To help our foreign-national employees that our law firm represents, we offer the following general tips.
Top Immigration Pointers to Remember
We want to safeguard your immigration status and prevent problems for your future immigration applications. For this reason, we need your help to keep us updated! Please make sure to tell HR or our law firm if any of the following facts change:
- Your job duties
- Your employing legal entity or its corporate structure
- Your salary (increase or decrease)
- Your worksite, even if temporarily for over 5 days
- Your family (marriage, divorce, birth of foreign national children)
- You travel internationally and receive a new passport stamp (or electronic Form I-94)
- Your employment status (i.e., you have resigned)
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International Travel Tips
- Most employees will need to obtain from a U.S. Consulate abroad a valid visa in the passport to be able to return to the United States. Let us know a couple of months in advance of international travel if you would like our law firm to assist you in preparing the application package for the U.S. consulate, obtaining an interview appointment, and preparing you for the interview.
- Each time you enter the U.S., make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your anticipated period of stay in the U.S. Also, it must be valid for an additional 6 months beyond your period of stay, if you are not a citizen of a country listed at the following link, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/104770.pdf. Having a valid passport for this duration will avoid your authorized period of stay from being cut short by an earlier passport expiration date. (Some countries might not renew passports far enough in advance; in such case ask us for additional advice.)
- Upon entering the United States, each individual will receive a stamp in their passport, including a handwritten notation indicating the individual’s immigration status and the expiration date of the immigration status. Check your passport stamp before you leave the inspection desk to ensure that it is correct.
- Your admission will also be recorded in Customs and Border Protection’s electronic database. Form I-94 will be available within 24 hours of entry at: www.cbp.gov/I94. Promptly visit the website to make sure your admission was recorded correctly.
- It is important to also send to our law firm after every U.S. entry a copy of your passport stamp or Form I-94 so that we can review it for you and update your file.
- It is critical that you never stay in the United States beyond the expiration date or your passport stamp of Form I-94.
- A spouse of an employee with temporary work status can enter the U.S. by presenting his/her visa. Just in case, s/he should also have a certified copy of the marriage certificate and a photocopy of the employee’s Approval Notice.
- After you are inspected for your proper immigration documents, you will be inspected for compliance with customs laws. Please make sure all prescription drugs are clearly marked and remember that you cannot bring perishable food and articles made from protected species. If you are carrying more than $10,000 you must report this to the Customs and Border Patrol officer.
- For future immigration purposes, we highly recommend that each individual keep a record of international travel dates.
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Your Immigration Portal
Working with successful, tech-savvy individuals has been a pleasure for many years. Not only are we inspired by our client’s immigration stories, we are motivated by their dedication to work transparently and efficiently. In this vein, we have created for companies with multiple foreign-national employees their own Immigration Portal. By logging in on our website, employees will have access to important information about their individual immigration cases, including:
- Employees can see a list of the steps involved when we prepare a specific application package, along with a completion date as each activity is finished. Thus, they will see a clear picture of both the progress that has been made, as well as the remaining steps in an immigration case.
- Employees can complete questionnaires which will quickly provide our law firm the necessary information to craft their application package.
- Employees can access the Immigration Service’s database and see the status of pending application packages.
- Employees can see their immigrant visa priority dates—and an update in real-time when the Department of State makes an immigrant visa number available to them.
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Overview of Obtaining a Green Card through a Labor Certification
- PERM Labor Certification Application
The first component of applying for a green card is filing a labor certification application with the Department of Labor. To do this, the company must establish that there are no minimally qualified U.S. workers to fill this employee’s position. We begin by creating the case strategy. Next, the employee will obtain detailed employment verification letters. Our law firm will then submit a Prevailing Wage Request to the Department of Labor and the employer must offer a salary that meets the prevailing wage for the occupation, as determined by the government. Once we have these pieces ready, our law firm will provide very detailed guidance on the recruitment that is necessary. The company will conduct aggressive recruitment, including posting internally the ad and offered salary. The company can disqualify candidates based only on objective requirements. If no qualified U.S. workers willing to accept the open position are identified as a result of the recruitment, our law firm prepares the lengthy labor certification application which we submit to the Department of Labor.
- I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition
After the labor certification application has been approved by the Department of Labor, our law firm files an Immigrant Visa petition with the Immigration Services. The company should be prepared to provide evidence of the ability to pay the offered wage by presenting a federal tax return, annual report or audited financial statement. The employee must prove that he or she met all the minimum requirements for the position, as stated on the labor certification application.
- Adjustment of Status (Green Card) Application
If the Immigrant Visa petition is approved and a visa number is available, the last step in the process is for our law firm to submit an adjustment of status application package for the employee and any qualifying spouse and unmarried minor children. If the employee intends to marry a foreign-national and wants to simultaneously apply for a green card for him/her, they should marry before preparation of the adjustment of status application. The employee and family members may also apply for work authorization and advance parole travel documents along with their green card applications.
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Green Card Tips
Once you are a lucky green card holder, keep in mind the following:
- To reenter the U.S., present a valid passport and a green card—not a temporary visa.
- Update with H.R. your Form I-9.
- If you plan to be outside of the United States for six months or longer, seek our legal advice to avoid abandoning permanent residence or jeopardizing a U.S. citizenship application.
- Permanent residents who are convicted of certain crimes may have their green cards taken away (not that we anticipate any arrests!).
- Many permanent residents want to become U.S. citizens. You may be eligible to submit an application for U.S. citizenship approximately 4 years and nine-months after obtaining permanent residence. U.S. citizenship has many advantages over permanent residence. For example, U.S. citizens are able to travel with a U.S. passport, feel more secure that they will not be deported, can vote in elections, and can more quickly sponsor family members to immigrate to the United States. Keep a record of any international travel dates for the citizenship application.
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Taxes & Driver’s Licenses
- Taxes: You should continually consult with your U.S. accountant regarding your immigration status and any effect on your U.S. tax obligations.
- Driver’s License: You may be able to use your Approval Notice, Form I-94, or green card to renew your driver’s license with your state’s motor vehicles department. If at any time a drivers’ license will expire earlier than the expiration of your immigration status, be sure to let us know far in advance.
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Change of Address
If you change your home address:
- Update our law firm with your new address.
- Contact the post office to forward your mail to your new address.
- Within 10 days of moving, notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by completing Form AR-11 at https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do.
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The information provided is a general overview; you should speak to your immigration attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because immigration laws and procedures change constantly, information provided maybe outdated. No attorney-client relationship is formed from this communication.