News08/02/2017 - RAISE Act - New Immigration Rules?
RAISE Act Endorsed by Trump
On August 2, 2017, President Trump endorsed a bill that aims to limit legal immigration to the United States. The proposed Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (“RAISE”) was initially introduced in April 2017. If implemented, the bill would change the existing process for legal immigration by limiting the number of immigrants entering the United States to 500,000 per year. It would also grant permanent residence on the basis of merit. This system would give preference to highly-skilled English-speaking immigrants and limit family-based preference immigration categories. Under this proposed bill, U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents would not be able to petition for their adult children, and U.S. citizens would not be able to petition for their siblings. In addition, the proposed bill would limit the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States to 50,000 per year and end the diversity visa lottery program.
Please note that this is only a proposed bill and there has not been any immediate changes to the existing immigration laws. We expect this bill to face some strong resistance when it comes to a vote. For now, if you have any immigration concerns, please contact an immigration attorney to discuss the particulars of your case. This information has been provided for informational purposes only by Clark Lau LLC.
07/28/2017 - Vince Lau Appointed as Vice Chair
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. AILA member attorneys represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace. AILA members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis. Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise through its 39 chapters and over 50 national committees. (www.aila.org)
Among one of AILA's most active committees is its U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) liaison committee. While the committee does not address individual case resolutions, it does work with the different components of the DOL touching upon the various employment-based immigration benefits and processes. Having been a member on the DOL liaison committee for the past several years, starting this summer Vince has been appointed as the Vice Chair of the committee with a particular responsibility over the H-1B and PERM processes.
07/17/2017 - International Entrepreneur Rule On Hold
International Entrepreneur Rule On Hold
In January, the Federal Register announced that a new option for entrepreneurs, the International Entrepreneur Rule, would take effect on July 17, 2017 (today). [Please see our postings on August 27, 2016 and January 17, 2017 below.] This generated a lot of hope and excitement for the entrepreneur committee, until last week when the Federal Register announced that the effective date of this rule would be put on hold until March 14, 2018 in order that the public may provide feedback in response to the possibility of rescinding this rule. While this outcome is not a surprise given the current political climate, it is also not likely that the rule will take effect in March.
Individuals who were hoping to benefit from the International Entrepreneur Rule however are not without other options. Options such as the E-1, E-2, and other nonimmigrant visas still remain viable short-term options for individuals to consider. Likewise, depending on the level of experience and accomplishment of the entrepreneur, the individual may also want to consider any of the short-term and long-term accomplishment-based visa options. In fact, in the big picture, these options may offer a more stable and long-term alternative solution to the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule.
The above information has been provided for educational purposes only. Please contact your Clark Lau LLC attorney to consider the facts of your situation and what options are available to you.
07/14/2017 - Clark Lau LLC Welcomes Courtney Fields
Clark Lau LLC welcomes new team member Courtney Fields!
Check out Courtney’s bio as well as the qualifications of the rest of the Clark Lau LLC team! We’re here to partner with you as you tackle your immigration needs!
07/14/2017 - ABA Publishes Erin Hogan Article
American Bar Association features Clark Lau LLC Attorney Erin Hogan’s article on achievement-based immigrant visas.
Check out more about this option for a green card: Click here
06/29/2017 - Travel Ban Update
What is a Bona Fide Relationship?
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on Monday regarding whether the temporary injunctions entered by the lower courts against Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” commonly known as the Travel Ban, should be upheld. In short, the Supreme Court indicated the Travel Ban should not apply to individuals who have “any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Travel Ban could however be applied to those without such a connection. Additionally, where the Executive Order suspended the U.S. refugee program, the Supreme Court is allowing those with similar bona fide relationships to enter the U.S.
Stay tuned. Please note that the above information has been provided for educational purposes, not legal advice. Please contact your Clark Lau LLC attorney to determine how this may apply to your specific situations.
06/26/2017 - US Supreme Court Partially Upholds Travel Ban
Travel Ban Upheld in Part by the Supreme Court for Now
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision today regarding whether the temporary injunctions entered by the lower courts against Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” commonly known as the Travel Ban, should be upheld. In short, the Supreme Court indicated the Travel Ban should not apply to individuals who have “any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Travel Ban could however be applied to those without such a connection. Additionally, where the Executive Order suspended the U.S. refugee program, the Supreme Court is allowing those with similar bona fide relationships to enter the U.S.
Similar to deciding other temporary injunctions, the Supreme Court had to weigh the following factors: (1) the likelihood of success of the challenge and (2) the harm that would be caused if no quick action were taken. Based on this balancing, the Supreme Court allowed only part of the Travel Ban to be enforced. This is a temporary decision and the Supreme Court has said that it will revisit this matter when it returns from its recess in October. Of legal note is that some members of the Supreme Court believed that the group exempt from the Travel Ban was too broad.
What This Decision Means:
The Executive Order prohibited the entry of individuals from six different countries (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for at least 90 days. The Supreme Court is now allowing individuals from these countries to enter the U.S. so long as these individuals can demonstrate a “bona fide relationship with a person or an entity in the United States.”
The Supreme Court reasoned that a sufficient “bona fide relationship” must be similar to those held by the individuals who brought the lawsuits against the Travel Ban.
Examples include the following:
Should you have any questions concerning the above update, which should not be construed as legal advice, please contact Clark Lau LLC to see how this may impact your specific circumstances.
06/01/2017 - Clark Lau Joins Thousands in 5K Run
Last night, members of the Clark Lau team joined thousands from Greater Boston area law firms in the 10th Annual Lawyers Have Heart 5K which raised close to $300,000 for the American Heart Association. This is the team's third run and we look forward to continuing our support in the years to come.
05/22/2017 - Vince Lau Speaks in Minneapolis
Vince Lau joins Kate Wasylik and Sarah Peterson at the AILA Upper Midwest Chapter Conference and addresses the audience on the latest trends on the PERM process. The PERM process is the labor market test required of most employment-based immigration options.
05/16/2017 - Eric Lockwood Speaks on U.S. Citizenship
Clark Lau LLC Attorney Eric Lockwood speaks at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education 16th Annual Employment-Based Immigation Law Conference. Eric covered the basics and the more complex matters one encounters in seeking U.S. citizenship.
05/08/2017 - Vincent Lau Speaks on L-1 Blanket Petition Trends and Challenges
Clark Lau LLC Managing Partner Vincent Lau just finished speaking on L-1 Blanket Petition trends and challenges at the AILA Rome District Chapter Conference in Brussels. Vince was joined by the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit Chief of the U.S. Consulate (Brussels) Kim Durand-Proud, Ellen Freeman of K&L Gates, David Grunblatt of Proskauer, and Dana Davidson of Davidson Law Group.
04/18/2017 - H-1Bs and the New Executive Order
Today President Trump signed a new Executive Order entitled “Buy American, Hire American.” In addition to setting out the administration’s preference to have all federal agencies review their policies to maximize purchasing goods, products, and materials produced in the United States, this Executive Order specifically calls for a review of the current H-1B program. The stated purpose is “to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests.”
The current H-1B program requires there to be (1) a U.S. employer; (2) a specialty occupation position, which is defined as a job that has duties that are so complex that normally a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific field is required for the position; (3) a qualified beneficiary; and (4) a required wage, which is the higher of what the U.S. Department of Labor deems as the prevailing wage for the occupation in that area of employment or what the employer is actually paying similarly situated employees, including U.S. workers.
The Executive Order has asked the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to “as soon as practicable, and consistent with applicable law, propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse.” Moreover, the Executive Order asks for reforms “to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”
The Executive Order does not go further nor does it set forth a timeframe for any H-1B reforms. The Executive Order only requires that action be taken “as soon as practicable.”
The above has been provided for educational purposes only. Please stay tuned and we will keep you up to date. Please also contact your Clark Lau LLC attorneys if you have any questions regarding how this may apply to your particular situation.
04/17/2017 - H-1B Lottery Completed
USCIS announced today that it received 199,000 H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2018. This is less than what was received last fiscal year, i.e., over 230,000. The number of visas available remains the same however. There are 65,000 visa numbers available for general H-1B petitions and 20,000 additional visas for those with advanced U.S. degrees.
USCIS reports that it ran a computer-generated random selection process on April 11, 2017. Over the next few weeks, USCIS will be generating receipts for those petitions chosen for processing. Our office has also been monitoring whether USCIS has cashed any of the checks for filing fees associated with each particular petition. We have noticed that more and more checks are being cleared, but we caution assuming that a petition has therefore been selected for processing until an actual receipt notice has been issued.
Please stay tuned for more updates. The above information has been provided for informational purposes only. Please contact Clark Lau LLC to see how this applies to your particular situation.
04/08/2017 - FY2018 H-1B Cap Reached
On Monday, April 3, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) started receiving H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 filed by employers on behalf of individuals who have never been in H-1B status, or whose prior employer was a cap-exempt employer, i.e., colleges, universities, and non-profit or government research organizations.
There are 65,000 visa numbers available, with an additional 20,000 for those beneficiaries with U.S. advanced degrees. (Please note that 5800 of the 65,000 however are allocated to the H-1B1 program, reserved for citizens of Singapore and Chile.) Yesterday afternoon USCIS announced that the cap has been reached, i.e., more than 65,000 petitions (and more than 20,000 petitions for individuals with U.S. advanced degrees) were received. Last year, over 230,000 petitions were received within the first five days of filing. The rule is that if more petitions than the available number of visas are received, then a lottery will be conducted to determine which of the petitions will be processed.
USCIS should be making an announcement regarding the lottery shortly. Stay tuned for more updates!
Please note that this information has been provided for educational purposes only. Contact your Clark Lau LLC attorney regarding the specifics of your situation.
03/31/2017 - H-1B Petitions Ready to Go!
USCIS will be accepting H-1B petitions for the 2018 Fiscal Year starting Monday, April 3, 2017 until Friday, April 7, 2017. Assuming they will receive more than visa numbers available (20,000 petitions for individuals with U.S. Master’s degrees and 65,000 “regular” petitions), they will be conducting a lottery soon after all of the petitions have been properly received.
A special thanks to all of our clients who have worked with us to get their petitions ready to go! Good luck!
Stay tuned right here for up to the minute news on FY18 H-1B Processing!
03/15/2017 - Temporary Retraining Order Against New Executive Order
Just hours before President Trump's revised Executive Order (Number 13,780, see Clark Lau LLC post on March 7, 2017), which restricts the entry of certain foreign nationals from certain countries and suspends entry of individuals from the US refugee program for specified periods of time, was to take effect, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a national temporary restraining order which suspends the implementation of the new Executive Order. The judge found that the arguments of those opposing the Executive Order had a "strong likelihood of success" and that "irreparable injury" would occur if the suspension was not granted.
Stay tuned for more!
03/14/2017 - President's Executive Order Inspires a Community to Help
Managing Partner Vince Lau received an email from a friend and colleague Brian Eng in Portland, Maine just a few days after President Trump signed an Executive Order regarding travel restrictions. This ban impacted the daughter of an Iraqi translator; the family was trying to reunite with the daughter.
Check out the story that aired on WBUR:
03/12/2017 - Who's Who Legal Corporate Immigration Announced
Clark Lau LLC Managing Partner Vincent Lau and Senior Counsel Steven Clark continue to be on the roster of Who’s Who Legal Corporate Immigration
Thank you for all your support! We remain dedicated to providing you with quality and responsive immigration solutions, for individuals and for employers.
03/07/2017 - President Issues New Executive Order
On March 6, 2017, President issued a new Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which essentially revoked his previous Executive Order 13769 issued on January 27, 2017. This new Executive Order seeks to address the concerns raised by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals while continue to limit the entry of certain nationals into the United States. The new Executive Order becomes effective on March 16, 2017.
The most notable provisions in the new Executive Order are the following:
03/03/2017 - USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H-1Bs
USCIS just announced hours ago that it will not honor any requests for premium processing of any H-1B petitions received on or after April 3, 2017. The suspension is reported to be “up to six months” and USCIS will notify the public when this suspension is lifted. USCIS reports that this suspension is to allow for the processing of backlogged H-1B cases.
What does this mean?
• Premium processing is the option for a petitioner to request that USCIS provide a response to its H-1B petition within 15 days of filing by paying an additional processing fee of $1225.
• Given that H-1B cap cases cannot be filed until April 3, 2017, a petitioner filing an H-1B cap case can no longer request premium processing. (An H-1B cap case is one where the beneficiary is seeking H-1B status for the first time or has not held H-1B status within the last six years.)
• Any other H-1B petition, such as a change of employer or an extension, also will not be able to seek premium processing.
• H-1B cap exempt petitions, such as those where the petitioner is a college, university, government research organization, or non-profit research organization, also are prohibited from seeking premium processing.
• Premium processing for other eligible immigration benefits (e.g., L-1, O-1, TN, E-1/E-2, I-140 immigrant petitions, among others) will continue.
The above has been provided by Clark Lau LLC for informational purposes only. Please contact your Clark Lau LLC attorney to see how the above may impact your circumstances.
02/09/2017 - Temporary Order Prevails
Temporary Order Against the Executive Order Remains
On Friday, February 3, 2017, a federal court in Washington State issued a temporary order which prohibits the enforcement of certain provisions of the Executive Order signed by President Trump on January 27, 2017: refusal of entry of individuals from the seven countries; refusal of admission of refugees, including those from Syria; and allowing for prioritizing refugee claims based on certain religion.
On Tuesday, February 7, 2017, the government argued to an appeals court that the Executive Order should be implemented and that the temporary order issued by the federal court in Washington State should not be honored.
Just today, Thursday, February 9, 2017, the appeals court came back with a decision indicating that it was not convinced by the arguments of the government and the temporary order prohibiting the implementation of the Executive Order stands for the time being.