DWS Law Group PLLC's legal team is equipped to provide customized counsel and representation to clients who for a variety of personal and professional reasons desire to visit, live, and settle in the U.S, or become U.S. citizens. As described below, DWS offers immigration services to the following categories of clients: prospective employees, traders, and investors; persons wishing to join family members residing in the U.S. ; visitors for business and pleasure; students and trainees; those seeking protection from persecution and other harms; and residents wishing to acquire the privileges of U.S. citizenship.
Employment, Investment, and Trade-Related Visas
The category of employment, trade, and investment visas is diverse and complex: it covers temporary "non-immigrant" visas ("H"-class visas, for example) as well as visas that allow one to secure "green card" legal permanent residence ("EB"-class visas). Even among temporary visas some can serve as steppingstones to permanent visas (such as H-1B or L-1 visas). Furthermore, these visas, whether green card or temporary, are often only available to applicants with specialized skills or training or those prepared to make a high level of investment in or engage in substantial trade with the U.S. Other visas require an employer sponsor to petition on behalf of the visa applicant and in many cases demonstrate that hiring of the applicant will not adversely impact U.S. workers. To this must be added the numerical quotas on visas that produce long wait times for certain visas. DWS Law Group can help clients navigate this maze of requirements and craft strategies to help them realize their professional and business goals without undue delay. Click the buttons below for more detailed information about this category of visas:
The H1-B visa is the most used temporary employment visa. An H-1B nonimmigrant is admitted initially for a period of up to 3 years, but the visa can be renewed for a total period of 6 years. The H1-B is an ideal gateway to permanent residence (green card) in the U.S. for those working in skilled professions, for unlike other temporary visas, one can pursue permanent residence while holding an H1-B visa.
H-1B visas fall within the category of “specialty occupations” under immigration law. Specialty occupations usually require at least a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. university or a foreign university certified to be of the same caliber. However, the lack of a bachelor’s degree does not automatically preclude obtaining an H-1B; one may still obtain an H-1B visa through a combination of education and experience. Although most H-1B visa-holders occupy traditional “professional” positions in information technology, computer programming, accounting, architecture, mathematics, and the law, the H1-B can encompass a variety of job types satisfying the definition of a “specialty” occupation.
Most H-1B visas are subject to a “cap” of 85,000 visas that can be issued each year. Because the number of H-1B visas applications exceeds the cap, visas are selected for processing through a random computerized lottery system held once a year. Within this cap, 65,000 visas are open to all qualified applicants and 20,000 are designated for persons with at least a Master’s level degree from a U.S. academic institution. (A small number of visas are set aside for countries with which the U.S. has a special trade treaty). However, no caps apply to H-1B positions in institutions of higher education and certain non-profit organizations. Also, applicants who have already been approved through the lottery, such as renewal applicants, are exempt from the caps.
One cannot obtain an H-1B visa on one’s own. Instead, a sponsor company or organization (known as the petitioner) must make a job offer to the prospective employee (known as the beneficiary) and then file for the H-1B visa on the beneficiary’s behalf. Before submitting a visa petition, the petitioner must obtain from the Department of Labor a certification of a Labor Conditions Application (LCA) the petitioner files on the beneficiary’s behalf. This LCA must show that the petitioner will pay the beneficiary employee the prevailing wage for similarly qualified employees in the locality of and provide working conditions that will not harm similarly employed workers.
DWS Law Group can work with sponsoring employers and prospective H-1B employees to help them navigate the complexities of the H-1B visa process.
Those who obtain an H-1B can be joined by spouses and children. Spouses and children are not generally allowed to work, although recent legal changes have permitted spouses to obtain work authorization in limited situations.
H-2B visa nonimmigrant program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent basis. The H-2B visa program is open to nationals of countries designated by the United States Secretary of Homeland Security and is capped at 66, 000 visas per year (from October 1 - September 30).
H3 visa is designed for people to enter the U.S. for a period of up to two years in order to receive job-related training in the US that is not available in their home country. The training provided cannot be for graduate medical education or for the purpose of providing employment.
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with fee, on behalf of the employee.
The P group of visas caters to athletes, entertainers, and artists. Through sponsorship by a U.S.-based company or agent, P visas allow such persons to enter the U.S. temporarily to compete and perform. These visas are only granted for the period of time necessary to complete a competition, performance, or season up to a maximum of 3 years. Athletes, however, can stay up to 5 years with an additional 5-year extension. Essential support personnel for athletes and entertainers can also be admitted under the same visa category as the main visa holder. While a spouse and children can obtain P visas to join the main visa holder, they are not allowed to work. The P visas are subdivided into P-1, P-2, and P-3 subcategories, suitable for the following types of beneficiaries: P-1 (internationally recognized athletes or those belonging to internationally recognized sports teams, as well as performers with internationally recognized entertainment groups); P-2 (artists involved in exchange programs between the U.S. and one or more other countries); and P-3 (artists and entertainers who enter the U.S. to teach, coach, interpret, or represent in a “culturally unique” program).
E-1 Treaty TraderE-1
Treaty TraderE-1 visas allow foreign nationals ("aliens" or non-US citizens) to enter the US to:
• Carry on substantial trade that is
• Principally between the US and the treaty country
"Trade" means the international exchange of goods, services and technology. "Substantial trade" means there is a continuous exchange of goods and services between the US and the E-1 trader. For trade to be "principally" between the US and the treaty nation, more than 50% of the E-1 visa-holder's international trade must be with the US.
In addition, the trading company must be a national of the treaty nation. So must any employee of the company who wants the visa. An employee must be a supervisor or executive, or she must have highly specialized skills essential to the company's business. The idea here is to limit the visas to persons with the knowledge and authority to conduct trade with US companies or citizens.
E-2 Treaty Investor
E-2 visas are for companies that are nationals of a treaty country, employee-nationals of such a company, or an individual citizen of a treaty nation. E-2 visa holders are permitted to enter the US to develop and direct the operations of a US-based enterprise in which the foreign national has invested, or is in the process of investing, a substantial amount of "capital," that is, money or other assets.
E-2 visas are granted only to persons coming to the US to develop and direct the enterprise. As with E-1 visas, you have to be a supervisor, executive or employee with highly specialized skills to get the visa unless you are the primary investor, meaning you own at least 50% of the investment.
You may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability. Below are the occupational categories:
National Interest Waiver.
There are three stages for Green Card for EB2 :
Stage 1: PERM/Labor Certification Stage (EB1 and EB2 NIW doesn’t require this Stage)
Stage 2: I-140 Immigrant Petition
Stage 3: I-485 Adjustment of Status
The EB-3 immigrant employment visa does not impose as demanding education and training requirements as the EB-1 and EB -2, and unlike these, EB-3 visas require a sponsoring employer’s job offer and labor certification in all cases. EB-3 visas are also more open to a variety of employment types: in addition to “skilled” workers who can perform jobs requiring at least 2 years of training and holders of baccalaureate degrees, the EB-3 is also available to “unskilled” workers. The backlogs for EB-3 are often very long, especially for unskilled workers, for whom only 10,000 visas are allotted yearly.
Foreign nationals can obtain an EB-5 “investor” green card by investing at least $1 million in a new for profit, commercial enterprise (NCE) that as a result of the investment creates ten or more jobs for U.S. citizens or authorized immigrant workers. (The minimum investment required is reduced to $500,000 for enterprises in a “Targeted Economic Area” (TEA), which are rural areas or those with high unemployment. Furthermore, by investing in a “troubled” or economically distressed enterprise, an applicant is only required to show that the number of existing employees is being, or will be maintained at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least 2 years.
To meet these job creation and preservation requirements, an EB-5 investor can either invest directly in a commercial enterprise or indirectly through a project sponsored by a Regional Center approved by USCIS. Regional Center investment is now the most popular path to obtain an EB-5 visa, in part because it reduces investors’ oversight responsibilities and allows indirectly-created jobs, as well as directly-created ones, to count towards job creation requirements. Investors apply for EB-5 permit in a two stage process. In the first stage, investor obtain a two-year conditional green card by showing that they have invested or are investing funds at required levels, are meeting job creation and maintenance benchmarks, and that the source of their investment funds is legal. Next, within the 90-period before the two year anniversary of the conditional visa, the applicant must submit an I-829 application to remove conditions on permanent residence.
Depending on the type of family relationship, foreign nationals can immigrate to the U.S. based on a petition filed by a family member. Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate relatives and family preference categories, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law. Unlike immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, minor children, and parents), other relatives of petitioning family members are subject to a complex quota system that includes annual and per-country limits. The issuance of visas is also governed by a preference system determined by the specific relationship between the family member and the petitioner, as described below. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of family immigration law and will assist you to determine the best option available to your family.
F1: unmarried children over age 21 of U.S. citizens
F2A: spouse and unmarried children under age 21 of legal permanent residents
F2B: unmarried children over age 21 of legal permanent residents
F3: married children of U.S. citizens
F4: siblings of U.S. citizens
A K-1 fiancé(e) visa allows U.S. citizens to bring a foreign national fiancé(e) living abroad to the United States to marry.
If you petition for a fiancé(e) visa, you must show that:
• You (the petitioner) are a U.S. citizen.
• You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States.
• You and your fiancé(e) are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
• You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition. There are two exceptions that require a waiver:
• 1. If the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
• 2. If you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you.
K-2 Children of Fiancé(e)s
If your fiancé(e) has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 nonimmigrant visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of your fiancé(e)’s children on your Form I-129F petition.
Study and Training
DWS Law Group's attorneys can provide orientation and guidance to foreign nationals seeking academic and vocational education, specialized training, and cultural exchange opportunities in the U.S. The temporary visa programs described below differ by sponsoring institutions, the type of education and training offered, and opportunities for employment in conjunction with education. We can counsel our clients on eligibility criteria and selecting programs that help them maximize their educational goals.
F1 visa is a temporary student visa that allows international students to study full-time at an accredited high school, college, university, or other academic institution. International students wishing to participate in an English language course in the US may also be eligible for an F1 visa.
The J-1 Visa offers cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States through a variety of programs overseen by the U.S. State Department. The J1 visa obligates the student to return to their home country for a minimum of two years after the end of their studies in the USA before being eligible to apply for an immigrant (permanent residence) visa. Adjustment is not available unless waiver is approved.
The M-1 visa is a temporary student visa that allows international students to attend an accredited vocational or non-academic school, such as a trade school or practical training school. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. M1 visa is valid for one year unless extensions are granted.
Q-1 visa is designed to allow U.S. entry to people participating in an established international cultural exchange program that provides practical training, employment, and sharing of the participants' native culture, history, and traditions with the people of the United States. The time you'll be able to spend in the U.S. on your Q visa will depend partly on your employer/sponsor's needs and description of the job.
DWS can help its clients secure the following temporary visas to visit the U.S. for business, pleasure, and medical attention. Also, under the Visa Waiver program, visitors from a select number of countries can qualify for short visits to the U.S. without a visa. Applying its knowledge of USCIS and State Department policies, DWS can help its clients make travel plans with a minimum of hassle.
B-1 visas allow holders to conduct a variety of business activities during their stays. This includes purchasing goods, investing, signing contracts, and attending workshops for an employer located outside the U.S. One must not use the B-1 for employment purposes or be paid by a source within the United States. B-1 visitors are allowed to stay in the U.S. for a maximum of one year.
B-2 visas are used for non-business purposes. While B-2 visas are used primarily for tourism and family visits, they also allow entry to the U.S. to receive medical attention. Many B-2 visas are multiple-entry, allowing many trips over a set period of time, but each visit is ordinarily limited to a maximum of 6 months.
Visa Waiver Program –
Under the visa waiver program, persons from a select number of countries without a record of illegal immigration history are eligible to travel to the U.S. without formally applying for visitor visas. (There are currently 38 countries participating in the program.) To qualify for this benefit, one cannot have any background of visa denials or violations and must limit one’s stay to 90 days.
Law Enforcement Visas and Humanitarian options
Foreign nationals who have suffered harm and abuse in their home country or the U.S. or have been victimized by certain crimes may be eligible for immigration options that allow them to remain safely and lawfully in this country. Some of these benefits are conditioned on victims helping law enforcement authorities investigate and prosecute crimes. DWS Law Group is experienced in many types of humanitarian immigration relief and other alternatives. We know how difficult and heart wrenching the application process can be, and we are ready to do everything possible to help you fight for your rights.
The S nonimmigrant classification is generally available to aliens who would otherwise be inadmissible to or deportable from the United States (for example, due to criminal convictions or certain problems with immigration status). The statute authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive most grounds of inadmissibility. The program is particularly useful for witnesses or informants who would otherwise be in danger in their home countries. It is also a substantial benefit for many other witnesses and informants who might not otherwise be able legally to enter or remain in the United States.
In October 2000, Congress created the “T” nonimmigrant status by passing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA).
The T Nonimmigrant Status (T visa) is a set aside for those who are or have been victims of human trafficking, protects victims of human trafficking and allows victims to remain in the United States to assist in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.
U nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of a qualifying crime that occurred in the U.S. or that violates U.S. law. The U visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.
Asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. To apply for Asylum, file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States. There is no fee to apply for asylum.
You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried. You can apply for permanent residency (Green Card) one year after being granted asylum.
Withholding of removal prohibits the U.S. government from removing you to a country where your life or freedom would be threatened on account of a protected ground (your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group).
You will need to show that you are a refugee, and that there is a clear probability of your persecution by a government (or a group the government cannot control) if you were returned to your country of origin.
DWS can counsel and assist its clients born abroad in obtaining citizenship through the naturalization process. Successful applicants thereby acquire the responsibilities and privileges of all U.S. citizens, regardless of birthplace, such as the right to vote.
DWS can counsel and assist its clients born abroad in securing the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including the right to vote. Person born outside the United States can obtain citizenship through naturalization, acquisition, or derivation.
Naturalization: Individuals applying to naturalize must be at least 18 years old and have been in permanent residence in the U.S. at least five years (although three years of permanent residence is sufficient for those who have obtained permanent residence through marriage). Applicants for naturalization must demonstrate continuous residence for five years, physical presence, good moral character, proficiency in English, and a basic knowledge of U.S history and government. Language proficiency requirements can be relaxed for older individuals who have resided in the U.S. for an extended period of time.
Acquisition: U.S. citizenship can be acquired automatically by birth to at least one U.S. citizen parent as long as one of the parents meets prior U.S. residency requirements. The specific criteria for automatic citizenship depend on the child’s date of birth and whether the child’s parents were married on that date.
Derivation: Under current law, minor children who turned 18 on or after February 27, 2001, can automatically derive U.S. citizenship from a U.S. citizen parent without having to apply for citizenship. To qualify, the child must be under 18, a permanent U.S. resident, and under the physical and legal custody of a parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization.