Application Procedures

Friday, February 7, 2014

How to Prepare for an Immigration Consultation

Try to get a referral. Do you have friends or professional colleagues who have had immigration issues?? Chances are they used a lawyer and have an opinion on the quality of their work.  

If you can’t get a referral from reliable person, go a different direction. We suggest using an AILA member ONLY.  AILA stands for American Immigration Lawyers Association, and it’s the world’s largest association of attorneys and law professors who practice and teach in the area of US immigration law.

After you have schedule a consultation, you have to come to the table prepared with facts and information that the lawyer needs, to get the most for your money.

We need five types of information in a consultation:

(1)  Where you are and where you want to go, ie, where are you physically residing in the world? Where do you want to go (to the US)?

What employer do you have, if any? Which one do you want to join and at which location?

(2)  When you want to arrive to the destination – Ideally (fastest) and realistically (slowest, ie when it’s a game-changer). Notably, we normally provide the fast/slow during the consultation if you don’t know.

(3)  Age of the person who wants to relocate.

(4)  Current visa status under the rules of the destination country, if any.

(5)  Dates and outcomes of any official paperwork ever given to the person by the destination country – ie approval notices, receipt notices, visa stamps, refusals.
In our office, a consultation with an attorney helps even if you never hire us, because we spend several (free) minutes and usually 20-60 (paid) on the phone asking questions and giving answers - so that you can start shaping an immigration strategy to help you achieve your goals.  If we’re not the ones for the job, we end a call with some advice and send you to a reputable “AILA” firm which matches your needs.
If you have a complex case, getting a second opinion is advisable. Take a look at my blog post titled, “Choosing Immigration Counsel” to help you know what to look for when shopping around:

IMPORTANT TIP: If I were looking for a work-based visa (temp visas like: H-1B, E-1/2/3, TN, L-1, O-1; immigrant visas in most popular employment based [EB] preference categories [EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-5]  - I would start with a consultation process with at least 2 business immigration lawyers recommended (for good work) who have background in small- to mid-sized business immigration, with 8+ years experience to be able to develop a complex strategy covering multiple options, as needed.
Ask each lawyer which visa they recommend off the facts discussed in the 30-45 minute session, including possible back-up plans, and ask each for some examples of their recent similar cases (they should provide a 2-minute fact scenario).
IMPORTANT TIP: If the lawyer stalls during the conversation because their sub-focus is really in large/easy corporate immigration work (where complex issues are the exception rather than the rule), deportation or another immigration area. Hopefully they will hint at this potential weakness and then you simply ask them to recommend another business immigration lawyer they know and trust.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Q & A: B-2 visa holder risks of refusal and minimizing the same; F-1 visa as alternative option

Question: My girlfriend is from Brazil and has a B-2 visa stamp. Over the last year, she has spent more than half the time visiting me in the US. The last time she left was about three months, and now she wants to return. Does she run any risk of being denied entry, and how to minimize such risks? Can she alternatively apply for an F-1 VISA to study English?

Read more . . .

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Immigration lawyers around the United States welcomed the Administration's recent announcement that younger immigrants may be eligible for "Deferred Action" and work authorization. The policy will grant qualified immigrants the opportunity to live free from fear of deportation and allow them to work legally. This exciting new development brings hope to immigrants and their families. It is not currently a path to a Green Card or Citizenship, nor does it grant permanent legal status to anyone. It will also not extend to family members – everyone must qualify on his or her own.

Read more . . .

Sunday, January 29, 2012

FY2012 Visa Bulletin Predictions: Forward movement through March, steady for summer then possible retrogression

On the 23 JAN 2012 the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) posted notes from a discussion with Charlie Oppenheim of the Visa Office about visa demand in the employment preference categories, and predictions for the FY2012 Visa Bulletin.

Read more . . .

Sunday, January 29, 2012

SF immlawyr Q & A: I-539 application basics (being in status at the time of filing the change or extension of status)

Question: Foreign national is in H-1B status with I-94 expiring in June 2012. Spouse has indepedant L-1A status. I-129 H-1B extension pending with USCIS. Foreign national is asking RWG - in case H-1B extension is rejected, can he change status to L-2 (dependent of L-1A) without having to leave the United States?

RWG Answer: Possibly.

Read more . . .

Monday, January 23, 2012

New USCIS system created to streamline the application process for immigration benefits: ELIS


USCIS ELIS is a user-friendly system created to streamline the application process for immigration benefits. It allows immigration benefit seekers and their legal representatives to create an account and file benefit requests online. USCIS ELIS provides more accurate and secure customer service. It also allows USCIS to process cases in a more efficient, consistent and secure environment.

Who will be able to use USCIS ELIS?

In this initial release, certain applicants can electronically file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Over time, USCIS ELIS will include more benefit types and increased functions.

Link to USCIS webpage with more information.

Monday, August 29, 2011 Say Goodbye to Traditional Immigration Processing Forms

In preparation for a long-delayed transition to online processing of immigration applications, the Homeland Security Department has released new rules for describing forms and filing procedures in official policies.

The 43-page federal notice published Monday instructs the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a unit of DHS, to stop typing on documents the traditional numbers and titles for various benefit claims, such as "Application for Naturalization, form N-400." Instead, to accommodate the new computerized Transformation system, USCIS policies and rules will carry more generic phrases, such as "the form designated by USCIS."

Read more . . .

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

San Francisco Immigration Lawyer Q & A: Upgrading a green card case from EB-3 to EB-2 and shaving years off green card wait time

Question: I have 13 years of teaching experience, before moving to the US. My employer filed my Labor Certification (PERM) application and I-140 under the EB3 category with a priority date in 2009. Now, I am planning to port from EB3 to EB2. Is this possible with the same employer? My previous lawyer did not include my 11 years of experience. He just put my 2 years of experience in China. Also, what would happen to my eldest daughter, who will turn 21 in a couple of years, if I just wait for my 2009 priority date to become current?

Answer: Your current employer may indeed file a new PERM with EB-2 requirements, but not only do you have to be qualified, the position offered must also qualify. Filing a second labor certification with the same employer might be appropriate in several situations. A change to a different occupation classification as defined by the Department of Labor is one event that would require filing a second labor certification. In addition, a second labor certification might be justified when (1) the first labor certification was an EB3; (2) you qualified for EB2 at the time you began working in the current occupation; (3) your manager approves EB2 requirements; and (4) you experienced an objective change in the terms of employment such that EB2 qualifications are now required for the job. The objective change may consist of a promotion or a new work assignment that requires higher qualifications. Finally, as long as each I-140 would be accurate at the time of filing. You are entitled to the earliest priority date under the regulation 8 CFR 204.5(e).

Monday, August 15, 2011

AILA Liaison Practice Pointer: VSC: Preferred Order of Documents for Submission of Form I-129 Petitions

The Vermont Service Center has confirmed to AILA Liaison that its preferred order of Form I-129 petition and supporting documents at the time of submission is as follows:

1. Fee(s) - staple to first page

2. I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service (if filing as Premium Processing)

3. Form G-28

4. Form I-129 petition pages 1- 6 (and 7 if submitted)

5. Classification or Free Trade Supplement page

6. H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement, if applicable

7. Form I-129 Addendums/Attachments

8. Labor Condition Application or application for temporary labor certification, if applicable

9. SEVIS form, if applicable

10. I-94 copies, passport pages, I-797 approval notices

11. Attorney letter

12. Company letter

13. Documents related to the beneficiary's qualifications

14. Other supporting documents

15. I-129 Duplicate Copy and supporting documentation

By submitting the documents in the preferred order, practitioners may help facilitate faster administrative processing of cases through the VSC intake process.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

San Francisco Immigration Lawyer: USCIS Denial Overturned by AAO on Appeal in L-1 New Office Extension Case

Below please find a copy of a January 2011 AAO [Administrative Appeals Office] decision which overturns a denial issued by USCIS in an L-1 “New Office” extension case.

L-1 “New Office” petitions are commonly used when an established foreign company wants to expand in the United States and send a manager/executive or specialized knowledge employee to work for the NEW U.S. entity.

New Office L-1s are granted for one year by showing, among other things, physical premises in the U.S. and the financial viability of the U.S. entity.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

San Francisco Immigration Lawyer Q & A: Labor Certification Application/PERM based green card cases and U.S. labor market tests

Q: My employer wants to file a Labor Certification “PERM” based green card application for me. What are the regulations regarding advertising the position? 

A: A labor certification application is commonly referred to as “PERM” application and is submitted electronically to the U.S. Department of Labor after the U.S. employer [sponsor] performs a good faith test of the U.S. labor market. The PERM based green card process consists of three Stages:

Read more . . .

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