Lawyers Dedicated to Serving the Immigrant Community
In This Issue
Time for H-1B Applicants and Students to Think Ahead by W. John Yahya Vandenberg, Esq.
Take Advantage of Our Nations Inclusive Citizenship Laws by Umar Abdur Rahman, Esq.
The Traffic Stop: Protecting Your Rights by Antonio J. Gil, Esq.
Follow Hogan & Vandenberg on Twitter
Become a fan! Hogan & Vandenberg is now on Facebook
Time for H-1B Applicants and Students to Think Ahead
Its March, and that means two things in Immigration Law: its time to prepare the H-1B applications, and time for graduating F-1 Students to prepare for jobs. Both issues are related, and require more planning this year than in previous years. The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) is less forgiving than in the past.
First, for H-1Bs, employers and applicants should know that its not business as usual. In previous years, obtaining a Labor Condition Application (LCA) was easy: submit the information and you automatically received a certified LCA to print and sign. With the advent of iCert, however, LCAs are neither quick nor sure. If the Department of Labor doesn’t pre-verify the Petitioners Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), they could deny the LCA a process taking up to two weeks. But even a pre-verification doesn’t guarantee an approval.
To make matters more complicated, USCIS is taking a very hard look at the third-party employer-employee relationships. A new USCIS Memorandum will make it very difficult for thousands of persons to obtain H-1B visas or extend H-1B visas they already have, especially consultants. It may even affect persons who already have H-1Bs. While the American Immigration Lawyer Association will likely challenge the legality of this memorandum, for the time being it is in effect, and USCIS will grant or deny H-1B visas based on its guidance.
For students, it is time to consider where they will be employed during their Optional Practical Training (OPT), and how their work will allow them to remain in the United States, if they so wish. Students earning 4 year or graduate degrees are generally entitled to one year of OPT to gain experience in their profession, provided they apply before graduation. Students who study Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) are eligible for up to 17 additional months in most circumstances. Students should ensure that their OPT time is spent productively and leads to H-1B or greencard sponsorship. You don’t want to end up like the brilliant biosciences PhD who spent his entire year of OPT working for an employer who later refused to give him a job, leaving him with few options to remain. Remember also that students who are not employed for over 60 days can violate their OPT. And whenever someone in OPT travels, they should always carry a letter from their employer confirming their employment.
In sum, its more important than ever to plan your immigration matters and utilize our skills as experienced attorneys. I hope you enjoy our below articles about U.S. citizenship, dealing with police when driving, and TPS for Haiti. If you or a friend require our assistance, contact us to schedule a consultation in any of our three offices. We are pleased to serve, and want to help you to achieve your goals.
Take Advantage of Our Nations Inclusive Citizenship Laws
Up to a million people every year become citizens of our country. The benefit that results from being a U.S. Citizen is huge. It behooves one to see if he or she is eligible for citizenship and begin the naturalization process.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I adore the Middle East. Yet, it deeply bothers me that the citizenship laws in much of the Middle East are amongst the worlds most exclusivist. When I was in Saudi Arabia in 2007 for the annual hajj I couldn’t help but notice that much of the work for pilgrims was done by South Asian and African teens. I discovered that they spoke the Saudi dialect of Arabic, considered themselves Saudi, and were born in Saudi Arabia. Yet, the chances of these youth ever becoming Saudi citizens are slim. Unless their parents are Saudi, only in rare cases would Saudi Arabia grant citizenship.
In America, though, once an individual obtains U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence, our naturalization laws are quite liberal. As long as one has resided continuously as a green card holder for five years (or three years if one is married to a U.S. Citizen), half of the time physically being spent in the U.S., an individual who has good moral character and can pass an English and History exam is generally eligible for naturalization.
There are a few important points to remember. First, yes, you need an attorney. Second, there is a requirement that one show Good Moral Character. A potential applicant should consult us any time he or she has had any type of encounter with law enforcement. There are times when it is wise to avoid applying for naturalization because of the potential consequences.
The third area of concern is lengthy travel outside the U.S. Travel more than 180 days but less than a year can result in a denial. However, this can be overcome by demonstrating exigent circumstances and maintenance of U.S. residence. Travel longer than one full year disqualifies one from using that time period for naturalization. It can also pose a threat to keeping the green card.
Finally, prepare for the English and History exam. Some people are exempt from the language requirement, such as people of advanced age or individuals with a learning disability. If your English is weak, start taking classes. If you have a disability, we can help you waive it in many cases.
While the U.S. system isn’t perfect, once you are naturalized, you are as American as someone born in America. You can vote, travel, and petition for your parents, spouse, children and even brothers and sisters. If you’re eligible, now is the time!
Philadelphia Office Attorneys and Staff
We Speak: Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Creole, Bosnian, French, and more!
Hogan & Vandenberg LLC is a medium-sized immigration firm with three locations, one serving in Philadelphia, PA, one in Wilmington, DE and a new office in Allentown, PA. The firm consists of four attorneys and a team of paralegals and is led by two partners, Rick Hogan (Wilmington) and John Yahya Vandenberg (Philadelphia & Allentown). Our legal team has helped thousands of individuals, institutions and businesses strategize, address and resolve issues regarding immigration as well as other areas of law, including commercial, criminal, discrimination, and landlord-tenant. The consultation fees are reasonable and will be credited to the client if the firm is hired. The firm’s diverse and highly qualified legal team is dedicated to serving our clients and earning their trust.
For the entire month of January at the new office in Allentown, there will be no consultation fees charged to the client and no appointments will be necessary on “Walk-In Wednesdays” between 9am and 6pm.