When Immigration Matters

September Visa Bulletin and What Lies Ahead for Fiscal Year 2017

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 3:47 PM


The U.S. Department of State (DOS) issues a monthly visa bulletin summarizing the availability of immigrant visa numbers.  The DOS has now issued the September 2016 Visa Bulletin.  This is the final visa bulletin for fiscal year 2016, and the new FY will begin October 1st.   



First Preference, EB1.  Cutoff date of 1/1/2010 for India and China remain the same. 

Second Preference, EB2.  India has advanced by a few months but continues to be retrogressed.   Cutoff date of 2/1/2014 remain in place for the all chargeability areas plus El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.  The cutoff date of 01/01/2010 for China remains unchanged.

Third Preference, EB3.  China remains the same. The rest of the cutoff dates have moved forward. 

Other Workers, Third Preference, EB3.  China remains the same.  The rest of the cutoff dates have moved forward.

Fourth Preference, EB4.  All have remained the same. 

Fifth Preference, EB5.  All have remained the same. 



F1.  Cutoff dates have moved forward by a few months. Mexico only moved forward by a couple of weeks. 

F2A.  Have remained unchanged for all categories.

F2B.  Cut off dates for China, India and worldwide have jumped to 2/1/2010 .   

F3.  China, India and all chargeability areas remain unchanged. Mexico jumped ahead by a few weeks and the Philippines by a few months. 

F4.  China and India remained unchanged.  All chargeability areas jumped ahead by a few weeks, while the Philippines jumped ahead by a month. Mexico also jumped ahead, but by a few days.




Please note these are only short-term predictions.  “Charlie must make assumptions regarding upcoming demand based on the available data and his prior experience in an effort to stabilize Final Action Date movements. Charlie prefers to advance the Final Action Dates conservatively in the hope of avoiding a retrogression later in the fiscal year, especially in categories that are subject to upgrades and downgrades. Unfortunately the need to generate sufficient demand to use all numbers available under the annual limits often requires aggressive forward movement of the dates.” 


As noted in AILA’s DOS Liaison Committee’s monthly report, the following is a summary of a check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim (AILA Doc. No. 14071401 | Dated July 26, 2016):


  • “Charlie projected possible Final Action Date movement for September.
  • EB4. Though EB-4 Mexico and EB-4 India will become current again in October, the prospects for a full recovery for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are much less likely. A 2015 cut-off date will likely be established in these categories for October, with date(s) moving forward slowly through the next fiscal year. However, uncertainty surrounding the movement of the EB-4 Final Action dates for these Central American countries remains, given the lack of visibility into the number of adjustment of status filings that were received in April 2015, prior to the establishment of the cut-off date in May.
  • Family-Based Projections. Charlie expects a full recovery from retrogressions in all of the family-based categories in October, with the exception of F-4 China and F-4 India which will take some time. Beginning in November 2016, beneficiaries of F-4 China and F-4 India started responding to NVC Agent of Choice letters in larger numbers, which has given Charlie better visibility into the demand in these categories, but ultimately resulted in the retrogression of these cut-off dates.
  • F-4 China, which previously shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until retrogressing in June (AILA Doc. No. 16050607) to January 1, 2003, while this category will not advance in September, there should be a full recovery to the prior Final Action date of July 22, 2003 by November.
  • Similarly, F-4 India also shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until it retrogressed in June. Charlie continues to predict that the Final Action date for F-4 India will remain at January 1, 2001 through September. A full recovery of this category to the Worldwide level will not happen in October. Given the high level of demand, the Final Action date should advance to around November 2002 in October, with a full recovery unlikely to happen prior to June 2017.
  • Charlie will be watching the F-2A and F-3 preference categories very carefully. Both categories are likely to retrogress temporarily in September, and then return to their respective August 2015 Final Action dates in October.
  • EB Preference Categories. EB-2 India will continue to track one week ahead of the EB-3 India Final Action date in September.  EB-3 Worldwide has been hovering close to “current” for some time, and is expected to do so through at least October.
  • October Final Action dates for the EB-5 Regional Center categories remain uncertain as that category will sunset unless Congress acts prior to the end of the fiscal year.
  • In setting cut-off dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India, Charlie hoped to avoid having to establish a cut-off date for EB-1 Worldwide. Charlie expects that EB-1 China and EB-1 India will become current again in October, or November at the latest.”

Tags: VISA, Immigration, permanent residence

NEW 24 Month STEM Employment Authorization (OPT) for F-1 Students

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 4:29 PM


Effective May 10, 2016, eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM degrees from Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified and accredited U.S. colleges and universities may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension from their school and employment authorization from United States Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS). This extension effectively replaces the previous 17-month OPT Extension.

Can I obtain an additional 7 months of work authorization if I am on a 17-month OPT

Students currently participating in a 17-month STEM OPT extension may be eligible to benefit from the additional seven months of training and must apply for updated employment authorization from USCIS by August 8, 2016. Any 17-month STEM OPT EAD that USCIS issued on or before May 9, 2016, will remain valid until the EAD expires is terminated or revoked. DHS will not automatically convert 17-month extensions into 24-month extensions.

From May 10, 2016, through August 8, 2016, certain students with such EADs will have a limited window in which to apply for an additional seven months of OPT, effectively enabling them to benefit from a 24-month period of STEM OPT. To qualify for the additional seven-month extension, the student must satisfy the requirements below and pay all applicable fees. For students who choose to seek an additional seven-month extension, the new enhancements apply upon the proper filing of the Form I-765 requesting the seven-month extension. 

DHS recommends that students who choose to request the additional seven-month extension obtain the necessary DSO recommendation and file their application as early as possible in advance of the August 8, 2016, application deadline. 

To qualify for the seven-month extension, such students must have at least 150 calendar days remaining before the end of the student’s 17-month OPT period at the time the Application for Employment Authorization is filed and they must meet all requirements of the OPT 24-month extension. 

If an application for a seven-month extension is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD with a validity period that starts on the day after the expiration date stated in the 17-month STEM OPT EAD.

 How Do I Qualify for the 24- Month OPT Extension

 To qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student participating in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT must: 

  • Have a degree in an eligible STEM field from a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school that is accredited when the student submits their STEM OPT extension application to USCIS.
  • Pursue their STEM OPT extension through an employer that is enrolled in USCIS's E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
  • Select a STEM OPT employer that provides the student with formal training and learning objectives.
  • Work a minimum of 20 hours per week per employer.
  • Complete a FORM 983 Training Plan
  • WHAT IS FORM 983 or Training Plan
  • Before applying to USCIS for a STEM OPT extension, a STEM OPT student must complete, sign and submit the Form I-983 to their DSO.  You can download the Form and Instructions at https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/i983Instructions.pdf and https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/I-983.pdf
  • The STEM OPT student and their prospective employer must work together to complete this form. STEM OPT students and their employers are subject to the terms of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations and Form I-983 instructions, effective as of the start date requested for STEM OPT, as indicated on the form.
  • Students are responsible for facilitating the completion of this form, submitting it with their STEM OPT application and returning it to their DSO, who will keep it in the student’s record. DHS maintains the discretion to request and review all documentation for eligibility concerns.
  • The STEM OPT student must complete Section 1 of the Form I-983 and work with their prospective employer to complete Sections 2-6. In Section 5 of the Form 983 the Employer should describe what tasks and assignments the student will carry out during the 
  •    training and how these relate to the student’s STEM degree. The plan must cover a specific span of time, and detail specific goals and objectives.
  • For students currently on the 17-month STEM OPT extension and requesting conversion to the terms and conditions of the new 24-month STEM OPT extension, the student and employer will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Form I-983 as of the date of receipt at USCIS. Thus, the requested period should identify a start date on or around the date that the student files their seven-month STEM OPT extension with USCIS The USCIS offers useful tips to complete this form on their website at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/employers-and-the-form-i-983Reporting
  • Requirements
  • There are reporting requirements associated with STEM OPT extensions.
  • The student must work with their potential STEM OPT extension employer to complete the Form I-983, which must include how the training opportunity has a direct relationship to the student’s qualifying STEM degree.
  • Employers must report to the relevant DSO (indicated on the Form I-983) when an F-1 student on a STEM OPT extension terminates or otherwise leaves their employment before the end of the authorized period of OPT. The employer must report this change to the appropriate DSO no later than five business days after the student leaves employment.
  • STEM OPT students must report to their DSOs every six months. As part of such reporting, STEM OPT students must confirm the validity of their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System information, including:
      • Legal name.
      • Address.
      • Employer name and address.
      • Status of current employment/practical training experience.
  1. STEM OPT students must do an annual self-evaluation on Form 983 and must report to their DSO about the progress of the training experience. Students must sign the self-evaluation prior to submitting it to the DSO, who will include it in the student's record.
  2. Both the student and employer are obligated to report to the student's DSO any material changes to, or material deviations from, the student's formal training plan.UnemploymentDepartment of Homeland Security allows STEM OPT Students an additional 60 days of unemployment during the OPT Stem Extension Period. The 150-day unemployment limit that is applicable to students who are granted the 24-month STEM OPT extension is also applicable to students whose seven-month extension is approved under the transitional plan. These students are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment, for a total of 150 days of allowable unemployment (90 days during the initial period of post-completion OPT plus an additional 60 days during the extension period). This 150-day unemployment limit will apply to a student seeking a seven-month extension only upon approval of that extension (and not during the filing of such extension).   

Our firm provides full-service professional legal advice and representation to help you find an immigration solution to your visa needs.  Please contact us to discuss your Immigration Options


Tags: F1 Visa


Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Apr 07, 2016 @ 1:20 PM

 h-1b-resized-600.jpgU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general cap. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended April 7. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2017 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Tags: H-1B

Entry for the DV Lottery Begins on October 1 2015

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 @ 6:22 PM

dvlottery-resized-600.jpgThe DV Lottery 2017 begins on October 1, 2015 at noon Eastern Standard time(EST) and ends on November 3, 2015 at noon EST.  The official program instructions are attached at this hyperlink with answers to Frequently asked questions.DV-2017_Instructions_and_FAQs

The instructions for entry are simple but strict.  Entrance is free.

Who Is Eligible

See the attached link for countries eligible to participate.  If you are not from a country that is on the attached list you do not qualify unless:

1.  your spouse is born in a country that is eligible and both of you are listed on the entry or

2.  if you were born in a country in which neither of your parents were born or legally resided at the time of your birth.  For example, your parents were vacationing in an eligible country when you were born.  

Educational Qualifications

Must have completed high school or its equivalent or have 2 years of work experience in the past 5 years in an occupation requiring at least 2 years of  experience or training.  

Where to Submit the Application  What to Include in the Application

Submit your application electronically at www.dvlottery.state.gov 

What Information to Include in the Application

1.  Name – last/family name, first name, middle name – exactly as on your passport.

2. Gender – male or female.

3. Birth date – day, month, year.

4. City where you were born. 

5. Country where you were born – Use the name of the country currently used for the place where you were born.

6. Country of eligibility for the DV program

 7.  Entrant photograph(s) – Recent photographs (taken within the last six months) of yourself, your spouse, and all your children listed on your entry in Jpeg format

You can take a new digital photograph or scan a recent (taken within the last six months) photograph with a digital scanner, as long as it meets the compositional and technical specifications listed below. Test your photos through the photo validation link on the E-DV website, which provides additional technical advice on photo composition and examples of acceptable and unacceptable photos. Photographs must be in 24-bit color depth. If you are using a scanner, the settings must be for True Color or 24-bit color mode. Compositional Specifications:  Head Position The subject must directly face the camera. o The subject’s head should not be tilted up, down, or to the side. o The head height or facial region size (measured from the top of the head, including the hair, to the bottom of the chin) must be between 50 percent and 69 percent of the image's total height. The eye height (measured from the bottom of the image to the level of the eyes) should be between 56 percent and 69 percent of the image's height.

8. mailing address

9.  country where you live today

10.  phone number

11.  Email

12.  Highest level of Education at Date of Entry

13.  Current Marital Status.  Enter the name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, and country of birth of your spouse, and a photograph of your spouse meeting the same technical specifications as your photo. 

14.  Number of children – List the name, date of birth, gender, city/town of birth, and country of birth for all living unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of whether they are living with you or intend to accompany or follow to join you.

What if I am Selected

 Based on the allocations of available visas in each region and country, individuals will be randomly selected by computer from among qualified entries. All DV-2017 entrants will be required to go to the Entrant Status Check using the unique confirmation number saved from their DV-2017 online entry registration to find out whether their entry has been selected in the DV program. Entrant Status Check will be available on the E-DV website at www.dvlottery.state.gov starting May 3, 2016, through at least September 30, 2017. If your entry is selected, you will be directed to a confirmation page that will provide further instructions, including information about fees connected with immigration to the United States. Entrant Status Check will be the ONLY means by which selectees are notified of their selection for DV-2017. The Department of State will not mail notification letters or notify selectees by email.  It is extremely important ot keep the confirmation page.  

All processing of entries and issuance of DVs to selectees meeting eligibility requirements and their eligible family members must be completed by midnight on September 30, 2017.  

 Karen-Lee Pollak is the chair of Bell Nunnally & Martin’s Immigration Section.  She has received numerous immigration awards including Texas Rising Star® by Texas Monthly, repeatedly selected as a Best Lawyer in Dallas by D Magazine, selected as one of  Newsweek’s Leaders in Immigration Law Showcase, and named by  Corporate Intl Magazine Legal Award as ‘Immigration Law Firm of the Year in Texas’. Karen-Lee provides full-service legal immigration counsel to large corporations, small businesses and individuals.  Karen-Lee  is the author of an immigration blog, Immigration Solutions which provides information and updates on immigration issues, topics and tips.  She is also a frequent speaker and writer on immigration issues.  You can reach Karen-Lee at 214-740-1475 or email her at karenlp@bellnunnally.com or under her twitter handle law_immigration.  



Department of State Revises October Visa Bulletin

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 @ 6:30 PM

On September 25, 2015, the Department of State published a revised visa bulletin for October, rolling back the "Dates for Filing" for several visa categories. This revised September 25th Visa Bulletin supersedes the previous visa bulletin released for October published on September 9, 2015.

Manyy EB2 employees will be dissapointed to learn that DOS has rolled back the priority date for filing adjustment of status applications by 2 years for Indian Citizens  and almost 1 year for citizens of China.  

Please note that the following "Dates for Filing" have changed:

Category (9/9/15)
Filing Date
NEW (9/25/15)
Filing Date
EB-2 China 5/1/2014 1/1/2013 1 year, 5 months
EB-2 India 7/1/2011 7/1/2009 2 years
EB-3 Philippines 1/1/2015 1/1/2010 5 years
FB-1 Mexico 7/1/1995 4/1/1995 3 months
FB-3 Mexico 10/1/1996 5/1/1995 1 year, 5 months

Therefore, individuals who fall under the above-referenced categories will only be permitted to file for adjustment of status in the month of October if they have a priority date that is earlier than the NEW Filing Date listed in the revised September 25, 2015 Visa Bulletin.

To learn more about priority dates, visa retrogression and various visas vistit our website at www.immigrationbn.com or contact us at immigration@immigrationbn.com



Tags: Visa Bulletin, VISA, adjustment of status, , retrogression

New Visa Bulletin Format allows Earlier Filing of Adjustment of Status Applications

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 @ 8:40 PM

decision_making-resized-600Great News!!!  The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has published the October visa bulletin with a new format that will allow applicants to file I-485 Applications to Adjust Status to permanent resident even before an immigrant visa number is immediately available. 

The new format will enable applicants and their dependent family members under backlogged categories to apply for ancillary benefits much earlier, including Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards and Advance Parole travel documents.  Earlier filing of an I-485 Application to Adjust Status to permanent resident will also enable applicants to qualify for “portability” of the permanent residency process earlier, because eligibility is triggered by the passage of 180 days since the filing of the applicant’s I-485 Application to Adjust Status.

What does this mean?

With the October Visa Bulletin, DOS has included two separate cutoff dates under backlogged categories.  The “filing cutoff date” represents the cutoff date for filing new Applications to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident (green card) with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS).  The “final action cutoff date” represents the cutoff date for approval of pending applications.  The “final action cutoff date” is the date traditionally published each month in the Visa Bulletin.


EB-2 China

Under the October Visa Bulletin, Employment-based, Second Preference (EB-2) applicants born in China may file their Applications to Adjust Status with CIS if their priority date is earlier than May 1, 2014.  The priority date is normally the date that the ETA-9089 PERM Application for Permanent Employment Certification (labor certification) was filed or if no labor certification is required, the date that the I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition was filed with CIS.

Although applicants will be permitted to file their applications so long as their priority date is earlier than the new filing cutoff date, their applications cannot be approved by CIS until the later approval cutoff date of a January 1, 2012 priority date which is the date that has existed under old versions of the bulletin.

Whenever filing an Application to Adjust Status, applicants and their qualifying dependent family members may file Applications for Employment Authorization and Advance Parole for international travel concurrently with the Application to Adjust Status.  Individuals who hold an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card may apply for Social Security Number cards with the U.S. Social Security Administration.

EB-2 India

Under the October Visa Bulletin, EB-2 applicants born in India may file their Applications to Adjust Status with CIS if their priority date is earlier than July 1, 2011.  Pending Applications to Adjust Status may be approved if the applicant’s priority date is earlier than May 1, 2005.  The new final action cutoff date reflects an 8 month retrogression from the cutoff date in the September Visa Bulletin.

EB-3 India, China, Philippines and the World

As expected at the beginning of the new fiscal year, the EB-3 category has advanced for China, to a new final action cutoff date of October 15, 2011, with the newly established filing cutoff date of October 1, 2013.  The EB-3 India category will retrogress over ten months to a final action cutoff date of March 8, 2004, but a new filing cutoff date of July 1, 2005 will allow for filing of I-485 applications with requests for employment authorization and advance parole for the applicant and qualifying dependent family members much sooner than March 8, 2004, and sooner than the September 2015 Visa Bulletin cutoff date of December 22, 2014.  EB-3 applicants born in the Philippines must have a priority date earlier than January 1, 2015 to file their applications, and earlier than January 1, 2007 to have pending applications approved.  Applicants born in all other areas of chargeability must have a priority date earlier than September 1, 2015 to file their applications, and earlier than August 15, 2015 to have pending applications approved. 

Call or email Bell Nunnally & Martin to assist you in filing your application  

By initiating new applications now, applicants can hope to be ahead of the rush of anticipated filings as many new applicants become eligible to file applications during the month of October.  Filing at the very beginning of October should help applicants to avoid longer wait times for the adjudication of Applications for Employment Authorization and Advance Parole.

The F-1 Student Visa and Beyond-Immigration Seminar

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Wed, Sep 02, 2015 @ 10:55 AM

e--documents_and_settings-mpollak-my_documents-my_powerpoints-statue_of_liberty__us_flag-resized-600Plano Multicultural Outreach Roundtable, Collin College International Students’ Association and Bell Nunnally & Martin, LLP present their Fall Immigration Seminar:  

The F-1 Student Visa and Beyond: Creating a Game Plan for Working and Maintaining Status in the United States

This no-charge interactive seminar provides a comprehensive overview of immigration laws as applied to F-1 students.  Learn how to develop a game plan for maintaining immigration status and working in the United States.


Who should attend:

F-1 Students, Prospective F-1 Students, Post Graduate F-1 Students


Items to be covered:

  • The F-1 Student visa and maintaining status
  • Working while in F-1 status-when USCIS approval is and is not required
  • OPT, OPT Extensions and STEM-working after studying
  • VISA Options after studying-DACA, H1B Petitions, “Cap Gap” relief and beyond
  • Green Card Options-DV Lottery, Extraordinary Ability, National Interest Waivers, Investment, Employment AND Family based Immigration Green Cards

Your benefit:

  • Avoid costly and often unfixable mistakes in maintaining Immigration Status
  • Develop strategies for maintaining status in the United States during and after study
  • Understand your options to remain in the United States after studying

WhenTuesday, September 29, 2015, 6:00-8:00 pm


Where:  Collin College, Spring Creek Campus, Living Legends Conference Center, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, Texas 75074


Please RSVP to immigration@bellnunnally.com 


About the Speaker:  Karen-Lee Pollak chairs Bell Nunnally & Martin’s Immigration Section. Selected to D Magazine’s “Best Lawyers in Dallas 2014” list, featured as one of Newsweek’s Leaders in Immigration Law Showcase and listed as Texas Rising Star® by Texas Monthly, she provides full-service legal immigration counsel to large corporations, small businesses and individuals.


Please visit www.bellnunnally.com and www.immigrationbn.com to learn more about Ms. Pollak and Bell Nunnally & Martin.  To learn about Plano Multicultural Outreach Roundtable visit www.PlanoMcor.org





Changes to E Visa Application Processing at US Embassy Mexico

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sat, Jul 11, 2015 @ 9:30 AM

e-2-resized-600Effective July 7, 2015, US. Embassies in Mexico will change where Non Immigrant E1 TreatyTrader and E2 Investor visas will be processed.    E-1 visa processing will be handled by the Consulates General in Monterrey and Tijuana and E-2 visas will be handled by the Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez.  The US Embassy states that an increase in overall applications makes it difficult to maintain efficient processing of these visas in Mexico City.  The US. Embassy in Mexico City will not process E1 and E2 visa applications filed after July 7, 2015.  The actual email received can be viewed at E_processing_changes

What is the E1 Treaty-Trader and E-2 Treaty-Investor Work Visa (Treaty-Trader/Treaty-Investor) 

The E visa (treaty-trader/treaty-investor visa) provides reciprocal benefits to nationals of the U.S. and foreign countries who invest or conduct trade between two countries. Foreign nationals can get a visa by conducting trade with the U.S. (E-1 visa) or by overseeing investment in the U.S. (E-2). The E visa category can be used by various types of companies, whether owned by individuals or large multinational corporations. The E visa can be used by the company’s principals or by its employees.Please also see our video on the E2 visa at http://www.immigrationbn.com/non-immigrant-visas/e-2 

 Visa Requirements

  • A treaty must exist between the United States and the foreign country. Germany, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Pakistan , Iran, Japan, Canada and Australia are just some of the countries that have treaties with the United States
  • Majority ownership or control of the investing or trading company must be held by nationals of the foreign country
  • Every employee or principal of the company seeking E visa status must be a citizen of the foreign country where the company is based

E-1 "Treaty Trader" Visas

E-1 visas are for individuals involved in the exchange, purchase or sale of goods/services or merchandise. Services include technology transfer, architecture and engineering services, management consulting or accounting. The trade in goods and services should be substantial, as defined by the INS, in terms of value, volume or a large number of small transactions. The trade must also meet the following criteria:

  • The trade must be principally with the treaty country
  • More than 50% of the total volume of international trade must be between the U.S. and the treaty country
  • The amount of trade must be sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country
  • Trade can be binding contracts that call for the future exchange of items
  • Income derived from the value of numerous transactions that is sufficient to support the trades and his/her family is a favorable factor

E-2 "Treaty Investor" visas

E-2 visas are for owners and investors in businesses in the United States. The E-2 is a non-immigrant visa that may be granted for substantial investments in the U.S. An investment must meet several criteria in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. These criteria include:

  • Showing that "substantial" investment or funds are available and committed to the investment
  • The investment must be in an active business as opposed to passive investment such as purchasing a home
  • At least 50% of the business must be owned by an alien from a country which has a treaty with the United States
  • The investment must create enough profit to provide a living for more than just the alien and his/her family

There is no minimum amount of investment necessary to obtain an E-2 visa, and whether an amount will be considered "substantial" depends on the type of business involved, the number of jobs created the alien's personal assets, etc. In most cases, the investment must be at least $100,000USD.

Employees of E-2 companies may be granted E-2 visas if they are or will be engaged in duties that are executive, managerial, or supervisory in nature.  If he/she is employed in a minor capacity, the employee may be granted E-2 visa if he or she has special qualifications that make the services to be rendered essential to the enterprise.

The spouse and children (unmarried and under 21) of E-1 or E-2 visa holders are entitled to the same E-1 or E-2 classification as the principal and the spouse can receive work authorization.  The visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business is operating.  You will lose the visa if the business stops operating. 


Department of State Releases August 2015 Visa Bulletin

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 @ 5:49 PM

karen_pollak_bn-resized-600The department of State has released the August 2015 visa bulletin.  This blog summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers during August 2015.  You can review the actual Visa bulletin for August 2015 here.  visa_bulletin-1

There was forward movement in most employment-based and family-based visa categories. The EB-3 and the “Other Workers” categories for the Philippines are no longer unavailable and the EB-3 and “Other Workers” categories for China retrogressed due to large demand.  The EB-5 category for China remains at September 1, 2013.

Family Numbers

  • The F1 unamrried adult children of US. Citizens moved forward one month to October 2007 for all countries except Mexico and Phillipines.
  • The F2A category for spouses and children of lawful permanent residents moved forward one month for all countries except Mexico which moved forward two months
  • The F2B category unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents moved forward one month for all countries except Mexico and Phillipines
  • The F3 category married sons and daughters of US. citizens moved forward one month for all countries except Mexico and Phillipines
  • The F4 Sibling category moved froward from October 22, 2002 to December 1, 2002 for all countries except Mexico and Phillipines.  There was no change for citizens of Mexico and the priority date still remains March 1, 1997.  Phillipines had a significant movement from  December 8, 1991 to January 15, 1992.

Employment Numbers

  • EB-1 remains current for all countries
  • EB-2 remains current for all countries except India which remains at October 1, 2008 and China at December 15, 2013
  • EB-3 for Phillipines is no longer unavailable.  The priority date is June 1, 2004.  China retrogresssed from September 1, 2011 to June 1, 2004, India moved forward from February 1, 2004 to June 1, 2004, All other countries moved forward from April 1, 2015 to July 15, 2015.  
  • EB-4 is current for all countries.  
  • EB-5 is current for all countries except China where the EB5 visa priority date remains at September 1, 2013.




USCIS launches Spanish Blog and Facebook Page.

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Jul 09, 2015 @ 12:04 PM

DHS-resized-600USCIS is strengthening its commitment to the Spanish-speaking community by launching USCIS Facebook in Spanish and a Spanish blog, USCIS Compás, which has moved from their English blog to its own place in USCIS español. Both resources will contain new, original content exclusively in Spanish.  Usciss states "Our goal is to share with you general USCIS related news and information as well as unique stories and news for our Hispanic community. We are committed to strengthening our mission to our nation and continuing to serve you. It is a dynamic time for our nation in terms of immigration and we recognize the need to connect with you, share ideas and share the stories of our Hispanic community".

 For more information about USCIS and its programs, visit uscis.gov/español. Follow us in Spanish on Facebook (/uscis.es), Twitter (@uscis_ES), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS Compás.