Confer With Counsel Early and Often In Visa Applications and Renewals

Employers and HR attempting to obtain work visas, renewals of those visas and related green cards for their employees are working harder than ever. While the controlling Federal Regulations have not changed, the Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, issued on April 18, 2017, a has resulted in real consequences to employers seeking visas on their employees behalf over the past year.

Extreme vetting, indiscriminate requests for evidence (RFE), restrictive employment-based immigration policies and significantly increased processing times are just a few of the layers of this new “wall” regarding immigration visas.

This is not lost on veteran immigration practitioners. The title of the upcoming annual convention for the largest organization of immigration lawyers is “Breaking through the invisible wall of immigration law”.  All CLE programs are focusing heavily on the inside track of dealing with liaisons with regard to sudden delays in processing and denials of renewals of specialty occupation immigration visas which had been previously approved by USCIS.  Suddenly, employers are finding that their highly specialized, valuable employees are suddenly no longer considered highly specialized by USCIS despite no actual change in the regulations controlling those visas.  At the same time, immigration lawyers are finding that the liaison committees are being denied meetings with US Department of Labor and the USCIS.  Could this be a result of the Executive Order?

There are creative solutions for those who seek visas in this challenging environment. Suggestions include consulting with counsel very early in the pursuit of an immigration visa and long before renewal deadlines are upcoming.  Strategies include providing far greater detail with regard to the employees’ qualifications, experience and education and great amounts of detail with regard to the specialty nature of the occupation.

“Over submitting” as much documentation as possible to prove both the specialized, highly-qualified nature of the employee and the hyper specialized nature of the employment are always recommended. Congressional advocacy is becoming necessary in certain cases where processing times have become unreasonable and/or previously approved immigration visas are suddenly denied for reasons that do not make sense and do not line up with the controlling Federal Regulations.  Consider consulting with counsel early and often in the immigration visa renewal and application processes.

If you have a question regarding immigration law, do not hesitate to contact immigration law specialists Greg Palakow and Rob Seiger at Archer & Greiner, P.C.