AZTech, Integra Technologies, AndWill, and Wireclass Update VI: Operation Bad Apple.

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We have been able to review some of the government documents relating to the DHS investigation of these companies. Needless to say, the documents are eye-opening.  The government investigation into the OPT scandal is entitled Operation Bad Apple. But unfortunately, DHS considers not only the people behind AZTech, Integra, Wireclass and AndWill as the “bad apples,” but the F-1 students who were associated with them as well. Lest there be any doubt, the DHS documentation makes clear: these OPT sponsors were “shell companies”. These companies produced “fraudulent employment letters for F-1 students on OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT.” They used “virtual offices” and are not “legitimately operating businesses.”  In retrospect, we all know that. But the broad brush which DHS paints the students – as knowing participants in fraud – is alarming. There does not appear to be any gray area. Per DHS, the students did not work for these…

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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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A Visa Applicant’s Bill of Rights – What the Department of State and Your Local US Embassy/Consulate Often Do Not Want You to Know

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For visa applicants, the cards seem to be stacked against you.  Among the hurdles a visa applicant must face: The law places the burden on the visa applicant to prove eligibility for the visa and that he or she is not inadmissible to the United States. There are inadequate consular resources; at busy posts, consular officers can only allot a few minutes to a visa adjudication. There is no formal administrative appeals process of a visa denial (no Administrative Appeals Office, Board of Immigration Appeals, Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals). With limited exception, there is no judicial review of visa decisions because of the  doctrine of consular reviewability. There is limited public accountability: no Department of State (DOS) Visa Ombudsman, no formal Complaint Procedure, and no formal recusal process. Section 428 of the Homeland Security Act grants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a vital role in the visa…

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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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Rights of Visa Applicants

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You have rights.  Yes, if you have been denied a visa, you have rights. The Department of State’s Customer Statement lists only some of those rights, as follow: We promise to you, the visa applicant, that: We will treat you with dignity and respect, even if we are unable to grant you a visa. We will treat you as an individual and your case as unique. We will remember that, to you, a visa interview may be a new or intimidating experience and that you may be nervous. We will use the limited time available for the interview to get as full a picture as possible of your travel plans and intentions. We will use our available resources to fairly assist all applicants to get appointments to allow travel in time for business, study, and other important obligations. We will post detailed and accurate information on visa requirements and application…

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No Statute of Limitations on Visa Application Lies

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Let’s say you had a run-in with the law a long time ago. As a result, you were convicted of fraud. But it happened so long ago that you do not give much thought to it. So when you applied for a visa a few years back to visit your daughter and her children in the US, you did not indicate the conviction in the visa application form. You received the visa and used it to go to the US several times. You didn’t give much thought to it, until you decided to immigrate with your daughter’s help, and you had to obtain a police certificate. The police certificate indicated the conviction, but you were not worried because you had consulted a lawyer, who told you that although the conviction was for a crime of moral turpitude and did not qualify for the petty offense exception, a waiver was available….

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