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Newsletter 20: October 2014

We hope you all are settling in well as “Back-to-School” activities are in full-swing. Here at Dayzad Law Offices we are working hard to keep you informed on all the latest immigration news and changes in store for this fall and the upcoming year.


Proposed Employment Authorization for Spouses of H-1B Professionals

A new law is in the works to provide employment authorization to certain spouses of H-1B professionals in H-4 nonimmigrant status. Those qualified would include: (1) spouses of an H-1B employee with an approved immigrant visa petition (Form I-140); or (2) spouses of an H-1B employee with a labor certification pending for 1 year. H-4 nonimmigrant spouses who meet the eligibility requirements would apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). However, it will be a while for the government to analyze the comments received and issue a final rule.


New Immigration Laws Likely: Obama Set to Issue Executive Immigration Reform

It seems like the time for a bit of immigration reform is finally imminent. We know you have been hearing this for the past year and longer. Despite the delays, comments in Washington suggest that an Executive Order for Immigration Reform is in the making and likely to be announced after the November elections.

The following is a list of possible provisions the President may be considering. We caution that there are no definitive new laws yet. We are monitoring these developments closely and will keep clients informed.

  • An expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to provide protection for parents of U.S. citizens, parents of DACA-eligible individuals, and individuals who have resided in the U.S. for three years or more. Hundreds of thousands of individuals would have the opportunity to receive temporary legal status and work authorization.
  • Reduced wait times for an immigrant visa number for those applying for a green card through an employer or family member. Specifically, a new method for determining overall visa quotas would not count derivative spouse and children toward the quotas. Instead, the principal immigrant and the family members would be treated as a single family unit for purposes of the worldwide cap, which would reduce the current immigrant visa backlogs in both the employment and family-based preference categories.
  • An expansion of Parole-in-Place to allow a foreign-national with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, child, or parent to remain in the United States while s/he applies for a green card.
  • Permission for individuals who are eligible for adjustment of status to “pre-register” when an immigrant visa petition is approved—even before a visa number is available. Pre-registration would allow an individual to receive interim work authorization and travel documents while waiting for a visa number to become available.
  • Making it easier for persons with certain technical immigration violations to become eligible to apply for a green card. Specifically, it increases the chance of succeeding in a waiver application by broadening the interpretation of “extreme hardship” or presuming extreme hardship for certain groups or individuals.
  • New pathways for entrepreneurs to seek non-immigrant visas. It would include relaxing the interpretation of “employer-employee relationship” for H-1B purposes, and formally recognizing entrepreneurship as a valid basis for O-1 “extraordinary ability” temporary status and EB-1 extraordinary ability permanent residence.

Dayzad Law Offices remains actively involved on this important reform. We will continue to keep you updated via our Newsflash. Also follow us on Twitter @DayzadLaw. We will continuously tweet the latest news with links to White House Briefs and much more.


Our New Webpages Give You Easy Access to Smart Immigration Tips & the Latest News

New pages of our website provide you tips for some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as the latest news on immigration. Whether you are wondering what steps to take when you change your address or are looking to see if any new immigration changes will affect you, we hope to be your one-stop shop for all your immigration inquiries

Don’t forget to visit our website at www.dayzadlaw.com and check out our Immigration Tips with topics including: Top Immigration Pointers to Remember, International Travel Tips, Your Immigration Portal, Overview of Obtaining a Green Card through a Labor Certification, Green Card Tips, Taxes & Driver’s Licenses, and Change of Address. You can also find under our News tab all our latest News Flashes to stay-up-to-date with immigration developments.

Check back frequently to find out just what is happening with immigration today! Soon we will also be unveiling our completely re-designed website to make it mobile-optimized and easier to navigate.


Green Card Lottery is Open

The U.S. government is once again accepting entries for the annual Diversity Visa Lottery. Lottery winners can then apply for a green card or immigrant visa if they meet certain other criteria.

Many people are eligible to enter this lottery. However, people born in the following countries which are already well-represented in the U.S. are not eligible for the lottery: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Even if the individual is born in one of these countries, s/he may still be eligible to apply based on his/her spouse’s country of birth. In some circumstances, s/he can also apply based on his/her parents’ country of birth.

Unless the individual is in the U.S. and undocumented, I generally recommend entering the lottery which is inexpensive (no filing fee!). Be very careful in reading all the directions and following the rigid guidelines — each year thousands of applicants are disqualified for failure to follow the exact directions. To enter the lottery, visit www.dvlottery.state.gov. Entries are accepted until noon (EST) November 3, 2014.

Please be aware that even if an individual does win the lottery, s/he may still not be eligible for a green card. It is most cost-effective to apply for the lottery and then if s/he is a lucky winner, retain legal counsel to help navigate the complex process to apply for a green card. Nevertheless, we are available if anyone would like to schedule a consultation regarding the lottery application process; our office consultation fee applies. Good luck to you or your employees!


Visa Predictions

  • How the Visa Bulletin WorksWe all watch the Visa Bulletin closely to see when a visa number becomes available to apply for a green card. The dates in the Visa Bulletin are driven by supply and demand for visa numbers and are based on a number of variables such as historical demand patterns, expected future demand patterns, expected return rates of unused numbers, information received from USCIS on expected processing, and National Visa Center petition processing trends.
  • EB-2 India Visa Numbers Will Retrogress in Fall Of 2014Current USCIS filings based on forward movement of the India EB-2 cut-off may not result in a significant increase in requests for visa numbers until Fall of 2014. When that occurs, we can expect to see retrogression of the priority date based on the need to hold visa number use within the annual limit. Visa availability for EB-2 Indians advanced rapidly towards the end of last fall and is expected to do the same this year, with continuing advancement expected. The increase demand for visa numbers by Indians is partly attributable to Indians upgrading petitions from EB-3 to EB-2 and higher EB-2 usage by other countries, resulting in fewer “otherwise unused” numbers available for EB-2 Indians. Given current demand, the priority date may retrogress, possibly to a date in early 2005. The current priority date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. We monitor closely when visa numbers become available for our clients so they can apply for green cards during their window of opportunity.
  • Philippines Demand Continues To Fall, Pushing Visa Priority Dates ForwardDemand for both employment-based and family-based visas for the Philippines continues to decrease, which accounts for the advancing priority dates in these categories. The cut-off date for the EB-3 and “Other Worker” categories for the Philippines is the same as it is worldwide, October 1, 2011. The National Visa Center has been sending reminders to applicants eligible to receive upcoming available visas in an effort to spur demand. Despite this notification, demand remains low. Though demand is low and dates will remain favorable for the foreseeable future, this availability may change if many more applicants come forward to claim immigrant visas.

Renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grants temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to certain individuals who entered the United States as children and meet specific eligibility requirements. DACA approval is issued in two year increments. If you were previously approved for DACA, we can help you renew your deferred action for an additional two years. Do not delay renewal to ensure continued work authorization and (in some states) driver’s licenses.


Attention All Army Families: You May Qualify for a Green Card

Are you are an undocumented spouse, child or parent of an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, an individual in the selected reserve of the ready reserve, or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the selected reserve of the ready reserve? If so, you may be eligible to apply for a green card. If you would like further analysis of your eligibility, contact us to schedule a consultation.


Immigration News in Brief

  • Looking for an Executive Suite? We have a beautiful windowed office and secretarial bay for lease. Ask us for details or see the ad on Craigslist.
  • Customs Declaration Now LGBT Friendly Each time you enter the U.S., you must complete a customs declaration—one per family. Now, a more inclusive definition states that family members are “members of a family residing in the same household who are related by blood, marriage, domestic relationship, or adoption.” Thus, many more people are considered part of a family unit and do not need to needlessly complete custom declarations individually.
  • Internet Security a Priority: As many are aware, Dayzad Law Offices uses state of the art software to provide a modern and effective way of managing your cases. With the recent string of internet security flaws affecting more than 420,000 websites, we are happy to report our database remains protected and unharmed by these security breaches.

I hope you find the immigration law update helpful to you. If you know someone who would like to receive our Immigration News Flash, simply reply with a request and we will happily add them to the distribution list.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 19: June 2014

Happy summer! I hope you are all gearing up to enjoy a splash in the pool or a summer trip. For some “pleasure reading” poolside or on the airplane, we have important immigration updates for you.

 


Work Visas Being Denied at a Higher Rate Nationwide, But We Are Still 100% Successful

A recent study reports that denials of work visas to transfer employees with specialized knowledge (L-1B visas) have increased from 7% in 2007 to a staggering 34% in 2013. However, Dayzad Law Offices has maintained a 100% success rate through creative strategies to ensure that you obtain the best visa available for your particular case. If you are considering transferring an employee to the United States from a foreign branch or affiliate, please contact our office.


Priority Date for EB-2 Visas for India Jumps Forward Almost Four Years

According to the State Department’s July 2014 Visa Bulletin, the priority date for the employment-based, second preference (EB-2) category for India jumped forward from November 15, 2004, to September 1, 2008. This means that Indians with an EB-2 priority date of September 1, 2008 or earlier can now apply for green cards. Our law firm’s database tracks in real-time priority date changes that affect each client’s case. We will take action for you as needed.


Dayzad Law Offices Is Growing!

  • Joining our team recently are Attorney Christopher Schettini and Project Director Nazila Sina. Check out their biographies on our website.
  • As you saw in our recent e-mail, we continue to seek talented professionals and have open positions for an experienced immigration attorney and an experienced immigration paralegal. Please send us recommendations!
  • One of our new legal assistants—an immigrant and DACA recipient—shares her story:It has always been my dream to work in the immigration field. Being part of such an amazing team is a real dream come true. I came to the U.S with my family when I was 3 years old. When we arrived in the U.S., my family and I were undocumented and we did not have many opportunities. Last July, I became a DACA beneficiary. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a law that allowed thousands of people just like me to attain lawful immigration status in the United States. There are millions of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. today. Through DACA many of us gained more than just an Employment Authorization Document; we received an opportunity. I no longer live in fear of being torn away from my family. All the dreams and aspirations I grew up with are now very possible. DACA changed my life.

Immigrant Visa Petitions for LGBT Couples When Safety is an Issue

The privacy, safety, and security of LGBT visa applicants are very important—especially when applicants fear returning to their home country because of laws that criminalize homosexuality or other persecution. The Department of State has recently announced that to protect the safety of LGBT visa applicants, it will consider requests to move the adjudication of immigrant visa petitions to a safe third country. As laws and procedures constantly change for LGBT immigrants, we develop strategies to protect our clients’ privacy and safety.


Immigration News in Brief

  • USCIS Blog with Warning of New Telephone Scam
    USCIS has warned customers of a new telephone scam, in which the scammer causes a misleading phone number to be displayed on the recipient’s caller ID and poses as a USCIS official. These scammers have requested personal information such as social security numbers and passport numbers, demanded payment, and threatened to deport victims who do not cooperate. If you receive this type of call, hang up immediately. USCIS never asks for payment or personal information over the phone.
  • Attorney Navid Dayzad – Now a Seven-Time Recipient of Super Lawyers Rising Star Award
    Navid is one of 11 immigration attorneys in Southern California recognized as a Super Lawyers Rising Star. For the 7th time, this honor was recognized in Los Angeles magazine and Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers magazine.
  • DHS Announces Designation of Chile to the Visa Waiver Program
    The Department of Homeland Security has recently announced the addition of Chile to the Visa Waiver Program. Otherwise eligible Chilean passport holders approved by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization will be able to visit the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visitor visa.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 18: January 2014

Happy New Year! I hope your year is off to a wonderful and prosperous start. The following are some important immigration updates for you.


Opportunity for H-1B Work Visas

Attention employers and professionals: H-1B visa numbers will become available again soon! The H-1B classification is the most popular temporary work status for professional positions. This news is important for both employers who plan on hiring foreign-national professionals and foreign-nationals who have a U.S. job offer and a Bachelor’s degree. The application should be submitted April 1, 2014 (the government will reject applications submitted earlier.) If approved, work authorization will begin October 1, 2014. It is important to prepare these applications packages thoroughly. To ensure timely filing of an H-1B application and avoid a rush service fee, we should start by February 5, 2014.

The government will hold a lottery to determine which applications will be adjudicated for one of the coveted H-1B visa numbers. Last year, 30% of applications were rejected after losing this lottery. As the economy improves and demand for H-1B visas increases, the odds of obtaining an H-1B visa number will decrease. If your employee is in a temporary work status that will end in the next few years, it may be advisable to apply for an H-1B visa this year.

We recommend that you request premium processing. For an additional fee, the application is more likely to be adjudicated by a more senior officer, and a decision will be made in approximately 1 month. (Last year, approximately 4,000 H-1B applications were not adjudicated by the October 1 start date. Many of these applicants ended up requesting premium processing anyway.) Anecdotal evidence suggests that premium processing results in a higher chance of winning the H-1B visa number lottery—though officially premium processing should not affect the lottery.


Visitors Beware: Productive Work in U.S. Becoming More Risky

One of the most common questions we receive is, “I need to work in the U.S. for a short period. The Visa Waiver Program or B-1 visa is an easy way to do that, right?” Wrong.

Visitor status permits only very limited work-related activities like attending seminars or negotiating contracts; nearly all productive work is prohibited. Immigration inspectors are becoming savvier, examining password-protected smart phones and luggage for any sign of intent to work in the U.S. If an officer is suspicious, they can detain individuals, question them, and deny entry to the U.S.

Employers face serious risks too. Recently, a tech company, Infosys, was accused of having workers perform impermissible work using B-1 visas. The company agreed to pay $34 million, the largest settlement ever paid in an immigration case. This episode highlights the importance of obtaining a proper work visa.


New California Laws Affect Employers and Undocumented Immigrants

California recently enacted a series of laws related to undocumented immigrants. The following is a list of notable provisions of these new laws:

  • Undocumented immigrants will be able to obtain driver’s licenses as long as they meet the other requirements for a driver’s license, including proving their identity and residency in California. The licenses are expected to become available sometime in late 2014 or early 2015. These licenses will be marked differently, but it will be unlawful to discriminate against individuals because they hold such licenses.
  • For minor crimes only, local law enforcement will be prohibited from detaining immigrants to transfer them to federal authorities for deportation proceedings.
  • Employers are prohibited from using the threat of reporting an employee’s undocumented status to stop workers from complaining about workplace abuses, unsafe working conditions, or wage theft. Such threats could result in the suspension or revocation of a business license or criminal penalties.

We will continue to keep you informed about the constantly changing immigration laws.


Visa Number Availability for Green Cards

  • Demand for EB-2 visa numbers for Indian nationals has increased, especially because of requests for “upgrades” where the employee had established a priority date in the EB-3 category and now qualifies for the EB-2 category.
  • EB-3 visa numbers are increasingly available for nationals of all countries, except India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines. However, as demand builds over the fiscal year, the government may limit the availability of these visa numbers, resulting in the priority date moving backward in time (“retrogression”).

Post-DOMA Update for LBGT Bi-National Couples

  • I am happy to report that our green card applications and fiancé/e petitions for gay and lesbian couples have been running smoothly and successfully. Last year, we celebrated the green card approval—in less than 3 months after submission—for the first of many of our gay and lesbian couples.
  • As Vice Chair for the LGBT Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Navid Dayzad and committee members have identified and are working to resolve a significant issue for LGBT immigrants. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which inspects and admits immigrants into the U.S., is one of the only agencies that has not yet issued updated guidance for officers in light of the Supreme Court decision that overturned DOMA. In the absence of formal policy, strong advocacy by your attorney is critical.
  • In addition, the committee is drafting recommendations for USCIS, urging not only sensitivity training but also educating officers that certain fraud indicators, such as the lack of joint tax returns, is not probative for gay and lesbian couples.
  • The privacy, safety, and security of LGBT visa applicants are very important—especially in countries which criminalize homosexuality. When our clients have such a concern, through our advocacy, we can request that an applicant have an interview through a different consulate than their home country. Fortunately, the State Department is also training officers on the sensitive issues involved in LGBT immigration cases.
  • While officers have acted appropriately in our experience, beware that there are reports of officers asking inappropriate questions. In addition, some officers have incorrectly issued green cards with an early expiration date. Having an immigration attorney present can avoid these harsh consequences.

Travel Tips

  • CBP Expands Filing of Joint Customs Declarations:
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that they have expanded the definition of “family” to allow more households to file family declarations when entering or returning to the U.S. The new rule allows persons in domestic relationships (including two adults who are in a committed relationship and are financially interdependent) to file family declarations. The rule means less paperwork for families and the government: a real win-win!
  • Preventing Mistakes on the New Automated Form I-94:
    Form I-94 plays a central role in documenting proper admission and maintenance of status for foreign-nationals with temporary U.S. immigration status. Since April, the government has replaced the former I-94 cards with electronic I-94s on the government website. Despite the new automated I-94, mistakes continue to plague travelers. Is there anything that a nonimmigrant alien can do to maximize the probability of accurate or consistent data entry?Yes. The traveler can confirm that the information provided to the airline carrier at the time of admission is correct, including the passport number. Travelers should make sure that the information they have stored in their frequent flyer programs is up to date.To be proactive, our law firm also offers to prepare in advance an “I-94 Travel Letter” for individuals to use each time they enter the Unites States. It explains to the officer what should be written on the specific individual’s Form I-94 and the legal basis for it.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 17: October 2013

The scares and surprises of Halloween are just around the corner! We’ll make sure you aren’t scared or surprised in the immigration world, by providing you the following important updates.

 


The Federal Government Shutdown: How It Affects Your Immigration Case

Congress continues its budgetary deadlock, with all but “essential” government employees furloughed. We are monitoring closely the situation and its impact on our clients’ immigration cases. So far, immigration agencies are affected by the federal government “shutdown” in the following ways:

  • Department of Labor: It is the immigration-related agency that is currently most affected by the government shutdown. It will not process any Labor Condition Applications, which are requisite for filing H-1B petitions. Our American Immigration Lawyers Association is negotiating with USCIS for a possible solution. The Department of Labor has also halted accepting prevailing wage requests and labor certification applications, which will obviously cause a backlog and delay for those applying for a green card through a labor certification.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: All their offices are open. Individuals should report to interviews and appointments as scheduled.
  • E-Verify: E-Verify is currently unavailable. As a result, employers cannot perform any E-Verify functions, including verifying employment eligibility for employees. To minimize the burden on companies during the period of unavailability, USCIS has suspended the three-day deadline to create E-Verify cases for new employees. The time period during which employees may resolve interim case statuses such as Tentative Nonconfirmations has also been extended. Importantly, employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because of an E-Verify interim case status until E-Verify resumes operations.
  • Department of State: It will continue passport and visa operations as usual. It will also continue to provide critical services to U.S. citizens overseas.
  • Customs and Border Protection: It reports that all U.S. ports of entry are open. However, its website will not be maintained during the lapse in appropriations.
  • Social Security Administration: It has suspended issuance of original and replacement social security cards.

Undocumented Immigrants Can Soon Apply for Driver’s Licenses in California

On October 3, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 into law, allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses California. AB60 seemed all but dead, until it was revived and approved by the State Legislature in its final hours. The new law will have a tremendous impact on undocumented immigrants in California, who will soon be able to drive to their jobs and children’s schools, as well as present government-issued identification for the purpose of obtaining marriage licenses and other benefits.

Undocumented applicants must prove identity, California residency, and other licensing requirements. The law makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of having the new license. It also explicitly prohibits using the license for criminal investigation, arrest or detention based on immigration status. The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, or sooner if the Department of Motor Vehicles is ready.


Apply Now for the Green Card Lottery

The U.S. Government is once again accepting entries for the annual Diversity Visa Lottery. This program makes available thousands of immigrant visas each year to foreign-nationals from countries deemed to have low rates of immigration to the United States. Citizens of some countries are ineligible for the lottery, though in some circumstances, an individual may be eligible instead based on his/her spouse’s or parents’ country of birth. Notably, Nigeria is no longer on the eligible countries list as of this year.

Unless an individual is undocumented, I generally recommend entering the lottery (after all, there’s no filing fee!). Registration instructions are available on the government’s website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html. Carefully read all directions and follow the rigid guidelines when applying—each year thousands of applicants are disqualified for failure to follow the directions exactly.

Lottery winners can apply for green cards or immigrant visas if they meet certain criteria. Even if an individual wins the lottery, s/he may still not be eligible for a green card. We recommend that you hire a lawyer only after you are chosen as a lucky winner to help navigate the complex application process. Nevertheless, we are available if you would like to schedule a consultation regarding the lottery application process.

The government will accept lottery entries until November 2, 2013 at 12:00 noon, EDT. Good luck to you or your employees!


Dayzad Law Offices is Hiring!

Want to be part of a friendly and growing immigration law firm? We are expanding and accepting résumés from excellent candidates for two open positions. Please spread the word! The position descriptions are at the end of this News Flash.


House Representatives Propose Immigration Bill

In an important effort to keep the conversation and momentum on immigration reform moving forward in the House of Representatives, a group of Democrats has introduced their version of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. It is primarily the same law adopted by the Senate earlier this year. Even after the government shutdown is resolved, the bill faces a difficult road in the House: Speaker John Boehner has already refused to consider the similar, comprehensive bill that was passed by the Senate and is expected to take the same stance regarding this bill.


Provisional Waiver Applications: The First Six Months

Starting six months ago, immigrants were able to apply for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers. This procedure benefits individuals who are eligible to apply for a green card, but must also apply for a “waiver” because they have been in the United States unlawfully. Under the new process, eligible applicants can apply for a provisional waiver from within the U.S. before departing for an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.

According to current government processing times, applicants receive decisions regarding their provisional waiver applications approximately 100 days after submission. In the program’s first six months, the government approved approximately 59% of the waiver applications it received. The approval rate is expected to increase in the coming months—all of which is positive news.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.

Newsletter 16: August 2013

Happy summer! The following are some important immigration updates for you.

 


HR Tips for New Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification

As described in our prior News Flash, as of May 7, 2013, all employers are required to use the most recent version of Form I-9. The following tips may help HR transition to the new form and avoid potential penalties for I-9 violations:

  • When an employee provides a new identity document, employers are not required to complete a new Form I-9, nor submit a new E-Verify query. However, you should establish a consistent policy for all employees.
  • Employees with temporary immigration status may provide a printed Form-I-94 from www.cbp.gov/I94 to show HR during employment eligibility verification.
  • The new Form I-9 contains two new fields: Employee’s telephone number and Employee’s email address. Even though the form does not clearly state so, these fields are optional.
  • Employers must provide new hires with the full, expanded I-9 instructions.
  • Put “N/A” in all blank fields, including “Other Names” if an employee has no other names.
  • Employers must use the new Form I-9 for all re-verifications. When an employee’s documents are expiring and must be re-verified, an employer may not use Section 3 of an outdated form to record the re-verification.

Navid Dayzad Serves as Expert Commentator for KCBS News and PBS News

Navid Dayzad was recently interviewed by CBS and PBS news about the immigration consequences of the Supreme Court decision, United States v. Windsor. You can listen to the entire CBS interview here.


A Gift from the State Dept.: Visa Numbers Immediately Available for Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents

The Department of State announced that starting in August, visa numbers are available for spouses and children of legal permanent residents to apply for U.S. permanent residence. If you are a green card holder hoping to sponsor your spouse and/or child for U.S. permanent residence—now is the time! Please contact us immediately to take advantage of this wonderful—but short—opportunity.


Significant Developments for LGBT Immigrants Following Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor vs. United States opens the doors for equal access to immigration benefits for gays and lesbians. It also opens the door to a new era in our nation’s immigration history. As the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told us, “Gay and lesbian couples now have the freedom to be, and opportunity to become.” Our law firm has been working very closely with the various government agencies to help you navigate these uncharted waters smoothly.

The following is an overview of the immigration benefits that are now available to legally married gays and lesbians (as they have been to straight immigrants):

  • Green Cards: Approvals are already arriving for pioneering clients that submitted applications before the Supreme Court decision.
  • Fiancé and Fiancée Visas: Available for foreign-nationals that intend to legitimately marry a U.S. citizen in a U.S. state that permits such marriages. Importantly, it is irrelevant whether the state where the couples live recognizes same-sex marriages.
  • Various Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visas Issued at Consulates: On August 2, 2013, the State Department implemented a policy to treat applications of gay/lesbian couples the same way as those of straight couples.
  • Spouses of Employees: Businesses no longer have to jump through extra hoops to help foreign-national employees have their gay/lesbian spouses accompany them in the United States.
  • Hardship Waivers: In determining whether to forgive a spouse for being in the U.S. unlawfully, the government will now recognize hardships to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in gay relationships. Previously, such couples were considered strangers under the law.
  • Step Children of Gay/Lesbian Couples: Will very likely be eligible for immigration benefits in the same way as children of straight couples.
  • Victims of Domestic Violence: Can self-petition for green cards if married to U.S. a citizen.
  • Widows and Widowers of U.S. Citizens: May qualify for green cards, if they submit applications within two years of the U.S. citizen’s death.
  • U.S. Citizenship: A fast track to U.S. citizenship is available for foreign-nationals who are permanent residents and married to U.S. citizens for three years.
  • Transgender Individuals: Can apply for green cards or fiancé/fiancée visas even if they are unable to obtain an amended identity document or medical certification affirming gender.
  • Deportation Defense: Foreign nationals may be able to avoid deportation and obtain green cards by showing extreme and unusual hardship to their gay/lesbian U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.

Besides navigating the new benefits described above, there are other tricky issues that require vigilant attention. Navid continues to advocate on behalf of LGBT immigrants with liaisons to the U.S. government on the following remaining issues:

  • Canadians: Currently, there is no Customs and Border Patrol policy in place to permit the admission of same-sex couples as dependent nonimmigrants. This especially impacts citizens of Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005.
  • Confidentiality: The confidentiality and safety of individuals living in countries that criminalize (and even execute) gays and lesbians is critical. The State Department must take steps to protect the confidentiality of these individuals.
  • Documents Demonstrating a Bona fide Marriage: Evidence of a true gay/lesbian marriage may look different from that which is typically submitted by straight couples. For example, a couple may not have evidence of joint tax returns or other standard evidence because the couple had to keep their relationship a secret due to discrimination.
  • Prior Straight Marriage Followed by Gay Marriage: May raise suspicions of a fraudulent marriage if it is not presented clearly to the government.
  • Spouses Left Behind: A foreign-national may have received a green card, but was forced to leave her spouse in their home country because their marriage was not recognized.
  • Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships: At this time, immigration eligibility is established only where a relationship is legally considered to be a marriage—not a civil union or domestic partnership. A broader interpretation by the U.S. government may have implications for a couple’s immigration strategy.
  • Loss of Eligibility: Married gays/lesbians that applied for immigrant visas as single persons are now recognized by the government as married persons. Such foreign-nationals may now have to wait longer for a visa number or could even become ineligible for an immigrant visa.

U.S. Senate Passes Immigration Reform

This summer, the U.S. Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation (S. 744) by a vote of 68-32 (including 14 Republicans). This landmark vote reflects how far the country has come in understanding the significance of immigration reform to the health and well-being of the nation. Now that the immigration reform bill has passed the Senate, it will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The House of Representatives has four options regarding immigration reform:

  1. It may consider piecemeal legislation (which may include a road to legalization and citizenship) that could be sent to a conference committee with the Senate’s bill;
  2. It may move forward with its own comprehensive bill that could then be sent to a conference committee with the Senate’s bill;
  3. It may consider the Senate’s bill directly (however, Speaker Boehner has stated several times that the House will not consider the Senate’s bill); or
  4. It may do nothing and leave immigration reform in stasis until the next session of Congress (after the 2014 elections).

Immigration News in Brief

  • Navid Dayzad to Join Two AILA Committees, Will Serve as Vice Chair:Upon nomination by president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Navid Dayzad will serve as Vice Chair of the organization’s LGBT Immigration Issues Working Group. He will also join AILA’s Practice Management Committee. In these roles, Navid will discuss important updates in immigration law and practice management that can help us better serve our clients.
  • Dayzad Law Offices Attends International Immigration Law Conference:Nicole Black and Navid Dayzad enjoyed attending the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s international conference in San Francisco, CA. While there, they swapped information and insights with immigration attorneys from around the world regarding changes in immigration laws and procedures.
  • Government I-94 Mistakes Continue:Reports from the trenches suggest that I-94 mistakes continue to plague international travelers. Foreign-nationals should be vigilant! These mistakes can have serious effects on an individual’s immigration status and can be costly to fix retroactively. To help minimize these mistakes, our law firm can prepare in advance an “Attorney I-94 Travel Letter” that explains to the officer what should be recorded on the specific individual’s Form I-94 and the legal basis for it.
  • How to Marry in CaliforniaClients often ask us, “How do we get married??” The following are valuable tips for California residents. First, you and your partner must obtain a marriage license from the office of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of any California county. Both partners must go together to the county office to complete the marriage license application and present a government-issued picture ID and proof that both are over 18 years old. (If either or both is younger than 18, different procedures apply.) Some counties post their marriage license applications online so you can fill them out before you arrive at the County Clerk’s office. (For example, http://www.lavote.net/Clerk/Marriages.cfm). The license fee varies by county, but is generally less than $100. No blood test or health certificate is required. Call ahead or visit the county’s website to learn the hours, locations and fees of the county offices that issue licenses.Once you receive the marriage license, it will remain valid for 90 days. Before the marriage license expires, a ceremony must be performed by someone authorized to solemnize marriages (such as a judge or clergy member). The person who performs the marriage ceremony and at least one adult witness must sign the marriage license. You may be able to have your ceremony performed at the county office on the same day you obtain a marriage license. You return the license to the county office within ten days of the ceremony. You will then receive your official marriage certificate several weeks later. (Thank you to our friends from Lambda Legal for this information.)Confidential Marriage Licenses are also available to California couples who are living together as spouses at the time they apply. No witnesses are required to attend the ceremony or sign the marriage license. The marriage license is a confidential record and is registered at the County Clerk’s Office in the county where it was purchased. Only the couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid picture identification in order to do so. Copies of Confidential Marriage Licenses are not available to any other person without a court order.

Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.