Featured Clients of the Month: Ted & Austhin

Congratulations to our clients, Ted and Austhin, who recently completed the marriage-based green card process and were successfully approved! Ted is a U.S. citizen and Austhin is a citizen of Indonesia. Austhin recently received her ten-year green card with the help of our firm after filing an approved Form I-130 and attending an immigrant visa interview in Jakarta, Indonesia with the U.S. Embassy.  Ted met his wife, Austhin, in Jakarta where he was volunteering as an English instructor in 2012. Austhin was a teacher at the local school. The two immediately hit it off and began dating. However, Ted had to return to the U.S. in August of 2012 in order to continue pursuing his graduate degree. In the meantime, Ted and Austhin had a long-distance relationship and continued to keep in touch.  Upon completion of his degree in the U.S., Ted moved to Indonesia to be with Austhin. The couple enjoyed their life together in Indonesia until Austhin was granted a scholarship at Northern Arizona University. Austhin went to study in Arizona while Ted accepted a job in Cincinnati, but the couple continued their long-distance relationship in the meantime. In 2017, Ted and Austhin decided they could not be […]
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Understanding OPT Cap-Gap

The H-1B visa allows employers to temporarily employ a foreign national, who possesses at least a bachelor’s degree, in a specialty occupation. The H-1B employment period generally begins on October 1, the start of the federal government’s fiscal year.  There are special rules that act to automatically extend the US employment eligibility of qualified F-1 foreign student visa holders beyond the period initially authorized. The rule that relates to F-1 visa holders seeking to change to H-1B work visa status is referred to as “cap-gap.” This is because it is intended to fill the gap between the date the optional practical training (OPT) period would otherwise expire and the date that the new H-1B employment authorization starts. The 60-day grace period may not be enough to cover the “cap-gap” period until H-1B status begins. However, USCIS offers an OPT cap-gap extension if three conditions are met: An employer timely files a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS requesting a change of the student’s status to H-1B. (Exception: Petitions requesting consular processing which do not qualify);  The H-1B petition asks for an October 1 start date; and  The student’s status, including any applicable grace period, ends between April and September 30. Situations […]
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Not Selected in the H-1B Lottery? Explore Your Other Global Options

With H-1B cap season winding down, employers will soon begin to receive returned petitions that were not selected in the lottery. Employees who have other valid status, such as F-1 OPT or L-1, can remain in the United States and keep working so that their employer may try again for the lottery next year. However, for other employees whose only option was the H-1B lottery, their employers may need to make other plans. One of the following global options may be a good fit:  Return home & work remotely: The employee could return to their home country and work from home remotely. This may have labor law, digital security, and tax implications for U.S. employers, but an employee who is living in their country of citizenship can work for any employer, anywhere in the world.  While using the employee’s services remotely might be not be ideal, it can be a good temporary solution while trying to figure out other ways of bringing this employee to join the company in the U.S.  Work in other countries: The employee may be eligible to work in other countries such as Canada, the UK or Mexico. A US company with a Canadian branch can use Intra-Company […]
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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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USCIS Announces Strategy to Decrease Processing Times for Naturalization and Adjustment of Status Applications

On June 17, 2019, USCIS announced that it will be implementing a national strategy to decrease differences in processing times based on location for both naturalization applications and adjustment of status applications. Since 2015, USCIS has experienced an increase in processing times due to higher than expected volumes received during fiscal years 2016 and 2017 that did not decrease as originally expected. Fiscal year 2017 receipts were up 15.6% from fiscal year 2016, and fiscal year 2016 receipts were up 25.5% from fiscal year 2015. The increased filing volumes did not affect field offices equally, which resulted in some disparity among processing times. USCIS will now begin to shift caseloads between field offices to decrease processing times. As a result, applicants may be scheduled to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. This change will not affect where applicants attend their biometrics appointments. If you are interested in learning more about adjustment of status or naturalization, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
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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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