Filing an I-130 Petition for your Spouse in the UK

When applying for an immigrant visa for your spouse (called an IR-1 or CR-1), the first stage of the process is called an I-130 petition.  This petition is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which has two lockboxes - one in Chicago and one in Phoenix.* If the US Citizen spouse lives abroad, (s)he can file the petition with the Chicago lockbox. 

However, depending on your circumstances, there may be a USCIS office abroad where you are eligible to file. Why would you want to do this? Wait times abroad can be much shorter at an international USCIS office than at a US-based lockbox.

At present, there is a USCIS field office in London where US Citizen residents of the United Kingdom can file an I-130 on behalf of a spouse. You must include evidence of your UK residency status with the petition. Please see the field office's website here for more information.

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* To see the most updated instructions on where to file an I-130, please see the USCIS website here

To speak with an experienced US Immigration Lawyer regarding filing an I-130 for your spouse, please email info@baimmigrationlaw.com or call 02031027966.

 

Visa Expiration Date vs. Visa Status: Are you in Status?

Many people get confused about a US visa expiration date - and how it affects their immigration status. A visa expiration date is separate from a status - understanding this distinction is important to avoid accidentally breaking immigration laws.

What is a Visa Expiration Date?

When a visitor has a visa approved, the date on it is the time period during which the visa holder will travel to the US to ask for permission to enter the country. The border officer will then inspect the visa holder and decide whether to allow him or her to enter, and for how long. 

What is a Visa Status?

A visa status is granted when the border officer allows a visa holder to enter the US. The officer will determine how long the visitor will be 'in status' before they either must leave the US or apply for an extension. The status expiration date is recorded as an I-94 number. The visitor must also follow any rules that a visa status carries (these typically follow the visa category - ex. an E-2 investor directing and developing a business), or will be 'out of status'.

Before 2013, the I-94 stamp with a handwritten expiration date was used in a passport to confer the time period a visitor would be in status. However, since then, US CBP has begun using a website for international travelers to check their I-94 date, travel history and compliance. The website may be found here

It is important that travelers understand this difference - that a visa is a document which only confers a potential entry into the US, so its expiration date may lapse while the visitor is still legally in status within the US. It is important to stay in status by noting an I-94 date and ensuring that you depart the US or apply for an extension by that time. For that reason, it is best practice to print off your I-94 each time you travel to the United States.

Recent Supreme Court Decision on Trump Travel Ban

Let's start from the beginning:

Trump's administration issued an Executive Order (EO) on January 27, 2017, 5 months ago, which imposed a 90 day suspension on the entry into the United States of immigrants and non-immigrants from the seven designated countries, excluding those travelling on diplomatic visas, NATO visas, U.N. transit visas, and international organisation visas.

The language was somewhat broad, which led to...

The Department of Homeland and Security (DHS) confirming on February 1st, 2017, that it does not apply to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) with green cards, who have already been admitted into the US as an LPR (or have adjusted status). It appeared that those immigrant visas (green cards) that had not yet been issued, were revoked.

The Department of State (DOS) issued a news alert on February 2nd, 2017, confirming that travel for dual nationals from any country with a valid US visa in a passport of an unrestricted country is not restricted.

Section 5 of the EO also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days and suspends the entry of all Syrian refugees indefinitely, until the President determines their admission would be in the national interest. DHS has stated that during the 120 days, it will “review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk” to the United States.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicated in a February 16, 2017 court filing that President Trump intends to rescind the January 27, 2017 Executive Order and issue a new order in its place (EO2).

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari  (at least four of the justices have determined that the circumstances described in the petition are sufficient to warrant review by the Court) and consolidated two key cases in the travel and refugee ban litigation: Trump v. IRAP and Trump v. Hawaii. The case will be heard during the first session of the October 2017 term. In addition to granting certiorari, the Supreme Court granted a partial stay of the injunctions that had been preventing implementation of the travel ban.

What did the Supreme Court Say?

The court held that the EO may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the US, but that all other foreign nationals, are subject to the new EO2.

  • A Bona Fide Relationship with a Person in the United States: “For individuals, a close familial relationship is required.” The Court stated that an individual who seeks to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member, such as a spouse or mother-in-law, “clearly has such a relationship.”

  • Bona Fide Relationship with an Entity in the United States: “the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2.” The Court specifically stated that students who have been admitted to a U.S. university, a worker who has accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. company, or a lecturer invited to address a U.S. audience would have such a relationship.

Who are Exempt from the Restrictions?

  • Lawful Permanent Residents, Asylees, and Others: EO-2 exempts from coverage LPRs, individuals who have been granted asylum, those already admitted as refugees, individuals travelling on advance parole, and those granted withholding of removal and/or CAT. All of these individuals should be permitted to travel freely without having to demonstrate a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

  • Diplomats and Dual Nationals: Also exempt from the EO-2 travel ban are individuals travelling on diplomatic and related visas and dual nationals travelling on a passport issued by a non-designated country. These individuals should still be permitted to travel freely without having to demonstrate a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

What about our Clients?

  • Business Visas: The Court stated that a worker who has accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. company would have a bona fide relationship to a U.S. entity. What is not clear is whether individuals with employment-based visas that do not require a petitioning employer (EB-1, National Interest Waiver) would be able to demonstrate a relationship to a U.S. entity.

  • Family-Related Visas: The Court’s order is clear that individuals who “wish[] to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member” have close familial relationships. A spouse and a mother-in-law were included by the Court as examples of relationships that would qualify, and it should be argued that a fiancé would similarly qualify. It is unclear at this time if more distant relationships would qualify.

  • Students and Trainees: The Court stated that students who have been admitted to a U.S. university would have such a relationship. Presumably, the same would apply for vocational students and J-1 exchange visitors who would have a relationship to a U.S. program sponsor.

  • Visitor for Business (B-1): It is unclear at this time how individuals travelling to the United States for business conferences or other short-term, non-contractual business interactions will be treated,

  • Individuals Applying for Visas: It appears that individuals from the six designated countries who do not have a valid visa will be required to demonstrate a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States during the visa interview.

A June 14, 2017 presidential memorandum directs the government to implement the travel ban “72 hours after all applicable injunctions are lifted or stayed with respect to that provision.” Therefore, we can expect the government to implement the Court’s decision tomorrow, on June 29, 2017.

In conclusion, we do not anticipate most of our clients being affected by this, but it highlights how US immigration is uncertain. It is more crucial now, more than ever, to speak with a US licensed Immigration Attorney regarding many immigration matters.

Please do not hesitate to contact our firm if you have any US immigration questions:

info@baimmigrationlaw.com

+44(0)203 102 7966

 

 

US-UK Immigration Seminar - Tuesday 20 June

B&A Immigration is pleased to announce that we are teaming up with RadcliffesLeBrasseur to bring you a seminar on UK and US immigration issues on:

 - Current UK immigration situation and outlook, following the General Election

- US Immigration changes in the Trump era

- Personal immigration issues including spouse, family and EEA members

- Work visas and employment in the UK and US

- Issues for high net worth individuals

Our speakers include Jarmila Entezari (Solicitor, RadcliffesLeBrasseur), Lara Keenan (Partner and Solicitor, RadcliffesLeBrasseur), Kelly Brackley (Partner and Attorney, B&A Immigration), and Mackie B. Adoniadis  (Partner and Attorney, B&A Immigration).

Event details

Date: Tuesday 20 June

Times

9.15 am - Registration and breakfast  

10.00 am - Seminar starts

12:00 pm - Close with light lunch and networking

Venue: RadcliffesLeBrasseur, 85 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AE

Directions: www.rlb-law.com/contact

To book your place or find out more, please contact the RLB events team by emailing events@rlb-law.com

 

 

 

What is Global Mobility: Celsium Global Mobility Solutions

What is Global Mobility and Employee Relocation?

Co-founder & Relationship Director, Shelley Lloyd, details this in her below video regarding Celsium and its services:

https://youtu.be/_Q5-7Fi54YA 

Shelley began her career in the relocation industry as Global Supply Chain Manager for a European RMC seven years ago, and quickly built strong relationships with clients and the supply chain community.

Celsium was founded in 2015 when they saw a gap in the market. After months of market research, Celsium identified the biggest challenges faced by HR when delivering employee relocation services and how to solve them.

Shelley’s personal core values of integrity, respect and empathy are the building blocks of how Celsium operates and interacts with every single person involved in the relocation process. Celsium specialises in Global Supply Chain Management and Global Account Implementation, with customer service being their top priority.

Shelley brings her unique, personal approach and very British sense of humour, to ensure that Celsium always focuses on bringing the human element to relocation. 

https://www.celsiummobility.com/ 

If you require advice on global relocation and/or US immigration, please do not hesitate to contact our office on info@baimmigrationlaw.com

A New Standard for National Interest Waivers : An Entrepreneur's Benefit

What is a National Interest Waiver? 

Under the second preference of employment-based immigrant visa category, a NIW is a waiver of the job offer requirement - and therefore the labor certification - because it is in the "national interest". The waiver is only available for professionals with an advanced degree (such as an Engineer with a masters degree) or those with an exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or businessThis would allow an entrepreneur to self petition under the second preference category. 

The New Standard: Matter of Dhanasar 

On December 27, 2016, the AAO issued Matter of Dhanasar which should make it easier for entrepreneurs to qualify for the National Interest Waiver, though its effectiveness will be determined by whether USCIS adjudicators interpret the new standard as intended. The decision overturns a 1998 decision (NYSDOT), and has three parts: 

1) The “foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance”; 

2) The “foreign national is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor”; and 

3) The United States would benefit “on balance” if the job offer and permanent labor certification requirements are waived. 

If these requirements are met, USCIS may approve the NIW as a matter of discretion. 

The new standard notes that a petitioner's intended work can be in the national interest even when it is limited to a certain geographic location (prong one). Under prong two, it examines the "potential prospective impact" of the foreign national's intended work – as opposed to limiting the consideration primarily to the past achievements as a measure of future benefits often previously used.  The decision recognizes that many endeavors and entrepreneurial pursuits may ultimately fail, "despite an intelligent plan and competent execution". Dhanasar directly rejects that a foreign national must prove they are more likely than not to succeed.  

The new third prong also removes the need for a showing of harm to the national interest if the petitioner is not granted a waiver, or a comparison of US workers in the petitioner's field. This makes the waiver standard much friendlier to entrepreneurs and the self-employed. 

Other Options for Entrepreneurs 

The National Interest Waiver option may benefit entrepreneurs more so than it had done in the past. But what if it does not seem right for you? Many entrepreneurs enter the United States through nonimmigrant E or L-1A visa categories or the EB-5 investor immigrant program. Recent proposals to the EB-5 program mean that the investment minimums are likely set to rise this year, creating a further financial barrier to prospective EB-5 clients. 

USCIS also recently finalised the Entrepreneur Parole Program, though the rule puts many limitations (including funding restrictions) on the entrepreneur.  

 

If you would like to speak to an experienced US Immigration Lawyer about a National Interest Waiver or other entrepreneur visa options, please email us on info@baimmigrationlaw.com. 

 

An Opinion Piece (Part 2) By Kelly Brackley: How Will Trump Really Handle Immigration

Today is the last day under Obama's administration, prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump. Could you imagine reading this a couple of years ago, you would not believe it was true for a second.

The President-elect's strict stance on immigration has been central to his platform ever since he called Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers on the day he announced his candidacy. He promised to build a border wall and increase deportations by investing in Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officers. Trump has also promised to rescind President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

We have all heard him back-track on his disgusting comments regarding Mexicans and seemingly also doing so regarding DREAMers under DACA. Of course, he still believes that Mexico will pay for the wall though and continues now, to focus on deporting undocumented immigrants who have a criminal record.

How is he going to achieve this any “better” than Obama? Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than Bush.

Experts in this field of immigration enforcement agencies say that Trump's immigration promises are either impossible to achieve, or will take billions of dollars and many years. At an average cost of $12,213 for each deportation, according to ICE, 2 million deportations would add up to more than $24.4 billion over four years. Then we must consider the 500,000+ backlog in the over-burdened immigration courts, as well as the associated court costs.

I am sure he will give it a stab.

How will our clients be affected?

As we are a UK-based US immigration firm, we predominately handle business, investment and family immigration matters. We do not see the majority of our clients being affected by Trump's administration. He is likely to welcome investment and business growth.

We have, however, recently blogged on the latest EB-5 investment green-card proposal. I believe that the Present-elect could favour the increase in capital investment required. Why wouldn't he? See:http://www.baimmigrationlaw.com/blog/2017/1/15/uscis-proposes-changes-in-eb-5-program-including-increase-in-investment-minimums

One area that may impact on our clients is that of waivers of inadmissibility. The majority of the waivers we assist clients obtaining are for “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” (CIMTs). Seeing as Trump has focused on deporting criminals, why would he allow those with a CIMT enter the US so “easily”? I believe, he may seek to decrease waiver numbers, or increase the already high threshold. Arguably making it even more complicated for those with any criminal record. It was always the advice that if you have a criminal record and seek entry to the US for business or pleasure, you should contact an immigration lawyer beforehand. It may be that this is going to be even more crucial than ever.

No one actually knows what is going to happen. It is all very speculative, but I whole-heartedly believe that the President-elect is about to get a reality check. I am sure he will complicate immigration and make it even more important for those looking to emigrate to seek the advice of an expert in the field.

If you have any US immigration questions, please contact our office to schedule a consultation on:

info@baimmigrationlaw.com or +44 (0)203 102 7966

USCIS Proposes Changes in EB-5 Program, including Increase in Investment Minimums

In a proposed rule published on 13 January 2017, USCIS / DHS moves to alter and modernize the EB-5 program for immigrant investors. The program allows individuals who are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and create or, in certain circumstances, preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. USCIS is accepting feedback from all interested parties until 11 April 2017. The key areas which are proposed to change or codify existing practices are below.

Increase to the Minimum Investment Amount (for TEAs and nonTEAs) 

Currently, the investment minimum for Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) is $500,000 and $1,000,000 for non-TEAs. USCIS proposes to increase these significantly - for TEAs, to $1.35 million, and for non-TEAs to $1.8 million. These changes represent an adjustment for inflation from 1990 to 2015.  In addition, DHS is proposing to make regular Consumer Price Index – for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) - based adjustments in the standard minimum investment amount, and conforming adjustments to the TEA minimum investment amount every 5 years.

Revisions to the TEA designation process

DHS proposes to take over the TEA designation process, away from the current process in which a state may designate certain geographic and political subdivisions as high unemployment areas. Under the rule, any city or town with high unemployment and a population of 20,000 or more would qualify as a TEA.

Priority date retention for EB–5 petitioners

In a positive move, the rule would allow for EB-5 petitioners to  authorize certain EB–5 petitioners to retain the priority date of an approved EB–5 immigrant petition for use in connection with any subsequent EB–5 immigrant petition. A priority date represents an immigrant's 'place in the queue' which will remain important as DHS believes the program will continue to be oversubscribed.

What Happens Now

The current re-authorization of the EB-5 program is set to expire on 28 April 2017. The new rule is a proposal only, so it will not become law until USCIS/DHS receives feedback from the public and eventually issues a final regulation. 

To speak with an experienced US Immigration Lawyer about the EB-5 immigrant investor visa, please email info@baimmigrationlaw.com or call us on  +44 (0)203  102 7966

 

Married to an American and Living in the UK?

There are plenty of UK citizens who are married to US citizens and currently living in the United Kingdom. Maybe you are engaged and planning your fabulous wedding. Perhaps over the holiday season you visited the in-laws/in-laws to be in the US, or even scoped it out as a place you hope to move to now or in the near future?

Do I qualify for Permanent Residency (Green Card) Based on my Marriage to a US Citizen?

If you are married to a US citizen and are not inadmissible to the US, you may qualify for a marriage-based green card. Inadmissibility grounds include, but are not limited to, a criminal record involving a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT). It is strongly advised that you speak with an experienced immigration lawyer if you have a criminal record or have overstayed in the US.

If you are engaged, you may either wait until you are married or apply for a K-1 fiance visa. Further information on this type of visa and discussing the pros and cons of either can be obtained in a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer.

How do I Apply for a Green Card?

If you are both residing in the UK, you need not file your petition in the US, you can file the petition for immediate relative (I-130) with the London field office. London are also currently processing I-130 applications fairly quickly, which is good news. Upon receiving an approval notice, you will then need to prepare for your interview at the embassy itself. This involves filing the DS-260, gathering documentation and scheduling your medical and interview appointments.

If you want to discuss this in more detail with one of our US immigration lawyers, please contact our office on:

info@baimmigrationlaw.com or +44 (0)203 102 7966

UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championship Announced in LA March 2017: What Visa is Required?

It was announced this week that the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championship competition would be held in Los Angeles from March 2nd-5th 2017. Given that this is only 7 weeks away, athletes will be rushing to get their US visas. 

UK athletes are not able to travel under ESTA (visa-waiver) as an athlete for a sports event. If the athlete is competing in a tournament or sporting event for which they will receive no salary or payment from a US source, other than prize money, they will require a B-1 visa.

Relevant athletes will need to act very quickly in order to secure their visas in time. Visa appointments at the US embassy will be required. 

If you require further advice on this matter, or any other US visas for athletes, please contact our office:

info@baimmigrationlaw.com