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EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY AND NATIONAL INTEREST ALIENS (EB-1 and NIW)
The Immigration and Naturalization Act provides for immigration without labor certification or job offer for certain highly qualified individuals who have been determined to be "aliens of extraordinary ability" or aliens whose immigration is "in the national interest." These related petition categories require that the applicant prove superior ability in an area that benefits the U.S. and that the benefit to the U.S. be greater than would be typical for an individual in the field.
These categories are available for people in every field. Our office, in fact, has been successful with hundreds of these applications for primary and non-primary physicians, scientists, engineers, business people, and artists.
For establishing extraordinary ability in the normal case, the petitioner must prove that he or she is one of a few at the top of his field and this must be supported by evidence from at least three of eight categories:
Evidence submitted should include at least a half dozen testimonial letters from the petitioner's peers or supervisors testifying in detail how the applicant meets the standards. It should also include substantial corroborating evidence, such as degrees, diplomas, specialty certifications, evidence of high scores on exams, and of course, any relevant research.
Our office is highly experienced in developing these cases in the meticulous manner that is required. The office spends significant time working with individual clients to develop unique qualifications of the individual and to ensure that they are put into letters that are presented. We also ensure that the petitioner collects as much of the corroborating evidence as is possible.
The strategy can have unique benefits since it requires no job offer or labor certification and can support a simultaneously filed application for adjustment of status as well as work authorization and travel permission allowing the petitioner and his or her family to work and travel freely often within a couple of months of filing. This strategy can be used as an exclusive immigration strategy or can complement any other strategy.
PROGRAM ELECTRONIC REVIEW MANAGEMENT (PERM)
Labor certification is one of the most important strategies for foreign workers to obtain immigration in the U.S. When I began to practice immigration law in 1980, the process took only a few months any place in the country. With such processing times the process made sense both for the employer and alien employee. By 2004 processing times had mushroomed to beyond five years in many parts of the country. For several years the U.S. Department of Labor has been trying to change the way alien labor certifications are processed to make the procedure again reasonable. PERM, which stands for "Program Electronic Review Management" offers what all hope may be the solution to the delays. It is essentially computer review of labor certification applications. Much in the way tax returns are computer reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service allowing the IRS to process more than one hundred million each year in only a few weeks, the DOL hopes to expeditiously process alien labor certification applications.
A labor certification is a certification by The U.S. Department of Labor that a position exists for which there are no available U.S. workers. Over the last several decades a complex and substantial body of law has evolved restricting how the job must be described and how the test of U.S. workers must be implemented. This body of law remains substantially unchanged under PERM, but the method by which the information must be presented and the method by which they are processed is radically changed.
The following is an introduction to PERM.
If you are interested in filing a case through PERM or converting an existing labor case to PERM, please contact our offices by calling 212 764 4222 to schedule an appointment. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIW FOR PHYSICIANS SERVING IN UNDERSERVED AREAS FOR FIVE YEARS (NIW/HPSA)
Physicians working in designated medically underserved areas (HPSAs and MUAs) for five years may generally qualify for national interest waivers under certain conditions. The physician must agree to work full-time in such an area for aggregate of five years within a six-year period. For physicians who have obtained J-1 waivers, the five years commence from the time H-1 employment begins. For other physicians, the five-year period does not begin until immigration petition is approved. There is a reporting requirement that within 120 days of the second anniversary of the I-140 approval, the physician proves to the Service that at least one of the years has been in the underserved area. At the end of the five-years of service, the physician must again prove that the obligations have been satisfied.
The Service permits the simultaneous filing of adjustment of status along with the immigrant petition even for J-1 physicians who have not yet completed their obligations under Section 214(l) of the INA to work in the underserved areas for three years. Derivative adjustment applications may at the same time be filed for family members. This strategy has unique advantages in this one regard: adjustment of status may be filed for J-1 and for accompanying family members before completion of the obligations to work for three years in underserved areas. This can greatly benefit a spouse who needs work authorization. Still, the J-1 doctors must complete 214(l) obligations by maintaining H-1B status for a three-year period. Neither statute nor regulations per se limit this strategy to primary care physicians, however, comments to the regulations do. This seems inappropriate, and particularly so for physicians who have obtained waivers through the VA or state programs.
Evidence submitted in a typical case includes a five-year contract to work in the underserved area and a letter of support dated within six months of submission from a federal agency or department of health recommending that the waiver is in the nation's interest.
In certain special circumstances the commitment to work in the underserved area is for only three years (if filed before November 1, 1998).
This strategy is also available for physicians who intend to be self-employed.
The O-1 visa is available to physicians, scientists, engineers, and indeed to persons in any occupation who have risen to the top of their field. Such status must be evidenced by sustained recognition and satisfaction of at least three of eight evidentiary criteria:
Besides being available to H-1B visa holders who may be approaching their H-1B limit, the O-1 visa is especially valuable to J-1 visa holders who are blocked from H-1B or permanent visas by the foreign residency requirement since the O-1 is available to a present or former J-1 visa holder without waiver or satisfaction of the two-year home requirement. Although the O-1 visa is not itself a waiver, it is compatible with a waiver which, in some instances, may be obtained for the same job or a different job while the candidate is in O-1 status. The O-1 can also be used as a vehicle to work within the U.S. while the two-year home requirement is satisfied incrementally over a number of years. The O-1 can be obtained initially for up to three years and can be indefinitely extended in either one or three year increments. The O-1 requires a job offer and an employer. The employer can be a hospital, a research institution, or a private practitioner and need not be located in a designated medically underserved area. It is not necessary for employers to recruit U.S. candidates or advertise for the O-1. The O-1 is available to primary physicians, scientists, and persons who have risen to the top of their field.
Because standards are high for the O-1, presentation of an O-1 case requires meticulous preparation. Evidence that is typically submitted includes a series of detailed peer support letters which properly articulate evidence that satisfies O-1 standards as well as substantial supporting documentation such as degrees, diplomas, and research papers. Because peers may not be knowledgeable as to the legal standards or the facts that may be relevant to them, our office prefers to prepare sample letters that the referees may use as guides. These sample letters need to be extremely detailed. Our office procedure is to obtain details from the O-1 candidate through extensive discussions and written directions. We also provide detailed lists of corroborating evidence and detailed heading sheets for the candidate to collect and categorize documentation.
If well prepared, the O-1 can be an effective strategy for those wishing to work in the United States.
The H-1B visa provides a work status for aliens with the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree who are working in a field which requires such a degree. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) terms these to be a "specialty occupations."
In order to evidence that the alien may be qualified for a specialty occupation, it is necessary to submit evidence of his/her Bachelor's Degree or the equivalent thereof. If the alien received all of his degrees overseas, it may be necessary to obtain a professional evaluation of that degree which evidences that Beneficiary's overseas diploma is the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor's degree. This is not necessary if the alien has a Bachelor's or Master's degree from an accredited U.S. school.
For graduates of foreign medical schools, including those in Canada, who will have clinical responsibilities, it is also required that the candidate pass all three parts of the USMLE or both parts of FLEX and be competent in English. These additional qualifications, however, are not required for those physicians interested in positions involving teaching or research with only incidental patient care. Unlike the J-1, the H-1B is not subject to the requirement to return to the home country for two years. The H-1B does require a U.S. petitioner (employer).
To evidence that the job is a "specialty occupation," an in-depth description of the technical/professional nature of the job responsibilities must be provided. The job description is developed through information gained from the employer and alien as well as other sources. It is important to have a detailed description including the complexities involved in this position.
In some cases it may also be necessary to show the employer is financially viable by submitting strong documentation such as:
While these items are not necessary to the petition, they may make an impact on the BCIS and result in quicker approvals.
An H-1B petition may be approved for a three-year period and may be extended for a total of six years. However, if an employment-based petition (Form I-140) or labor certification has been pending for one year at the end of the sixth year, additional extensions in one year increments may be available. An alien may only work for the employer, but an alien may have multiple petitions approved allowing simultaneous employment by each petitioner.
L-1 VISA INTRA COMPANY TRANSFEREE
The L-1 visa is for intra company transferees. These are executives, managers, or employees of a foreign based company who are engaged in specialized employment. The requirement is that the alien must have worked for three years before submission of the petition overseas in an executive, managerial or specialized capacity. The purpose of the L-1 visa is to allow the alien to work in the U.S. in a similar capacity for the same entity that he has worked for abroad for a subsidiary or an affiliate of that entity. Evidence must be submitted of the qualifying foreign and U.S. entity and that the alien has worked in an executive, managerial or specialized capacity.
For companies that have been doing business in the U.S. already, the L-1 may be approved for three years initially. For companies that are starting operations, typically the L-1 is approved for one year only. Evidence must be submitted of regular business activity for further extension. For executives and managers, the L-1 may be granted up to seven years. For those with specialized knowledge, the L-1 is limited to six years.
Transferee executives or managers may obtain immigration as "multi national executives" once the U.S. entity has been engaged in regular and systematic business for a one year period. If a foreign entity purchases a U.S. company that is, in fact, engaged in systematic and regular business for one year, an immigration petition may be immediately filed.
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