Employers may sponsor individuals for temporary employment or for permanent residence. Bouchard Baker, PC provides immigration solutions for employers and under immigration law and our services include:
- Temporary work visas
- Labor certifications
- Petitions and applications for permanent residence
- Employment authorization
There are many eligibility categories in which individuals may work in the United States temporarily or permanently. Some of the most common categories are:
- Nonimmigrant employment visas (H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1, O-1, P-1, R-1, TN)
- Temporary business visitor visas
- Petitions for permanent residence, including PERM Labor Certification
- Petitions for permanent residence that do not require employer sponsorship: National Interest Waiver (NIW), Individuals of Extraordinary Ability (EB-11)
- Permanent residence through investment and trade, including E-1 and E-2 visas and petitions for permanent residence (EB-5)
We help employers and individuals make the best choices regarding visa options and petitions for permanent residence and then we pursue those options to obtain success for our clients.
Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
The U.S. Government does not grant work authorization to everyone. You can obtain an EAD only if you have some recognized legal status in the U.S., for example:
- You are in one of valid nonimmigrant categories, including a NATO category, an F-1 Student category;
- You are an asylee or refugee;
- You have filed for Temporary Protected Status (TPS);
- You are filing a Form I-485, Application for Permanent Resident Status; you can apply for employment authorization at the same time;
- You have filed for political asylum;
- You have been granted voluntary return under the Family Unity program;
- You have been granted deferred action by USCIS or ICE;
- You have been granted a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status;
- You have been granted Withholding of Removal;
- You hve been granted an Extended Voluntary Departure;
- You have applied for Cancellation of Removal.
Family unity is a cornerstone of U.S. immigration law. As a result, U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents may sponsor certain foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States.
The first step in a multi-step process, is for the U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident to file a petition with the government on behalf of the foreign national relative. The petition itself does not give the relative immigration status, but rather establishes the necessary relationship so that the foreign national relative may become eligible to immigrate to the United States.
The petition also indicates the amount of time the foreign national relative will have to “wait in line” before immigrating to the United States. In the case of Spouses, Children under 21, and Parents of U.S. citizens, these family members are considered “Immediate Relatives,” which means that upon approval of their petitions they can immediately continue on to the next step to immigrate to the United States without having to “wait in line.”
Certain other family relationships fall into “Preference Categories,” which means the immigrant visas for these relatives are subject to numerical caps or quotas. The relative must “wait in line” after the petition is approved for an immigrant visa to become available to continue with the process to immigrate to the United States. The “wait time” for the immigrant visa depends on the nature of the relationship the foreign national has with the U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident, the foreign national’s particular country, and in the case of the offspring of U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents, the foreign national’s age and marital status. The family relationships subject to quotas are the following:
- Unmarried Sons and Daughters 21 years of age or older of U.S. citizens;
- Spouses and Children under 21 years old of Permanent Residents;
- Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. citizens; and
- Brothers and Sisters of adult U.S. citizens.
Each month, the U.S. Department of State publishes the “wait times” for each Preference Category described above and for each country in what is known as the Visa Bulletin.
“DREAMers” Deferred Action
Deferred Action for childhood arrivals (DACA) passed on June 15, 2012, is a discretionary decision to defer removal action against an individual subject to renewal every two years. A grant of deferred removal action does not confer lawful immigration status or alter an individual’s existing immigration status. However, should Congress pass a DREAM Act, DACA could become a pathway to U.S. citizenship. In addition to obtaining work authorization, DACA recipients may be eligible to obtain a state issued identification, driver’s license and may seek permission to travel outside of the U.S. in limited circumstances.
An individual may qualify for DACA if they:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Asylum & Refugee Petitions
Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have been persecuted in the past or fear they will be persecuted in the future. These people seek what is called asylum. Being granted asylum means a person can stay in the United States. In order to receive asylum in the United States, a person must show either past persecution, or that there is a “well-founded fear” of persecution in the future. The persecution must be due to:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
The source of the persecution must be either the government of a foreign country or a group that the government is unable or unwilling to control. Although persecution is not defined by U.S. immigration law, courts have often defined persecution as “a threat to life or freedom, or the infliction of suffering or harm.”
A person can request asylum either affirmatively or defensively. A person can affirmatively request asylum at any time within the first year of their arrival in the U.S. by filing the necessary forms. A person can also request asylum as a defense to removal proceedings.
People who have filed for asylum can receive work authorization, but only in 2 circumstances: when asylum has been granted, or 150 days have passed since applying for asylum and no decision has been made.
A person who is granted asylum may apply for permanent residence one year after asylum is granted.
Violence Against Women Act
U.S. law provides protection for legal and undocumented immigrants who are victims of crime, including abused spouses and children of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Congress recognized that victims who do not have legal status may be reluctant to report acts of violence to the police, or help in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity for fear of deportation.
There are three forms of relief that offer protection to crime victims:
- U Visa: The U Nonimmigrant Visa provides immigration protection to crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. Victims may apply for a U visa while in the U.S., or outside the U.S. Recipients of U status are eligible to live and work in the United States, and may be eligible to apply for a green card.
- T Visa: The T Nonimmigrant Visa status provides immigration protection to victims of human trafficking. Recipients of T status are eligible to live and work in the United States, and may be eligible to apply for a green card.
- VAWA: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offers immigration relief for abused spouses (men and women), children, and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Eligible victims may file a petition for permanent residence on their own behalf, without assistance or knowledge of the abuser. Once the petition is approved, the individual may apply for a work permit, and then a green card.
Temporary Protective Status (TPS)
TPS may be granted to nationals of certain designated countries due to a number of country conditions, such as an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster (e.g., an earthquake) or an epidemic. During a designated period, individuals who are eligible for TPS cannot be ordered removed from the United States, can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), and may be granted travel authorization. An individual with TPS cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States. Although TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status, registration for TPS does not bar a TPS beneficiary from applying for non-immigrant status or filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition.
Countries currently designated for TPS include: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria.
To be eligible for TPS, a TPS applicant must meet the Continual Physical Presence (CPP) and Continuous Residence (CR) requirements. An applicant must have been continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of the applicant’s country. An applicant must also have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for the applicant’s country. There is an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for “brief, casual and innocent” departures from the United States. Every applicant for TPS must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates.
Removal / Deportation
Receiving a notice that you or a family member has been put in deportation or removal proceedings is a frightening time. These orders are most commonly initiated when a person has been convicted for committing a crime. You may have eligibility for some defense to being deported. If you are facing deportation or know someone who will be, it is important to consult with one of our experienced immigration lawyers as soon as possible. We will help calm your worries and help prepare you. The sooner you consult with us, the more time we will have to prepare a proper defense. There are strict deadlines for raising a deportation defense.
Some of the most common grounds for deportation/removal from the U.S. include criminal convictions, status violations, unlawful presence, prohibited employment activity, and unlawful entry (or illegal immigration). When faced with a deportation/removal order from the United States government there are several routes that might be available.
Bond Hearings – We can help you determine if you or your loved one qualifies for a bond and how to obtain the lowest bond possible though ICE and the Immigration Judge.
Asylum and Withholding of Removal – A defensive asylum application is filed with the immigration court during removal proceedings. An individual must prove to the immigration court that he or she has a “well-founded” or “reasonable” fear of harm if returned to native country. If you are granted asylum, other family members may be eligible for asylum status as derivative beneficiaries, even if they did not experience the persecution. After holding asylum status for one year, the alien is eligible to apply for a green card. Withholding of removal is similar to asylum in that individual must prove that there is some type of threat to his or her life or freedom. However, the relief granted under a withholding of removal approval is much more limited than relief through asylum. Withholding of removal is a mandatory form of relief, whereas asylum is discretionary.
Adjustment of Status in Court – Adjustment of status refers to the procedure for seeking LPR status in the United States without having to leave the country. For those individuals placed in removal proceedings, it can serve a form of relief. Generally, adjustment of status requires an approved visa petition through a US citizen family member, an employer, or a diversity visa. There are also requirements regarding manner of entry into the country, visa availability, and admissibility.
Cancellation of Removal – Cancellation of Removal is a discretionary form of relief which allows an alien to remain in the United States as a lawful permanent resident even though he has been found removable. This form of relief is available for individuals who are already lawful permanent residents (LPR) as well as those who have no legal immigration status (Non-LPR). There are certain qualifications that the client has to have in order to be eligible to apply for cancellation of removal.
Voluntary Departure – Voluntary departure is a limited form of relief. Essentially, the client agrees to leave the United States on his or her own by the deadline that the court provides. This is helpful to the client because they are given several months to prepare to leave the country. The main benefit of asking for voluntary departure is that our clients are left with clean record of a removal order and can hope that in the future they might be able to reenter the United States legally.
Additional Service and Remedies include:
- Motions to reopen
- Relief under the Convention Against Torture
- Stay of Removal with ICE
- Appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals