Articles Posted in Work Visas

Earlier this month, the Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced two new initiatives related to immigrants. One is tailored toward expediting the work visa process for college degree-holding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients (“DREAMers”) who graduated from U.S. colleges and universities. The other is designed to help undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens in their pursuit of legal status. The new initiatives are yet another reminder that the law regarding DREAMers is fluid and evolves frequently. As you pursue your work visa, it is wise to retain a knowledgeable Maryland immigration lawyer who is fully up-to-date on the latest changes related to DACA and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

One initiative will purportedly expedite the process for DREAMers with college degrees from accredited U.S. colleges/universities and have qualifying job offers. To access the new policy, the offer must be: (1) from a U.S. employer and (2) be in a field related to the applicant’s university major. Additionally, the applicant must “otherwise qualify for the nonimmigrant visa they are applying for.”

If the applicant meets these criteria, he/she could be eligible for a Section 212(d)(3) waiver. Section 212(d)(3) allows federal immigration authorities, on a discretionary basis, to waive most grounds of inadmissibility. This part of the new initiative involves providing enhanced clarity regarding waiver eligibilities, processes, and procedures under Section 212(d)(3).

Many foreign workers who work legally in the United States do so with a non-permanent visa such as an H-1B. Some foreign workers, however, work in this country on a permanent basis, holding what’s called a PERM visa. The federal government makes roughly 140,000 of these visas available each year. The application process is complicated and time-consuming, and successfully acquiring one of these visas requires skill and attention to detail. To give your PERM visa request the best chance of success, don’t delay in reaching out to a knowledgeable Maryland PERM immigration lawyer.

On June 1, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) made an important change to the ETA Form 9089 (PERM certification) application and case management process. Now, all PERM applications go through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) portal. The department also clarified that all applications filed before June 1 will continue to proceed through the old portal, as the old portal will remain functional.

In connection with the transition of PERM applications to the FLAG, the OFLC also introduced a new ETA Form 9089. The new version is a “smart form,” which means that, if an applicant previously filed a prevailing wage determination through the FLAG portal, that applicant can link that determination to his/her PERM application.

The “prevailing wage determination” is a critical step along the path to obtaining a PERM certification. In this context, a “prevailing wage” is the average wage earned by “similarly employed workers” in your specific line of work. To complete this step, your employer has to fill out Form ETA-9141, called the “Application for Prevailing Wage Determination.”

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As many people in the tech industry can attest, 2022 has been a down year, with many tech employers slashing payroll. Losing one’s job in a round of layoffs is traumatizing for most workers, but it is especially so if you’re a non-citizen who’s here on a temporary work visa. If you’re in the U.S. on an H-1B or another work visa and your employer lays you off, you must act quickly. If you have questions about your immigration status, be sure you get the advice you need by consulting an experienced Maryland immigration lawyer.

The 2022 tech layoffs hit especially hard in the social media and financial areas. As CNBC reported, Facebook parent Meta shed 11,000 jobs and Twitter cut 3,700. Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase and online payment processor Stripe each laid off around 1,100 workers. On the year, tech employers have shed between 90,000-150,000 jobs (depending on who you ask,) with 45,000 of those happening in a November flurry of layoffs.

If you’re in this country on an H-1B visa, the termination of your employment doesn’t mean that your status immediately becomes “illegal,” but it does mean that the “clock” is on. The federal immigration regulations (specifically, 8 CFR Section 214.1) give you a 60-day “grace period” during which you can find a new employer to submit a new H-1B petition for you.

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