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Washington, D.C. Immigration Law Blog

B-1 visas and visiting for business

Foreign nationals who plan to visit Maryland on business may wonder whether or not a B-1 visa is the appropriate choice for them. A B-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. in order to conduct business. It is important for people who are thinking about getting this type of visa to understand what is considered to be business activities as opposed to employment.

B-1 visas may not be used for impermissible purposes. People who use a B-1 visa for a purpose for which it is not intended may face serious consequences, including deportation and being permanently banned from returning to the U.S. One of the key things is that the B-1 visa may not be used to engage in employment.

Government asks for rehearing on DAPA

Maryland residents might be interested in learning about the latest event in the ongoing saga involving President Obama's executive order regarding the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA. On June 23, the Supreme Court of the United States was deadlocked in the case filed against the federal government on behalf of 26 Republican-led states. The split ruling left in effect a lower court ruling that had enjoined the federal government from proceeding with the implementation of DAPA.

On July 18, the federal government filed a motion for a rehearing of the case after the Supreme Court has a ninth justice appointed to it. After Justice Scalia died, Obama moved to appoint Merrick Garland to the bench, a move that the Republican-led Senate has blocked. This has left the Supreme Court short one justice.

E-2 visas and Maryland businesses

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows individuals to enter the United States because they have made a large investment in an American business that they own 50 percent or more of. Those who work for such a company may also be allowed to obtain the same visa assuming that they are the same nationality as the owner. British business owners have flocked to places such as Orlando in recent years on such visas.

A company called Thales Group is expected to add 173 jobs in Orlando and another 327 jobs in Melbourne, Florida. The Paris-based company said that it was attracted to Florida because of its pro-business attitude and leadership in the aerospace industry. In addition to creating jobs in Florida, the company is also expected to invest $20 million in the area.

Judge says poor economy no excuse for not paying H-1B workers

In a case that may be of interest to Maryland employers and employees alike, a Department of Labor administrative law judge has ruled that employers cannot use financial hardship to avoid paying employees with H-1B nonimmigrant visa status the wage specified to the federal government. The judge said foreign nationals must be paid the wage indicated on the Labor Condition Application certified by the DOL.

Regulations state that an H-1B employer is required to pay an employee the greater of the actual or the prevailing wage specified on the LCA. If the actual wage is equal to the prevailing wage, the employee must receive that wage during the entire term of approved employment, including periods when there is lack of available work. The employer is only relieved of this obligation if the employee requests to reduce or terminate employment or if the employer terminates the employee for a bona fide reason.

Immigration and Social Security benefits


While many immigrate to the United States when they are young, there are also a large number of immigrants who seek citizenship after age 65. Many who make their homes in Massachusetts may be interested in whether or not they are eligible for Social Security benefits. A recent article describes the rules that apply to a United States immigrant who wishes to obtain retirement benefits from the federal system.

A permanent bar could cause unexpected issues for families


When a person comes to the United States without proper documentation or a visa, he or she may find a way to live in the country without detection for a time. In some cases, the person may marry and have children with a citizen of the United States. Obtaining a green card for a person in this situation is typically not arduous, as courts generally do not endeavor to remove a mother or father from his or her family. However, family-based green card applicants in Maryland may want to understand the causes and implications of having a permanent bar placed on their immigration status.

Non-immigrant visas may be revoked for DUI arrests

People who are in Maryland on nonimmigrant visas need to be aware that the U.S. Department of State may revoke their visas if they are arrested for a charge of driving under the influence or another alcohol-related driving offense. Under the guidance that was issued by the agency earlier in 2016, a revocation may happen even if the person has not been convicted.

The new policy states that the Department of State may revoke a nonimmigrant visa when it is notified of an arrest or conviction for a DUI or other alcohol-related offense. It also states that it may do so on the basis of arrests or convictions that have happened in the last five years.

Employment-based green cards: Choosing the best option


As demand has grown for skilled workers in the United States, several new classifications of green cards have become available. There are several paths to obtaining employment-based green cards, and it can be vital for a potential applicant to understand the differences between them in order to select the best option. Many workers in Massachusetts looking to obtain permanent resident status may want to consider the differences between an EB2 and an EB3 visa.

Colleges can obtain H-1B visas for foreign students

Universities in Maryland and nationwide could be using a legal loophole to obtain H-1B visas for foreign students, circumventing a federal lottery system that caps the annual number of such visas available. College officials say exploiting the loophole fixes a flawed immigration system, but critics counter the practice goes against the spirit of federal law.

The H-1B visa is a work permit awarded to foreign nationals with at least a bachelor's degree in certain specialty occupations, including math and technology. The U.S. issues only 85,000 such visas each year, but 236,000 foreign workers filed applications in 2016. The disparity means that thousands of foreign students who earned specialty degrees at American schools and want to start U.S. businesses are forced to leave the country, sometimes leaving years of work behind.

Immigrant advocacy groups call for reforms on the state level

Immigrant advocacy groups in Maryland and around the country were disappointed on June 23 when a U.S. Supreme Court vote placed the Obama administration's plans to grant temporary legal status to thousands of immigrants on hold. If the plan had been implemented, illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens would have been permitted to seek work permits. With the Obama plan off the table, some immigrant groups are pushing for action on the state level similar to that taken by California lawmakers in 2014.

California has traditionally taken a progressive approach to immigration issues, and it was one of the first states to allow the issuance of driver's licenses to undocumented workers. Another bill, which was signed into law in 2014, allows individuals who do not have a Social Security number to apply for professional licenses in fields including cosmetology, nursing and architecture, and applicants are able to use a Taxpayer Identification Number instead of a Social Security number to pay their taxes. Approximately 3,000 immigrants have applied for professional licenses since the program went into effect.

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