Visas

What Should I Do if My Visa is Denied?

By Peek & Toland on March 28, 2019

With increasing security measures and other policy changes put into place by the Trump administration, individuals seeking all types of visas are seeing more and more denials of their applications. For example, when applications were deficient or missing information in the past, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) simply sent applicants a notice of the deficiency and gave them an opportunity to remedy it. Now, a Trump administration-era policy change permits USCIS officers to simply deny these applications with no prior notice. For these individuals who receive visa denials, their only recourse may be to start over and reapply. This obviously can add months or years to the application process, as well as thousands of dollars in additional fees.

Although reapplication may be the only way to seek a visa, repeatedly reapplying for a six-month visitors’ visa may be a bad idea. Rather, taking time between applications to figure out what caused the denial in the first place may be more productive then simply reapplying immediately using the same information that already has resulted in a denial. For example, if you received a denial because you had insufficient proof of your ties to your current country of residence, then you should take the time to develop this evidence prior to reapplying for a visa.

 

What Should I Do if My Visa is Denied?

Similarly, if you are denied a student visa by the consulate, you should ask specifically what resulted in the denial of your visa application. If you can correct the problem, then you can reapply for a student visa, perhaps successfully.

In the case of a denial to change your status from one visa to another, you must act quickly by consulting a lawyer and applying for reconsideration. If you fail to do so, you risk being placed in deportation proceedings if your original visa has run out. Unless you have some other legitimate basis for being in the U.S., you will be asked to voluntarily depart by a certain date or face deportation.

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal representation of countless individuals facing various immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys today.

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Average Delay for Immigrant Visas Has Increased 46% Since 2014

By Peek & Toland on March 27, 2019

A recent article published by Houston Public Media details the findings of a new study by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). In that study, statistics show that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times have increased by 46% since Trump took office, although the number of petitions received by USCIS in fiscal year 2018 decreased.

 Overall, processing times have nearly doubled since 2014, which is an increase of 91%. The delays are affecting families, businesses, and the most vulnerable populations, including women fleeing violence. AILA characterizes the current status of the delays as crisis-level. Individuals waiting on the processing of their applications are often unable to work, reunite with their families, or get out of refugee camps.

The USCIS backlog, as of the end of fiscal year 2017, had reached more than 2.3 million. This figure demonstrates a 100% increase in a year’s time, although the receipt of petitions during that same year increased only 4%. Immigration advocates are characterizing the massive delays and backlogs as an “invisible wall” that is preventing legal immigration processes from operating in an efficient and timely manner.

 

Average Delay for Immigrant Visas Has Increased 46% Since 2014

Although the AILA report attributes much of the delays to new policies enacted by the Trump administration that make immigration processes more difficult, delays also increased to some degree during the last two years of the Obama administration. Nonetheless, new security protocols have mired USCIS processing of most types of petitions down substantially. For instance, every employment-based green card applicant now must undergo a personal interview, which takes substantially more time than processing applications without personal interviews.

These processing delays have a significant impact on cities with high rates of immigrant residents, such as Houston. The city of Houston has 1.66 million foreign-born residents. About 531,000 of these residents hold green cards, and another 83,000 are legally present in the U.S. pursuant to temporary visas. Another 30% of this population is undocumented, a figure which includes those currently protected by DACA and TPS programs.

At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you obtain through your immigration problems. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout the immigration process. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering documentation to support your goals. Allow us to handle your immigration law case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

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Can I Get a Visa to Come to the U.S. if I Am Self-Employed?

By Peek & Toland on March 23, 2019

The H-1B visa is for foreign nationals with bachelor’s degrees, or the foreign equivalent, to come to the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation. Normally, a U.S. company must sponsor the foreign national through the H-1B visa program. Now, however, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts H-1B visa petitions filed by U.S. companies that the prospective visa beneficiary owns. This is widely referred to as the H-1B visa for entrepreneurs.

Can I Get a Visa to Come to the U.S. if I Am Self-Employed?

This visa allows skilled professionals with the necessary academic qualifications to come to the U.S. to set up their own businesses. In order to qualify as a specialty occupation, the employment must be one of the following:

·         The work is so complex or unique that only an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree or higher can complete it,

·         The minimum requirement for the job is a degree or its equivalent, or

·         The work is specific that the knowledge required to perform it is that usually associated with those who hold bachelor’s degrees.

Since the company must have the ability to pay the visa holder’s salary, investments of less than $150,000 rarely qualify for this type of visa. Additionally, the individual must be able to establish an employer-employee relationship. For a company that you own, you cannot be self-employed in the traditional sense and obtain an H-1B visa. Rather, there must be someone other than yourself who exercises control over your work, such as investors, a board of directors, or shareholders. The required level of control must include the right to hire, fire, and review the employee’s work. This is the only situation in which a self-employed individual can obtain an H-1B entrepreneur visa.

Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration law matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

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What is the Difference Between L-1 and L-2 Visas?

By Peek & Toland on March 22, 2019

Employers must petition on behalf of individuals seeking to enter the U.S. on L-1 visas. This type of visa allows foreign employees of international companies to relocate to the U.S. and work in the companies’ U.S. offices. These employees typically are executives or managers or have specialized skills that the companies utilize. The employees generally must have worked for the company for at least one year in their countries of residence before seeking to work for the company in the U.S.

An L-1 visa is a dual-intent visa, which means that its holders can apply for resident status in the U.S. without jeopardizing their current L-1 visas in any way.

An L-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that is available for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of L-1 visa holders. This visa allows the immediate family members of those immigrants with L-1 visas to accompany them to and remain in the U.S. during the term of the L-1 visa.

 

What is the Difference Between L-1 and L-2 Visas?

L-2 visas remain in effect based on the status of the L-1 visa holder. For L-1A visa holders, the L-2 visa duration for dependents is a maximum seven years, and the duration for L-2 visa dependents of L-1B visa holders is a maximum five years. If the status of the L-1 visa holder changes, then the status of the L-2 visa holder changes, as well.

Under an L-2 visa, spouses and children of L-1 visa holders may live and attend school in the U.S. Spouses present in the U.S. on L-2 visas can work full-time or part-time after they obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If they choose, they also can apply for nonimmigrant status under various types of visas, as well as apply for green cards.

The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any type of relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your case. It is our intention to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

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Removing the Conditions on an EB-5 Visa

By Peek & Toland on February 26, 2019

An investor with an EB-5 visa is admitted to the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident. This visa lasts two years. If investors wish to remain in the U.S. at that point, they will need to file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to remove the conditions from their permanent resident status.

Within 90 days of the second anniversary of the date that they were admitted to the U.S. as conditional permanent residents under EB-5 visas, investors should file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status with USCIS. If USCIS grants the petition, the conditions will be removed from the EB-5 visa investor’s permanent residence and any dependents who were included on the visa.

Removing the Conditions on an EB-5 Visa

Along with the petition, you must submit a $3,750 fee, plus a $85 biometrics fee for the petitioner, as well as for each current or former conditional permanent resident spouse or children included on the petition as a dependent. Additionally, you must provide evidence that:

• A lawful business entity has been established in the U.S.
• If applicable, the enterprise was established in a targeted employment area
• The investor has invested or is in the process of investing the amount required for the area in which is the business is located
• The capital used for the investment was earned or derived from lawful means
• The business is expected to create at least 10 full-time positions for American workers
• The investor will be engaged in the day-to-day management of the business operations

When you or a loved one is facing an immigration law dilemma involving an EB-5 visa or another issue, you need legal advice and counsel from experienced Texas immigration attorneys. At Peek & Toland, we are here to help you with your immigration case. We will devote all our efforts to representing your interests, answering your questions, and calming your concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact Peek & Toland and schedule a time to meet with us today. We can help protect your rights and get you the relief that you need.

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Fight Over Work Permits for Spouses of H-1B Visa Workers Rekindles

By Peek & Toland on February 10, 2019

Almost two years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intent to strip the spouses of H-1B visa holders of their work authorization. The estimated 90,000 foreign nationals are spouses of skilled guest workers, which include tech workers and medical professionals, were granted H-4 work permits starting in 2015, which made H-1B visas a more attractive option for guest workers with families.

A legal challenge was filed against the work permit program long ago based on displacement of American workers due to the issuance of H-4 work permits. The federal district court ruled against the U.S. workers, and they appealed that decision. This litigation had been on hold since April 2017 to allow the federal government more time to come up with a regulation to end the program. After almost two years, DHS has yet to produce a regulation. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently revived the lawsuit by setting briefing deadlines for both sides to the dispute.

Fight Over Work Permits for Spouses of H-1B Visa Workers Rekindles

In response to the newly set lawsuit deadlines, DHS now has been rushing to promulgate a regulation to eliminate the work permit program, with the goal of completing it prior to the briefing deadlines in the lawsuit expiring. The consensus is that DHS would rather eliminate the program completely rather than attempt to defend it in court. The hope of DHS is apparently that the court will defer to the administrative rulemaking process based on its interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If DHS can publish the regulation in time, then it is widely assumed that the court will again put the lawsuit on hold.

The Peek & Toland immigration lawyers are here to assist you with all your immigration needs. Trust us to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration case.

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How Can I Remove Conditions From My Green Card?

By Peek & Toland on January 24, 2019

When you received your green card, or legal permanent residence in the U.S., you may have been granted conditional residency, which is valid for a period of two years. This can be due to receiving your green card based on marriage or as an entrepreneur. Whatever the case may be, you must take action to remove the conditions from your green card at least 90 days prior to its expiration. Otherwise, you risk losing your green card, no longer having a lawful immigration status, and being potentially subject to removal from the country.

 

How Can I Remove Conditions From My Green Card?

To remove the conditions on your green card due to marriage, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence. You generally are eligible to remove the conditions on your green card if you are still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident after two years, if you are now widowed but entered into the marriage in good faith, your marriage was divorced or annulled, but you entered into the marriage in good faith, or if you entered into the marriage in good faith, but you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your spouse. You also can include your children on your petition if they received a conditional green card at the same time that you did. However, if your child received a conditional green card more than 90 days after you did, then the child will need to file a separate Form I-751.

With a few exceptions, you generally must apply together with your spouse to remove the conditions from your green card. If you are no longer married to your spouse or you or your child has been abused by your spouse, then you can apply for a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

When you or a loved one is facing an immigration law dilemma, you need legal advice and counsel from experienced Texas immigration attorneys. At Peek & Toland, we are here to help you with your immigration case. We will devote all our efforts to representing your interests, answering your questions, and calming your concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact Peek & Toland and schedule a time to meet with us today. We can help protect your rights and get you the relief that you need.

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What Are the Two Different Types of Visas for Students to Study in the U.S.?

By Peek & Toland on January 23, 2019

There are two different available options for citizens of other countries who wish to travel to the U.S. to study. Whether these students need a F student visa or an M student visa depends upon their course of study and the kind of institution that they want to attend.

If you want to attend a vocational school or another recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language skills training program, you will need to apply for a M visa. For all other studies at elementary schools, high schools, universities, colleges, seminaries, conservatories, and other academic institutions, including language skills training programs, you will need to apply for a F visa.  

What Are the Two Different Types of Visas for Students to Study in the U.S.?

Your first step to obtain either type of student visa is to apply and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school. You then will be registered for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and will pay a SEVIS fee. The school then will issue you a Form-120, which will enable you to make an appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and apply for either a F or M student visa.

The steps that each U.S. Embassy or Consulate requires you to follow in order to obtain a student visa vary somewhat. In any case, you will need to complete online nonimmigrant visa application, Form DS-60, upload a photo, and bring the confirmation page to bring with you to your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You also will have to pay a non-refundable visa application fee and you may have to pay visa issuance fee, based on your nationality.

You can receive a new student visa up to 120 days before your course or program of study begins, but you cannot enter the U.S. any earlier than 30 days prior to the beginning of the program.

Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration law matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

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Problems with E-Verify Continue

By Peek & Toland on January 17, 2019

The purpose of the E-Verify Program is to identify and prevent unauthorized workers from gaining employment in the U.S. While E-Verify is current a voluntary program for employers to use, it may become mandatory as part of a larger immigration reform movement.

In order to use this program, employers use an Internet-based application to check with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and verify that prospective employees are legally eligible to work. The federal government already utilizes the program, as do some states as part of state government hiring procedures.

 

Problems with E-Verify Continue

One of the most common mistakes with E-Verify is incorrect data. If using E-Verify incorrectly designates a person as ineligible to work, he or she may lose out on employment opportunities. This is the case because if a employee receives notice of ineligibility to work, then he or she only has eight working days within which to contact the federal government and try to sort out the problem. If he or she fails to meet this deadline, then DHS issues a final non-confirmation notice and the employer must fire the employee.

Unfortunately, these errors are not unusual. As recently as federal fiscal year 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that about one in every 400 verifications was erroneous and later reversed after an appeal by the worker. Plus, those numbers include only those workers who took steps to contest the notices of ineligibility. It is estimated that about one percent of applicants, or 1.3 million people, did not contest the E-Verify findings.

Furthermore, correcting these errors often takes a great deal of time and money. Individuals must navigate the huge bureaucracies of the Social Security Administration and/or DHS in an attempt to have even simple errors resolved, such as typographical errors.

At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you obtain the visa that you need, based on your situation. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout the immigration process. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering documentation to support your goals. Allow us to handle your immigration law case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

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Immigration Application Mistakes to Avoid

By Peek & Toland on January 16, 2019

While it always has been wise to avoid mistakes on your immigration application, if for no other reason than to save time in processing, it has never been more important that it is now, due to some recent policy shifts by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). From now on, failing to include a required document or some other information in your application packet could result in an automatic denial of your application, with no recourse but to reapply. Plus, in some situations, this denial notice could immediately trigger deportation proceedings.

This past summer, USCIS announced that it would deny any immigration application that lacks a required document. Under this policy, USCIS will simply issue a denial of any such application without notice to the applicant or giving the applicant a chance to correct the deficiency. This will require individuals to completely resubmit their completed applications and pay the filing fee again in order to have USCIS consider their applications. Previously, USCIS remedied errors in applications by issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) to obtain any missing documentation or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), which is a notice that sets forth the errors in the application. It was only if there was no possibility that USCIS would approve the application that it would issue a denial notice.

Additionally, if the denial of the application results in immigrants being present in the U.S. with no lawful immigration status, USCIS may immediately place them in deportation proceedings. This is a lengthy and expensive process with serious consequences, including detention and deportation.

Immigration Application Mistakes to Avoid

As a result of these policy changes, it is essential that applicants, regardless of the type of applications they are submitting, take the time to review their applications and ensure that all required documents are included. Some of the more common mistakes seen on immigration applications include:

·         Failing to disclose criminal history

·         Failing to include the application fee, or including the wrong amount

·         Forgetting to sign the application

·         Putting incorrect names on the application

·         Filing the wrong application form

·         Not being completely truthful on the application

All of these mistakes could lead to a summary denial of your application, and in certain situations, could place you in deportation proceedings. Given these consequences, it is worth taking additional time to remedy any mistakes and ensure that you have included all required documents prior to submitting your application.

Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to helping both individuals and businesses resolve their immigration-related issues. Immigration law is a complex, ever-changing area of the law that necessitates legal advice from experienced immigration lawyers who keep up-to-date with all relevant changes in law and policy. We will work with you to achieve the most positive outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled immigration attorneys today.

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