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Shusterman.comShusterman.com U.S. Immigration: The Essential Guide 2014-08-22T04:10:02Z http://shusterman.com/feed/atom WordPress Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[When You’re Lost in the Rain in Juarez]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=42367 2014-08-20T22:46:28Z 2014-08-17T03:46:02Z Imagine having an agency of the US government separate you from your only child.   It all started when Mrs. Morales’s brother got his girlfriend pregnant in Mexico. They had a son together, but his girlfriend died during childbirth. He drove the child across the border to the US, and his sister and her husband, […]

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humanitarian parole Imagine having an agency of the US government separate you from your only child.

 

It all started when Mrs. Morales’s brother got his girlfriend pregnant in Mexico. They had a son together, but his girlfriend died during childbirth. He drove the child across the border to the US, and his sister and her husband, both US citizens, accepted the child as their own.

 

They hired an attorney who helped them adopt their nephew in the California Superior Court.

 

After the required two-year waiting period, they hired an immigration attorney who had Mrs. Morales file an I-130 visa petition which was approved by the USCIS.

 

Eventually, Mrs. Morales and her son appeared at the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for an immigrant visa interview.

 

The interview was short, but not sweet. The consular officer informed Mrs. Morales that the I-130 had been approved in error by the USCIS, and that he was sending it back to be revoked. Why it was sent back to the USCIS remains a mystery.

 

Mrs. Morales was shocked, but respectful. “My son and I will go see our attorney and get this worked out”.

 

The officer informed her that while she could return to the US, her son would have to stay behind in Mexico.

 

Mrs. Morales was fit to be tied. She and her husband had never been separated from their son for so much as a day. Their son spoke only English and was being treated by a physician in California for ADD.

 

Her father, who lived in Tijuana, would have to care for their child until their immigration attorney could work out whatever was wrong with his immigration case. While he was happy to help watch over the child, he was also not in the best of health as he was nearly 80 years old and had recently had a heart valve transplant and he required care himself.

 

As soon as she returned to Los Angeles, she met with the attorney. Neither of them understood what was wrong with the I-130. However, the attorney decided that the best course of action was to request a humanitarian parole from the USCIS to reunite the child with his parents while they explored how to get him a green card.

 

She prepared a humanitarian parole application, complete with a letter from the child’s physician explaining that the child was in need of constant care. In January, one month after the application had been submitted, the USCIS wrote a letter informing her and her husband that it would take up to 90 days to process their humanitarian parole request.

 

Mrs. Morales and her husband both work full-time jobs. Every Friday night, she would drive from Southern California to Tijuana to spend the weekend with her son. Because of his lack of knowledge of Spanish, he was not able to attend school in Tijuana.

 

Between December and March, Mrs. Morales continued this exhausting routine, hoping that the USCIS would grant their humanitarian parole request. When this agonizing 90-day period came to an end, Mrs. Morales decided to schedule a legal consultation with me.

 

The day that we were retained, we sent an inquiry to the USCIS and contacted Mrs. Morales Congressman. This paid off, but in an unexpected way. Within a few days, we received a letter from the USCIS requesting more information.

 

Attorney Ellen Ma Lee and Paralegal Hilary Olson gathered the information, and quickly responded. After a short wait, we made the first of many inquiries.

 

Later, I received a call from the caseworker at the Congressman’s office. They were informed by the USCIS that the application for humanitarian parole was on the “expedited track”. Yet, as week after week and month after month passed, we received no answer from the USCIS.

 

Finally, last week, something very unexpected occurred. Not from the USCIS, but from CDJ. They asked Mrs. Morales to come to Consulate to submit some additional paperwork.

 

Then, a notice appeared online informing Mrs. Morales that an immigrant visa had been issued to her son!

 

The immigrant visa arrived by mail, and Mrs. Morales immediately drove to Tijuana. I spoke with her as she crossed the border into Mexico yesterday afternoon. In the evening, I received a message from Mrs. Morales that she and her son had crossed back into the US, and that he had been admitted as a lawful permanent resident!

 

What happened at the USCIS Parole Office and why CDJ granted the child a green card after keeping him separated from his parents for nearly 8 months, we may never know.

 

But Mr. and Mrs. Morales are thrilled to have their son back home, and so are we.

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[Shusterman’s Immigration Update Template]]> http://shusterman.com/.html 2014-08-18T20:39:07Z 2014-06-24T23:12:11Z Volume Sixteen, Number Ten Special Message: With increased privacy and security concerns mostly due to viruses and spam, delivering our monthly newsletter to your e-mail address presents many challenges. If you add our e-mail address to your address book or safe list, this should insure that our newsletter will not end up in your junk […]

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Volume Sixteen, Number Ten

Special Message: With increased privacy and security concerns mostly due to viruses and spam, delivering our monthly newsletter to your e-mail address presents many challenges. If you add our e-mail address to your address book or safe list, this should insure that our newsletter will not end up in your junk mail.

SHUSTERMAN’S IMMIGRATION SHUSTERMAN’S IMMIGRATION UPDATEUPDATE is the Web’s most popular e-mail newsletter regarding U.S. immigration laws and procedures with over 60,000 subscribers located in more than 150 countries. It is written by a former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) with over 30 years of experience practicing immigration law.

Published by the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 600 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1550, Los Angeles, California, 90017. Phone: (213) 623-4592 x0

Subscribe to our free, monthly e-mail newsletter, SHUSTERMAN’S IMMIGRATION UPDATE.

Join the conversation on our Immigration Facebook Page and receive daily updates on the latest events and stories regarding immigration laws and policies.

Follow our Blog Posts commenting on the latest developments in the immigration world.

Subscribe to receive our free “How-To” Immigration Videos.

Disclaimer: This newsletter is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. All information contained in this newsletter is generalized. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

 

1.

2.

3. Schedule of Shusterman’s Upcoming Immigration Law Seminars

4.

5. Success Story:

6. Immigration Trivia Quiz:

7. Ask Mr. Shusterman:

8. Official Immigration Government Processing Times

9.

10. Winner of Our September 2011 Trivia Quiz!

 

Schedule Consultation

Skype Consultations Available!

NEWS FLASHES:

 

  • H-1B Cap Update – The USCIS started accepting H-1B petitions subject to the numerical caps starting on April 1. The number of petitions submitted through August 26th was 44,900. We update the number of H-1B petitions received by the USCIS on a weekly basis.

 

  • Immigration “How-To” Videos – Our 30 “How-To” Immigration Videos have been viewed well over 200,000 times. Subjects include how to obtain a green card, how to become a U.S. citizen, how to win your case in immigration court and how to select an immigration attorney. Our video “Green Cards through Marriage”has been viewed over 80,000 times. We encourage you to take advantage of this free resource.

 

1.

 

 

 

2.

 

 

 

3. Schedule of Shusterman’s Upcoming Immigration Law Seminars

 

  • AILA California Chapters
    24th Annual CLE Conference
    San Francisco, CA
    November 10-12, 2011
    Topic: “Practicing Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit”
    Details will appear in a future newsletter

 

  • South Florida AILA Chapter
    South Florida AILA Conference
    Miami, Florida
    February 9-10, 2012
    Topic: Understanding the Child Status Protection Act

 

  • Immigration Boot Camp
    Pincus International
    Los Angeles, CaliforniaMarch 2012
    Details will appear in a future newsletter

 

  • FBA 8th Annual Immigration Law Seminar
    Federal Bar Association
    Memphis, Tennessee
    May 2012
    Details will appear in a future newsletter

 

4.

 

 

 

5. Success Story:

 

 

 

6. Immigration Trivia Quiz:

 

This month’s Immigration Trivia Quiz is entitled “Sliding and Grinding Their Way Across Borders: Immigrants in Extreme Sports.”

 

The first person to correctly answer our quiz (and supply their biographical information) wins a free legal consultation with me before the end of September.

 

 

7. Ask Mr. Shusterman:

 

 

 

8. Official Immigration Government Processing Times

 

* Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

The Immigration Service (USCIS) lists its processing times for immigration petitions and applications on their website. Most immigration applications and petitions must be submitted to one of the following USCIS Service Centers: (1) Laguna Niguel, California; (2) Lincoln, Nebraska; (3) Mesquite, Texas; and (4) St. Albans, Vermont and (5) the National Benefits Center in Missouri.

These service centers periodically issue lists of their processing times for various types of petitions and applications. We link to the latest list issued by each service center.

Warning: Processing times may appear faster on the official lists than they are in reality.

To see how fast (or slow) your service center or local USCIS office is processing a particular type of petition or application, seeGovernment Processing Times Page.

Administrative appeals of most types of petitions and waivers denied by the USCIS are adjudicated by the agency’s Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) in Washington, DC.

We link to the AAO’s most recent published processing times (August 1, 2011).

* Department of Labor

The Labor Department’s website contains a tab entitled “PERM Processing Times”. This enables you to see how long it is taking the Labor Department to complete its final review of standard PERM applications, audited cases, standard appeals and appeals where there are government errors.

 

* Department of State

The State Department’s website contains a “Visa Wait List” page, which permits readers to choose a particular U.S. consular post and learn how long it takes the post to process various types of temporary, nonimmigrant visas.

 

 

9.

 

 

 

10. Winner of our September 2011 Immigration Trivia Quiz!

 

August’s Immigration Trivia Quiz was entitled “Musical Magicians: Immigrant Conductors“.

 

This month’s winner:

Here are the answers:

1. Andre Previn, Germany

2. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Peru

3. Lorin Maazel, France

 

Carl Shusterman

Certified Specialist in Immigration Law, State Bar of California (1988-Present)

Former Immigration and Naturalization Service Trial Attorney (1976-82)

Board of Governors, American Immigration Lawyers Association (1988-97)

Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1550

Los Angeles, CA 90017, Phone: (213) 623-4592 x0, Fax: (213) 623-3720

 

Immigration is, on the whole, good for economies; and right now, rich countries can do with all the economic help they can get. Rather than sending immigrants home, with their skills, energy, ideas and willingness to work, governments should be encouraging them to come. If they don’t, governments elsewhere will.”

 

- The Economist, August 27, 2011.

 

Quick Links -

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Forms Download

Green Cards

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PERM

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Schedule a Legal Consultation

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Visa Bulletin

 

November 1, 2011

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[Supreme Court Rules Against Immigrant Families]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=38193 2014-08-18T20:39:07Z 2014-06-09T22:43:42Z On June 9, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States in Scialabba v. DeOsorio, in a 5-4 decision, reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and ruled that the “automatic conversion” clause of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) does not provide benefits to most immigrant families.   […]

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CSPA DecisionOn June 9, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States in Scialabba v. DeOsorio, in a 5-4 decision, reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and ruled that the “automatic conversion” clause of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) does not provide benefits to most immigrant families.

 

As a result, tens of thousands of immigrant families will continue to be separated as parents and underaged children immigrate to the U.S. while sons and daughters who turned 21 years of age during the waiting process are forced to remain abroad, separated from their families.

 

The Court ruled that the automatic conversion clause was ambiguous and deferred to the highly-restrictive 2009 decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in Matter of Wang.

 

We have explained in previous posts why we believe that the Board’s decision in Matter of Wang is unreasonable and should not be accorded deference.  However, the decision of the Supreme Court cannot be appealed.

 

In its CSPA decision, the Court held that

“The first clause of §1153(h)(3) states a condition that encompasses every aged-out beneficiary of a family preference peti­tion. The second clause, however, does not easily cohere with the first. It prescribes a remedy that can apply to only a subset of the beneficiaries described in the first clause.”

 

It deferred to Matter of Wang which restricts the persons who may benefit from CSPA’s automatic conversion clause to aged-out beneficiaries of 2A family-based petitions.

 

The sons and daughters of our plaintiffs who are beneficiaries of family-based 3rd and 4th preference visa petitions do not qualify for automatic conversion or even for retention of their priority dates.

 

As the dissent points out, when the U.S. citizen sister of Norma Uy sponsored her and her family for green cards in 1981, Norma’s daughter Ruth was 2-years-old.  However, after waiting in line with her parents for a green card for over 20 years, by the time that the family reached the front of the line, Ruth was over 21 years of age, too old to immigrate together with her family under Matter of Wang.

 

Going to the back of the 2B line isn’t much of an option.

 

Because of the numerical restrictions in this category, the length of the 2B line is 28.7 years for persons born in the Philippines and 115.5 years for persons born in Mexico.  So, as a practical matter, not receiving credit for the time that they spent waiting in line together with their parents, prevents sons and daughters of immigrants from reuniting with their families in the United States.

 

Is this really what Congress intended when they passed the Child Status Protection Act in 2002?  Not according to the bipartisan group of Senators who submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court disputing the government’s interpretation of the law.

 

Furthermore, what sense does it mean to subtract the time the visa petition was pending from all children of green card applicants, but apply the automatic conversion clause to only a small subset of children?

 

The petition for Norma Uy was approved the same day that it was filed.  The reason that her daughter Ruth was over 21 years old when the priority date was reached is the 23 year waiting time for a sibling born in the Philippines.

 

What if Norma had a sister who was sponsored on the same day, and the sister had a son born on the same day as Ruth?  Suppose the government took 10 years to approve the petition.  Under the Supreme Court’s decision, Ruth’s cousin would be able to subtract 10 years from his age when the priority date was reached, and unlike Ruth, he could immigrate with this family.

 

If the automatic conversion clause, unlike the subtraction clause, only protects a small subset of sons and daughters of immigrants, whether children are able to immigrate together with their families is akin to playing roulette in Las Vegas.  Purely a matter of luck!

 

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled against immigrant families, Congressional action is necessary to restate in the most clear and unambiguous language possible the intent of CSPA’s automatic conversion clause.

 

Our country should have an immigration system that unites families, not one which needlessly separates them.

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[DACA Renewals – Plus DACA to Green Card!]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=38190 2014-08-18T20:39:08Z 2014-06-05T18:48:08Z On June 5, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the process for persons who have received work permits (EADs) under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs to renew their DACA status and work permits for another 2 years.  Also, in this article, we describe the process by which persons in DACA status can obtain […]

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DACA RenewalOn June 5, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the process for persons who have received work permits (EADs) under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs to renew their DACA status and work permits for another 2 years.  Also, in this article, we describe the process by which persons in DACA status can obtain green cards.

 

Since the summer of 2012, over 560,000 persons who entered the United States as children have obtained lawful status through the DACA program.  However, later this year and next, their status is due to expire.

 

DACA Renewal Process

The DHS has unveiled the DACA renewal process.
They must begin by completing the newly-reissued form I-821D, Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, plus form I-765 for a new EAD (along with a filing fee for $465) as well as the I-765 worksheet.  They must also submit their fingerprints and photos.  The DHS will conduct a background check.

 

In order to apply for a DACA renewal, an applicant must:

  • Not have departed the U.S. since August 15, 2012 unless they did so pursuant to a grant of “advance parole”;
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors; and
  • Not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

 

USCIS reminds applicants to submit their renewal applications at least 120 days before their current DACA application is due to expire.  However, it may be prudent to do so 180 days before the expiry date.

 

From DACA to Green Card

Since many persons with DACA cards entered the U.S. “without inspection”, they have been told that it is impossible to become a lawful permanent residents of the U.S.

 

However, this is not necessarily true.

 

Persons with DACA card are eligible to apply for permission to travel outside the U.S. under the following circumstances:

  • Humanitarian
  • Employment
  • Education

 

If you obtain “advance parole” to travel abroad, be aware that when you return to the U.S., your last admission to the U.S. was lawful.

 

Therefore, should you marry your U.S. citizen fiancé, you can immediately apply for a green card.  The whole procedure takes place in the U.S. and is usually completed within a matter of months.

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[Employment Authorization For H-4 Spouses]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=38157 2014-08-18T20:39:08Z 2014-05-11T23:27:00Z Proposed DHS regulation which would allow certain H-4 spouses to get EADs.

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H-4 spousesOn May 12, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed regulation which would, for the first time, permit certain H-4 spouses of H-1B professionals to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).

Under the proposed regulation, the following classes of H-4 spouses would qualify for EADs:

1. Where the H-1B spouse is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 EB visa petition; and

2. Where the H-1B spouse has been granted a post-6th year H-1B extension under AC-21.

While this is great news for the H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders who are currently in the green card process, it is not as broad of the regulations which allow all spouses of persons in E-2 and L-1 status to obtain EADs. Additionally, if the H-1B spouse has an approved I-130 family-based visa petition, his H-4 spouse will not be eligible to apply for an EAD.

My advice is make sure your employer submits a PERM application, or an I-140 if a PERM application is not required, for the H-1B spouse during the first year of his/her employment.  This not only put the family on the track for permanent residence, but will accelerate the date when the H-4 can be employed.

DHS estimates that 100,000 H-4 spouses would be eligible for EADs in the first year and that about 36,000 would be eligible in each subsequent year.

Another proposed regulation would allow persons in H-1B1 status (from Chile and Singapore), E-3 professionals (from Australia) and CW-1 workers (from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) the same benefits as H-1B professionals when they apply for a extension of stay.  Currently, H-1B and L-1 workers are permitted to continue to be employed for 240 days simply by applying for an extension of stay.  The proposed regulation would grant H-1B1, E-3 and CW-1 workers the same benefit.

The proposed regulation would also permit EB-1 Outstanding Professors and Researchers to submit to submit evidence which is comparable to that which is listed in existing regulations.

The public comment period for the proposed H-4 regulation ends on July 11, 2014.

 

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[Supreme Court Decision on CSPA Lawsuit Coming Soon]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=38153 2014-08-18T20:39:08Z 2014-05-04T21:55:57Z We expect the Supreme Court to issue a decision on our CSPA lawsuit, Mayorkas v. DeOsorio, very soon, possibly on June 2. While we lawyers argue over the meaning of terms like “retention”, “automatic conversion” and “appropriate category”, the issue in this case can be summarized as follows: Are children who have stood in line for […]

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CSPA lawsuit We expect the Supreme Court to issue a decision on our CSPA lawsuit, Mayorkas v. DeOsorio, very soon, possibly on June 2. While we lawyers argue over the meaning of terms like “retention”, “automatic conversion” and “appropriate category”, the issue in this case can be summarized as follows: Are children who have stood in line for years, or ever decades, beside their parents waiting for their priority date to be current, entitled to get credit for this time, or, if they have “aged-out” during this time, must they go to the back of the line and restart the immigration process?

Bear in mind that the line is almost 30 years for unmarried sons and daughters from the Philippines and over 115 years for children born in Mexico. And that if they are forced to go to the back of the line, they cannot get married without losing their priority dates. So, as a practical matter, these sons and daughters will never be able to rejoin the parents under the government’s restrictive interpretation of the law.

Could Congress, in passing legislation whose purpose was to keep families together, have intended such a harsh result? Not according to the Senators who submitted a Friend of the Court Brief agreeing with our position in this case.

After all, for many years, the government has adhered to a regulation which provides that as a person converts from one preference category to another, they are never forced to go to the back of the line. Instead, they always receive credit for the time that they spent in line.

LetCSPA Lawsuit‘s say that a son’s LPR mother sponsors him for a green card in the 2B category on July 4, 2000, and before his priority date becomes current, his mother naturalizes. Now he moves from the 2B line to the 1st preference line. He is not forced to restart the immigration process. Instead, he is given full credit for the time that he spend waiting in the 2B line. Later, if he marries before his priority date becomes current, both he and his wife as well as their children, all go to the 3rd preference line. The one thing that never changes is they are all entitled to the July 4, 2000 priority date. The government has no problem with this concept. It has never maintained that the beneficiary and his wife and children are “line jumpers” who are displacing others. After all, it was the government which wrote this regulation and has enforced it for decades.

Why then does Justice Department argue in Mayorkas v. DeOsorio that children who have stood in line together with their parents for many years and have been separated from them since before we sued the government in 2008, and the 6 years that have elapsed since then, are line jumpers? Could it be that this line of argument is being used to mask the government’s attempt to restrict the operation of CSPA so severely that the very families that the law was written to protect will now be separated forever?

I hope that the Supreme Court will order the government to finally implement CSPA to keep immigrant families together as Congress intended.

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[H-1B Lotteries are Over America’s Got Enough Talent?]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=38106 2014-08-18T20:39:09Z 2014-04-11T03:34:03Z H-1B lotteries to choose professional employees?  Is this the best we can do? On April 10, 2014, the USCIS announced that they had received approximately 172,500 cap-subject H-1B petitions during the first week of April, over twice the number of H-1Bs (85,000) that can be granted under the law. For the first time in the 20+ year history […]

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H-1B LotteriesH-1B lotteries to choose professional employees?  Is this the best we can do?

On April 10, 2014, the USCIS announced that they had received approximately 172,500 cap-subject H-1B petitions during the first week of April, over twice the number of H-1Bs (85,000) that can be granted under the law.

For the first time in the 20+ year history of the H-1B cap, less than half the foreign-born professionals recruited by employers in the U.S. will be able to obtain temporary professional work visas.  Our country is effectively telling Google, Apple, Amazon and thousands of companies across the U.S. that they cannot employ the majority of foreign-born professionals that they carefully recruited this year.

These companies will be forced to tell thousands of recent graduates from top U.S. universities with degrees in science, math, engineering and technology that they can’t work in our country.  Please go home, and compete against us!  Or perhaps these companies will relocate even more jobs overseas in order to overcome restrictive U.S. immigration laws.
And it’s not just large corporations whichH-1B Lotteries will suffer.  School districts across America hire thousands of teachers, especially in inner city areas where U.S. teachers are in short supply from countries like the Philippines.  Not this year.

And hospitals sponsor thousands of foreign-born physiciansnurses, therapists and medical technologists, many of them working in medically-underserved areas which encompass over 25% of the U.S.

What if America is no longer the leader in cutting-edge technology, if our schools can’t supply kids with teachers and if folks who live in rural and inner city areas no longer have access to medical care?   So what if we educate hundreds of thousands of foreign-born students in our finest universities only to force them to return to their own countries to find jobs in companies which compete against us.  What’s wrong with cutting off our nose to spite our face?

And how does the law choose which of the 172,500 professionals will be permitted to work in the U.S. and which will be forced to leave?  On April 10, the USCIS conducted two H-1B lotteries, the first to select 20,000 applicants with advanced degrees in the U.S.  Later, the same day, another random lottery selected 65,000 of the remaining 152,500 applicants sponsored by employers in the U.S. for visas.  This means only 42% of applicants were selected to work in the U.S., an all-time low, and the number of those rejected increased by 48,000 compared with last year.

This a disaster for employers, for professionals and for our society.

 

 

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[Getting Free Immigration Legal Advice on Avvo.com]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=38011 2014-08-18T20:39:09Z 2014-03-06T17:40:04Z Avvo.com is an expert-only Q&A forum where people can ask legal questions of lawyers, for free.  The Q&A forum is backed by an online directory of lawyers licensed in the United States. Avvo provides listings to which attorneys can submit their own profiles and histories. The listings may also include client reviews, disciplinary actions, and […]

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Avvo.com is an expert-only Q&A forum where people can ask legal
questions of lawyers, for free.  The Q&A forum is backed by an onlineFree Immigration Legal Advice directory of lawyers licensed in the United States. Avvo provides listings to which attorneys can submit their own profiles and histories. The listings may also include client reviews, disciplinary actions, and peer endorsements.

Avvo rates attorneys in various fields, including immigration law, on a ten-point scale with ten being the best.  The website allows people to (1) research legal advice; (2) ask free questions to lawyers; and (3) find attorneys in various specialties and (4) to post reviews of lawyers.

 

Each attorney’s profile, in addition to the overall rating, ranks attorneys according to their (1) experience; (2) industry recognition and (3) professional conduct.  Clients can post reviews of attorneys and other lawyers can post peer endorsements.

 

In addition, Avvo lists the lawyer’s phone number and address, and links to the attorney’s website, blog and social media sites.

 

If the attorney has been disciplined by the State Bar, Avvo will note this.

 

Free Immigration Legal AdviceThe lawyer can list his education, work experience, awards, associations that he is a member of, publications, speaking engagements and noteworthy cases that he has won.

 

In addition, those attorneys who participate in Avvo’s free question and answer forum are awarded points for answering questions, posting legal guides, having the asker mark the answer as “helpful” or as the “best answer” to a particular question.

 

Avvo Director Conrad Saam says that “Avvo provides three perspectives, three points of view of an attorney – the Avvo Rating, Client Ratings, and Peer Endorsements. We believe more information and more perspectives help consumers make smarter decisions.”

 

I have devoted a lot of time to posting legal guides (175+) and answering questions (19,000+) on Avvo, so much so that my wife refers to herself as a “web widow”.  There are three attorneys who have point totals of 1,000,000 or more on Avvo.  In early March, I became the first to pass the 2,000,000 mark.

 

However, I do not believe that anyone should select an attorney based solely on his or her Avvo point totals.

 

Where Avvo can be truly helpful is getting simple legal questions answered for free, and allowing consumers to examine the profiles of various attorneys in order to make an informed choice as to the best attorney to handle their legal matter.

 

A couple pieces of advice about how to use Avvo:

  1. Some people present hugely complex scenarios on the question and answer forum, and expect lawyers to provide an online solution to their case.  This is unrealistic.  It is much better to schedule a legal consultation (in person, by phone or Skype) and allow the attorney to read the most important paperwork in a case before giving advice.  Only if your question is simple like “How many days to I have to appeal a denial of my application?” can you expect the lawyers on Avvo to provide you with an answer online.  I try to limit my answers to a sentence or two, and provide a link to a legal guide where possible, in order to allow the person who asked the question to read more about the subject of their question.
  2. Before choosing an attorney, it is important to spend time scrutinizing their Avvo profile to see not only their rating (In my opinion, it is way too easy to obtain a 10.0 rating.), but their years of experience, their client reviews and peer endorsements. Also, be sure to read about their successful cases, their publications and their speaking engagements.

 

Google +

 

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[DOS Website: We’re off to See the Visa Wizard!]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=37945 2014-08-18T20:39:09Z 2014-02-07T23:16:11Z The State Department has made numerous changes to its website, and these changes can be a great help to intending visitors, students and workers from other countries.   One example is the “Visa Wizard”.  The Visa Wizard is a guide to help foreign-born persons understand which visa category might be right for them.  Although the […]

The post DOS Website: We’re off to See the Visa Wizard! appeared first on Shusterman.com.

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The State Department has made numerous changes to its website, and these changes can be a great help to intending visitors, students and workers from other countries.

 

One example is the “Visa Wizard”.  The Visa Wizard is a guide to help
foreign-born persons understand which visa category might be right for Visa Wizardthem.  Although the Visa Wizard does not currently list every type of visa, it does list most of the common-used visas.

Let’s take the Visa Wizard on a test drive, shall we?

 

First, the Visa Wizard asks you which country issued your passport.  I enter “India”.

 

The next question asks you to list the primary purpose of your travel.  There is a drop-down menu with the following five choices: (1) Tourism or Visit; (2) Business or Employment; (3) Study or Exchange; (4) Traveling Through the U.S. to Another Country; and (5) Immigrate. I choose “Business or Employment”.

 

As soon as I do, another question with six possible answers appears: “What will you be doing in the U.S.?”  I check the box stating that “I am coming for temporary employment in the U.S.”

 

Immediately, the next question pops up: “What kind of work?”  I check “Working for a U.S. employer”.

 

visaThen I am asked to select the type of employment that I plan to engage in.  I check “A professional with specialized knowledge or skills planning to work in a specialty occupation.”

At last the cross-examination is over, and my only option is to click a blue box entitled “Find a Visa”.

 

I click the blue box, and voila!, I receive the following message:

“Some university educated and skilled professionals in specialized fields may qualify for a Temporary Employment Visa (H-1B) to travel to the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation.

Examples of travel on this visa

  • Skilled labor in fields such as technology and business
  • Fashion model who has national or international acclaim”

 

Now, I have a few choices, the most obvious being to click the multi-colored box below which says “Learn More: H-1B”.  Of course, I can also click any of the links under “Related Visa Categories” which are “Visas for Temporary Employment in the U.S.” followed by “L”, “O”, “P” and “Q”.  The other option is to click “Employment Based Immigrant Visas”.  But since I am feeling adventurous, I click on the box to the far right of the page entitled “See All Visa Categories”.

 

TMI! I hurriedly hit the back button, but it takes back to the very beginning of the Visa Wizard.  Rats!

 

So, I go through the whole exercise a second time, and this time I click on “Learn More: H-1B”.  This brings me to the “Temporary Worker Visas” page which briefly discusses H-1B, L, O, P and Q visas.  Information about each type of visa is limited.  There is a link to the Department of Labor (DOL) website and to the USCIS website.  Most of the information, understandably, focuses on the State Department’s requirements for applying for a visa abroad.

 

And herein lies the problem.  While I like the idea behind the Visa Wizard, it is of limited value.  Just as the Wizard of Oz gave the Scarecrow a diploma when what he needed was a brain, the Visa Wizard gives foreign-born professionals only a small slice of the pie.

 

To get an H-1B visa, an employer must first obtain the approval of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the DOL.  The Visa Wizard simply provides a link to the DOL website.  After all, such things as prevailing wage determinations, posting requirements and the like are not DOS issues.  After the LCA is approved, the employer must file an H-1B petition with the USCIS.  And all the complications associated with H-1B petitions (credentials evaluations, cap-exemptions, portability, etc.) are knots which must be unraveled by the USCIS, and hence, the Visa Wizard links to the USCIS website.  It may be understandable why this is done, but it does not provide readers with a complete picture of the H-1B visa process.

 

Maybe one day far, far away in the Emerald City, the DOL, the USCIS and the DOS will all collaborate on an Immigration Wizard website.

 

Only then will foreign-born professionals be able to follow the Yellow Brick Road.

The post DOS Website: We’re off to See the Visa Wizard! appeared first on Shusterman.com.

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Carl Shusterman <![CDATA[DOS Website: We’re Off to See the Visa Wizard!]]> http://shusterman.com/?p=37942 2014-08-18T20:39:09Z 2014-02-07T19:56:32Z The State Department has made numerous changes to its website, and these changes can be a great help to intending visitors, students and workers from other countries.   One example is the “Visa Wizard”. The Visa Wizard is a guide to help foreign-born persons understand which visa category might be right for them. Although the […]

The post DOS Website: We’re Off to See the Visa Wizard! appeared first on Shusterman.com.

]]>
Visa Wizard
The State Department has made numerous changes to its website, and these changes can be a great help to intending visitors, students and workers from other countries.

 

One example is the “Visa Wizard”. The Visa Wizard is a guide to help foreign-born persons understand which visa category might be right for them. Although the Visa Wizard does not currently list every type of visa, it does list most of the common-used visas.

 

Let’s take the Visa Wizard on a test drive, shall we?

 

First, the Visa Wizard asks you which country issued your passport. I enter “India”.
The next question asks you to list the primary purpose of your travel. There is a drop-down menu with the following five choices:
(1) Tourism or Visit; (2) Business or Employment; (3) Study or Exchange; (4) Traveling Through the U.S. to Another Country; and (5) Immigrate. I choose “Business or Employment”.

 

As soon as I do, another question with six possible answers appears: “What will you be doing in the U.S.?” I check the box stating that “I am coming for temporary employment in the U.S.”

 

Immediately, the next question pops up: “What kind of work?” I check “Working for a U.S. employer”

 

Then I am asked to select the type of employment that I plan to engage in. I check “A professional with specialized knowledge or skills planning to work in a specialty occupation.”

 

At last the cross-examination is over, and my only option is to click a blue box entitled “Find a Visa”.

 

I click the blue box, and voila!, I receive the following message:

 

Some university educated and skilled professionals in specialized fields may qualify for a Temporary Employment Visa (H-1B) to travel to the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation.

Examples of travel on this visa 
· Skilled labor in fields such as technology and business
· Fashion model who has national or international acclaim”

 

Now, I have a few choices, the most obvious being to click the multi-colored box below which says “Learn More: H-1B”. Of course, I can also click any of the links under “Related Visa Categories” which are “Visas for Temporary Employment in the U.S.” followed by “L”, “O”, “P” and “Q”. The other option is to click “Employment Based Immigrant Visas”. But since I am feeling adventurous, I click on the box to the far right of the page entitled “See All Visa Categories”.

 

TMI! I hurriedly hit the back button, but it takes back to the very beginning of the Visa Wizard. Rats!

 

So, I go through the whole exercise a second time, and this time I click on “Learn More: H-1B”. This brings me to the “Temporary Worker Visas” page which briefly discusses H-1B, L, O, P and Q visas. Information about each type of visa is limited. There is a link to the Department of Labor (DOL) website and to the USCIS website. Most of the information, understandably, focuses on the State Department’s requirements for applying for a visa abroad.

 

And herein lies the problem. While I like the idea behind the Visa Wizard, it is of limited value. Just as the Wizard of Oz gave the Scarecrow a diploma when what he needed was a brain., the Visa Wizard gives foreign-born professionals only a small slice of the pie.

 

To get an H-1B visa, an employer must first obtain the approval of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the DOL. The Visa Wizard simply provides a link to the DOL website. After all, such things as prevailing wage determinations, posting requirements and the like are not DOS issues. After the LCA is approved, the employer must file an H-1B petition with the USCIS. And all the complications associated with H-1B petitions (credentials evaluations, cap-exemptions, portability, etc.) are knots which must be unraveled by the USCIS, and hence, the Visa Wizard links to the USCIS website. It may be understandable why this is done, but it does not provide readers with a complete picture of the H-1B visa process.

 

Maybe one day far, far away in the Emerald City, the DOL, the USCIS and the DOS will all collaborate on an Immigration Wizard website.

 

Only then will foreign-born professionals be able to follow the Yellow Brick Road.

The post DOS Website: We’re Off to See the Visa Wizard! appeared first on Shusterman.com.

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