April 2011 Archives

April 27, 2011

Consequences of Drug-Related Convictions

Thumbprint.jpgLos Angeles-based immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong have received a recent string of consultations from the Palm Springs and Inland Empire area involving the immigration consequences of drug convictions.

One individual is a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) who was convicted in 2000 for possession of drug paraphernalia. The conviction did not come to the government's attention until the gentleman returned from a vacation abroad and he re-entered the United States. The Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") has placed him into removal proceedings, charging that he had been convicted of a controlled substance offense.

Another man recently walked in with a Notice to Appear in which the DHS alleged that he entered the United States in 1965. "That's wonderful!", I thought, "I've got one of the few people in America that is eligible for registry." My excitement waned when I discovered that the man had a conviction for possession of drugs in the 1980s.

The Immigration and Nationality Act does contain a "petty offense exception" which waives the consequences of a minor crime if the sentence of imprisonment did not exceed six months and the conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year or less. Unfortunately, neither of the above individuals can avail themselves of the exemption because it does not apply to drug convictions, no matter how minor.

There are other avenues of relief in the immigration court that we have been pursuing to help these two individuals. But the moral of the story is: if you are not a U.S. citizen, stay away from illegal drugs -- probably good practice for U.S. citizens too. However, if you do have an old conviction on your record, you should consult with an immigration attorney before you leave the United States or before you file for any benefits from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. --ra

April 8, 2011

H-1B Quota - 2012 Cap

So far, the USCIS has announced that it received 5,900 H-1B applications for the normal quota and an additional 4,500 for the advanced degree quota. These numbers were released yesterday, April 7, 2011.

In years past, many remember that the H-1B quota was exhausted as early as the first day of applications. Last year, the H-1B cap was not reached until January the following year. I would anticipate that with the economy still rebounding, the H-1B quota will last a significant amount of time. This will also ensure that everyone who can find a job offer this year will have a chance to make an H-1B application. Please contact the business immigration attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong for a free consultation if you are interested in applying for an H-1B this year! ---ecf

April 4, 2011

Chinese Companies Suspected of Fraud

It's H-1B season and the business immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong are busy once again fielding phone calls and inquiries regarding employment-based visas, including those of L-1 and new company visas. In the past few years, the USCIS and US Department of Labor have suspected newer and small companies of fraud, especially within the immigration system. New procedures and increased scrutiny of employment-based cases have made H-1B petitions and H-1B visas especially more difficult to attain.

Handshake.pngToday's Wall Street Journal ran a story about the very disturbing trend revealed by the Securities and Exchange Commission that small private companies are merging with public shell (dormant) companies instead of going through more rigorous methods of becoming public, avoiding initial public offerings. SEC Commissioner, Luis Aguilar announced that since January 2007, 600 of such "backdoor registrations" occurred and most notably, more than 150 of these occurred in and around China.

It's no secret that the USCIS, as part of the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) is engaged in "national security, fraud detection and prevention." The DHS now has an unit attached to it which investigates corporations suspected of defrauding the government specifically through the H-1B program and other visa categories. This has made adjudications of all H-1B applications much more difficult and I believe we will see strict review of all H-1B and work related applications. ---ecf

April 1, 2011

New H-1B Quota Season Begins!

Crying joker card.pngH-1B season begins today - April 1, 2011. Like a cruel joke, the beginning of this year's H-1B applications, H-1B quota, H-1B cap, fiscal year 2012 H-1B season, whatever you want to call it...starts today, April Fool's Day!

Let's review what the H-1B season means to those looking for a job and who hope to find a suitable employer to sponsor the H-1B application. (1) find a job (2) which requires a Bachelor's degree (3) with a company that is well established (or decently so) and (4) is willing to pay the government filing fees!

These criteria make up the most basic of H-1B requirements. There are many cases which get filed for H-1B each year and get denied, even though they "meet" the initial criteria. I gave a talk last month to attorneys in the Los Angeles area regarding some of the things a seasoned immigration attorney can do to help their clients make good choices in searching for H-1B sponsors and/or in documenting a good H-1B case. I was able to show examples of cases where other attorneys had short-changed their clients by only submitting the basic requirements to USCIS. These cases, of course, resulted in denial. The business immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong have been able to re-file and overcome such denials, but when you really understand how the cards can easily stack up against you in H-1B applications, you might be wise to start with a free initial consultation at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong as soon as you have an employer lined up before you end up with a denial or notice of intent to deny from USCIS. ---ecf