When Immigration Matters

DACA & Other Immigration Topics Discussed at the UT Southwestern Diversity Lunch & Learn

Posted by Michael Pollak on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 @ 10:48 AM

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Karen-Lee Pollak was the guest speaker for the UT Southwestern Diversity Lunch and Learn, Karen-Lee Pollakhosted by the Office Student Diversity and Inclusion. Ms. Pollak educated students on
immigration laws, policies and guidelines. Her presentation included recent controversial changes in the law (especially pertaining to DACA) and what those changes mean to those serving patients in the medical field.  We thank UT Southwestern for the invitation to speak on this topic and the students for actively engaging in a lively discussion.

Learn More

To learn more about DACA, contact the Pollak PLLC team today. We will learn about your unique situation and clearly answer your questions.

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

What is the K1 Visa?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Business man looking at wall with a bright question mark concept-536805-edited.jpegBusiness man looking at wall with a bright question mark concept-536805-edited.jpegWhile it is (unfortunately) true that all types of visas are subject to some degree of myths and misunderstandings — including a few major falsehoods that have endured for decades —the K1 visa is arguably the least understood; especially among some of its critics who believe that it is merely a way for people to deceptively “marry their way into becoming a permanent resident.” Actually, given the immense amount of rigorous scrutiny and due diligence by the U.S. Foreign Consulate in the petitioner’s native country, and by the USCIS and DHS in the U.S., nothing could be further from the truth!

K1 Visa: the Basics 

A K1 visa — a.k.a. a fiancé or fiancée visa – enables qualifying foreign petitioners to legally enter the U.S., provided that they are going to marry a U.S. citizen within 90 days. If the marriage fails to take place within 90 days, or if the petitioner marries someone else (i.e. not the U.S. citizen named in the application), then she or he must leave the United States. 

In-Person Meeting 

To apply for a K1 visa, in most cases a foreign-citizen fiancé or fiancée must submit proof of having met their U.S. citizen sponsor in the last two years, and this meeting must have been face-to-face (i.e. not over the phone or via the internet).

However, in cases where it is not acceptable for a fiancé or fiancée to meet her or his betrothed prior to the marriage (not because of anything to do with where the individuals were born, but because of cultural norms), then USCIS may at its discretion grant an exception to this requirement. 

Nonimmigrant vs. Permanent Resident 

Contrary to what some people think, a K1 visa does not automatically grant petitioners permanent resident status via marriage. While in the U.S., after the marriage and before their K1 visa expires, petitioners may apply for adjustment of their status to a permanent resident (LPR) with USCIS and the DHS, respectively. The petitioner may also apply to have any unmarried children under the age of 21 obtain a K2 visa, and join their parent and (new) step-parent in the U.S.

Complex Application Process

Applying for a K1 visa is very complex, and as noted earlier, the process involves initial screening and approval from the U.S. Consulate in the petitioner’s native country. The official documents that petitioners must submit include (but are not limited to): a valid passport for travel to the U.S., a divorce or death certificate for any previous marriage, police clearance, medical examinations, evidence of financial support, and so on. In addition, the U.S. Consulate, USCIS, and/or DHS may ask for additional information at their discretion, which if requested must be submitted properly and by a specific deadline.

Learn More

To learn more about the K1 (and K2 visa for children under 21), contact the Pollak PLLC team today. We will learn about your unique situation, clearly answer your questions. And if you wish to move ahead with a petition, we will work with you and your fiancé or fiancée to create a complete, timely and persuasive application. 

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

E-1 Visa Requirements: What You Need to Know

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Mon, Nov 06, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Hand with marker writing What Do You Need To Know?-617628-edited-693961-edited.jpegE1 visaTo facilitate international trade, the United States government has entered into several independent treaties with various countries. Qualifying citizens or nationals of these countries may be granted a E-1 nonimmigrant visa for the purpose of engaging in trade on their behalf, or on behalf of a qualifying employer. For a current list of countries with which the U.S. Department of State maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, click here.

Terms and Conditions

The definition of “trade” for the purposes of granting an E-1 visa is not specifically defined, and may refer to trading in goods, services, banking, insurance, tourism, technology, and so on.

Also, while there is no set minimum amount of trade that should or must take place after an E-1 visa is granted, it is generally understood that the U.S. Department of State and United States Citizenship and Immigration place more emphasis on the volume of transactions vs. the total value of trade. 

For example, all else being equal, a petitioner who is going to execute 10 deals valued at $500,000 may be granted an E-1 visa instead of (or faster than) a petitioner who is going to execute 2 deals valued at $600,000. Again, however, this is not a standard rule and applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. 

E-1 Visa Requirements: Individuals

Petitioners who wish to conduct trade on their on their own behalf (i.e. not as an employee)  must meet the following E-1 visa requirements:

  • The petitioner must be a citizen or national of the treaty country. 
  • The petitioner must provide evidence (e.g. contracts, purchase orders, etc.) that they are going to engage in substantial trade (again, this is not specifically defined). 
  • At least half of the volume of trade must be between the United States and the petitioner’s designated treaty country. For example, both Australia and Canada have entered into (respective) treaties of commerce and navigation with the United States. If the petitioner is an Australian citizen and more than 50% of the trade that he or she plans to conduct is between the United States and Canada, then the application will be rejected — even though both Australia and Canada have treaties. Conversely, if the petitioner plans to facilitate 50% or more trade between the United States and Australia, then provided there are no other reasons for ineligibility the application would be approved. 
  • The petitioner must provide evidence that he or she intends to return to their home country when their visa prior expires.

E-1 Visa Requirements: Employees

Petitioners who wish to conduct trade on behalf of their employer must meet all of the following E-1 visa requirements: 

  • The petitioner must be a citizen or national of the treaty country. 
  • The petitioner must be the same nationality of the principal alien employer. 
  • The petitioner’s employer either must be based in the United States and maintain nonimmigrant treaty trader status, or if they are not in the United States, they must meet all of the requirements to be granted this status were they to apply.
  • The petitioner must meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law.
  • The petitioner must have a supervisory or managerial role, which requires specialized skills or knowledge.

E-1 Visa Duration

If approved, an E-1 visa grants the holder a 2-year stay in the United States. However, provided that the requirements noted above are still met, the petitioner may re-apply for a 2-extension. There is no limit on the number of extensions, and the petitioner is allowed to leave and re-enter the United States (though their family cannot). Generally, a petitioner who leaves the United States is automatically granted an automatic 2-year period of readmission when they re-enter the country.

Learn More

Applying for the E-1 visa is highly complex for both individuals and employees (as well as their employers, who must also meet specific requirements). To learn more, and have your questions clearly and fully answered, contact Pollak PLLC team today. We are here to help!  

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

5 Options to Get from F1 Student Visa to Green Card

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

f1_to_green_card.jpegf1 to green cardThe U.S. is not just home of the world’s largest and most robust economy, which attracts investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe. It is also an academic and research leader that, each year, attracts hundreds of thousands of students from around the world who wish to advance their knowledge.  

If you are a student currently living in the U.S. on an active F1 visa, then you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card (a.k.a. Permanent Resident Card). Obtaining this will allow you to legally live and work in the U.S.

Regular vs. Conditional Permanent Resident Green Card 

If you qualify as a regular permanent resident, your Green Card will be valid for 10 years. If you qualify as a conditional permanent resident, your Green Card will be valid for 2 years. Typically, conditional permanent resident status is available to petitioners who seek to obtain their Green Card through a marriage that is less than two years old (this is discussed further in this article).

A regular permanent resident Green Card can be renewed, but a conditional permanent resident Green Card cannot. However, those with the latter type of Green Card can petition to have their status changed from conditional to permanent, which if granted would extend the expiration date and be subject to possible renewal. Keep in mind that either a regular permanent resident or conditional permanent resident Green Card will can be revoked at any time if the visa program’s rules are broken.

Generally speaking, there are 6 options that could allow you to get from F1 student visa to Green Card:

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #1: Get an Employer Sponsorship

Provided that an employer meets certain eligibility requirements, you can petition for an EB2 or EB3 visa (a.k.a. Employment-Based Green Card).

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #2: Enter the Green Card Lottery 

Once each year, USCIS offers the Green Card Lottery (formally known as the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery). Be aware that there are a limited number of Green Cards available, and petitioners from certain countries cannot enter the lottery because their country has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the last five years. Check to ensure that your native country is not on the list before pursing this as a potential option.

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #3: Marry a U.S. Citizen

It may be possible to obtain a Green Card through marriage (as noted above, this would almost certainly be a conditional permanent resident Green Card if the marriage is less than two years old).

However, be advised that USCIS is highly skeptical of petitioners who pursue this option. They will conduct rigorous background checks, examine documents, and perform interviews to determine if, in their view, the marriage is legitimate, or if the union is for the purpose of helping one spouse obtain a Green Card.

With this being said, if you do indeed obtain a Green Card by way of marriage, you are not forced to stay married. Ideally you will have a happy matrimonial life. But if you ultimately separate or divorce, you will not necessarily lose your Green Card. However, you will need to convince USCIS that the marriage ended for legitimate reasons, and not because it was expedient to do so once you received your Green Card. 

Also note that if successfully petition to switch from a conditional permanent resident Green Card to permanent resident Green Card (usually after you have been married for at least two years), then a dissolution of your marriage will not be factored into your eligibility consideration.

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #4: Petition for Asylum

If there is a civil war currently happening in your native country, or if you are part of a persecuted population or group and returning would put your life in danger, then you may be able to obtain a Green Card by petitioning for asylum. USCIS assess each petition on a case-by-case basis, and the process is extremely detailed and complex.

F1 Student Visa to Green Card Option #5: Get Sponsored by a Relative 

If you have a relative who owns a business in the U.S., then you may be able to obtain sponsorship that would result in a Green Card. However, this is a difficult option and several criteria must be met. For example, you must be hired for your qualifications, and not because you are a relative. In addition, the employer (i.e. your relative) must demonstrate to the Department of Labor that they attempted in good faith, but ultimately failed, to fill the position by hiring a U.S. citizen.

An Important Note

If you wish to get from F1 student visa to Green Card, then regardless of which option you pursue, your application will need to take into consideration all of your unique details — especially since USCIS evaluates petitions on a case-by-case basis, and many are rejected for being incomplete, because of missed deadlines, or because the argument for the petitioner to remain the U.S. was not convincing enough. 

To learn more, and have your questions clearly and fully answered, contact the Pollak PLLC team today. We are here to help!  

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

The Differences Between the H1B Visa and H2B Visa

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Pretty young lady taking a decision with scale above her head-007260-edited.jpegH1B visa vs. H2B visaHere at Pollak PLLC, we are pleased to offer articles and videos to help you get the reliable, accurate and easy-to-understand information you need about various visa and immigration options (obviously we cannot provide specific legal advice, since that can only be done on a case-by-case basis after learning all of the details, factors, variables and so on).

As part of our commitment to educating and empowering you, here is a look at the differences between the H1B visa vs. the H2B visa. Looking at these two visa categories is particularly important in the current political climate, since they have both been in the headlines over the last several months — although for different reasons.

About the H1B Visa

The H1B visa, which is valid for three years (after which it can be renewed for an additional three years), is designated for individuals who have specialized skills that are typically earned through advanced graduate degrees obtained from qualifying institutions. 

Foreign nationals who petition for an H1B visa must have a job offer in their area of expertise from a U.S. based employer, and the Department of Labor must confirm that the role cannot be filled by a U.S. citizen (i.e. the employer must try, and fail, to recruit locally for the position). What’s more, the employer must affirm that it will pay the foreign national the prevailing average salary, and that working conditions will be in alignment with employees who are U.S. citizens.

In addition to the H1B visa described above, there are also the H1B2 and H1B3 visa sub-categories, respectively. The H1B2 visa is for government research work (typically facilitated by an agreement between the U.S. government and petitioner’s government), while the H13B visa is for high-profile fashion models. 

Also note that there is a statutory limit (“cap) of H1B visas available each year. For the 2018 fiscal year, this number has been set at 65,000.

About the H2B Visa

The H2B visa is designed to allow U.S. employers (or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements) to bring non-professional foreign workers to the U.S., so they can work in non-agricultural temporary jobs, such as those in the tourism and hospitality industry. Once their H2B visa expires, foreign national must return home. The maximum authorization period is one year, although in some cases employers may extend this to three years. Keep in mind that if USCIS or DHS is not fully satisfied that a petitioner intends to return, they will not approve the application in the first place. 

At the current time, Congress has set the H2B visa cap at 66,000 per fiscal year (33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year, and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year). In July 2017, the DHS and DOL agreed to a one-time increase of 15,000 H2B visas for the 2017 fiscal year only, and further announced on September 15 that it is no longer accepting petitions under this provision. While it is possible that another one-time increase will be enacted for the 2018 fiscal year (and beyond that), this is by no means guaranteed, and in the current political climate some observers say it is unlikely.

Learn More About the H1B Visa vs. the H2B Visa

If you are a U.S. employer that wants to augment your workforce with a foreign national(s) — either professional and permanent (H1B visa) or non-professional, non-agricultural and temporary (H2B visa) — then contact the Pollak team today.

We also invite you to contact us if you are a foreign national, and want to get a clear understanding of the visa petition process, and how you and your prospective U.S. employer can work together to put together a robust, complete and timely application package.

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

Resources to Help You Choose the Right Immigration Attorney

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Resources written in search bar on virtual screen-389258-edited.jpegimmigration attorneyChoosing the right immigration attorney is a critically important decision that will have lasting consequences for your organization (if you are an employer), for your career future (if you are a student or researcher), or for your financial well-being and family (if you are an alien worker who wants to live and work in the U.S). 

However, at the moment you may be unsure — or perhaps you may be confused and concerned — about how to move forward and find the right immigration attorney, which is a professional who is experienced, knowledgeable, responsive and dedicated to guiding you through the process step-by-step.

Recently, we shared a list of 5 critical questions that you should ask an immigration attorney. As part of this commitment to help you make a smart and safe decision, here are some publicly-available online resources to learn more about immigration attorneys in your area:

Avvo is one of the best known (if not the best known) online resource that features profiles for lawyers in different practice areas — including immigration law — and in various regions and cities in the country. In addition, each lawyer is rated based on aspects such as experience, knowledge, client service, and so on. Importantly, the Avvo rating cannot be influenced by advertising or any other form of payment.

LII is housed at Cornell Law School, and is a collaboration of publishers, legal scholars, computer scientists, government agencies, and other groups and individuals around the world who promote open access to law. Among other useful features (such as an online legal encyclopedia), LII features profiles of immigration lawyers across the country.

Facebook reviews, which typically include written feedback and a rating out of 5 stars, are provided by current and former clients. While these reviews can indeed be useful, it’s important to keep in mind that some individuals who are deeply disappointed with a decision by USCIS or the Department of Labor (or sometimes even their own employer) may “vent” their frustration through a negative review. As such, it is wise to approach this resource accordingly and understand that, in many cases, there is more to the story.

Birdseye is a unique source of information on immigration attorneys (along with other types of attorneys), because it does not feature reviews posted by users/visitors. Rather, it aggregates feedback from various review sites, social media, customer surveys, etc.  

Similar to LII, Justia offers free legal information to the public on a broad range of topics, as well as profiles of lawyers across the country.

A Final Word

Please note that while the above resources can indeed help you learn more about an immigration attorney, they should not be treated as “100% authoritative” — simply because they are not vetted by a third party (e.g. State Law Board, industry association, etc.). The best approach is to use them as part of your evaluation process. 

Learn more about Pollak PLLC's managing partner Karen-Lee Pollak, and be sure to check our profiles out on any of the above resources. Then contact us for your free, no obligation consultation to learn more about our experience, approach, and commitment to client service.

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

Choosing the Right Immigration Attorney: 5 Critical Questions to Ask

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Sep 08, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Young woman in casual holding balloon shaped like question mark-698963-edited.jpegimmigration attorneyThe difference between choosing the right immigration attorney vs. the wrong one is significant, and will have long-term implications for you and your family. Obviously, your goal is to make a smart and safe decision — and steer clear of a partnership that may ultimately prove to be disappointing, excessively and unnecessarily costly, and stressful.

To help you head in the right direction — and make the correct choice — here are 5 critical questions to ask any prospective immigration attorney during your initial consultation. 

1. How long have they been practicing immigration law?

Just as doctors, engineers and other professionals have varying degrees of experience — some are emerging in the field, while others are established — immigration lawyers have proficiency and knowledge.

Simply put: when it comes to choosing the right immigration attorney, there is no substitute for experience. Obviously, this includes knowing the law; especially in light of recent rulings and opinions. Less obviously, it includes and in-depth understanding of the application process for various petitions (e.g. USCIS Visa categories).

2. What is their knowledge and experience working on cases like yours?

In a sense, this is an extension of the first question, but it is so important that it warrants its own spot on the list. While a prospective immigration attorney must (as noted above) have in-depth experience in the field, he or she should also have knowledge that relates to your specific case.

For example, whether you are an employer looking to hire an alien worker, or you are an individual who wants to live and work in the U.S. (and possibly petition to have family members join you), you want to ensure that your immigration attorney knows the specific process and protocol inside and out. 

3. Will you be personally working on my case?

It is fine — and often necessary — for the immigration attorney you choose to take a team-based approach to your case, which means that additional skilled staff members (e.g. researchers, etc.) will also be working on your behalf.

However, what is NOT fine — and what you should ensure does not happen — is that your immigration attorney essentially “farms out” your case to colleagues, and does provide both leadership and direct hands-on professional services. It is crucial that your immigration attorney is involved in your case, and is therefore accountable for providing you with agreed upon services in a timely and appropriate manner. 

4. Can you give me an estimate of the cost involved?

This question has a few important aspects that need to be unpacked. The first is that immigration law issues are complex, and as such cannot be “sold” as commodities — i.e. there is no standard fixed price. This is also because a key factor in the length and complexity of your case will be determined by the government.

With this being said, you have every right to receive a realistic estimate of costs, based on a prospective immigration attorney’s experience working on similar cases (again, keep in mind that the word “similar” is used here — not “exactly the same,” since there is no such thing in the legal world as every case is different to some degree).

5. How will we communicate and what can I expect our interaction to be like?

Effective and efficient communication with your immigration attorney is not just important: it is vital. No, this does not mean you will have daily teleconferences lasting several hours. But it certainly does mean that you will receive regular updates (often by email so you have a reference and can review at a time that is convenient to you), and that you are completely up-to-date on all relevant aspects of your case or petition, including the stage it is in.

And of course, all interaction should be professional, respectful, and conveyed in a manner that helps you understand the situation. For example, your immigration attorney should clearly and fully explain various legal terms and processes, and patiently answer your questions. You should never feel intimidated, or that you are “just a file.” You are a human being and immigration matters are, to a greater or lesser extent, life-changing. Your immigration attorney must respect this. If not, then frankly speaking, they are in the wrong field. Immigration law is about people, not about things. 

Learn More

At Pollak PLLC, we have in-depth experience in immigration law covering a full range of cases and petitions for employers, entrepreneurs and workers (and their family members). Our principal Karen-Lee Pollak personally leads and works on each case, and ensures that all communication is effective, efficient and client-focused. To learn more, schedule your initial consultation today. There is no cost or obligation.

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

4 Options After OPT Expires to Stay in the U.S.

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 @ 2:30 PM

Options After OPT ExpiresHand with marker writing the question Whats Next?-1-023510-edited.jpegMany students who are pursuing or have completed their studies (usually a degree) in the U.S. on an F1 visa apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If approved, they are granted a student visa under which they may remain in the U.S. and work for up to 12 months in order to obtain practical education that compliments their education (note that at the current time, students in qualifying STEM fields are eligible for a 24-month extension instead of a 12-month extension).

For emerging professionals who wish to remain in the U.S., below we highlight four potential options after OPT expires:

Option #1: Apply for an H-1B Visa

Individuals who have a Bachelor’s Degree or advanced certification, as well as an employer to sponsor their petition (note: this is a complex process that must be started months before OPT expires), may be eligible to apply for an H-1B visa. This is a temporary worker visa, and if granted, it can last for up to six years. However, if the individual quits or is terminated by the sponsoring employer, the visa becomes invalid and the individual must either find a new sponsor, or return to their home country within the specified timeframe.

Option #2: Apply for a J-1 Visa

A J-1 visa is typically issued by USCIS to professors, researchers or exchange students. The application must be sponsored by an academic institution, government or private business, and the work performed must be primarily focused on teaching, consulting, or carrying out specialized research. As with the H-1B visa, this position must not eliminate a job for a similarly qualified and available U.S. citizen.

Option #3: Start a Business

Individuals who have the means to launch a start-up may qualify for various permanent immigration visas, including those in the EB-5 category that are available for petitioners with specialized knowledge or advanced degrees.

Option #4: Go Back to School

Individuals may be allowed to maintain their F1 visa if they return to school to pursue an advanced degree (Master’s or PhD). This option is sometimes selected by those who were unable to obtain an H-1B visa due to the limited supply available each year.

Learn More

All of the above options involve complex application processes and very specific timelines and deadlines — especially for those wishing to apply for an H-1B visa. If you wish to explore any of these options after OPT expires, contact the Pollak PLLC team today. We are here to help!  

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

Permanent Resident vs. U.S. Citizen: What's the Difference?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

American flag with a sky as a background-380698-edited.jpegPermanent Resident vs. U.S. CitizenOne of the most important questions that we receive here at Pollak PLLC is, “What is the difference between a permanent resident and a U.S. citizen?” First of all, while these terms are often used interchangeably on the web, and even by some people in the media, they are categorically different. Here is an overview of each designation.

Permanent Residents

A permanent resident is an individual who is lawfully permitted to live in the United States. Contrary to what many people believe, permanent resident status is indefinite — though it can be revoked if certain transgressions are committed, including but not limited to:

  • Leaving the U.S. at any time for more than a year. Note that technically, permanent residents may be deemed to have abandoned their status by leaving the U.S. for a single day. However, USCIS typically begins scrutinizing an individual’s intentions if they are out of the country for six months or longer.  
  • Committing certain serious crimes or security violations.
  • Failing to advise USCIS of a change of address. Historically, breaching this requirement has not typically resulted in deportation. However, it is not something that permanent residents should treat lightly (i.e. it is not on the same level as updating USPS or phone companies, etc.). And in today’s rather volatile and uncertain political climate, avoiding any and all transgressions — however seemingly minor — is certainly prudent.

Permanent residents may also legally work in the U.S. and petition USCIS to have their spouse and any unmarried children under age 21 join them in the U.S. However, be advised that there is a limited pool of immigration visas available to family members (referred to as “preference relatives”), and the waiting list is several years long.

In addition, permanent residents do not have to abandon their native citizenship, but if they leave the U.S., they must travel with their valid passport and permanent resident card (a.k.a. green card). Without these documents, they will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.

Permanent residents cannot vote in U.S. elections at any level. After living in the U.S. for a few years — usually around five or six — they can apply for U.S. citizenship, provided that they demonstrate good conduct, can read, speak, and write English to an acceptable standard, and successfully pass a test on U.S. history and government.

U.S. Citizens

Naturalized U.S. citizens are eligible to receive a U.S. passport and can leave and re-enter the U.S. as often as they wish, for as long as they wish. While they are obviously subject to the same laws and rules as all travelers (e.g. no violating customs laws, etc.), U.S. citizens cannot be denied re-entry to the U.S. or deported to their native country for committing any crime or security violation — unless it is established that they committed fraud to obtain their citizenship status.

U.S. citizens can also vote in U.S. elections at all levels, obtain government jobs that are (legally) designated for U.S. citizens only, and they may also serve on juries. In addition, some government benefits, scholarships and grants are only offered to U.S. citizens. 

The category of “preference relatives” for U.S. citizens is larger than that for permanent residents. In addition to spouses and unmarried children under 21, it also includes married children, children over 21 years of age, and siblings. However, the immigration process for relatives is very time consuming and often takes several years (especially for siblings).

Learn More 

The process of applying for either permanent resident status (a.k.a. a green card) or naturalized U.S. citizenship is complex and detailed. Errors and omissions will cause petitions to be delayed or denied. To learn more and have your questions clearly and fully answered, contact the Pollak PLLC team today. We are here to help!  

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

What is the EB-3 Visa? 

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Diverse group of workers standing against white background-245700-edited.jpegEB3 VisaThe EB3 visa is a preference category for individuals who are designated by USCIS as a Skilled Worker, Professional, or “Other Worker” (i.e. unskilled labor). Each of these sub-categories is outlined below.

EB3 Visa Eligibility Requirements for Skilled Workers 

Individuals who wish to apply for an EB3 visa under the Skilled Workers sub-category must:

  • have at least (and be able to prove) at least two years of job experience or training;
  • not be performing a job that is of a seasonal, temporary or part-time nature;
  • not be performing work for which qualified workers in the U.S. are unavailable.

In conjunction with their prospective employer, petitioners must first obtain certification from the Department of Labor verifying all of the above.

EB3 Visa Eligibility Requirements for Professionals

Individuals who wish to apply for an EB3 visa under the Professionals sub-category must:

  • have a B.A. degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or an approved foreign degree equivalent (note: education combined with experience is not viewed by USCIS as an equivalent);
  • demonstrate that a B.A. degree is the normal requirement for the U.S.-based position they wish to attain (note: USCIS deems it irrelevant if a B.A. degree is required for a similar job in the petitioner’s native country);
  • establish a clear connection between the B.A. degree that the petitioner has achieved and the type of B.A. degree that is required for entry to the position they wish to obtain (i.e. if the petitioner’s B.A. degree is in nursing, and position requires a B.A. degree in engineering, USCIS will deem that this eligibility criteria has not been met and will reject the petition);
  • not be performing work for which qualified workers in the U.S. are unavailable.

As with the skilled workers category, petitioners who wish to obtain an EB3 visa as a professional must obtain certification from the Department of Labor verifying all of the above.     

EB3 Visa Eligibility Requirements for “Other Workers”

The “Other Workers” sub-category is for unskilled workers who wish to live and work in the U.S. Petitioner must:

  • be capable at the time of filing their petition of performing unskilled labor (USCIS defines this as labor requiring less than two years of training or experience);
  • not be performing a job that is of a seasonal, temporary or part-time nature;
  • not be performing work for which qualified workers in the U.S. are unavailable.

Again, petitioners who wish to obtain an EB3 visa as unskilled workers must obtain certification from the Department of Labor verifying all of the above. In addition, there is currently lengthy backlog for this sub-category. USCIS periodically updates this via monthly bulletins on their website at: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin.html. 

Family Members

Petitioners who successfully obtain an EB3 visa may request that their spouse and minor children (under the age of 21) join them in the U.S. If granted, spouses of EB3 visa holders are eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document to legally earn income while they are applying for permanent resident status (i.e. green card).

Learn More 

The process of applying for an EB3 process is very complex and extremely detailed. Significant effort and coordination is required on the part of employers, and petitioners must ensure that their application is complete, compliant and 100% error-free.

To learn more, contact the Pollak Immigration team today. We will clearly and thoroughly answer your questions, help you fully understand the rules and requirements of all visa preference categories to which you may be eligible, and completely support you step-by-step if you and your employer wish to move ahead with a petition.

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Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

 

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