Known Employer Program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Global Immigration
Feb 15
18


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intent to implement a “Known Employer” pilot program to streamline the adjudication of certain employment-based visa applications. While details about the program have not been released, a goal of the pilot would be to expedite or otherwise facilitate legitimate cross-border business travel along the Northern border ports of entry. The program could make adjudications more efficient and less costly for both DHS and U.S. employers seeking to employ foreign workers.

This announcement stems from prior commitments made by the U.S. and Canadian governments under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Initiative. In particular, the U.S. and Canadian governments have previously discussed the feasibility of incorporating a trusted employer concept when processing business travelers through their respective borders. This could lead to less paperwork and shorter delays for applicants seeking admission based on Employment with a “Known Employer.”

DHS is hoping to launch the new program by the end of 2015, although no specific start date has been announced. The pilot would be jointly implemented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For further information regarding work visa applications or other immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

First and Second Draw Held for the New Express Entry Program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Global Immigration
Feb 15
12


The Express Entry System, which was implemented on January 1, 2015, allows foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence (PR) under certain economic immigration programs. Under the Express Entry system foreign nationals who meet the criteria for at least one of the economic immigration programs will be placed into a pool of candidates and ranked according to a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Applicants are then ranked on the basis of their CRS score and the highest scoring applicants will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for PR. Foreign nationals can earn up to a maximum of 1200 points and those ranked high enough will be invited to apply for Canadian PR. An applicant who receives an ITA will have sixty (60) days to submit an online application for PR under one of the economic PR categories listed before the ITA is revoked. An applicant’s ITA will specify which PR category they have qualified under.

When candidates are selected from the pool, it is referred to as a “draw.” Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will select the highest-ranking candidates from the pool through regular “draws” and invite them via an ITA for PR.

The first draw was made on January 31, 2015 and a total of 779 ITAs for PR were sent out. Foreign nationals who had a total of 886 points or more under the CRS were deemed to be the highest-ranking candidates in the pool and fulfilled the criteria to receive an ITA for PR.

The second draw was made on February 7, 2015 and a total of 779 ITAs for PR were sent out. Foreign nationals, who earned a total of 818 points or more under the CRS were issued ITAs in this second draw. The first two draws sent out 1558 ITAs within a span of 7 days and we anticipate the next draw to yield a similar outcome.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Preferred Ports of Entry for First time L and TN applicants

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Global Immigration
Feb 15
6


Applying for a U.S. work visa can often be a long and arduous process. However, for Canadians, certain applications may only take a matter of hours. This streamlined option is available to Canadian travelers who apply directly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as intra-company transferees (L-1) or NAFTA professionals (TN-1). An approved application with CBP often take a few hours to process, whereas the same application filed by mail with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may take a matter of weeks or months. Further, the filing fees with CBP are significantly lower for TN applicants (Currently $56 with CBP vs. $325 or $1,550 with USCIS depending on whether applicant uses their Premium Processing service).

In January 2015, CBP designated 14 specific ports of entry as preferred posts to adjudicate first time L and TN applications filed by Canadians. Their recommendation indicates that officers at these ports have the most experience with work visas and are more likely to fairly adjudicate applications. While this does not mean that an applicant may only apply at one of these 14 ports, it is recommended by CBP to optimize the process for Canadians.

The list of 14 preferred processing stations includes the following ports of entry (4 of which are preclearance locations):

 • Canadian Preclearance Locations
-Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
-Trudeau International Airport, Dorval, Quebec, Canada
-Vancouver International Airport, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
-Calgary International Airport, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Vermont Locations
-Highgate Springs Port of Entry, Highgate, Vermont
-Derby Line Port of Entry, Derby Line, Vermont
New York Locations
-Alexandria Bay Port of Entry, Alexandria Bay, New York
-Peace Bridge Port of Entry, Buffalo, New York
-Rainbow Bridge Port of Entry, Niagara Falls, New York
-Champlain Port of Entry, Champlain, New York
Michigan Locations
-Detroit Canada Tunnel Port of Entry, Detroit, Michigan
-Detroit Ambassador Bridge, Port of Entry, Detroit, Michigan
Washington Location
-Blaine Peace Arch Port of Entry, Blaine, Washington
Montana Location
-Sweetgrass Port of Entry, Sweetgrass, Montana.

Although the process of applying for a work visa with CBP has its advantages, it is not one to take lightly. Before traveling, applicants should ensure they have all of the appropriate forms and supporting documentation, as well as an idea of what to expect from their interview with the CBP officer. For further information regarding work visa applications with CBP, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

Looking for a Student Visa? Do your Research

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Feb 15
5


Looking for a Student Visa? Do your Research

The U.S. offers a variety of visa options designed for foreign students to obtain an education at some of the country’s most prestigious and well-known universities. Unfortunately, some students learned the hard way that Tri-Valley University was not one of those institutions. In fact, it was a sham school designed to issue phony documents to students so that they could obtain student visas, while providing virtually no educational value.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has started to crack down on schools like Tri-Valley University in recent years, with reports that 5 – 10 schools have been closed amongst allegations of immigration fraud. The difficulty for students abroad is that some of these phony institutions actually appear legitimate online. Also, since the school issues the student a visa, it is easy for young, foreign students to accept that the school must be legitimate.

But students looking to come to the U.S. should be extremely cautious when deciding which school to attend. Every effort should be made to verify information on the school’s website. Ideally, the student could visit the school in the U.S. before receiving their visa to ensure that it is a properly functioning university.

Understandably, a student may not have this option, and may not have any reason to doubt the university’s legitimacy until they actually enter the U.S. But once it becomes clear that a school is not offering any courses, the foreigner must decide what to do next. One option would be transferring to a legitimate university; another would be reporting the school to ICE. At no point should the student engage in work which they are not authorized to perform, as this could lead to major problems down the road.

Just ask some of the Indian students who attended Tri-Valley University. Even though they were led to believe they could work full-time jobs, they were not only returned to India once their visas were revoked, but were also required to wear ankle monitors by U.S. authorities. While this may seem a bit extreme for students who were scammed by a U.S. institution, it teaches a valuable lesson: You can never be “too safe” when it comes to your immigration status in the U.S.

For further information regarding student visas or any other immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

New Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program

Posted by Immigration Law Team|Canada Immigration, Global Immigration, Permanent residence
Jan 15
30


On January 23, 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced that Canada will accept applications from January 28 to February 11, 2015, under the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program.

The new IIVC Pilot Program allows for millionaire immigrant investors to invest in the Canadian economy, in exchange for permanent residency.

The IIVC Pilot Program is open to individuals between January 29 to February 11, 2015, or until a maximum of 500 applications have been received. From this pool of applications, a random selection will be made until 60 completed applications are selected. After the selection has been made, additional documents will be required to complete the process, including a due diligence report of finances from one of six service providers listed by CIC.

All selected applicants must have a net worth of CDN $10 million or more and must be willing to make an at-risk, non-guaranteed investment of CDS $2 million over approximately 15 years. The IIVC Pilot Program has been designed to help elevate the Canadian economy, ensure long-term prosperity and grow Canada’s venture capital system.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »

H-1B Denials overturned in Federal Court

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Jan 15
27


H-1B Denials overturned in Federal Court

The H-1B visa category is available to foreigners who perform services in a specialty occupation. The general requirements for these applications are twofold: (1) The proposed position with the U.S. company must be a specialty occupation (e.g. it requires a Bachelor’s degree or higher) ; and (2) The applicant must possess the requisite education, training, certificates, or work experience necessary to perform the specialty occupation.

Two recent federal cases illustrate the complexity of this category. In Warren Chiropractic & Rehab Clinic, P.C., v. USCIS, a federal judge overturned a USCIS denial where the applicant sought H-1B status as a Medical and Health Services Manager. The Judge ruled the agency was wrong in finding that a “medical and health services manager” position did not qualify as a specialty occupation. The court also found that USCIS was wrong to classify the beneficiary’s job as an “administrative services manager.”

Earlier this month, a different federal judge overturned a USCIS denial where the applicant applied for H-1B status as a Marketing Analyst (Raj and Co. v. USCIS). USCIS argued this was not a specialty occupation because it did not require a specialized bachelor’s degree, and did not meet their other regulatory criteria. The judge disagreed with USCIS, stating that “the patently specialized nature of the position sets it apart from those that merely require a generic degree.” The case was remanded to USCIS with orders to grant the H-1B petition.

Due to the complex nature of this category, it is not uncommon for initial petitions to result in denial due to lack of supporting evidence or improper job description. For further information, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.


Posted by Immigration Law Team »