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Blandon Law Immigration

Friday, October 30, 2009

Business Visitors - Gotcha Abroad

    I would like to be able to advise certain clients that a business visitor visa (B-1) is enough.  With a B-1 visa, a foreigner can engage in any commercial transaction -- start a business in the U.S., sign contracts, invest in companies -- so long as it is not gainful employment.  Moreover, because visitor visas are granted for both pleasure and business at the same time (B-1/B-2), foreigners in the U.S. usually already have these visas in their passports.  No additional applications are needed.

    Unfortunately, too many entries in B-1 status can make the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at the port of entry (such as an airport) doubt the purpose of the visit.  One unexpected day, ICE can simply refuse admission.  What is worse, when the foreigner attempts to obtain a new B-1/B-2 visa abroad -- after the first one has expired -- the consular officer at the consulate or embassy can deny the application.  This is more likely to happen in countries such as Venezuela, where the country conditions are so volatile that U.S. consular officers are predisposed to believing that everyone wants to leave the country and work in the U.S. permanently. 
     Word to the wise: investigate another visa for business purposes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Alphabet Soup of Visas

   Unless the person is visa-exempt, when a foreigner wants to enter the U.S. temporarily, she must apply for a nonimmigrant visa in an embassy or consulate abroad.  When counseling a client as to which visa she should apply for, there is an entire alphabet soup to choose from.  The work-related visas include B-1 (visitor for business), E (treaty investor or treaty trader), H (seven categories), I (media), L (multinational transferees), O (extraordinary ability), P (athletes and entertainers), R (religious vocations) and TN (professional from Canada or Mexico).  The employers want to know how long they can rely on having a foreign worker, what documents are required from them, and how long the process will take.
   For each of these work-related options, the worker wants to know the following:  Do I need a company to hire me or can I have my own company? What do I need to get the visa? How long can I stay? Can my spouse or children also join me and work?  Over the next few days, I'll determine these answers for all these visas.  As well as reveal a few unexpected surprises.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to Study: No Books Here

How do you study the world of immigration law?  How do you hold it in your hands? Or, better, your mind?

The current edition of Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook, which is considered the bible of the industry, is -- not including the appendices and the index -- over 1300 pages long. Small print. Single space.  Enough said.  I also quickly rejected studying with the use of a legal nutshell, which is a book that provides an overview of the subject.  600 pages.  Too general.  For example, it explains that a foreign visitor to the United States uses a B1 or B2 visa.  The nutshell does not explain, though, when a foreigner may conduct business in the U.S. while on a B visa and how that differs from working without authorization. 

The answer:  my clients.  With each case, I will open the door to their success.  In turn, I will share what unusual or surprising nuance of the law each case teaches.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Exam

Moliere said, "The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."  I learned such quotes while obtaining my second Bachelor's degree, which was in French literature.  Regardless, as I study for the Board Certification in immigration law, Moliere inspires less than he used to. 

The exam will be held on March 12, 2010, at a hotel in Tampa, Florida.  It is a full day affair, beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.  There is a three hour session in the morning to write three essays.  There is another three hour session in the afternoon to write one essay and answer 50 multiple choice questions. 

In between there is a one and a half hour lunch break.  That's just about enough time for me to go to the hotel bathroom, rip my hair out, pull myself together, dab on some face powder and grab a bite.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Opening the Door to Success - mine, too

   I'm an immigration attorney in Weston, Florida, working exclusively in immigration law.  The tag line of my firm "Opening the Door to Success" is appropriate.  All day long, I work to make it possible for foreign nationals and their U.S. citizen employers or family members to open the door and enter this country.  Once they enter, they define success as they wish.

   Lately, I've been working toward my own definition of success.  I am studying for the Board Certification exam of the Florida Bar Association, which will be held in March 2010.  It is the highest level of recognition by the association of Florida attorneys.  More information on certification is available by clicking here.  There are thousands of attorneys in the state of Florida and fewer than 60 are Board Certified in Immigration law. In a nutshell, the exam is a toughy.  Wish me luck.

New article on Weston Flair magazine

Friday, October 23, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions

by: Elizabeth R. Blandon

Q: Are cases where a foreigner is sponsored by his or her U.S. citizen son or daughter ever denied?

A: Rarely, but there can be delayed. Cases can also become complicated because of arrests and convictions, issues with the parent’s prior immigration history (such as overstaying on prior trips to the U.S.) and public charge issues. In other words, if the U.S. citizen does not make a sufficient income, the parent must demonstrate through extensive financial documents that he or she will not become a public charge to the U.S. government. If the parent cannot, or does not provide the correct documents, the case will be denied.

Q: My spouse sponsor case was not approved, but the officer said it was not denied either. Why?

A: The answer may lie in the difference between a fraudulent marriage and a case with insufficient bona fides, meaning insufficient proof that the marriage is valid. If the marriage is fraudulent, the case is denied and the foreigner cannot obtain residency in the future. If insufficient evidence was presented relating to the marriage, or if the couple misrepresented the truth relating to the marriage, the case may be delayed or denied. In the latter example, the U.S. citizen can file a second case for his or her spouse – and should do so with the help of an immigration professional.

Q: What temporary immigration options are available for businesspersons, other than investment?

A: The United States opens its welcoming arms depending on the work experience and education of the foreigner. If the applicant cannot invest substantial sums of money, other options include stays for persons with extraordinary ability, professionals, transferee from a foreign company to a U.S. affiliate, an exchange visitor, and a business visitor. Each category has different lengths of stay and different requirements for approval.

Q: I have an arrest. Can I become a U.S. citizen?

A: Yes or no, depending on what the charges were, the acts that occurred, whether the person was convicted, how long ago, and what the sentence was. Because a legal permanent resident applying for naturalization may be removed from the United States even for misdemeanor crimes, it is vital to consult an immigration attorney BEFORE applying for naturalization.

General Frequently Asked Questions

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