It’s been a busy few months at the Syed Law Firm, PLLC (“SLF”) and we’re happy to share good news on multiple fronts. We obtained approvals from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and consulates abroad for a variety of business and employment visa cases.
In these challenging times, when the administration has a very unfavorable policy towards visa issuance, different types of visas require different strategy and execution to win approval. Human Resources professionals and their outside counsel have to work very closely to ensure the successes of cases in a timely and cost efficient manner. If teamwork and effective collaboration are not established well in advance, unpleasant surprises and costly delays may arise.
L-1A Approvals – Intracompany Transfers of Executives or Managers
SLF got approval for multiple L-1A cases. The L visa is designed for companies who wish to transfer certain employees from offices overseas to affiliated offices in the U.S. The employees must have executive, managerial (L-1A) or specialized knowledge (L-1B) experience for at least one year abroad. They can be transferred to qualified entities in the U.S., if they will be performing qualifying work. A qualified entity in the U.S. may be a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the foreign company, as long as the U.S. and foreign company share the same ownership and control. For more on the details of the L-1A visa consult our L1 visa checklist.
These businesses can be in any industry, and do not have to be in related industries, as long as the ownership and control criteria are met. Two of our recent notable cases were approvals for the President of an existing New York office of international law firm from the British Virgin Islands (“BVI”) and the CEO of the Florida startup office of a Pakistan based internet telephony company.
The BVI law firm has additional offices in New York, NY and London, UK. The New York office, where the L-1A executive is located, has been providing marketing support to the BVI office for a year now. The initial new office L-1A was approved without an RFE. Since legal work originating from U.S. based clients is highly valuable to their offshore offices, the New York office’s ability to market the firms services in the U.S. has been a key component in their success. With the renewal of the L-1A visa for their executive, they can continue to develop the U.S. market.
The filings of L-1A cases with USCIS, are voluminous and contain carefully assembled evidence. The environment under the current administration is such that immigration lawyers are seeing a very high rate of Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”) from the government even on the most well prepared cases. These create uncertainty, delays and additional costs for the employers. It is also frustrating to prove the case again with additional evidence when the entire set of evidence has already been provided once on the initial filing. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise that the renewal was approved without an RFE. This is almost like a unicorn in today’s immigration climate.
The other L-1A approval was for the Florida new office of a Pakistan based internet telephony company. With their visa approval they are one step closer to providing cost effective, technology based solutions to modern business communication problems. This case received a difficult RFE that required skillful and strategic handling which got an eventual approval.
E-2 Approvals- Treaty Investors
One of our long time clients is a successful Korean restaurant in Washington, D.C. We have been the immigration counsel for this business starting several years ago with the first application for the initial investor. Since then we have done the initial visas and renewals for the essential employees and the investor.
The E-2 visa is available to nationals of certain countries that have treaties with the U.S. They have to show ownership and control of a U.S. business. These can be for startup businesses, in which case a strong business plan is needed, or the purchase of an existing business in which case the prior financial, tax and payroll history important.
Typically an E-2 business can support the visa petition of one investor from a treaty country. However in some cases you can have two E-2 treaty country nationals owning 50% each of the E-2 business and the second investor can also get an E-2. Most recently, we helped a new investor join the businesses and get an E-2 visa. This has helped the business add another location and otherwise strengthen the business.
With the client business expanding, Washingtonians will be able to sample a range of Korean delights. To read more about the E-2 investor visa, read our previous post here.
H-1B Approvals (Despite RFEs) – Specialty Occupation Visa
If you read our previous posts (and you should!) you’ll know that Requests for Evidence for H-1B applications are at an all time high. Some of our H-1B cases received RFEs. A good number alleged that the positions weren’t specialized enough, even though all of the applicants were working in complex and technical fields and had the educational background to back it up. Luckily, we put together persuasive and comprehensive responses, and each application was approved. Besides additional evidence that USCIS requested, each RFE required very thorough legal argument. The courts agree in cases like this USCIS has abused its authority by enforcing more stringent requirements than the law demands. Our clients are pleased to continue to employ the workers who were the beneficiaries of these petitions.
In most cases the workers had recently graduated from U.S. bachelors and masters programs on student visas (F1) and were already working with the employers under the F1-OPT program. Under this program students are given limited time work authorization after the graduate. This period can range from 12 months to 36 months, the longer duration being reserved for STEM degrees. Recipients of bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields can apply for the 24-month post-completion OPT extension. Before the work authorization expires these recent graduates usually require an H-1B visa to continue to work and live in the U.S.
Among the positions, degrees, and employers were of our H-1B case approvals were:
- Civil Engineer, Masters in Engineering, Structural Engineering Firm.
- Accountant, MBA Finance, nonprofit Global Healthcare Organization.
- Lead Event and Program Coordinator, Masters in Hospitality, nonprofit focused on US-China relations.
- Business Analyst, Masters Information Systems, Managed Care Organization.
- Computer Systems Analyst, Masters Networks & Telecommunications Technology, Medical related Software Technology company.
- Software Engineer, Masters Computer Science, Real Estate Investments.
H-1Bs are nonimmigrant visas, which means although holders can work in the U.S. legally, they’re in a different status than green card holders or legal permanent residents. However, they’re dual intent, which means even though they are a nonimmigrant visa, holders can apply for a green card while in H-1B status. A H-1B visa is specifically designed for foreign nationals with a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized discipline. An applicant can also prove they qualify based on their work experience, in some limited cases.
To read more about H-1Bs, check out our previous blog post, here.
Green Cards for Nurses and Physical Therapists – Schedule A Green Card
For most employment based green cards, applicants and their sponsors have to prove an American citizen isn’t available to take the job. In a country as large and diverse as the U.S., that can be a difficult and time consuming process. However, the U.S. government waives this requirement for certain jobs in high demand. This includes Schedule A Group 1, comprised of nurses and physical therapists. SLF secured permanent residency for a Philippine physical therapist with extensive education and experience. She will now be employed with a California based full spectrum home healthcare agency.
This range of different types of visas highlights the variety of cases with which Syed Law Firm, PLLC can help you.