Practicing Immigration Law since 1930

Important Firm News:

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ACTIONS INCLUDE  MEASURES FOR BUSINESS IMMIGRATION

The President announced new provisions to increase the responsiveness of the employment based immigration system to meet the needs of employers, entrepreneurs and foreign students.  These measures include:

NON-IMMIGRANTS:

Employment Authorization for H-1b Spouses:

H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrant visa holders are precluded from employment.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will finalize a rule to prove work authorization for spouses of a limited group of H-1B visa holders who are on a path to lawful permanent residence which is delayed due to quota backlogs. The final rule is expected to be published this December or January.

Expansion of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for Foreign Graduates of U.S. Universities:

USCIS will expand the degree programs and eligibility for STEM extensions.  Extension of the time period for foreign STEM students is also part of this plan.

Greater Consistency for the L-1b visa program:

USCIS will finalize a long awaited memorandum that provides clarification of the definition of “specialized knowledge” for adjudication of L-1b intra company transferee visas.

EMPLOYMENT BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM:

Modernization of Allocation of Immigrant Visas:

The Department of State (DOS) and USCIS have been directed to revamp the immigrant visa system to insure that all available immigrant visas (both employment and family based) are issued in each fiscal year. Part of the stated goals would be to permit earlier filings of adjustment of status applications for employment based immigrants.

Expansion of the National Interest Waiver Program:

USCIS has been instructed to issue guidance that encourages greater use of the National Interest Waiver immigrant visa category for entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors and founders of companies.

A parole program has also been suggested for certain inventors, researchers and founders of new businesses who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but who have received substantial U.S. investor financing.

Change of Employment of Beneficiaries

USCIS has been instructed to issue regulations or policy guidance to provide more certainty regarding retention of green card qualification for beneficiaries of approved visa petitions who wish to accept promotions with their current employers or change employers.

Modernization of Labor Certifications:

The Department of Labor (DOL) has been instructed to issue new regulations that modernize the Program Electronic Review Management labor certification program.

Timing:

Aside from the provisions for H-4 spouses, no timeframe was specified.  DHS Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson expressed his expectation that the provisions be implemented in a timely manner. Some of the measures require a policy guidance memorandum from USCIS.  Others require rulemaking with proposed regulations and a 30 to 60 day comment period which is published in the Federal Register.

Updates:

We will provide updates regarding how these changes unfold.  Unfortunately, there is currently a great deal of misinformation and speculation circulating.  If you have any questions, please contact us. We will notify our clients as more details emerge.

Obama's Announcement: Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) program

On November 20, 2014, President Obama made an announcement relating to a planned series of executive actions. The focus of the President’s announcement is a new Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) program, which seeks to preserve family unity by allowing undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to seek protection from deportation when certain conditions are met. This program will allow eligible individuals to seek protection from deportation for three years at a time, granting them employment authorization and a social security number.

Preliminary criteria for eligibility includes:

    • Being a parent of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of any age,
    • Having been present in the U.S. since at least January 1, 2010;
    • Registering with the U.S. government; and
    • Not having a significant criminal record.

Additional modifications to immigration relief proposed by President Obama include expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by eliminating the age restriction for otherwise eligible individuals. Under the new guidelines, continuous residence will be required from January 1, 2010, and DACA will be granted in three year increments.

The President has also announced that improvements to existing employment-based immigration programs will be considered. Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization for STEM students will become more readily available. He also mentioned that work authorization may be granted for H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders. The entrepreneurial visa programs are expected to be expanded and visa, as well as work authorization portability for certain lawful immigrants will be streamlined, allowing such visa holders to move more freely from one employer to another while they are in the process of obtaining legal residence. The "T" and "U" visa programs might incur modifications to create an improved application process for victims of trafficking and crime.

At this time, we are awaiting further guidance on the implementation and processing of this executive order. We will continue to keep you updated and provide additional information relating to the proposed relief. Please contact us if you would like to schedule a free consultation. You may submit an inquiry by completing the Quick Contact form to the right or by calling our office.

IMPORTANT ALERT CONCERNING VISA ISSUANCE ABROAD

The State Department is experiencing technical difficulties with its system that issues non-immigrant visas.  This is causing substantial delays for those abroad who have applied for non-immigrant visas.  While the visa application may be approved, the actual issuance of these visas is delayed. This has resulted in visa applicants being unable to reenter to the U.S.

It is not known how long it will take for the State Department to fix this problem. To avoid possible delays, foreign national employees in the U.S. who need to apply for visas prior to reentry to the U.S. should check with their attorneys on current conditions before making travel plans.   This will enable them to make reasoned decisions as to whether or not planned travel should be postponed.

How the Federal Government Shutdown Affects U.S. Immigration Services: Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP remains hard at work on all cases. Please see here for more news.

  • USCIS announced on April 7 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption.
  • USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.
  • Same-Sex Marriages to be Recognized for green card petitions: Barst Mukamal & Kleiner, LLP has already begun processing many same-sex marriage permanent residence cases.
  • Free Webinar: Debunking Myths of Hiring Employees in the Immigration Context
  • Congratulations to Deborah J. Notkin who for the third year in a row was named one of the Nation’s 20 Most Powerful Immigration Attorneys by Human Resources Executive.
  • Congratulations to our own Alexis Axelrad, on being elected as Director of AILA National Board of Governors.
  • Barst Mukamal & Kleiner ranked as one of "The New York Area's Top Ranked Law Firms"
  • Emre Ozgu, ‘Exclusive Visas’ Eb-5 article

Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP is an international immigration law firm based in New York City.  Founded in 1930, BMK LLP is one of the oldest and most established immigration firms in the country, and one of very few firms of its boutique size offering a stand-alone immigration law practice.  Our team of experienced attorneys assists clients with a range of complex legal matters concerning visa options, permanent residency, labor certification, and enforcement issues.

At BMK LLP, our partners draw on decades of experience in immigration matters, and are recognized across the nation and throughout the world as being among the most knowledgeable attorneys currently practicing in this area of law.  As liaisons for various Chambers of Commerce, lecturers at prominent universities, regular commentators in the national media, and panelists with officials from the U.S. Department of State, Department of Labor, and Citizenship and Immigration Services, the legal team at BMK LLP is an established authority and resource on virtually every aspect of immigration law.  As a testament to our standing in the legal community, the majority of our partners have received an AV Preeminent rating from national directory of attorneys Martindale Hubbell, indicating that fellow attorneys and law firms rank us at the highest levels of professional excellence and ethical standards.

If you have an immigration concern and need experienced legal assistance in exploring your options, contact Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP for a consultation.  Our attorneys are dedicated to providing personalized assistance to each client they take on, and speak French, German, Hebrew, Mandarin, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Taiwanese, Turkish, Japanese, Yiddish, Korean and Wolof.


Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP is located in New York, NY and serves clients in and around New York, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Astoria, Brooklyn, Woodside, Maspeth, Middle Village, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Ridgewood, East Elmhurst, Bronx, Rego Park, Corona, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, College Point, Ozone Park, Jamaica, Howard Beach, Bronx County, Kings County, New York County and Queens County.

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