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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USCIS Announces Expansion of Digital FOIA System

FOIA permits any person to request access to federal agency records. FOIA requires federal agencies to disclose any information requested unless it falls under one of nine exemptions. Beginning June 25, 2019, USCIS began accepting FOIA requests online through (FOIA) Immigration Records System (FIRST) in order to improve the process, reduce errors and save time.  FIRST allows requesters to submit and track FOIA status, receive email notifications, and receive documents digitally. In order to submit a FOIA request online, the requester must have a USCIS online account. FIRST is a part of USCIS’s attempt to transfer the nation’s immigration system away from paper-based services to digital transactions. Before, FOIA requests were submitted via mail, fax or email and the response was provided on a disc. Now, FIRST offers a fully electronic service: online submission and online receipt of requested records. This should help to reduce costs and save time. If you are interested in immigrating to the United States, be sure to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
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Fun Facts & Information on Naturalization

Here at Berardi Immigration Law, we are proud to help our clients make their American dreams a reality! What better way to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday than to take a look at some interesting facts on naturalization. Naturalization is the process through which a green card holder in the United States can become a U.S. citizen.  Fun facts on naturalization: During the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed more than 7.4 million naturalized citizens.  In fiscal year 2018, over 757,000 people were naturalized. Since 2009, USCIS welcomed approximately 620,000 to 780,000 citizens each year during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world. In fiscal year 2018, 73 percent of all naturalized citizens resided in 10 states (in descending order): California, Florida, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In fiscal year 2018, the leading metropolitan areas of residence for naturalization applicants were New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (15 percent), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (7.8 percent), and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (7.3 percent). In fiscal year 2018, the top countries of origin for naturalization were in the following descending order:  Mexico, India, Philippines, Cuba, and People’s Republic of […]
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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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