Networking is Overrated: Focus on Achievements

August 27th, 2017

In today’s NYT’s editorial section (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/opinion/sunday/networking-connections-business.html?ref=opinion) Adam Grant writes, “Networking is overrated. Achievement is a magnet to mentors and a beacon to backers.” He notes that networking alone leads to “empty transactions” and not “rich relationships,” which bring the real rewards. He notes that it is important to first have an impressive track record and contribute something of value. He also states that self-promotion is distasteful and that we should promoting ideas instead of ourselves.

This is a wonderful message, but for attorneys, this can be especially difficult. Our relationships with our clients are confidential and private. I certainly could not publicize the approval of a green card for a particular client through USCIS (unless my client agreed). Attorneys do win awards and write articles, but the bulk of our valuable work is getting excellent results for our clients.

The basic rule that seems to have worked since time immemorial for all industries is to treat your clients like royalty, be honest, conscientious and caring and take great pride in your work. Also, it is important to develop deep relationships with professionals in complementary areas so networking still plays a valuable piece in one’s marketing campaign.

How should attorneys use LinkedIn in to promote their businesses? They should engage in less self-promotion and more discussion about ideas, law, policies and current events.

Trump’s Second Travel Ban Blocked by Two Federal Courts

March 17th, 2017

On March 15, 2017, a federal district court in Hawaii temporarily blocked Trump’s second travel ban finding that it violated the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and that the Trump administration failed to provide sufficient evidence of a threat to national security. In particular, Judge Watson held that a reasonable objective observer could find that the order was “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.”

Also, a Maryland federal judge on March 16, 2017, became the second to suspend the implementation of the latest immigration ban.

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on March 6, 2017, that temporarily bars certain people from six Muslim majority countries and refugees from entering the US as of March 16, 2017. His first travel ban order was suspended in the federal courts. The essential points of the travel ban are the following:

• Prohibits citizens of Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Syria from entering the US for 90 days;
• Bars refugees from entering the US for 120 days;
• Provides a waiver for some people on a case-by-case basis;
• Immediately suspends the visa interview waiver program; and
• Reduces the total annual number of refugees to 50,000 regardless of country of origin.

This travel ban differs from the first one in the following ways:

• Removes Iraq from the list;
• Does not suspend entry for current visa holders or legal permanent residents;
• Removes the facially discriminatory priority for Christian minority religions; and
• Allows travel for those whose visas were revoked under the first executive order.

This new executive order is still discriminatory, deleterious, ineffectual and unnecessary. Although the language of the executive order explicitly denies discriminatory intent, such intent still exists and will be subject to the same constitutional challenge as the first one. Also, there is no new screening mechanism that does not already exist in some form as a result of the enhanced digitization of the National Visa Center, President Obama’s enhanced screening. Furthermore, the order’s two examples of “terrorism” used to justify this ban include one act allegedly committed by a US citizen who came to the US as a child, and one act committed by two from Iraq, which is no longer on the travel ban list.

This executive order vilifies Muslims and will only exacerbate Islamophobia in the US. It will not make us any safer and will only add fodder to the fodder to the terrorists’ recruitment campaign. Also, it is inimical to our core values, since the US Constitution prohibits religious discrimination and freedom of religion.

Trump’s New Travel Ban Against Six Mostly Muslim Countries

March 7th, 2017

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on March 6, 2017, that will temporarily bar certain people from six Muslim majority countries and refugees from entering the US as of March 16, 2017. His first travel ban order was suspended in the Federal courts. The essential points of the travel ban are the following:

• Prohibits citizens of Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Syria from entering the US for 90 days;
• Bars refugees from entering the US for 120 days;
• Provides a waiver for some people on a case-by-case basis;
• Immediately suspends the visa interview waiver program; and
• Reduces the total annual number of refugees to 50,000 regardless of country of origin.

This travel ban differs from the first one in the following ways:

• Removes Iraq from the list;
• Does not suspend entry for current visa holders or legal permanent residents;
• Removes the facially discriminatory priority for Christian minority religions; and
• Allows travel for those whose visas were revoked under the first executive order.

This new executive order is still discriminatory, deleterious, ineffectual and unnecessary. Although the language of the executive order explicitly denies discriminatory intent, such intent still exists and will be subject to the same constitutional challenge as the first one. Also, there is no new screening mechanism that does not already exist in some form as a result of the enhanced digitization of the National Visa Center, President Obama’s enhanced screening. Furthermore, the order’s two examples of “terrorism” used to justify this ban include one act allegedly committed by a US citizen who came to the US as a child, and one act committed by two from Iraq, which is no longer on the travel ban list.

This executive order vilifies Muslims and will only exacerbate Islamophobia in the US. The US Constitution prohibits religious discrimination and freedom of religion is one of our core values.

Trump’s Executive Order Travel Ban Temporarily Overturned and Appeal Pending

February 6th, 2017

This weekend the Federal district court in Seattle, WA overturned Trump’s executive order banning entry into the US of foreign nationals from seven high-Muslim population countries as well as of refugees. This means that foreign nationals from these countries, as well as refugees, may now enter the US pursuant to the system before the order was published. The Trump administration has appealed the squashing of the ban to the US Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit denied the administration’s request to temporarily pause the invalidation of the ban while waiting for briefs from both parties. The Ninth Circuit will most likely expedite a hearing on this executive order and it’s anyone’s guess if it will be days or weeks before it is decided.

USCIS Filing Fee Increases Effective December 23, 2016

December 22nd, 2016

On October 24, 2016, USCIS announced its filing fee increases to take effect December 23, 2016. It has just confirmed with AILA that any application or petition with a postmark of December 22, 2016, will be accepted with the old fees.

Immigration Filing Fee Increases for December 2016

October 25th, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule with increases in filing fees for US immigrations applications and petitions.   The fee increases will take effect on December 23, 2016.  Applications mailed, postmarked or otherwise filed on or after 12/23/2016 must include the new fees.  The weighted average for the increase was 21%.

The filing fee for the Form I-485 application to adjust status increased from $985 to $1,140.  The filing fee for the Form I-130 petition for alien relative increased from $420 to $535.  With these increases, the total filing fee for one filing to adjust his or her status to legal permanent residency based on a family sponsor , including the biometrics fee of $85, is now $1,760.

Also, the filing fee for the Form N-400 to naturalize increased from $595 to $640, and with the biometrics fee of $85, the total filing fee to naturalize is now $725.

USCIS Announces Use of Final Action Dates for the US Department of State Visa Bulletin

July 18th, 2016

USCIS has determined that when filing for legal permanent residency, either based on family or employment sponsorship, the Application Final Action Dates chart in the US Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for August 2016 must be used.  According to the Visa Bulletin for August 2016, for the employment-based filings for India under the EB-2 category the current priority date for the final action date is November 1, 2004,and for the EB-3 category it is November 8, 2004.  For those from mainland China, under the EB-2 and EB-3 categories the current priority date for the final action date is January 1, 2010.  For the worldwide category, the EB-2 current priority date is February 1, 2014 and the EB-3 current priority date is March 15, 2016.

The current priority dates for the final action dates for the worldwide category are clearly unusual with the higher EB-2 category being almost two years behind the EB-3 category.  However, since the movement of priority dates in the Visa Bulletin chart are as capricious as the wind, those applying for legal permanent residency should not despair.

 

Government Reopen for Business and H-1Bs and PERMs Can Now Be Filed

October 16th, 2013

The US government will be reopening after the two-week October 2013 shutdown.  This is welcome news for those needing and or wanting to file H-1B, H-2B petitions and PERM labor certifications.  The Department of Labor (DOL), which was closed during the shutdown, is responsible for certifying the Form ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application (LCA), which  must be filed with an H-1B petition.  Also, the DOL is responsible for providing prevailing wage determinations for H-1B and PERM labor certification applications.  Finally, the DOL has jurisdiction over the PERM labor certification applications.  With cases frozen in the pipeline during the shutdown, let’s hope that there is not a significant delay in the processing of new LCAs and PERMs, although it is quite unfortunate to note that such backlogs and delays in processing are almost expected in the immigration law community.

The National Visa Center’s New Electronic Processing System

October 10th, 2013

The National Visa Center (NVC) is now accepting immigrant visa documentation by e-mail through an electronic processing system.  The problem is that it is unable to retrieve documents that are submitted via links from document sharing sites.  NVC requires that documents be submitted as scanned PDF attachments and has not indicated how it will work with encrypted documents requiring a password.

This is especially problematic in Massachusetts, which has a data privacy law preventing businesses from submitting documents with a combination of certain personal and financial information (e.g. person’s name and his Social Security Number) by e-mail unless it is encrypted.  Document sharing sites that offer encrypted transfers are especially valuable and my office uses them for sending large quantities of documents to clients.  Unless the NVC starts accepting documents from such document sharing sites, and until it clarifies its policy on accessing encrypted PDFs, attorneys and individuals should NOT sign up with the NVC’s electronic processing system, to avoid security problems with documents containing important financial and personal information.

House Democrats Introduce Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

October 7th, 2013

On October 2, 2013, the House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill, “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act” (H.R. 15), which uses the Senate’s immigration legislation (S. 744) as its template.  According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), there are enough Democrats and Republicans to support the bill and Speaker Boehner should bring it to the House floor for a vote.

The House legislation keeps many of the provisions of the Senate’s legislation, including the creation of the status of Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI), for certain noncitizens who are currently unlawfully present  and who entered the US before December 31, 2011.  DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals) recipients would be eligibile for RPI status.  RPIs would be allowed to adjust their status to legal permanent residents.  Also, the Dream Act is maintained and allows certain DACA RPIs to adjust their status to legal permanent residents.

Overall, the House legislation makes very few changes to the Senate legislation.  In particular, it maintains the merit-based visa and points system, which allows replaces the Diversity visa and allows for individuals to obtain legal permanent residency based on criteria evidencing merit.