Jesse Bless Joins JGI as Senior Litigation Counsel

The Law Offices of Jeff Goldman, LLP are pleased to announce that Jesse Matthew Bless has joined the firm as Senior Litigation Counsel.  Mr. Bless previously enjoyed a 12-year career at the United States Justice Department where he litigated thousands of complex immigration matters in federal district court and the circuit courts of appeals. Jesse offers peace of mind to foreign nationals seeking to lawfully remain in the U.S. and will provide a full range of immigration services including:

  • administrative representation for adjustment of status
  • advice on removal prevention and defense
  • representation before immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the circuit courts of appeals
  •  consultation for those with any immigration-related concern.

A national leader on the immigration consequences of state, federal and foreign criminal offenses, Jesse also serves as an advisor to the City of Salem and has appeared as an immigration expert on NBC Boston and NECN. Follow this link to his interview on NBC Boston.

Immigration Under the Trump Administration

Immigration continues to be front page news, but just as important are the unpublished changes and trends in the direction that our current federal government is heading with respect to immigration matters. Here are a few highlights/thoughts:

1.        President Trump is going to focus his efforts on securing the southern border and deporting undocumented criminals.  Our government will be less forgiving than the Obama administration was regarding the collateral damage of many undocumented people, who have committed no crimes at all, being rounded up and deported along the way.

2.        As for business immigration matters, our President will pursue his “America First” policy, and H-1Bs, L-1s, E-2s, and all green cards including PERMS will likely become more onerous, and USCIS will adjudicate each petition more harshly.   That said, we think we will continue to see the high level of approvals that we do now, as our firm is not working with the kinds of employers who are cheating the system or who should fear hiring the talent they need.

3.        This week USCIS issued a press release entitled “USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse.”  This announcement states that USCIS has created a new system for Americans to report suspected fraud within the H-1B visa program; and states that USCIS will increase its current program of auditing H-1B employers, concentrating its efforts on:

  • employers who are “H-1B Dependent,” which means an employer whose overall workforce contains a high percentage of H-1B employees.
  • employers who farm out H-1B workers to third party locations.
  • employers whose basic company information cannot be verified by USCIS through commercially available data.  For many years, USCIS has used only one source of commercially available data to check on a company’s existence, address, and main product or service:  the Dun & Bradstreet database, which offers information on more than 230 million business’s credit history, risk exposure, and business sales and marketing.  Our firm has always suggested that our clients register with D&B if they are going to file an L-1 visa petition, and as of now we are doing the same for each company who is filing H-1B petitions as well.

4.        Last week USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum to its adjudicating officers regarding H-1B petitions filed for Computer Programmers.  This Memo clarifies what has long been USCIS policy:  most general computer programming positions are not “specialty occupations” that may be awarded H-1B approvals, because the job duties do not require one to have a specialized bachelor’s degree in a CS-related field.  Our law firm has known this for more than ten years, and we never file H-1B petitions for a job title of “computer programmer.” All of our IT-related H-1B petitions are for Software Developers, Software Engineers, and other jobs where the job duties are well developed and clearly require a specialized degree in a CS-related field.   We see no reason for concern about this new guidance from USCIS.

5.        We do not see any super-fast changes in the immigration laws or regulations.  The President has spoken of requiring higher wages for H-1Bs and L-1s, and there has been mention of new requirements to do a mini-PERM for each H and L to prove that there are no US workers available before a U.S. employer can hire a new H or L worker.  However, these kinds of changes could take several years to implement, and there is not an agreement on such moves in the current Congress.  These changes cannot be made by an Executive Order, but rather require Congressional action and/or the following of strict rule-making procedures.

6.        We urge our clients to be more diligent about compliance with rules and regulations of the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State.  Please call us to schedule a conference about what can be done.

7.        Our office is gearing up to reach out to Congress when we can to fight for our clients’ right to hire the best and brightest in the world, as long as they do not undercut the American workforce.   We are moving ahead full speed to meet the non-ending demand for foreign talent.

Jeff Goldman Immigration Update 4-6

On the Executive Order issued by President Trump

While we all want to be sure that the United States is safe from terrorists, we should be able to depend upon our President to issue well thought-out orders that comply with the U.S. Constitution. The Executive Orders on refugees and visas issued by the Trump Administration last week does neither. On January 29, I was interviewed by CBS Boston about the weekend’s events. See the interview below and read the article here. For a thorough understanding of what has happened over the past several days, please read this article written by conservative columnist Benjamin Wittes.

Finally a New Rule to Help International Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a new rule to help international entrepreneurs work in the United States for up to five years in “parole” status. The rule, published on January 17, takes effect July 17, 2017.

 

As background, the United States lacks a visa specifically for entrepreneurs. Until now foreign national startup founders have had to try to fit within one of the existing visa categories. For a summary of visa options for international entrepreneurs, see http://usaie.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/bib_visa_options_article.pdf.

 

The new rule makes it easier for international entrepreneurs to work in the United States. Here are some highlights and requirements:

 

  • The entrepreneur must own at least 10% of a startup entity founded in the last five years and have an active and central role in the company.

 

  • The startup company must have significant potential for rapid growth and job creation. A company can show that by demonstrating (1) an investment of at least $250,000 from established U.S. investors or (2) awards or grants of at least $100,000 from certain federal, state, or local government entities. A startup can also submit alternative documents if it partially meets one of the two investment criteria. Unfortunately, the qualifying investment cannot be from the entrepreneur or his or her parents, spouse, sibling, or child, or any entity where the entrepreneur or relative has an ownership interest.

 

  • The initial parole grant is valid for up to 2.5 years and carries automatic work authorization.

 

  • International entrepreneurs can extend their parole status for an additional 2.5 years if they can show their startup continues to have substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

 

  • Spouses of international entrepreneurs can apply for work permits.

 

  • Up to 3 entrepreneurs per startup can qualify for parole.

 

The new rule does not offer a direct path to a green card. But it allows international entrepreneurs who qualify a more direct way to temporarily live and work in the United States while they grow their startup companies.

 

USAIE will share more information about the new entrepreneurs parole rule in the coming weeks. USAIE provides targeted immigration presentations and advising to universities, accelerators, incubators, and other organizations supporting entrepreneurs. Contact info@usaie.org for more information. If you are an individual or startup looking to understand if you qualify for the new parole rule, contact info@usaie.org for a direct referral to one of our founding members.

 

Jeff Goldman is a founding member of the  U.S. Alliance for International Entrepreneurs (www.usaie.org). If you have any questions, please contact Jeff Goldman at jeff@jgilaw.com