Our expertise encompasses a broad variety of immigration matters including family and employment sponsorship and U.S. citizenship applications. We represent small businesses, established corporations, nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs, professionals, religious workers, scientists, chefs, dancers, and artists. We also represent U.S. citizens and permanent residents seeking to bring close family members to the U.S. as well as individuals in the United States seeking U.S. citizenship or permanent residence status.
We welcome unusual cases that require additional strategic considerations and creative solutions. Our office is able to communicate with clients in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish.
Our firm has enjoyed representing chefs, dancers, choreographers, musicians, singers and other individuals in the performing arts and the culinary arts.
Immigration law permits individuals who are “extraordinary” in artistic fields to receive both temporary visas and permanent residence.
The Temporary Visa is for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability in the Arts: O-1
The temporary “extraordinary ability” visa requires the individual to be sponsored and the visa petition is filed by the sponsoring organization. In addition, the petition must include an advisory opinion from a peer group in the individual’s occupation.
Permanent residence is also available for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability in the Arts
Unlike the temporary visa category (O-1) an individual who is at the very top of his/her field in the arts does not need a sponsor and may self petition. The individual must file an immigrant petition with the USCIS along with evidence that he/she has reached the very top of his/her field.
Visas are generally available in this category and therefore, the individual may apply for permanent residence either concurrently or immediately upon the approval of the immigrant visa petition. At this stage, the Immigration Service considers factors such as the applicant’s immigration history, criminal records, employment history and health status to determine whether the application for permanent residence may be approved. The applicant’s spouse and children under 21 may apply for permanent residence concurrently.
2. The Temporary Visa for Performance Groups: P-1, P-2 and P-3
P visas are for performers. They include internationally recognized performance groups, the groups performing under a reciprocal exchange program, and culturally unique performance groups. P visas may be used by athletic teams, circuses, dance troupes, musicians and other performing artists.
Temporary Visas for Investors – E-2 visas
U.S. immigration law recognizes that foreign investment is good for the U.S. economy. It promotes US investment by extending visa status to both individual investors and to employees of companies that invest a substantial amount of capital in a US business. Although the investor visa is a temporary visa, it may be extended indefinitely as long as the visa holder continues to manage the investment.
Our firm has successfully represented a number of investors who have started new businesses as well as established corporations which have brought in employees in E-2 status. If you are thinking of opening a business in the United States or if you represent a multinational company and seek to bring an employee to set up or work for an affiliate in the United States, the E-2 visa may be an option to consider. Please give us a call to discuss the possibilities.
“The Million Dollar Green Card” – Permanent Residence for Investors
US Immigration Law also extends the opportunity to obtain lawful permanent residence (a green card) to individuals who invest at least $1 million into a US business which will employ at least 10 full time US workers. In addition, individuals who invest in USCIS certified “regional centers” may attain lawful permanent residence with a minimum of a $500,000 investment.
Fallon Bixby Cheng and Lee has represented many multinational companies which seek to sponsor an employee for temporary work visas as well as permanent residence.
Temporary work visas for intra-company transferees: The L visa
The L-1 visa is available to employees of a company abroad who are coming to the US to work for the US parent, affiliate or subsidiary. The employee must have worked for at least one year at the overseas entity. The position abroad and the position in the United States must be in a managerial or executive position or a position which requires specialized knowledge. The employee may enter the US to work for an already established company or to set up a new office.
Permanent Residence for Intra-company transferees:
An employer may also sponsor an executive or manager for permanent residence provided the employee worked as an executive or manager at the overseas affiliate, parent or subsidiary company for at least one year in the past three years and is filling an executive or managerial position at the US company. The requirements for a permanent visa are very similar to the requirement for an L-1 visa for a manager/executive.
Permanent residence is a two step process for intra-company transferees. The first step is the filing of the immigrant visa petition. The second step is the filing of the permanent residence application. Although Congress limits the number of individuals who may be admitted for permanent residence each year, the visa category for international managers has historically not become backlogged; therefore, an individual in this category may file a permanent residence application concurrently with the immigrant visa petition. Spouses and children may also file permanent residence applications as dependents.
Professionals and skilled workers may also be sponsored by their employer for permanent residence. This is a three step process which involves the following:
Step 1: Filing an application with the U.S. Department of Labor: For this step, the employer must obtain an approval of the salary from the Department of Labor, advertise the position pursuant to DOL regulations and if the employer can demonstrate that no qualified US workers were willing to take the position, file the application for labor certification with the Department of Labor.
Step 2: Filing an immigrant visa petition: Once the Department of Labor certifies the application in step 1, the employer may then file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of the employee. In this step, the employer must demonstrate that it is willing and able to pay the wage stated on the labor certification form and that the employee must demonstrate his or her qualifications for the position offered.
Step 3: Filing a permanent residence application: The final step in the process is the filing of the permanent residence application. Congress limits the number of individuals who may immigrate each year based on country of birth and visa category. The date that the labor certification was filed is an individual’s priority date, in other words, number in line for receiving a visa. The employee may file a permanent residence application when his/her priority date becomes current.
To determine whether the application for permanent residence may be approved, the Immigration Service considers factors such as the applicant’s immigration history, criminal records, employment history and health status. The employee’s spouse and children under 21 may apply for permanent residence concurrently with the employee.
Please note that immigration law is very complex and there are exceptions to almost every rule. If you are interested in any of the categories listed above, please contact our office. We would be happy to strategize with you regarding your best options.
Our firm represents many professionals and skilled workers seeking to stay temporarily or permanently in the United States. Most often, we are contacted by a representative of the company seeking to hire the foreign worker. Our attorneys strategize with the company representative regarding the appropriate work visa so that the employee may be placed on payroll as smoothly and promptly as possible.
Professionals and skilled workers may receive both temporary authorization to work in the United States as well as permanent residence (the green card). Most of the time, however, workers will need an employer to sponsor them.
Our law firm has represented an interesting variety of religious organizations in their sponsoring individuals who will work in a religious capacity. Our clients include both mainline Protestant Christian, Catholic, Buddhist organizations as well as lesser known religious entities; the positions sponsored include ordained ministers, nuns, monks, teachers and musicians.
Temporary Religious Worker:
An individual may work for a nonprofit religious denomination as a minister or in a religious occupation, vocation or profession for up to 5 years in the R-1 visa category. To qualify for the R-1, the individual must be a member of the religious denomination for at least two years prior to filing the visa petition and the sponsoring employer must be a religious organization with nonprofit status in the United States.
Permanent Residence for Religious Worker
There are two steps to obtaining permanent residence for a religious worker. The first step is the filing of an immigrant visa petition. For this step, the worker must have been a member and employed by the religious organization for at least two years prior to filing the petition and must be offered employment in a religious occupation or vocation.
The second step is the filing of the permanent residence application. Visas are usually available in this category and therefore, the worker may apply for permanent residence immediately upon the approval of the immigrant visa petition. At this stage, the Immigration Service considers factors such as the applicant’s immigration history, criminal records, employment history and health status to determine whether the application for permanent residence may be approved.
Are you Outstanding?
Individuals with significant original contributions to a particular field may qualify for permanent residence based on their “outstanding” research skills. The attorneys at FBCL have enjoyed learning about the most fascinating fields through our work with these types of cases.
Are you Extraordinary?
Some researchers and scientists rise to the level of “extraordinary”, a higher level of expertise than “outstanding”, and defined as “one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor”. An individual of this caliber does not need an employer/sponsor and may self-petition.
Fallon Bixby Cheng & Lee has been privileged to represent some very impressive people in these types of cases.
Is it in the National Interest to Keep you Here?
US Immigration Law also offers a path to permanent residence for individuals whose work is so valuable to our country that it is in our national interest to grant them permanent residence so they may continue their valuable work. This category is called National Interest Waiver because the testing the labor market for qualified US workers is waived. Individuals must be very accomplished to qualify for the national interest waiver, hold an advanced degree, and demonstrate that their work serves the U.S. interests as a whole.
These are always very interesting and compelling cases.
H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3
The most common type of temporary work visa is the H-1B. H-1B status is available to individuals who have been offered a position by a US company in a position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field. An individual may be in H-1B status for up to six years but additional time in H-1B status may be available if the employer has sponsored the employee for permanent residence.
There are A Limited Numbers of H-1B Visas Available: Congress limits the number of H-1B visas that may be issued each year to 65,000 plus an additional 20,000 for employees holding US Master’s degree. The fiscal year begins October 1st and employers may submit an H-1B petition up to six months prior to the employment start date, or as early as April 1st. If more than 65,000 (+20,000 master’s) petitions are filed, the Immigration Service conducts a lottery to determine which H petitions are selected. Over the past several years many more petitions are filed on April 1st than visas are available, resulting in a lottery selection and much uncertainty for employers and employees. Once an employee has been selected in the H-1B lottery, however, he/she is not subject to the H-1B cap when filing to change employer or extend H-1B status.
Workers from Singapore, Chile and Australia: The H-1B1 is a visa status exclusively for citizens of Chile or Singapore. It has the same requirements as the H-1B except that it is not subject to the numerical limitations. The E-3 is a visa status exclusively for citizens of Australia. It also has the same requirements as the H-1B but is not subject to the H-1B cap.
TN – for workers from Canada or Mexico
The TN is based on the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and is a temporary work visa for citizens of Mexico or Canada who will work in an occupation listed in NAFTA. Most TN occupations require the individual to hold a bachelor’s degree or a professional license. TN status may be issued for up to three years and may be extended.
Fallon Bixby Cheng & Lee provides a variety of family-based immigration services to help bring families together through the immigrant visa petition process.
If you are interested in sponsoring a close relative for permanent residence, please contact us. Our attorneys will meet with you initially in person or on the phone to explain the process, requirements, and timing and determine whether there are any issues of concern. We guide you in gathering the necessary documents and information, prepare and file the forms and supporting documents with the appropriate government agency and keep you informed as the case progresses.
For cases requiring an interview at the local immigration office, we prepare you for what to expect and accompany you to the interview. We monitor the case until the permanent residence card arrives in the mail.
Becoming a US citizen through Naturalization
Individuals who have held lawful permanent residence (a green card) for five years generally qualify to become a U.S. citizen by filing an application for naturalization. While most cases are straightforward, applicants often prefer to retain Fallon Bixby Cheng and Lee so that they can be guided through the process. We complete the (now 21 page!) application form, help the applicant prepare for the citizenship test, prepare the applicant for what to expect at the naturalization interview accompany the applicant to the interview, and provide information regarding the naturalization ceremony and advice how to apply for a US passport.
Fallon Bixby Cheng & Lee also represents the not so straightforward citizenship cases including applicants with:
- Significant absences from the United States;
- Arrests or convictions;
- Spouses of US citizens working for multinational organizations abroad;
- Spouses of US citizens seeking to apply after three years of permanent residence status
- Other interesting twists.
Other ways to become a US citizen
There are other ways besides naturalization that an individual may become a United States Citizen. Our attorneys will explore with you whether you have acquired citizenship through a parent or grandparent or another way and help you to obtain the evidence of your US citizenship status.