The E-2 Improvement Act

By Peek & Toland on July 6, 2015

On April 9th, 2015, Florida Congressman David Jolly (R) introduced a bill “The E-2 Improvement Act” that could have a significant and beneficial impact on E-2 Treaty Investor Visa holders whose ultimate desire is to obtain permanent residence in the U.S if said bill is passed into law.

The purpose of the E-2 Visa Improvement Act of 2015 is to “permit certain E-2 nonimmigrant investors to adjust status to lawful permanent resident status.” Specifically, the Act would grant permanent residence to E-2 Treaty Investors who have resided in the U.S. for at least 10 years in E-2 status and whose business enterprise has created a minimum of two full-time jobs during such E-2 status. Their children (up until the age of 26) would be permitted to remain in the U.S. as dependents and could apply for employment authorization upon turning 18.

Please contact the business immigration legal team at Peek and Toland to schedule a consult.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services Reopen H-2B Cap for the Second Half of Fiscal Year 2015

By Peek & Toland on June 8, 2015

On June 5, 2015, USCIS reopened the congressionally mandated fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap and will accept Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting new H-2B workers with an employment start date between April 1 and September 30, 2015.

The H-2B visa program is a work visa intended to help companies who find themselves faced with work shortages due to a surge in the demand for their services or product, or a seasonal need that requires a larger workforce, and which in both circumstances the local workforce is unable or unwilling to meet the labor needs of the company.

Common employers who utilize the H-2B work visa are: Construction companies, landscaping companies, cleaning companies, manufacturing companies, painting companies, pool companies, resorts, hotels, seasonally located business (beaches and mountains), etc

Since there are only 66,000 visas allotted for the whole country for the entire fiscal year, and it takes several months to process the recruiting efforts and applications, employers are smart to plan well ahead of their expected needs.

Not all countries qualify for the H-2B visa.

Texas Prescription Drug Ring Busted

By Peek & Toland on April 6, 2015

A 27-year-old Austin man has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. KXAN reports that the man is one of a group of individuals, from Texas to Louisiana, who allegedly used homeless people to obtain prescription drugs. Federal prosecutors announced the arrest on Wednesday, indicating suspects from Dallas, Austin, Houston, and Baton Rouge conspired to sell the illicit pharmaceuticals. The plan was originally hatched in 2013 and ran until late 2014 before investigators caught up with the group. If convicted, the suspects could face over 20 years in a federal penitentiary.

Officials indicated that the group preyed upon homeless and low-income individuals. The individuals were paid a small fee to pose as patients at various clinics and hospitals throughout Texas. Once prescriptions were filled out and obtained by these “patients,” the group would then take the illegally obtained drugs and sell them at a premium to other buyers in the state. While certainly not the first time this type of strategy has been employed by drug dealers in Texas, it is significant in both size and scope. Read the rest »

“Sanctuary Cities” a Target Once More

By Peek & Toland on March 30, 2015

After years of relative silence, a contentious piece of legislation has resurfaced with renewed vigor at this week’s Senate border security subcommittee. The updated bill, penned four years ago by Sen. Charles Perry (R) of Lubbock, would allow police to question individuals they have stopped about their current immigration status.

Presently, there are a number of “sanctuary cities” throughout Texas that outlaw the practice; this bill would lift the ban.

Supporters of the bill suggest it would bolster public safety efforts while not forcing police into a compromising position. Objectors insist the practice will lead to increased racial profiling as well as damaging economic growth in the respective counties. Read the rest »

Over 60 DWI Arrests During SXSW

By Peek & Toland on March 24, 2015

Texas DWIThe Austin Police Department (APD) and SXSW officials were not taking any chances, following last year’s alcohol fueled tragedy that left four dead and many more injured.

From March 19th to the 22nd, APD officials implemented a No Refusal policy that netted over 61 DWI arrests throughout the city. The initiative gives police the ability to obtain a warrant for blood samples in those individuals who refuse a Breathalyzer test. While controversial, the procedure is still widely used by law enforcement throughout Texas and the country. KXAN reports that of those arrested in Austin PD’s latest dragnet, 19 submitted to breath tests, while the remaining 42 gave blood samples, 35 of which were obtained using a search warrant. Read the rest »

Who is Eligible for a U-Visa?

By Peek & Toland on March 16, 2015

As of 2000, foreign nationals who have suffered at the hands of criminal organizations and wish to immigrate to the United States have the option of applying for what is known as a U-Visa status. A U-Visa grants victims of domestic or criminal abuse, temporary residency and work status for up to four years. Additionally, visa holders may be able to apply for permanent residency once their U-Visa status expires.

However, U-Visas are not granted based on accusations or simply detailing criminal activity that the applicant may or may not have been a party to. As part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, those individuals wishing to immigrate under a U-Visa must provide authorities with proof, significant evidence, and serious investigative leads to back up their claims. These crimes could have been committed both on American soil – as is so often the case with sex trafficking – or abroad. Whatever the case, the goal is to remove innocent lives from the global cycle of violence, and bring down those who benefit from its existence. Read the rest »

Can I Petition For a Family Member’s Green Card?

By Peek & Toland on March 13, 2015

Green Card Attorney/>One of the surest ways to secure citizenship for your family living abroad is through a family-based adjustment of status. Essentially, it grants you, a permanent resident of the U.S., the ability to petition for qualified family members through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the petition is granted, the foreign national in question would not be required to return to their home country and file an immigration visa through the U.S. consulate there. The adjustment can happen on American soil, provided a Form I-130 has been accepted and a thorough interview has been conducted by the USCIS.

In regards to who may petition, it depends on your status in this country and whether or not you can establish proof of your relationship with the individual in question. If you are a U.S. citizen you may petition for one or more of the following individuals: Read the rest »

Fiancé Visas and Permanent Resident Status

By Peek & Toland on March 11, 2015

Even if you have never had any direct interaction with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you probably know one of the quickest ways to become a United States citizen is through marriage. We’ve all seen it before on television, in the movies or somewhere similar – a foreign national meets a U.S. citizen, they fall in love, marry, and move back to the States and live happily (or maybe not so happily) ever after. The end.

Of course, in reality the process can be considerably less romantic, with piles of legal paperwork and authorizations to deal with. Foreign nationals who marry in such a fashion must apply for their green card after the ceremony and have their permanent status granted by the USCIS after they receive the application. Depending on their particular situation and background, this could take some time. In practice and in theory, however, the process remains one the quickest paths to U.S. citizenship. Read the rest »

Austin Woman Sues Police over DWI Blood Draw

By Peek & Toland on February 9, 2015

Austin DWI AttorneyAn Austin woman has sued the city and Travis County, claiming they violated her civil rights while administering a blood draw, according to a report by Statesman.

The lawsuit states that on February of 2013, the woman, who was 24-years-old at the time, refused to take a breath test after she was pulled over for allegedly running two red lights. The affidavit for her arrest states that she exhibited signs of alcohol consumption and failed a field sobriety test.

In response to the woman’s refusal of the breath test, police escorted her to a small padded room where they restrained her in a chair. After receiving a warrant, they had a nurse attempt to draw her blood. However, she would not remain still, so the jail staff used pressure points in the jaw area to control her. Read the rest »

Woman Allegedly Hits Bicyclist with Her Car while Intoxicated

By Peek & Toland on February 2, 2015

According to a report by Keye-TV, on the morning of January 24, a 30-year-old woman allegedly hit a bicyclist with her vehicle at the intersection of North Lamar Boulevard and Koenig Lane in Central Austin. Police believe she was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

After the accident, the woman spoke to police, stating that she did not see the cyclist until it was too late. Officers allege that the woman was emitting an odor of alcohol. They asked her where she had been prior to the accident. She responded that she was at her brother’s house where she consumed three and a half beers. While conducting a search of the woman’s vehicle, officers allegedly found an unopened six-pack of beer and an empty bottle of wine. Read the rest »