing in public market investments in small capitalization biotechnology companies. Even given Mr. Hakim’s impressive credentials, the green card process can be very challenging, especially for extraordinary ability applicants. Despite the challenge of a more difficult adjudication environment, our experienced team was able […]
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Filing Prevailing Wage Requests in the New FLAG System

On June 4, 2019, the Department of Labor announced beginning June 10, 2019, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) is now accepting online submissions of the Form ETA-9141 in the new FLAG (Foreign Labor Application Gateway) System covering all visa programs. The old iCERT System went out of service on June 10, 2019 at 12:00 am. However, individuals who submitted an ETA-9141 through iCERT before June 10th are still able to access their iCERT System accounts to monitor the status of their applications. According to the DOL, the new FLAG system is cloud-based and will: provide personalized user accounts; be accessible via mobile devices; provide automated field population and digital document signature; provide automated case alerts; and allow for enhanced document upload capabilities. A series of instructional videos are now available to educate the stakeholder community on how to create and manage a FLAG System account and how to prepare the Form ETA-9141 to the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). If you are interested in obtaining a green card or learning about the PERM process, be sure to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
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USCIS Announces New Guidelines for Spousal Petitions Involving Minors

On April 12, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) added to its February update on spousal petitions involving minors. USCIS has now decided that I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor require more heightened scrutiny than has been applied in the past. The new guidance was released as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), and it directs officers to conduct an additional interview, early in the petition process, for I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. The purpose of interviewing spousal applicants earlier on during the I-130 process is to create an extra opportunity for USCIS to evaluate the petition and the claimed spousal relationship. This new interview requirement is an add-on to guidance published earlier in the year by USCIS, which detailed factors that officers should consider when evaluating I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. For instance, officers should consider whether the marriage is valid in the country in which it took place, and officers should also take note if the marriage violates the law or public policy of the state where the couple plans to reside. The circumstances under which USCIS will be conducting these new, in-person interviews are laid out clearly in the AFM. USCIS […]
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What is Direct Consulate Filing?

Direct Consulate Filing (DCF) is an expedited process through which a United States citizen living oversees can petition the government for an immigrant visa for his or her immediate relatives. DCF requires that, instead of sending an I-130 petition back to the United States, the citizen sends it to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which he or she is residing. It is important to note that this procedure is not offered at all consulates and embassies and to date, the government has not issued a list of available consulates that offer this service. The DCF requirements are modest. In order to file a Form I-130 Petition through DCF, the Petitioner must have U.S. Citizenship and have lived abroad for a minimum of six months. DCF may also be available in extenuating circumstances such as members of the military facing deployment, emergency situations, situations involving the health or safety of the petitioner, and when it is in the national interest of the U.S.  Ultimately, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handles the visa petition directly and decides the immigrant’s eligibility for a green card. This is the advantage of DCF: I-130 applications are handled directly by a U.S. […]
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