Service Category: Business Immigration

TN NAFTA Professionals

The TN visa is a non-immigrant visa allowing Canadian and Mexican professionals to enter the United States for work. Your eligibility and application process differ depending on whether you are Canadian or Mexican. 

General Eligibility

Both Mexican citizens and Canadian citizens need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for the TN visa:

  • You are a citizen of Mexico or Canada.
  • Your profession is listed in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA. 
  • You have the listed credentials. 

What are the NAFTA Professions?

There are more than 60 professions that qualify you for a TN visa, including:

  • Accountant
  • Economist
  • Hotel manager
  • Land surveyor
  • Teachers
  • Various scientists
  • Various medical practitioners

Your immigration attorney can confirm for you whether or not your profession and credentials qualify.

Eligibility for Canadians

Canadian citizens do not need to use visa processing through a U.S. Embassy to get a TN visa. Instead, they can arrive at any port of entry with the rigorous evidence and seek admission.  

We strongly suggest that you work with an experienced attorney to be sure your evidence is sufficient to gain entry. 

Eligibility for Mexicans

Mexican citizens must use visa processing through a U.S. Embassy abroad to seek a TN visa. As with Canadian applications, it is critical that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney to prepare your application. 

Period of stay on a TN

Your initial period of stay on a TN visa is three years.

Dependents of TN Non-immigrants

Your spouse and children may join you in the United States on a TN visa. They cannot be granted a TN visa for longer than the principal immigrant. 

Can your spouse work when you’re on a TN Visa?

Your spouse cannot work while you’re on a TN visa, and neither can your children. However, they may attend school or study.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

The TN visa may, or may not, be right for you. The experienced immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law can walk you through your specific visa options and make sure you have enough of the right kind of proof for your application to be approved. Working with an immigration attorney can prevent you from wasting the opportunity you have in the United States. Reach out to us today for guidance.

Employer Immigration Compliance Lawyer

Employers are responsible for verifying their employee’s identity and eligibility to work in the United States. You must complete an I-9 form for your employees and should take other precautions to protect yourself from the negative consequences of immigration non-compliance. At Poarch Thompson Law, our experienced immigration attorneys can help you understand your obligations and fulfill them, reducing your liability. Here are the basics of employer immigration compliance and answers to the most common questions.

An Increase in Employer Immigration Compliance Audits

We have seen a dramatic increase in the frequency of employer immigration compliance audits. The Trump Administration is seeking to create a “culture of compliance” among those who employ immigrants. This change of policy is intended to discourage illegal immigrants since few people would choose to enter a country where they know they will not be able to find work.

As being audited is now likely, it is more important than ever to be sure your organization follows immigration law and hires an experienced immigration attorney.

The I-9 Form

The I-9, or the employment eligibility verification form, is the foundation of your immigration responsibility. You must have an I-9 form on hand for every employee. You must fill out the form within three days of hiring the employee. On the form, you are required you to indicate the immigration status of the employee. They may be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or on a visa that allows them to have work authorization in the United States.

What happens if I fail to comply with the Law?

If you cannot produce an I-9 form for your employees, you can be charged a fine of up to $4,313 per illegal employee. If this is the second time you have been penalized, the fine increases to a maximum of $10,781. For a third and further time, you may face fines of $21,563 per employee.

Remember, these fines only apply if the government can prove you knowingly hired the illegal employee. If you follow our best practices listed below, you likely won’t be fined if you make an honest mistake.

Does everyone I hire need to prove that they are legally eligible to work in the U.S.?

Yes, all employees must prove they can legally work in the United States. They may present you with a current passport, permanent resident card, employment authorization card, or a few other documents along with proof of identity. Be sure these documents are not expired.

How can an employer make sure the document(s) an employee presents are authentic?

The verification process is straightforward. Inspect the documents. Be sure that they are not expired, that they reasonably seem authentic, and relate to the person who presented them. Do not accept photocopies.

You may but are not required to use the E-Verify system to verify employment eligibility online.

What if the employee and government provided information doesn’t match up?

If you find that a record the employee provided doesn’t match government provided information, you may not fire, suspend, or otherwise take action against this employee. Instead, you have to give them the opportunity to correct it. At this juncture, it’s important to speak with an immigration attorney experienced with employer compliance to ensure you are following the best protocol after recurring a “no match” letter.

Best practices employers can use to protect themselves

As long as you do your due diligence to abide by the law, you will avoid sanction. Here are the best practices we recommend you follow:

  • I-9: Complete the I-9 accurately and on time. Keep multiple copies of it and be sure that it is secured if stored digitally.
  • Legal representation: Unusual circumstances will arise. Be sure you have attorneys who are experienced with immigration law who can advise you.
  • Verification process: When verifying employees, discuss their immigration status in a private room or off-site. It is your responsibility to keep your employee’s information private. Also, be sure you follow up on anything suspicious.
  • Self-Audits: Especially in mid-sized to large organizations, self-audits can help you ensure that your staff is all following procedure and that you are protecting yourself from liability.
  • E-Verify: It is optional. Being proactive is always best to protect yourself.
  • Contractors: If you use contractors or subcontractors, you may still be liable for their employer immigration compliance. Follow up with them, and find out what their compliance policies are.

Storing I-9 forms electronically

If you are going to store I-9 forms electronically, you need to take reasonable safeguards to protect them. Ensure that they are accurate and unlikely to be deleted or lost. Be sure you can print them off in hard copy and that they can be searched.

Discrimination and exceptions to discrimination laws

It is often confusing to tell the difference between discriminating against someone’s immigration status and following the law to prevent employing an illegal immigrant. There are laws against discrimination on the basis of national origin. It’s best to strive to treat all employees equally and to retain legal counsel to help guide you.

What you can do if a prospective hire doesn’t have work authorization

Many aliens seek employment in the U.S. in the hopes an employer will sponsor them so that they can work here. If someone has been honest with you that they don’t currently have work authorization, you may be able to sponsor them. It is important you seek good advice from competent immigration attorneys.

How Poarch Thompson Law can help?

Employer immigration compliance is quite complex, and violations carry high penalties. Guidance from the experienced immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law can help you limit your liability and follow the law. We can help you develop a written policy for dealing with work authorization that will guide you or offer advice for unusual circumstances. Reach out to us today.

Employment-Based Green Cards

Green Card for employment

You can get a green card, or a permanent resident card, on the basis of your employment with a U.S. company. At Poarch Thompson Law, our experienced immigration attorneys can answer all of your questions about getting an employment-based green card.

How to get an employment Green Card

If you’re seeking an employment green card, there are four basic avenues you can use:

  1. Job offer: You can get a formal job offer from a U.S. company and then apply for a green card.
  2. Self-promotion: If you have extraordinary abilities or the government decides it is in the national interest to allow you to move to the U.S., you can get a green card. You should get an attorney’s help for these processes.
  3. Investment: If you can create ten new jobs in the U.S. with your business, you can apply for an EB-5 green card.
  4. Special immigrants: There are a few other immigrant types that can qualify for work-based visas. We list them below, in the EB-4 category.

Consular Processing

Many of those who get employment green cards will use consular processing, which means you’ll wait in your home country while your visa is processed and submit your form to your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate.

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status

If you are in the United States, you may adjust your status to move from your EB-1 visa or another employment visa to permanent resident status. Whether and when you can adjust your status depends both on the type of visa you have and your country of origin.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Do you have other questions about gaining an employment green card? Poarch Thompson Law can walk you through the process so that you file the right forms when and your family members feel secure while you work in the United States. Reach out to us today.

H-1B Specialty Visa

H-1B Specialty Visa

The H-1B specialty visa is for non-immigrants who have gained employment with a U.S. company in a specialty occupation. In order to get an H-1B specialty visa, you need a job offer from a U.S. company and to meet several requirements. The experienced immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law can answer your questions about the H-1B non-immigrant visa process and walk you through it.

H1B visas are nonimmigrant, employment-based visas for specialized knowledge workers that are commonly used prior to applying for permanent residence. However, in most years, H1Bs come with some baggage, including a quickly exhausted annual visa cap (65,000 general cap; 20,000 master’s cap) that precipitates a nail-biting lottery due to the volume of applications that USCIS receives.  In 2015, nearly 233,000 applicants exhausted the cap in the first five business days after the cap opened.

H-1B Requests for Evidence

After your interview or your company sends out your petition, the USCIS may respond with a request for information. This means that you or the company have left out some key detail or document that the USCIS needs in order to assess your eligibility for the visa. It does not mean your petition will be rejected. Instead, it lists exactly what evidence they need and how long you have to send it to them. If you or your company fail to respond to this request, then your petition will be rejected.

H-1B Visa Processing Time

You should start the process to get your H-1B six months before you need it. Processing is extremely delayed at present. 

H-1B Visa Extension

The H-1B visa can be extended for another three years after its initial three years. Your employer has to file the extension petition.

Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can join H-1B visa holders in the United States.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

The H-1B visa category is highly scrutinized. It’s wise to have an immigration attorney walk you through the H-1B non-immigrant visa process, as a company and employee. We can help you avoid common pitfalls. Reach out to us today.

Investor or Trader Treaty Visas (E Visas)

Investor or Trader Treaty Visas

Do you have a business, trade, or investments in the United States? Would you like to? An E-1 visa or an E-2 visa, otherwise known as treaty investor visas and trader treaty visas, can allow you to enter the United States so that you can carry out your business. Which visa is right for you, and how can you qualify?

Let our immigration attorneys guide you and answer your common questions about these two visas and how you can ensure your application is approved.

What are E-1 and E-2 Visas?

The E-1 and E-2 visas are authorsized by the US treaty.

The E-1 visa is a treaty trader visa. It allows citizens of a country with which the United States has a trade agreement to come to the United States in order to complete that trade.

The E-2 visa is a treaty investor visa. It allows citizens of another country to enter the United States if they are directing or overseeing significant investments on U.S. soil.

Who is qualified for an E-1 Visa or an E-2 Visa?

In order to qualify for an E-1 visa, you must be a citizen of a country with which the United States has a trade agreement. You must be conducting substantial trade between that country and the United States. “Substantial” is not strictly defined in the law, but the immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law can help you determine if your trade is considered substantial.

In order to qualify for your E-2 visa, you must be a citizen of one of the countries which have a suitable treaty with the United States. You must have invested or be currently investing a substantial amount of money in the United States. You must be overseeing or directing that investment.

This visa category is complex, and the U.S. Embassy in a treaty country has its own defined processes for application. Because the foregoing qualifications are not exhaustive and fail to document every requirement, it is critical to have competent immigration assistance for this visa.

What is the difference between an E-1, E-2, and EB5 Visa?

In order to qualify for an E-1 or an E-2 visa, you must be entering the United States intending to do business, not with any other intention. These are non-immigrant visas.

If you also intend to become a lawful permanent resident and are investing $500,000 or $1 million (depending on the geographic area in which you are investing), you should consider applying for an EB5 visa instead. The EB5 visa is for investors who want a green card.

Family members and employees

If you obtain an E-1 visa or an E-2 visa, your spouse and children may accompany you as dependents, no matter their nationality. Children must be under 21 years of age and unmarried.

How long will it take for me to get an E-1 or E-2 Visa?

E visa application processing times depend on the U.S. Embassy in the treaty country.

Can I get an extension for my E-1 or E-2 Visa?

Existing E-1 and E-2 visa holders can get extensions for an additional two years. You can continue extending these visas indefinitely.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Working with Poarch Thompson Law for Treaty Trader or Investor Visas is simple and predictable. We handle most E-1 and E-2 visas on a flat fee basis, which means you know precisely how much the process will cost before you start. Our services help you increase your chances of being approved for the visa of your choice and ensure the process is convenient so that you can get back to business.

L-1 Visas

The L-1 visas are two types of visas a corporation can use to transfer specialty workers, managers or executives to the United States. L-1 visas are complex and their adjudication by USCIS is rigorous. 

Employee qualifications for L-1 Visas

You must have a qualifying employer who can sponsor you. Your employer is considered the petitioner, and you are considered the beneficiary.

You must also meet certain qualifications to be eligible. You must have worked with the employer for a full year within the last three years before you apply. You must also be considered an executive, manager, or staff member with specialized knowledge.

Business owners can apply for an L-1 visa, which allow U.S. business development without considerable investment.

New office petitions & special rules

If you are opening a new office in the United States, your L-1 petitions will face more scrutiny. You also have additional rules to follow. These cases are especially complex and the supporting documents required to support the petition are often voluminous.

Switching from L-1B to L-1A or Green Card

You may want to switch from an L-1B visa to an L-1A in order to and take advantage of the L-1A’s longer term of stay upon renewal. Your employer must petition for your new visa before your first one expires. Also those in L-1A status often consider changing to employment-based (first preference) to secure a green card.

Contact us to explore these options. 

Family of L-1 Workers

If you receive an L-1A or L-1B visa, your spouse and children may live with you in the United States. Children are under 21 and unmarried.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Over the last few years, the USCIS has become more strict with and critical of L-1A and L-1B visa petitions. Foreign companies and U.S. companies must be more careful about their applications. Poarch Thompson Law can give you the best chance of success, from ensuring your employee qualifies as having special knowledge, to walking them through the green card process.

Request for Evidence and Notice of Intent to Deny

Request for Evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)

After you submit a petition or application to USCIS, they may respond in a number of ways. Sometimes, they use requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID) to alert you to problems with your application or petition. Both of these hurdles can be successfully overcome, especially with the help of an experienced immigration attorney. Allow us to answer your most common questions about requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID).

What is a Request for Evidence (RFE)?

A request for evidence is USCIS’s notice that your petition is missing evidence that they need to decide your petition or application. The RFE will tell you what evidence or kind of evidence is missing. You must respond timely to these requests. RFEs are increasingly common in any and every type of filing from employment-based non-immigrant visa filings to U Visa or special immigrant status filings. 

What is a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)?

A notice of intent to deny informs you of defects that are serious enough that USCIS is considering denying your petition or application. It also requires a timely response and may result in denial if the applicant or petitioner cannot adequately address the issues set forth in the NOID.

How an RFE differs from a NOID

While a request for evidence tells you that the USCIS cannot evaluate your petition or application in its current form, a NOID is more serious and tells you that USCIS can deny your petition or application in its current form. Usually, this means that you don’t meet the criteria for the visa, green card, or adjustment of status for which you applied. Most importantly, the timeline for responding is different. A NOID usually only permits 33 days for a response, while an RFE usually permits approximately 87 days. The deadline for response will be stated clearly on the RFE or NOID.

New policies surrounding RFEs and NOIDs

New policy has been implemented which grants USCIS the ability to simply deny any petition or application that is missing substantial information or that, in its current form, does not meet the standard of proof necessary for the visa type. While prior to September 1, 2018, USCIS would have issued either an RFE or NOID to these applicants, your request may now be denied outright. This can have serious consequences and as a result, requires competent, legally sufficient filings initially.

What to do if you received an RFE or a NOID

Contact a competent immigration attorney immediately. Do not respond partially to the RFE or noiD before speaking with an immigration attorney. Once USCIS receives a partial response or partial evidence, they may issue a denial based on the limited evidence they received. Many RFEs or NOIDs can be overcome with the assistance of competent counsel, but not all. The earlier you are able to receive good legal advice on whether or how to respond, the more likely you are to prevail with USCIS.

Failure to respond to an RFE or NOID

If you do not respond before the deadline, or if you respond inadequately to USCIS’ request, your application or petition will be denied.

Denials after RFE and NOID

In certain circumstances, you can appeal a denial, although not all denied petitions permit appeal. Sometimes, you may move to reopen the case for adjudicator error or have USCIS reconsider your petition in light of new evidence or law. Sometimes, the only option is to apply for a new visa type.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID) may be stressful. Even if you’ve done your best to determine your eligibility and send the proof USCIS requests, you may make simple errors that have unfortunate consequences. Call us today. 

Religious Workers Visa (R-1)

R-1 Temporary Non-immigrant Religious Workers

Those who would like to come to the United States to work as a minister or work in another religious role may use the R-1 visa. It is also not the only religious immigration option. The experienced attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law can help you determine if the R-1 visa is right for you.

Who is eligible to be a Non-immigrant Religious Worker?

In order to be eligible for an R-1 visa, you must:

  • Have been a member of your sponsoring organization for at least two years before filing form I-130
  • Have worked continuously for the last two years in a religious capacity, professionally or non-professionally
  • Be seeking entry to the United States to perform religious work for your organization

Organizations that can sponsor R-1

In order to sponsor a non-immigrant religious worker, your organization must be a bona fide non-profit religious organization. This means that the organization meets the following standards:

  • Recognized as a non-profit religious organization in the U.S.
  • A non-profit religious organization that is affiliated with a recognized religious denomination in the U.S.
  • A religious organization that is authorized to use a group tax exemption

What a Religious Denomination means

In order to be a religious denomination, your organization must demonstrate one, or more, of the following conditions:

  • Common creed or faith
  • Common form of worship
  • Common formal code of doctrine and discipline
  • Common religious services and ceremonies
  • Comparable indicia of a bona fide religious denomination

What is a Minister under Immigration Law?

A minister is someone who is authorized by the religion to which they belong to perform religious worship and other religious duties usually performed by that religion’s clergy. The petitioner must prove that the minister was fully trained according to their religious tradition and attest that the minister is qualified.

Can we use Premium Processing for R-1 Visas?

You can use premium processing for an R-1 visa. In general, you can expect the R-1 visa process to take eight months or more. With premium processing, it could take as little as two weeks.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on my R-1 Visa and are there any extensions available?

R-1 visas are granted for an initial period of stay of 30 months. They can be extended for another 30 months but cannot be renewed a third time. You may stay in the U.S. a maximum of five years on this visa. 

As your cap approaches, you should look into another visa to extend your stay, and Poarch Thompson Law can help you navigate what visa may be best for you. 

How Poarch Thompson Law can help?

It’s wise to have experienced immigration attorneys to help you navigate these changes and successfully sponsor your ministers or be sponsored as a minister to the United States. Reach out to us today.

Immigration Litigation and Appeals

Sometimes USCIS makes mistakes in your adjudication or intractable delays require you to take action in the court system. Other times, litigation or appeal is necessary to preserve your right to remain in the U.S. 

You don’t need to handle your immigration litigation and appeals alone. The right immigration lawyer from Poarch Thompson Law will make the process as straightforward as possible while giving you the best chance to remain in the U.S. and immigrate successfully. To help you in this stressful time, our immigration lawyers want to answer your most common questions and explain what immigration litigation and appeals mean and what you can expect from them.  

What Are Immigration Litigation and Appeals?  

Litigation simply means the process of trying a court case. Immigration litigation is, therefore, trying a court case that involves immigration. Immigration litigation can take place in many courts, including the Board of Immigration Appeals, Federal District Courts, Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. 

An appeal is simply a request for a judge to revisit the decision made by another judge (or agency). Appeals may occur in affirmatively filed petitions before USCIS and in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court. In immigration court, the government can also ask to appeal your case if they think a judge made a mistake in your favor. 

Can My Case Be Challenged in Federal Court? 

Not all cases can be challenged in federal court. Poarch Thompson Law attorneys will be honest about your chances in federal court, the costs of litigation, and the benefits and burdens of litigating. Speak with us immediately if you need to make an immigration appeal. 

How Poarch Thompson Law Can Help?

An experienced immigration lawyer offers your best chance of being successful with immigration litigation and appeals. Often, the simple decision to hire an immigration attorney can stop unreasonable delays and judicial errors. Poarch Thompson Law attorneys are strong advocates in all immigration matters. If you have questions or are facing immigration matters, speak to us today. 

Foreign Direct Investment & Business Creation

If you represent a foreign entity that wants to establish business in the United States, business creation should be central to your plan. You need to select the right business, based on your current organizational structure, tax concerns, and the type of business you wish to be involved in while in the United States.

Poarch Thompson Law works closely with corporate counsel to navigate immigration issues presented by foreign business ownership in the U.S.

Investing in Virginia

Virginia is a wise option for foreign direct investment. The state offers many performance-based incentives that can help your business get a strong foothold in the United States. 

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Foreign direct investment is far from simple, but it’s also highly rewarding. Working with Poarch Thompson Law can substantially reduce your risk. We can help you avoid common pitfalls, make the best decisions for your specific business, and ensure your staff’s visa applications go as smoothly as possible. Reach out to us today.

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