Latest News

Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans

By Peek & Toland on March 19, 2021

The Biden administration announced Temporary Protective Status (“TPS”) to anyone from Venezuela who is physically residing in the United States since March 8. So, what does that mean? It means that nationals from Venezuela who have been here in the last week or so are eligible for protected status.

 What is protected status?

To best explain what protected status is, we should first start with what it is not. Temporary protected status is not a green card, residential status, or citizenship. This temporary order protects undocumented persons under the provision from being deported for a limited time, and steps to citizenship or extended visas are viable options during this time of protection.

 Why do we have this?

It’s a pretty universally accepted truth that the U.S. offers more opportunity and provisions than some other countries, particularly those affected by natural disasters, famine, political unrest, war, and a host of other issues that negatively affect the standard of living and safety of the people living there. The Maduro administration and remnants of the Chavez administration have a lingering and detrimental effect on Venezuela’s people, including extreme poverty and lack of basic necessities.

We could go on endlessly about the events that lead to the state Venezuela is in, but the fact that Venezuelan nationals in the U.S. are now eligible for protected status is what is really of great importance here.

 How does this change things for Venezuelans in the U.S?

Prior to the announcement of this protected status, undocumented Venezuelan nationals in the U.S. were unable to seek work permits and provide for their families, not to mention the added and unrelenting stress and fear of deportation. This temporary order of protection is extended through September 22, 2022, and gives the Venezuelan community here plenty of time to seek appropriate job permits and take their first step on their pathway to citizenship.

This is tremendous and exciting news for the Venezuelan community, and it’s news worth sharing. If you or anyone you know is eligible for this temporary protected status, please reach out to us at Peek & Toland. We’d be happy to look into your legal standing here and advise you on the best practice moving forward.

Continue to follow us on social media and check back on our blogs for up-to-date immigration news that affects you, and let us know if there’s anything at all that our experienced immigration attorneys can do to help you secure your future in the U.S.

Posted in Immigration, Latest News

Immigration Law Updates

By Peek & Toland on September 3, 2020

Today attorney Jeff Peek informs us of the latest immigration law updates concerning the USCIS, immigration forms, and the continuation of travel bans.

1. There will not be a furlough of USCIS employees.

This is excellent news because 75% of USCIS employees that they had mentioned could be furloughed will continue to work in their jobs. That’s great for not only those people and their families, but it’s good for everybody in an immigration process. There will not be a delay in the application process time.

2. New Version of Form 1-765

To apply for a work authorization card, you have to fill out Form I-765. There is now a new version of the Form I-765. The latest version of the form went into effect on August 25. If you file with an old version, immigration can reject that new application because you’re not using the form’s correct version.

3. United States, Mexico, and Canada reissued an extension to the travel ban for all non-essential travel between those countries until September 21.

What does that mean? Goodbye to tourism. If you had a trip planned to Cancún, or you wanted to go up to Toronto, or if you wanted to come to Disney world from one of those outside countries, you cannot do so that on a tourist visa up until September 21. However, that does not include essential travel.

Posted in Immigration, Latest News

Student Visas F-1/M-1 and DACA Immigration News Update

By Peek & Toland on July 16, 2020

Attorney Jeff Peek shares the latest news concerning immigration law that may affect you or someone you know. 

F-1/M-1 Student Visa Update 

Last week, the Trump Administration announced some changes to the F-1/M-1 student visas. The announcement indicated that if there was a full-time online program, you would be out of status as an F-1/M-1 visa holder and would have to leave the country immediately.

The great news is that the Trump Administration just announced that they’re going to rescind the previously issued order and that they will not implement that rule. Therefore, you can take a deep breath if you’re an F-1 or M-1 student visa holder. You will still maintain good status with your F-1/M-1 visa even if all classes are online. 

DACA Update 

The second piece of information is pretty interesting and exciting. In a recent speech, President Trump announced that he wants to extend the DACA program and provide a pathway to citizenship. Now it remains to be seen if he has the authority to do so. Trump hasn’t made it completely clear yet what it’s going to be, but he said that soon he would make a big announcement. 

Until then, we would advise anybody who is either renewing DACA or is eligible for DACA to continue to renew your DACA. If you are eligible, but never filed, definitely get your application ready to go and get ready to file. If you’re somebody who may have had a criminal record in the past but got the case dismissed, now it might be a great time to apply. If you live in Texas, you can get criminal cases expunged, so that it will not appear on your record. We certainly can help you with any of those questions. Watch our latest immigration videos for more information about expunctions: 

Stay tuned as we will keep you informed on any immigration law updates. In a matter of time, we will hear new news from president Trump. 

We are here to help you in any way that you can, so if you have any questions, please call us at 512-474-4445 or you can find more information on our website at www.peekandtoland.com.

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Posted in Immigration, Latest News, Visas

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USCIS Implements Electronic Registration System for H-1B Visas

By Peek & Toland on December 12, 2019

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it would debut its electronic registration system in time for the next H-1B lottery. After completing a successful pilot testing phase, USCIS will require all employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject visa petitions for the fiscal year 2021 to first register electronically and pay a $10 registration fee. According to USCIS, the move will streamline the process substantially in cutting down on the flow of paperwork and data between USCIS and the employers. USCIS also lauds the move as a step toward modernizing and transforming USCIS from a paper-based process to an online filing system.

Traditionally, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap filed their full petitions and accompanying documents with USCIS to participate in the lottery process. In contrast, the electronic registration system will require employers only to submit basic information about their business and each requested worker. USCIS then will use these electronic registrations to conduct the lottery process. Only the employers with registrations chosen in the lottery will qualify to submit H-1B cap-subject visa petitions to USCIS. Therefore, employers not selected in the lottery no longer will have to go through the time-consuming and costly process of preparing and mailing a full petition to USCIS.

Applying for an Immigration visa.

The initial registration period for the 2021 H-1B cap selection process will occur from March 1 to March 20, 2020. As it grows closer to the open registration period, USCIS will post additional instructions, dates, and timelines for participants. USCIS also may extend or reopen the registration period if it does not initially receive the number of registrations needed to reach the allowable number of visa petitions. Whether an employer registers during the initial registration period, a subsequent period, or a period before another H-1B lottery in the future, the employer will have to pay the required $10 fee.

The Peek & Toland immigration lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your individual or business immigration matter. We will be taking appointments to discuss your options and how to reserve your place on our client list in the coming weeks. If you are interested in the H-1B process, it’s important to make a reservation early with an immigration attorney so you have counsel should you receive a lottery slot. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration case.

Posted in Citizenship, Immigration, Latest News

Would your business survive an Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) audit?

By Peek & Toland on January 10, 2018

Would your business survive an Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) audit?Some convenient stores and other business owners are about to find out. Today, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) descended on 7-11 stores nationwide to perform immigration audits and interviews with employees and store managers.

“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” stated Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director in a statement to CNN.

Is your business prepared for an ICE audit?

Businesses cannot avoid an immigration audit, but they can take steps to ensure they are prepared for one. Our team of experienced immigration attorneys can walk your business through the entire process of preparation to ensure you are ready should ICE seek an audit of your business. Should your business be selected for ICE audit, Peek & Toland will help your business navigate what to do and how best to work with ICE to ensure your business can continue to operate during the audit.

Is your business in I-9 Compliance?

As part of I-9 compliance, it is illegal to knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers. A failure to comply with I-9 compliance may result in fines, forfeiture of company assets, and potential imprisonment. Those businesses that fail to comply may be criminally prosecuted or fined anywhere from $375 to $16,000 per violation. A penalty for failing to provide a Form I-9 can range from $110-$1,100 per violation. Can your business afford these penalties?

I-9 requires that employers complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (Form I-9) to verify the employees’ identity and eligibility to work legally in the U.S. This form must be completed with 3 business days of the employee’s first day in the position and employers are required to maintain this form for all current employees. Employers are also required to maintain former employee’s documents for at least 3 years for the day of hire or 1 year after the employee is no longer employed.

What is E-Verify?

To confirm the information on the employee’s documentation is correct, many employers use an online tool called E-Verify. Although E-Verify is currently voluntary for most employers, those businesses who maintain federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are required to participate in E-Verify. It is anticipated that all U.S. employers will be required to use E-Verify in the near future.

What should business owners do?

The simple answer is to hire an experienced immigration attorney. If your business is worried about risk and a potential immigration audit, then hiring an experienced immigration firm like Peek and Toland to help prepare your business for a potential immigration audit is essential.

Should your business be selected for an immigration audit, it is paramount to hire an immigration attorney to advise your business right away.Our experienced immigration attorneys are well-versed in all areas of I-9 compliance and ICE audits.

Our legal services include:

  • Risk Assessment and Risk Avoidance
  • Internal and Third Party I-9 Audits
  • Reviewing and Correcting Mistakes on Existing I-9 Forms
  • Government Investigations
  • Internal Audits of Existing I-9 Forms
  • Obtaining and Maintaining I-9 Forms

To learn more about Peek and Toland can help your business or company with ICE audits, I-9 compliance, or E-verify, please call us at 512-474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Latest News, White Collar Crimes

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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.

Posted in Latest News

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.

Posted in Latest News

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