Newsletter 10: May 2012

Newsletter 10: May 2012

Dear Friends of the Firm:

Summer is just around the corner! 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.

 


H-1B Visa Numbers—Get Them While You Can!

Spring is not only baseball season—it’s H-1B season, too! As you probably know, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting new H-1B applications for fiscal year 2013 on April 1, 2012. Amazingly, visa numbers are still available—but not for long. Those who do not obtain one of the remaining visa numbers can instead apply on April 1, 2013 for work authorization beginning October 1, 2013. If you are interested in obtaining one of the remaining H-1B visa numbers, please contact us immediately. There is no guarantee that you will get an H-1B visa number before they run out.

The H-1B classification is the most popular temporary work status for professional positions. Foreign-nationals with a Bachelor’s degree and a U.S. job offer may be eligible to obtain H-1B work status.


Meet Our New Associate Attorney, Nicole Black

We are happy to announce the arrival of our newest associate attorney, Nicole Black! She is a wonderful addition to our team. I will remain actively involved in each of our cases and Nicole will work closely with me to continue doing excellent work for you.

Nicole practices immigration law in the sub-specialties of employment-based and family-based immigration. She was inspired to become an immigration attorney at age 10, when the American Immigration Law Foundation awarded her for her essay, “Why I Am Glad America is a Nation of Immigrants.” Nicole began her work in the immigration field in 2006 as a legal assistant with a prestigious firm in Chicago, Illinois, where she specialized in employment-based immigration law. Prior to joining Dayzad Law Offices, P.C. in 2012, Nicole served as a judicial extern for the Honorable James R. Lambden in the California Court of Appeal and practiced as a Fellowship Attorney with Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles.

Nicole obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and was admitted to the California Bar in 2011. While at Hastings, she was a member of the highest-ranked moot court competition team in the country, and received awards for outstanding written and oral advocacy. She was named “Moot Court Student of the Year” in 2011. Nicole graduated from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She has read every installment of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and would run into a burning building to rescue her Xbox.


PERM Statistics

The Department of Labor has released some surprising statistics from the Department’s labor certification (PERM) program. The labor certification is the first step of the employment-based green card process, and can present significant hurdles to inexperienced employers who lack competent legal counsel to help them navigate the process.

According to the Department’s estimates, 33% of applications were put into audit review. Of those audited cases, 55% were denied, and only 45% approved. Another 4% of applications were put into “Supervised Recruitment,” of which a whopping 60% were denied! Another 12% were withdrawn, leaving only 25% of applications in Supervised Recruitment approved.

If you find these statistics disconcerting, take heart! A knowledgeable immigration attorney can take proactive steps to help you avoid the time, expense, and risk of a denial or Department of Labor audit.

Dayzad Law Offices is proud to have succeeded in 100% of the labor certification cases we’ve filed. Of course, every case is different and the success of each application depends greatly on the individual circumstances. If you are interested in seeking employment-based permanent residence, please contact us for a consultation on this important first step of the process.


I-9 Audits: Best Practices for Savvy Employers

No employer wants to hear that they’ve been chosen as the subject of an immigration audit of their I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification records. The best way to breeze through such a government audit is to do an internal audit first and clear-up any discrepancies. (We are available to help you with internal audits.) During the government audit, itself, consider the following tips:

DO:

  • Decide in advance how you want to communicate with your employees in a transparent way about the audit. Stick to your plan!
  • If your employees are represented by a union, inform the union of the audit as soon as possible.
  • If you must ask an employee for specific information, inform him/her that you are seeking the information in response to a government audit.
  • Communicate with employees in writing; always describe the problem and the specific information you need to address it.
  • Provide your employees with a reasonable amount of time to correct mistakes in their records.
  • Treat all workers the same during the audit, regardless of national origin or citizenship status!
  • Seek consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to make sure you don’t step on an immigration landmine.

DON’T:

  • Ask for more documents from your employees than the government is requiring you to obtain.
  • Limit the range of documents that employees are allowed to present to verify their employment eligibility.
  • Terminate, suspend, or otherwise discipline employees without first providing them notice and a reasonable amount of time to correct mistakes in their records.
  • Single out employees for verification or treat them differently on the basis of their national origin or citizenship status.

New Initiatives May Save Travelers Time at the Airport

Two government initiatives may help harried travelers by streamlining the airport inspection process. The first, called “Global Entry,” is helpful when you enter the U.S. It is a program that allows “expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.” First released as a pilot program, Global Entry was made permanent by Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Through Global Entry, pre-approved travelers have access to an automated alternative to traditional customs inspection, allowing them to reduce their customs wait times by more than 70 percent, according to DHS estimates. DHS noted that 75% of participants in the Global Entry pilot program were able to clear customs in under five minutes! Looks like you might have time to grab that Cinnabon after all.

Not to be outdone, Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) has announced the expansion of “TSA Pre•” following its success at seven pilot locations. At certain airports for specific airlines, TSA Pre• will help you board your plane to leave the U.S. quicker. It is a passenger pre-screening initiative that will provide expedited screening to passengers who volunteer information about themselves before their flight. If TSA determines that a passenger is eligible for expedited screening, information will be embedded into the barcode of the passenger’s boarding pass. TSA will read the barcode at the security checkpoint and then may refer the passenger to a TSA Pre• lane, where they will undergo expedited screening. This could mean no more taking off shoes, belts, and jackets, nor removing liquids, gels, and laptops from your carry-on. Passengers interested in participating in either program can apply at www.globalentry.gov.


Proposed Change Would Ease Travel for Same-Sex Partners and Families

As you know, each family that enters the U.S. from abroad must complete a short form for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to declare the value of the goods (or agricultural items) brought into the U.S. The government is proposing to expand the definition of the term “members of a family residing in one household” to include domestic relationships beyond the limits of blood, marriage, or adoption. This is a positive step, reflecting the diversity of modern American families to include stepchildren, half-siblings, domestic partners, partners in civil unions, and similar relationships.


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.