Archive for the ‘Immigration Links’ Category

Employer Fined for Violating H-1B LCA Posting Obligations

April 19th, 2011
posted by at 9:00 am

Late last year, a Newark, New Jersey based company was fined $638,449 in back wages and interest by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) for violating H-1B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.   In addition, the company and its owner were fined $126,778 in civil penalties for failing to provide notice of the filing of labor condition applications (LCA) at each place where any H-1B worker was to be employed.

Nancy J. Leppink, deputy administrator of the DOL said the following:

“Peri Software not only took advantage of these workers by not properly compensating them, it also violated the part of the law that provides the greatest protection to the American workforce… When companies participating in the H-1B program do not post filed labor condition applications, they clearly undercut American workers who may be qualified for available employment but aren’t aware of it.”

Under law, an employer has to post a copy of the LCA it files on behalf of an H-1B worker at the worker’s place of employment for 10 consecutive business days.  Even though this requirement can be cumbersome for consulting companies where employees are constantly changing client locations, this case proves that employers must remain diligent about following these rules or face the possibility of severe DOL action.

Based on the economy and the general anti-immigrant climate facing the country right now, we expect these fines, audits, and civil/criminal actions against employers to increase in the coming years.

Compliance Assistance Available

If you are an employer who hires foreign H-1B professional workers and are unsure about the legal obligations you must follow, make sure to contact a qualified immigration attorney immediately or visit our website for a list of clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act. Among the many resources available are:

Human Resource Professional Resources

Educational immigration-related Videos & Podcasts

Immigration Web Links

Immigration Options: Immigration Through Employment

More detailed information may also be obtained by contacting the Office of Foreign Labor Certification or the Wage and Hour Division directly (1-866-4USWAGE/1-866-487-9243). Information on how to submit a petition requesting an H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 visa may be obtained from USCIS.

Do You Know How to Deal with a Social Security No-Match Letter?

March 16th, 2011
posted by at 4:28 pm

A friend of mine, who happens to be a Human Resource (HR) professional, asked me to speak at an HR roundtable last week. The attendees were all seasoned HR professionals who worked for large multinational companies. I figured they knew most of the ‘basics’ of corporate immigration law and the cross-border movement of employees, so I decided to focus solely on recent ‘hot topics’ in PERM labor certifications, H-1B visas, L-1 visas for intra-company transfers, TN NAFTA visas, F-1 students and I-9 issues.

After close to an hour and a half of discussing the latest trends in these areas, I was curious to see what questions these HR professionals were going to ask at the end of the presentation. Interestingly, most of the questions were related to I-9 issues and enforcement. For an HR professional, this was the real hot topic of the moment!

Why would HR professionals be concerned about I-9 issues?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has sent thousands of ‘random’ I-9 audit notices to companies over the last few years. Even companies who go to great lengths to ensure proper compliance with I-9 laws are concerned with these ICE audits.

Specifically, HR professionals are worried about what to do with Social Security (SS) ‘no match’ letters. Does a SS no-match letter put an employer on ‘constructive notice’ that a worker is not authorized to work? If it does, then an employer can be held civilly or criminally liable for employing a worker who is not authorized to work.

As with many areas of law, this one falls within a ‘grey area’, one where there is no great and easy answer. However, given the concern expressed by many HR professionals and employers regarding the SS ‘no match’ letter issue, we have decided to give you our thoughts on the topic in a Webinar to be presented on Wednesday April 13, 2011.

Topic: Social Security No-Match Letters and I-9 Compliance

Date: Wed., April 13, 2011 from 10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Visit our website for upcoming event details and registration.

Success Story: Client Will Take Oath for US Citizenship after N-648 Approved

March 3rd, 2011
posted by at 4:25 pm

By Ame Coats, Senior Counsel

Congratulations to our client Daniel S. for a successful interview last week on his application for naturalization! Our office also handled Daniel’s permanent resident application, so we know him very well. When Daniel asked me about becoming a US Citizen, I was afraid that he would not be able to pass the English and Civics tests required for Naturalization because of a pre-existing disability. However, I told Daniel about a waiver of the English and Civics knowledge requirements available to those who can show that they have a disability which prevents them from learning this knowledge or demonstrating their knowledge.

In order to apply for the waiver, the naturalization applicant must file Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, which has been completed by a qualified medical professional. I was concerned that even if we submitted a properly completed N-648 form for Daniel, USCIS might decide that Daniel simply hadn’t tried hard enough to learn English since he had lived in the US for over 30 years. For this reason, it was crucial that Daniel’s doctor take the time to give a detailed explanation in layman’s terms as to how Daniel’s disability prevented him from learning English.

Our office consulted with the doctor to make sure that the doctor understood the importance of explaining Daniel’s disability and its effect on his ability to learn languages. Our efforts paid off – the N-648 was approved without incident. Daniel is scheduled to take his oath for US Citizenship in just a couple of weeks!

For more information on the Citizenship Process check out our Webinar Presentation on How To Become A US Citizen Through Naturalization.

Exploring the PERM Labor Certification Process

February 14th, 2011
posted by at 5:47 pm

A PERM labor certification is typically the first step in an employer-sponsored permanent residency application. Over the past 15 years, our office has seen this process go through many changes.  Our Senior Immigration Paralegal, Pam Prather, recently wrote an enlightening article exploring the latest trends in the PERM labor certification process.

If you are an employer or foreign national employee and want to latest tips, trends and best practices in the PERM labor certification process, you should take a moment to read the article and register for our next Webinar, where attorneys, Murali Bashyam and Ame Coats, will be giving you an inside look into the PERM Labor Certification process and answering your most frequently asked questions LIVE.

Webinar: Latest Trends in PERM Labor Certification Process
Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Time: 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM EST
Free Registration: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/322878851

Find additional employment based immigration resources here.

Bashyam Shah 15th Anniversary Memory #1: Why Immigration Law?

November 17th, 2010
posted by at 2:53 pm

Murali Bashyam's First Bashyam Shah Business Card

We’ve often been asked by clients and other attorneys why we chose to focus on Immigration and Nationality Law.  I’ve always responded with the same five words – because we help good people.

As a law firm, however, we didn’t always have that clarity.

Juggling several legal practice areas

When we started the firm 15 years ago, we were handling corporate, family, criminal and Federal litigation cases.  We also handled a few immigration cases, mostly because I was of Indian origin.  People I knew in the Indian community would ask me questions, and I would then do some research and provide them with a legal solution.

Over the following two years, we continued to handle these different areas of law.  It was just myself and partner, Robert Spiro, at the time, so we had a lot on our plate!  In addition, more people started asking us to handle their immigration cases, and we started focusing more of our time in this area of the law.

Focusing on Immigration

Although we enjoyed the different areas of law we practiced, the immigrants we were helping started making an impression on us.  We were good at immigration law, and the people we helped were grateful for the positive impact we had on their lives.

After just two years in practice, we decided to focus on just one area of law.  But what would that area of law be?  There were compelling reasons for all of them. We wanted to pick one and be great at it.

Sunday Best

One Sunday afternoon 13 years ago, my law partner and I put a whiteboard up in our old conference room. We wrote each area of law that we were considering down along with a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ next to each, and started brainstorming.

Thinking back on that Sunday, it really was a defining moment for our law firm.  Generally speaking, solo practitioners and small firms tend to be ‘general practice’ firms that handled multiple areas of law.  From an economic standpoint, it’s almost always necessary for small firms to branch out like that.  However, we decided to take the risk and cut our practice back to one area of law. And after much debate that Sunday afternoon, we chose Immigration law.

Why Immigration law?

Compared to other areas of law, we didn’t consider Immigration law to be that financially lucrative.  Also, Immigration law is one of the most complicated areas of law a lawyer can practice.  The laws are constantly changing, and it’s not easy dealing with a Government bureaucracy on a daily basis.  There are a lot of inefficiencies in the system that can lead to extreme frustration.

What made it worthwhile, however, was interacting with our immigration clients.  These were good people, and we felt that we were making a real positive impact on their lives.

Whether it was helping them with a work visa, or helping them unite with a family member, it was helping them that mattered most.  We knew that these clients would contribute to the United States in a very positive way, and that made dealing with the ‘cons’ of Immigration law easy to ignore.

Reflecting on our decision

Our law firm continues to focus solely on Immigration law.  We have helped thousands of immigrants realize their dream of living or working in America.   And as we celebrate our firm’s 15th anniversary this December, I can’t help but reflect on that important decision we made in our conference room on a sunny Sunday 13 years ago.

Response to LinkedIn Question related to Illegal Immigration

October 13th, 2010
posted by at 4:03 pm

I recently saw this immigration question posed on a LinkedIn page:

Linked In Immigration Question

My thoughts

1. We should not allow illegal immigration. We do need to do something about the illegal immigrants who are already here.   Deporting all of them is not the right answer!  We need smart and fair Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

2. Our ‘means and programs’ that allow for legal immigration are outdated and terrible.

Here are a few examples of why the current immigration system doesn’t work:

  • If a U.S. company wants to sponsor a foreign professional worker for permanent residency (“green card”), the process could take between 7-15 years.  In today’s global economy, what professional worker is going to wait that long when countries such as Chile, India, China, Russia and others are providing great incentives for people to come and work there?  How will U.S. companies compete in the long-term with companies overseas who are able to attract the best talent?
  • The U.S. has one of the best education systems in the world.  But when a foreign student comes to the U.S. and earns his/her Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD, there is no easy mechanism for them to stay here.  Most want to remain in the U.S., work and contribute to our country, but many are leaving because our immigration system doesn’t work out for them.  Why would the U.S. educate these people and then allow them to use their skills elsewhere?
  • Until very recently, it would take a U.S. permanent resident between 4-6 years to sponsor his/her spouse for permanent residency.  Given that being a U.S. permanent resident or “green card” holder is one step below U.S. citizenship, why should he/she be separated from their spouse for that long?  Similarly, why should it take over 5 years for a U.S. citizen to sponsor his/her over 21 children?
  • Why isn’t India included in the E-2 investor program?  Even business investors from Pakistan and Bangladesh can invest money in the U.S., create a business and jobs and get an E-2 investor visa.  However, investors from India, a country that is a friend of the United States and has one of the most booming economies in the world, cannot.
  • Why isn’t there a lawful program that allows companies that need unskilled labor to obtain it from outside the U.S. if they cannot find adequate U.S. workers to do the job?

What can the U.S. do to address the illegal immigration problem?

We could start by doing something about the illegal immigrants who are here, as well as completely reform our legal immigration system to keep up with today’s global economy.

These are  important issues that should be addressed separately, however.  Continuously linking them together will hamper our efforts to reform any of them.

Continuing the Immigration Dialogue

We recently hosted a Webinar on the current state of immigration and how a change like the SKIL Bill could be a welcome change.

Check it out and tell us what you think: http://www.slideshare.net/mbashyam/webinar-dialogue-on-the-skil-bill

Blog Article By: Murali Bashyam, Esq.

New Address? Don't Forget To Tell USCIS.

September 3rd, 2010
posted by at 5:22 pm

If you have filed an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and you move to a new address it is important to notify them of the change.

The law requires that most non-U.S. citizens report a change of address within 10 days of moving by completing a Form AR-11, Change of Address. Our latest Immigration Minute video will show you how you can complete Form AR-11 to notify USCIS of their new address on a pending case online at www.uscis.gov.  

Completing these legal requirements and submitting the necessary forms does not update an address on any applications or petitions pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have filed any application or petition with USCIS, and it is still pending a decision, you should keep USCIS and your immigration attorney informed of any change of address so you can get any notices or decisions. You can now do this electronically on the USCIS website for most applications and petitions at the same time you electronically complete your Form AR-11.

Filling out the electronic Form AR-11 is only the first step. When changing the address associated with any pending cases you should know your receipt number, new and old address, as well as the last date and port of entry into the U.S.

Any notices or documents USCIS sends to you are considered official Government mail. If your name is not on the mailbox and/ or registered with the local U.S. Postal Service Office, the Postal Service may not deliver official Government mail to you. Please remember to register your name and new address with the local post office and to put your name on your mailbox.

You may find this and more information on our website at: www.bashyamshah.com or call us at 919-830-0840.

Thank you for being a friend

July 20th, 2010
posted by at 7:05 pm

Bashyam Shah may have been around since the 90’s, but we have definitely taken the leap into the 21st century and we strive to stay ahead with new social media trends to connect with the online community. In addition to our new website and firm blog, our Facebook and Twitter pages have made it easy for us to post updates about what we’re doing and to communicate with the public.

Our Facebook wall, with its notes and musings, is informative and engaging. We have also launched a new video platform on our Facebook page which emphasizes our strong commitment to video as an important educational medium. We invite you to check out our immigration news stories and videos and to submit your comments.

In an effort to increase our number of Facebook fans; raise awareness of BashyamSpiro.com as an interactive immigration education and news center; and engage the Facebook community in a conversation about the U.S. immigration process, we have set a goal to increase our Facebook fan-base from 79 up to 100 fans by the end of August 2010.

In addition to you becoming our fan and follower, we need your help spreading the word. After all, they are called “social” sites so let’s get social.

So now what are you waiting for! Follow us, become a fan and be a part of the immigration conversation.

Bashyam Shah is happy to be your friend.

BASHYAM SPIRO WEBINARS – ON DEMAND!

June 21st, 2010
posted by at 2:11 pm

As you may have noticed our law firm recently started hosting a monthly webinar series to educate the public on the latest immigration information. We realize that people are busy these days and may not be able to attend each webinar during the designated time, so we have been recording these and making them all available to you whenever you want to see them on our very own You Tube Channel. Due to YouTube’s 10-minute time limit on videos, we had to segment our Webinars into separate videos.

Visit the Bashyam Shah You Tube Web Channel for free immigration videos, updated weekly. We want to develop a robust educational content calendar for the public and would love to get your input.

  • What do you want to learn about?
  • Are there particular experts you want to hear from?
  • Do you like the live educational forum a Webinar provides?
  • Anything else you want to share? Leave a comment here!

Thank you for watching!

Trail of Dreams, Stops in Raleigh

April 21st, 2010
posted by at 2:11 pm

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of inspirational immigrant students who made a stop in North Carolina on their 1,500 mile trip from Miami, FL to Washington, D.C. by foot as part of the “Trail of Dreams” initiative to demand just and smart immigration reform.  The event was sponsored by UnitingNC (www.unitingnc.org), an organization with a mission to foster rational dialogue between immigrants and others in the community.

North Carolina, like other southern states, has seen a significant increase in deportations, workplace raids, and barriers to higher education for immigrant students. Furthermore, Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes the Federal Government to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to perform immigration law enforcement functions, has created fear amongst aliens who lack a valid immigration status.  This often causes illegal aliens to fail to report crimes to local law enforcement for fear of deportation.

These students spoke openly and candidly to me, public safety representatives and others interested community members about the challenges that these students and the 12 million undocumented aliens in the United States face each day and the hope that they have for the future.  These students, some of whom are undocumented, are no different than any of us.  They are good, hard-working, and kind people.  The only difference is a status based on law.  In the history of our great country, there have been bad laws related to women’s voting rights and segregation, to name a few, and those laws have been changed.  Gaby, one of the students, pointed out that we need to do the same thing with our immigration laws.

During their visit they showed an inspirational video that I feel is certainly worth sharing:

For more information and biographies on the Dream Walkers visit: www.trail2010.org