BUSINESS IMMIGRATION

Our firm concentrates in the following business-immigration related areas.

E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investment Visas   
The E-1 visa allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. The E-2 visa allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.  Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying E-1/E-2 organization may also be eligible for this classification. See U.S. Department of State's Treaty Countries for a current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Carry on substantial trade
  • Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.

To qualify for E-2 classification, the treaty investor must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.  This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

The E classification does not lead directly to a green card but is renewable indefinitely for the life of the U.S. company. Spouse are eligible for employment authorization.

L-1 Managers/Executives Transferees  
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States or to establish a new office.

This visa has the following general requirements:

The U.S. entity must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.

The employee being transferred must have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States and be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive/managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

The L-1A visa has a maximum period of stay of seven years, but this classification has a direct path to the green card through an immigrant petition as a multinational manager or executive. Spouses are eligible for employment authorization.

R-1 Religious Workers
An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by:

  • A non-profit religious organization in the United States;
  • A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or
  • A non-profit religious organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

This visa program is intended for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from secular members of the religion.

To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition.

The R-1 classification has a maximum stay of 5 years, but this visa has a direct path to the green card through an immigrant petition as a special immigrant religious worker. Spouses are not eligible for employment authorization.

EB-5 Immigrant Investors
Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

All EB-5 investors must make a minimum threshold investment in a New U.S. Commercial Enterprise, which will create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

The requirements of the EB-5 category are quite complicated. For more detailed information about the category, please visit the USCIS EB-5 resource page at  https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/about-eb-5-visa-classification.

Investors and developers interested in turnkey EB-5 services please visit  http://ecouncilinc.com/.


FAMILY IMMIGRATION

Certain immigrants who have a qualifying relationship to a U.S. citizen (USC) or lawful permanent resident (LPR) may be eligible to obtain residency through that relationship. Generally, there are five general categories of family members who may obtain residency through a close relative.
 
I. Spouses, minor children and parents of U.S. citizens
II. Adult unmarried children of U.S. citizens
III. Spouses and minor children of Lawful Permanent Residents
IV. Married children of U.S. citizens
V. Siblings of U.S. citizens.
 
Spouses, minor children and parents of U.S. citizens are considered “Immediate Relatives” under the Immigration and Nationality Act. These relatives are not subject to numerical limitations, so petitions filed for them can include an application for adjustment of status, which entitles them to employment authorization and advance parole while their cases are pending. The main limitation of the Immediate Relative category is that it does not allow for dependents to immigrate with the named beneficiary.
 
The other four categories are preference categories, which are subject to annual numerical limitation. Many of these categories are oversubscribed and have long wait times for a visa number to become available. For example, siblings of U.S. citizens can frequently wait more than a decade for visa number become available to allow them to immigrate. Each of these categories allows for derivative spouses and minor children to immigrate along with the named beneficiary.
 
The following are two particular issues relating to family-based immigration that our firm has extensive experience handling.
 
Conditional Permanent Residence
Since 1986, when residency is granted to a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident based on a marriage that is less than two years old, the residency is conditional. Conditional residence is granted for a period of two years.  A conditional resident must petition to remove the conditions on their residence within the three (3) months immediately preceding the expiration of their conditional residence.  The petition can be filed either jointly by the two spouses or as a waiver if the conditional resident is divorced or in the process of getting divorced. Failure to file the petition will result in expiration of the conditional residence and can result in initiation of removal proceedings by USCIS.
 
Battered Spouses, Children and Parents
Family based immigration presumes that the petitioner is willing to help the beneficiary immigrate.  Unfortunately, in an abusive relationship, the petitioner may exploit the beneficiary’s dependence as a means of continuing the abusive relationship.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) helps to alleviate this problem by allowing spouses, children and parents battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen spouse or parent to self-petition for immigrant visas without the abuser's knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing. Self-petitioning spouses need not still be married to their abuser, as long as they file their self-petition within two years of termination of the marriage. Children of self-petitioning spouses or children may also be eligible to apply for a green card. Self-petitioning spouses may be eligible to file for U.S. citizenship within three years of obtaining their lawful permanent residency.