Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers!

In  this  issue:

  • TPS Extended for Six Countries
  • Tech Layoffs – Stay Prepared
  • Attorney Q&A: L Visas for Startup Companies with Sofia Hassander, Esq. 
  • How do I get my foreign love interest into the US?
  • Litigation Victory at GYH
  • GYH Leadership Recognized

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TPS Extended for Six Countries

USCIS announced the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for citizens of Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal to June 30, 2024. TPS allows migrants to reside and work legally in the US for a temporary period while it is considered unsafe to return to their home country. It is available to foreign nationals of designated countries who are already in the US. USCIS designates a country for TPS when the conditions there are dire, such as armed conflict or environmental disaster.

The extension will affect about 392,000 people, of whom 242,000 are citizens of El Salvador, according to USCIS data.

Tech Layoffs – Stay Prepared

This week the media reported a deluge of layoffs in the tech industry, with Amazon, Meta, Twitter, and other major tech companies reporting plans to cut tens of thousands of jobs. These reports are creating significant uncertainty for foreign workers in the industry, especially H-1B specialty occupation visa holders. The decision to terminate an employee is always difficult but terminating foreign workers is especially sensitive.

If you are an employer who may need to terminate a foreign worker, the below flyer, from The American Immigration Lawyers Association, provides information about the appropriate steps to protect the welfare of the employee and your business.

You should always consult with your immigration lawyer before taking action in specific cases.

Attorney Q&A: L Visas for Startup Companies

with Sofia Hassander, Esq.

 Q: What is the L-1 visa?

A: The L visas (L-1A and L-1B) make it possible for employers to transfer employees who are working for the company abroad temporarily to the US.. The L-1A enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager. The L-1B enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge. It can also be used to transfer an employee of a foreign company which does not yet have a U.S. office to help establish one.

Q: Is it only for big corporations or can smaller companies use the L-1 as well?

A: L visas are available to corporations of any size. However, small businesses and/or startups looking to obtain an L visa may face hurdles because the L visa, established in 1970, was originally created to facilitate multinational companies investing in the US economy. Consequently, USCIS expects to see clearly structured organizations with steady salaries, neither of which are characteristics of start-up companies. Further, qualifying for the visa requires proving “business viability” to USCIS, and this can sometimes be challenging for younger and/or smaller companies. However, these challenges generally can be addressed with a well-prepared petition.

Q: What are some of the challenges for smaller companies or start-up companies when sponsoring an L-1 visa?

A: In small businesses, especially start-up companies, employees tend to wear many hats and may not even have official titles. USCIS officials adjudicating L visa petitions are used to multinational companies with clear hierarchies. The unstructured nature of startups inevitably leads to skepticism at USCIS. Many start-up companies have no corporate offices or official employees for some time because they prioritize minimizing overhead costs. The L-1A, however, requires support from subordinate employees and a “new office” petition requires a physical office location. USCIS will typically want to see at least three to five subordinates supporting the managerial candidate’s L-1A petition.

Salaries can also present issues for startups seeking to obtain L visas. Start-up and small business executives often work for no salary until their companies are generating sufficient cash flow and employees are sometimes paid below market. USCIS, however, wants to see employees at all levels earning salaries commensurate with industry standards. Similarly, the minimal starting and operating capital typical of small businesses may lead USCIS to question the viability of the business.

Q: Can the L-1 employee bring his family?

A: Yes. L visa recipients may be accompanied by their spouse and/or child (so long as the child is under 21 and unmarried). Family members of L-1 recipients are eligible for an L-2 visa, which would typically be granted for the same period of stay as the L-1 and grants the family member work authorization.

Q: How long can you stay on an L-1 visa – is there a pathway to a green card?

A: The L visa is a nonimmigrant visa category, meaning you cannot switch directly from an L visa to a green card. However, the L visa classification does allow for dual intent, which means you can file for adjustment of status and apply for a green card while you are in the country in L visa status.

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How do I get my foreign love interest into the US?

“How do I get my foreign fiancé, spouse, or love interest into the US?” This is one of the most common questions an immigration lawyer hears. Partner Becki Young shares why you should AVOID THE FIANCÉ VISA AT ALL COSTS and other top tips for bringing your romantic partner into the country.

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Litigation Victory at GYH

On May 5, 2022, GYH attorneys filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to compel U.S. Embassy Baghdad to adjudicate a long-pending immigrant visa application filed by client A.A., a 74-year-old Iraqi man seeking to reunite with his wife and his son in the U.S., both residents of Maine. A.A.’s visa application had been pending nearly four-and-a-half years when GYH brought suit. The complaint highlighted the harms A.A. and his family were experiencing as a result of the adjudication delay of his visa application, and alleged that U.S. Embassy of Baghdad violated the Mandamus and Venue Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706(1). Rather than litigate the case, the defendants elected to move forward with processing A.A.’s visa application. On October 13, 2022, U.S. Embassy Baghdad issued A.A. his immigrant visa, clearing the way for him to finally join his family in the safety and security of the United States.  

GYH Leadership Recognized

GYH leaders Sandra Grossman, Becki Young, and Denise Hammond were once again this year recognized in the Lawdragon 500 Leading Corporate Employment Lawyers guide. This guide honors the nation’s top advisors to businesses, universities, nonprofits and other organizations dealing with the mind-bending matrix of today’s global workforce.

Sandra, Becki, and Denise were also recognized as Global Leaders in Corporate Immigration 2022 by Who’s Who Legal.

*this newsletter is for general educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.