"... All my questions, concerns and problems have been resolved in an efficient way. I recommend this firm to anyone who has to deal with any immigration service." - Jairo Fernandez, MD, Florida

Biometrics Appointments: What to Do if You Cannot Attend the Appointment

office_calendar_april_15_800_clr_1743Applicants for green cards and other immigration benefits must attend a biometrics appointment at a designated USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) whenever requested.  Generally, the applicant receives an ASC appointment notice for a specific date and time.  Most can attend the appointment on the date and time scheduled, but what if the date is inconvenient? Here are some of the options available in this situation:

  • Reschedule – the applicant can reschedule by marking the rescheduling request field on the ASC appointment notice and returning it to the USCIS before the appointment date.  Keep a copy of the notice for your records and be sure to send the notice through a delivery method that allows tracking, e.g. certified mail.  You do not need to explain the reason for rescheduling.  Unlike a doctor’s or lawyer’s appointment, you cannot reserve a specific date.  You will receive a new notice usually within two weeks.
  • Go early – the applicant can to the ASC earlier than the appointment date as a “walk-in.”  Be sure to bring your appointment notice and politely request that your biometrics be taken.  Be prepared to wait until others with current appointments are served.  After your biometrics are taken, ask for a completion stamp on your appointment notice so you have proof that biometrics were completed.
  • Outside U.S. – applicants who are overseas at the time of the biometrics appointment must reschedule.  There are no facilities available outside the U.S. that can provide general biometrics appointments.  If the applicant has an attorney, the attorney can request the rescheduling of the appointment.
  • Disability – applicants who have a hearing, sight, speech, or other physical impairment that might prevent attendance at the appointment can and should request an accommodation by calling the customer service center for the USCIS or completing a request online at https://egov.uscis.gov/e-request/displayAccomForm.do?entryPoint=init&sroPageType=accommodations.   The USCIS may provide additional assistance at the appointment or may reschedule the appointment when additional assistance is available.

To address your unique immigration situation, you are invited to contact our firm at immigration@cowlesthompson.com, 214-672-2000.

The information provided in this article is intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process , and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely upon the information in this article without first seeking the advice of an immigration attorney.

Avoiding Workplace Pitfalls: Domestic and Foreign Employee Compliance

Governmental investigations and audits to assess compliance with employment and immigration laws have steadily increased over the last few years.  Employment lawsuits and immigration compliance violations are at a record high.  And there is no indication that the trend will decline anytime soon.  Businesses which do not routinely audit their internal policies and procedures or which have neglected to develop and implement policies at all, are vulnerable to fines, claims, penalties, and the potential of governmental oversight.  (Keep reading →)

Foreign Professional Workers and the H1-B Visa

Immigration and immigration compliance is in the headlines on a daily basis affecting both large and small companies.  If you are the human resources director for a company looking for the professional services of an individual who requires a visa to work in the United States, you need to consider the full range of options and strategies available to you with respect to one of the most commonly used employment (professional)[1] visas — the H-1B visa.  (Keep reading →)

Is President Obama Considering his Own Immigration Reform?

The Wall Street Journal reports today that President Obama may suspend deportations and give work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants. The executive branch of our government is headed by the President and does manage and control the immigration process. Most legal experts agree that the President can act without Congress in many ways. For example, many Presidents have exercised power to grant deferred action and temporary protected status (TPS). This WSJ journal nicely explains some of the executive actions under consideration. According to the article, the President may announce his executive order shortly after Labor Day.

Cowles & Thompson Immigration Law Group  is following this story closely.
Read the Wall Street Journal article

7 Tips to Complete Error-Free I-9 Forms

Since 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) requires employers to complete the I-9 form to verify that all new employees are authorized to work in the United States.  An employer who fails to properly fill out the form for each employee can face stiff fines and penalties.  These paperwork violations can range from $110 to $1100 in fines, even if all your employees are work authorized. (Keep reading →)

Commercial Cleaning Systems Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim for $78,500

Takeaway for Employers – Do Not Require I-9 Specific Documents from New Employees

On June 12, 2014, the Justice Department reached an agreement  with Commercial Cleaning Systems, a janitorial services company with headquarters in Denver.  The agreement resolves claims that the company discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

The department’s investigation was initiated based on a referral from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  The investigation found that Commercial Cleaning Systems required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present specific documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order to verify their employment eligibility, while U.S. citizens were permitted to present their choice of documentation.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin.

Under the settlement agreement, Commercial Cleaning Systems will pay $53,500 in civil penalties, create a $25,000 back pay fund to compensate individuals who may have lost wages as a result of the company’s discriminatory document practices, and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for one year.

“Discriminating against work-authorized employees because they are not citizens violates federal law and the Justice Department is committed to enforcing this law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “We applaud Commercial Cleaning Systems for working cooperatively with the division to resolve this matter.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The statute also prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee.  The case was handled by OSC Trial Attorney Linda White Andrews.

Ann Badmus Interviewed on ABC News Radio

Ann Massey Badmus is a shareholder and head of the Immigration Law section of Cowles & Thompson. In this interview on June 14th, 2014 in San Francisco, California she is asked about immigrant children crossing into the United States.

Webinar on Demand – Secrets to Winning a Green Card Through PERM Labor Certification

PERM labor certification is the most common way for a foreign national to get permanent residence (green card) through a job offer. Whether you are a sponsoring employer or sponsored employee, now is the time to learn the tips and tools to navigate the process more quickly and smoothly in 2014.

Watch this webinar and you will learn the questions to ask to determine whether the PERM process is right for you and your company so you don’t waste precious time and resources, the legal pitfalls to avoid that can slow down the process and cost you time and money,  your rights and obligations as a sponsored employee or sponsoring employer, and more.

 

The information provided in this webinar is intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely upon the information in this article without first seeking the advice of an immigration attorney.

Ann Badmus Interviewed on CCTV Program – “The Heat”

In this  national television interview on June 27, 2014, Cowles & Thompson attorney, Ann Massey Badmus,  is asked about large number of immigrant children entering the United States from Central America and Mexico

 

 

I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form: Compliance – The Cost of Saving

As a business owner, how much of your company yearly budget is allocated to pay for I-9 compliance training and how much for fines and penalties?

Frequently, small and medium size business owners dismiss the importance of I-9 compliance due to a lack of information or the belief that the I-9 is a “simple” one page form that “anyone can complete.” For large companies, I-9 compliance is the responsibility of the HR department, which (sometimes) lacks the appropriate training to completing I-9 forms correctly.

(Keep reading →)