Immigration

Overview

Navigating the maze of the immigration laws can be a daunting and intimidating challenge. The members of our Immigration Team will guide you toward your objective with a steady hand. We provide immigration services to businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals. Our team handles all types of immigration matters, such as applications for employment-based professional visas, intra-company transfers to allow employees from overseas to work at U.S. companies, and F-1 students changing to H-1B. We also assist with petitions for immediate family members and applications for citizenship, evaluate the risks to individuals with employment or travel issues, and address the effect of criminal charges on immigration status.

Practice Focus

  • Adjustment of status to permanent resident
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”)
  • Family immigration for spouses, K-1 fiancées, parents and siblings
  • H-1B portability
  • I-9 compliance issues and audits
  • Immigrant visas (“green card”)
  • J-1 waivers for foreign physicians
  • LGBT couples
  • National interest waivers
  • Naturalization
  • Outstanding researchers and professors
  • PERM labor certifications
  • Removal (deportation)
  • Treaty Investor visas
  • Work visas such as H-1B, E-2, E-3, L-1, O-1, P-1, R-1, TN

Representative Matters

  • Regularly provide immigration services to businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals in a variety of industry sectors
  • Extensive experience in obtaining employment-based professional visas
  • Developed successful strategies to obtain immigrant visas (“green cards”)
  • Obtained appropriate visas for immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents
  • Acquired L visas for intra-company transferees so foreign employees may lawfully work in U.S. affiliates
  • Counseled individuals on visas, employment and travel issues to avoid risking visa status
  • Achieved dismissal of removal/deportation cases before the Boston Immigration Court

Industries Represented

  • Arts (dance and music)
  • Biotech
  • Education
  • Health care
  • Hi-tech
  • Hospitals
  • Physicians
  • Retail
  • Small businesses

FAQs

Who can petition for a family member to come to the U.S.?
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may petition for certain family members to become lawful permanent residents.

U.S. citizens may petition for their “immediate relatives”—spouses, unmarried minor children (under 21 years old), and parents. For these family members there is no wait to get lawful permanent residence. As soon as the application for the family member is approved by USCIS, the immigrant family member can apply for lawful permanent residence.

U.S. citizens may also petition for unmarried adult children (21 and older), married sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters. These family members must wait to be able to apply for lawful permanent residence. Only a certain number of these family members every year will be given lawful permanent residence. Everyone else is on a waiting list.

I am a U.S Citizen and want to petition for my fiancée who lives abroad. Is it a problem if I have a criminal record?
Possibly. You are required to disclose any current or past protection or restraining orders issued against you. Criminal arrests, convictions, domestic violence, sexual offenses, multiple convictions for substance and/or alcohol abuse could create problems with your application.

I’ve had a conditional green card for one year. When can I file the I-751, Application to Remove the Conditions on Residence?
You can file Form I-751 within the 90-day period before your second anniversary as a conditional resident.

For the I-864 Affidavit of Support, my income level is too low to sponsor my spouse in accordance with the U.S Government Poverty Guidelines. Can I still sponsor her?
Yes, if you have a financial co-sponsor. The co-sponsor must be a U.S Citizen or green card holder and show sufficient income to overcome the poverty guidelines. You must submit your tax returns and all other requested documents as well, even if your income is below the poverty guidelines.

What is the “green card” or “diversity visa” lottery?
This is also known as the “green card lottery.” Each year the U.S. holds a lottery for approximately 50,000 immigrant visas for people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Lottery winners may apply for permanent residence.

How can I become a U.S. citizen?
You may become a U.S. citizen (1) by birth or (2) through naturalization. Learn more.

I live in Maine, but the law firm I’ve worked with in the past is in New Hampshire. Can I still use them to assist me with my naturalization application?
Yes! Immigration law falls under federal jurisdiction, which means that any licensed immigration attorney can practice in any state within the United States.

I received my green card four years ago. How do I know if I’m eligible to apply for naturalization now?
Generally, an applicant for naturalization must be: 18 years or older at the time of filing for naturalization; be a lawful permanent resident; demonstrate continuous permanent residence in the United States for a number of years (three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen; five years otherwise); show that you have been physically present in the United States for 18 months if married to a U.S. citizen (30 months otherwise); and show that you have lived for at least three months in the state where you claim residence. Note that these general guidelines don’t apply to every applicant.

What are some benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen?
Voting in Federal elections, bringing family members to the United States, obtaining citizenship for children born abroad, traveling with a U.S. passport, becoming eligible for Federal jobs, becoming an elected official and showing your patriotism are some of the important benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen.

If my Permanent Resident Card expires while I am applying for naturalization, do I still need to apply for a new card?
If you apply for naturalization six months or more before the expiration date on your Permanent Resident Card, you do not have to apply for a new card. However, you may apply for a renewal card if you wish by using Form I-90. Learn more.

If you apply for naturalization less than six months before the expiration date on your Permanent Resident Card, or do not apply for naturalization until your card has already expired, you must renew your card.

Employment Visa FAQs

What is the difference between an immigrant and a nonimmigrant visa?
An immigrant visa (green card) grants the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. A nonimmigrant visa allows a foreign national to temporarily enter the U.S. for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study.

What is the EB-1 Immigrant Visa Category?
Extraordinary Ability – certain immigrants with “extraordinary ability and achievements in the arts, sciences, business, athletics” who intend to enter the U.S. to continue to work in their field. This does not require a job offer or Labor Certification by a U.S. employer.

Outstanding Professors and Researchers – certain immigrants with at least three years of experience in teaching or research in their field entering a tenured or tenure-track or “comparable research position” in academics or private industry. This does not require a Labor Certification.

Multinational Executives or Managers – certain executives or managers with at least one year of qualifying experience as an overseas executive or manager within the past three years with their sponsoring employer. This does not require a Labor Certification.

What is the EB-2 Immigrant Visa Category?
EB-2 Immigrant Visas include members of a profession holding advanced degrees or their equivalent, and who are working in a position that requires an advanced degree. Additionally included are individuals who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business prospectively will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States, and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the United States.

What is the EB-3 Immigrant Visa Category?
Professionals – members of “professions” who are sponsored by a U.S. employer. Labor certification is required. In general, a profession is an occupation which has the minimum requirement of a four-year U.S. college degree in a field specific to that occupation.

Skilled Workers – workers whose jobs require a minimum of two years of specific training or experience who are sponsored by a U.S. employer. Labor certification is required.

Other Workers – workers whose jobs require less than two years of specific training or experience who are sponsored by a U.S. employer. Labor certification is required. Generally, workers in this category can anticipate a wait of ten years or more before they will be eligible to immigrate.

What is the H-1B visa program?
The H-1B visa program is used by U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent), such as scientists, engineers or computer programmers.

What are the requirements for an H-1B?

  1. The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a “specialty occupation:
    • A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
    • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
    • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
    • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree
  1. To qualify, the potential employee must meet one of the following criteria:
    • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
    • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
    • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration or certification to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
    • Have education, training or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty

For how long is an H-1B valid?
USCIS will issue up to three years at a time on an H-1B for a total of 6 years.

Is the H-1B employer specific?
Yes, you are only authorized to work for the petitioning employer on your H-1B.

May I work for more than one employer?
Yes, as long as you have an approved H-1B for each employer.

What is the H-1B Cap?
The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000. Not all H-1B nonimmigrants are subject to this annual cap. Up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S./Chile and U.S./Singapore Free Trade Agreements.

Some petitions are exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for a beneficiary who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

What is the first day you may file an H-1B petition for the next fiscal year?
April 1 for an October 1 start date.

What is “Cap-Gap”?
Current regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status during the period of time when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization would otherwise expire through the start date of their approved H-1B employment period. This is referred to as filling the “cap-gap,” meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.

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