AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update V: Disconcerting Dysfunction – 4 Government Agencies Each Going Own Way Provide Lack of Closure to Victims

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After the ICE press conference in October, it appeared that the US Government was winding down its investigation of AZTech, Integra, Andwill and Wireclass.  It appeared that those associated with The Four companies would be getting resolution one way or another. That conclusion, it turns out, was premature. As you know, there are four US government agencies primarily involved in the administration and enforcement of US immigration laws. They are Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of State through its local embassies and consulates.  ICE are the immigration police; it also is responsible for the administration of the SEVIS and OPT programs.  CBP includes the airport and port-of-entry inspectors who verify the admissibility of individuals to the United States. USCIS adjudicates immigration benefits, including H-1B petitions, I-765 employment authorization applications, changes/extensions of status, and green card applications….

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The Role of Culture in Visa Denials.

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I recently wrote a blog regarding the OPT scandal advising the victims that “surrender is not an option”, that they needed to be proactive in seeking to resolve the potential drastic consequences.  That thought came to mind again when a gentleman contacted me a few weeks ago about his wife’s visa problem.  She had been denied an immigrant visa and permanently barred from the United States under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The stakes for him could not be much higher: his wife may never be able to join him in the US unless an immigrant waiver would be approved.  Yet in talking to him and reviewing the case documents, it was not clear why she had been accused of making a willful, material misrepresentation.    I told him that the consular officer should be contacted and asked to provide a clarification about why this draconian decision had…

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update III

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We continue to receive a surge of questions from those who have been adversely impacted by the situation surrounding AZTech, Integra, Andwill, Wireclass, and other questionable OPT-related companies. Interestingly, we have also been contacted by those who have not felt any adverse consequences yet nor are aware of any impact, but potentially may have some exposure because of their OPT past.  What should they do?  Reaching out to a lawyer is a good start. Without stating the obvious, these individuals may already have been impacted; they just don’t know it yet.  In the eyes of the government, their mere association with a suspect OPT organization opens the door for adverse action: visa revocation; denial of a future USCIS H-1B or green card petition; refusal of an employment authorization or change of status or adjustment of status application; the opening of removal proceedings in the US; expedited removal and/or the imposition…

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The Fat Lady, Stowaways, and Alien Smugglers

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“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…”  The opera expression widely used in sports has taken on a whole new relevance in the immigration world.  No longer are government agencies approving applications and deferring to previously-approved applications or adjudications. Rather, they are reopening past applications – from 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago – searching for misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and loose ends to thwart applications for visas, changes to status, and adjustment of status. You are so close to getting that long-desired visa or green card, but the “fat lady” – in these cases, USCIS and the State Department consular posts – doesn’t want the “opera” to end. The boundaries are unlimited. Even relatively obscure provisions of immigration law, such as the “stowaway” provision, are being invoked more and more.  A stowaway is someone who obtains transportation without consent and through concealment.  Anyone who enters the US by a…

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Surrender is Not an Option. AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update II

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Thank you for all of your questions related to AZTech, Integra, Andwill, and Wireclass. The dramatic upsurge in questions corresponds to the mass issuance of Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID) by USCIS to I-765 STEM extension applicants and H-1B petitioners. The texts of the NOIDs and RFEs are relatively standard. For example, one of the RFEs states: Provide your complete employment history (including start and end dates) and proof of employment for your initial grant of Optional Practical Training (OPT). Evidence of employment may include but is not limited to: Letters for employer(s) establishing jot title(s), duties, location, pay rate, and number of hours worked per week. Copies of your earning statements/pay stubs. Copies of your W-2s. If you worked for an employment agency or consultancy, you must provide      evidence of the jobs you worked on and dates worked. Additionally, if you…

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Visa Revocations and OPT

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The consequences of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation of the US companies Findream, Sinocontech, AzTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass, and Aandwill are now becoming evident. Thousands of students and young professionals, primarily Chinese and Indian, have had their visas revoked because of their past association with these companies.  Worse, it appears that the US Government has presumed that these individuals were aware of the fraudulent nature of the offers of training to comply with the Optional Practical Training program requirements and is entering decisions to permanently bar them from the United States under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“6C”). For many of these individuals, it does not have to be this way. A US government official can only make this determination based on an individualized review. Everyone’s circumstances were different. What was his or her specific intent at the time of accepting the training offer? Was…

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212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) – What To Do If You Are Turned Around at the Airport and Sent Home

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Today we are publishing an article on the site about Section 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This is the decision of a Customs and Border Protection official at airports and other ports of entry not to allow an individual into the United States because he/she does not have the proper visa.  For visa holders, the CBP inspector revokes the visa with the inscription “22 CFR 41.122(e)(3)”. While CBP does not provide a breakdown on the number of times it actually invokes this Section, it is clear that this number has escalated substantially under the Trump Administration.  In 2017, the number of inadmissibility findings by CBP totaled 216,470.  In 2019, that number increased to 288,523, a 33% jump.  This number only relates to those who tried to enter the US legally – as a Visa Waiver Program participant or visa holder.  When invoking 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I), CBP sends these individuals back…

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16 Reasons a Consul Finds Your K-1 Case Suspicious

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Today we are publishing a new article about K-1 visas.  In the article we discuss the 16 primary reasons a consul finds a K-1 case suspicious. The article also highlights the 4 steps the American citizen and fiancée can take to prevent denials. Finally, the article discusses in detail how to deal with a 221(g) refusal, an accusation of a sham relationship, and what to do if the petition is sent back to USCIS. The most important takeaway from the article: just because there is a real, sincere relationship does not mean that the K-1 visa will be issued. A lack of evidence, a weak interview, or a skeptical consul who believes he knows the fiancee’s “true intentions” better than the US petitioner can sabotage a K-1 case.  Contact us to discuss your case.

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E-2 Visa Denials

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One usually does not associate the US Government Accountability Office with “interesting” reports, but last year’s report on E-2 visas was eye-opening.  Of particular note are the reasons why E-2 applicants are denied.  While the report is limited to examining certain countries, it provides critical insight into the thinking of consular officers and obstacles to obtaining E-2 visas. As a reminder E-2 visas are limited to nationals of countries with whom the United States has commerce and navigation treaties. The full list of countries can be found on the Department of State’s website, with 80% of all E-2 applicants originating from 9 countries: Japan, Germany, UK, France, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Italy, and Spain. The majority of E-2 visa applicants are related to large investments (>$10 million) – think of managers and essential employees going from Japan to work in a large car plant in the United States.  However, the…

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No Statute of Limitations in Visa Law – A Distressing New Phenomenon with Tragic Consequences

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Statutes of limitation apply in criminal law. They were put into place to prevent the prosecution of an alleged wrongdoing after a certain number of years has gone by (usually 5-7 years). There are many reasons for this: evidence goes stale; witnesses are unavailable; memories fade; to allow for certainty and repose of the parties; and to prevent inconsistent decisions.  But there is no statute of limitations in visa/immigration law. With some exceptions, until recently, this has not been a significant problem.  But along with the anti-immigrant politics of the Trump Administration has come a new visa phenomenon: consular officers are now using the lack of a statute of limitations to “exhume” perceived past visa transgressions.  They are re-opening and reconsidering suspected visa violations – with no limitation of time or past consular “exoneration”.  Consular officers are now revisiting such transgressions from 5, 10, or even 15 years ago –…

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FAQ on New Birth Tourism Rules

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The Trump Administration announced new rules regarding birth tourism, which took effect on January 24, 2020.  Already, misinformation has cropped up. So to provide some clarity, the below FAQ is provided: Whom do the new rules affect? They only affect applicants for B visitor visas; they do not impact current holders of visas nor citizens of  Visa Waiver Program countries who can enter the US without a visa. May current holders of visas and those who hold passports from Visa Waiver Program countries enter the United States to give birth? The Department of Homeland Security, which include Customs and Border Protection inspectors at ports-of-entry, has not announced any new policies or reinterpretations of allowing entry for those who enter to give birth.  In the past inspectors permitted women to enter the US to give birth as long as they could show the ability to cover the cost of birth.  However,…

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Innocent Visa Applicants Applying for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Waivers

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With the dramatic upsurge in consular decisions to permanently bar visa applicants from the United States, the question of applying for an immigrant or nonimmigrant waiver has become more and more acute.  Many immigration lawyers will advise to just accept the decision, admit that you were wrong, say you are sorry, and apply for the waiver. They say that your chances of receiving the waiver will be increased if you admit your guilt and express remorse, even if you did not do anything wrong. But what if you are not “guilty”?  What if you did not commit a material misrepresentation (Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i))? Or engage in alien smuggling (Section 212(a)(6)(E))? Or commit a crime of moral turpitude (Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I))?  Should you admit you were wrong? Of course not. There are legal mechanisms to challenge such lifechanging decisions, such as a Request for Reconsideration.  Sometimes, the supervisor of the consular officer or…

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Visa Myth #981 – “If I get a 2nd Passport, My US Visa Problems will be Solved.”

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This myth has been going around for years – no doubt perpetuated by representatives of 2nd passport programs.  A national of Country X has US visa problems – because of a criminal incident 20 years ago making him inadmissible to the US.  He decides to obtain a passport from a European Union country by making a very substantial investment.  Because he has been told that nationals of his new country are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) – a program that allows for travel as a tourist or business visitor to the US for up to 90 days without a visa, with no visa interview required – he is under the impression that he should qualify too.  Until he reads the fine print – or consults with a US immigration lawyer. Before boarding a flight to the US without a visa, citizens of VWP countries pre-register with the US…

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Just Because They Say So, Doesn’t Make It True

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 I received a frantic call from a client recently at her naturalization interview.  She was being advised by the interviewing officer that her application was going to be denied because she did not meet the residency requirements.  In the run-up to the interview, the client and I had reviewed all of the relevant legal issues, including the physical presence and continuous residence requirements, and I assured her that she met the requirements for naturalization.  The officer was kind enough to speak with me over the phone, but remained unpersuaded from her position that the residency requirements were not met. The client left the USCIS office and went home extremely upset, notwithstanding my attempts to calm her down and assurances that we were in the right and would be able to challenge any adverse decision. And then, two hours after the interview, something strange happened: I received an e-mail notification from…

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