Navigating Start-Up Visas Worldwide

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Originally posted on Migreat Blog :

Most Start-up visas schemes are quite new. Read below for a quick outline of each country’s offerings and their differences or download Migreat’s #StartupVisa report to get the all of the details.

Map Startup VIsa May 2015 (1)

Which is cheapest?
Most entrepreneur visa schemes require entrepreneurs to show investments in the range of $40,000 to $100,000. However, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain (for some special cases) have not set up a minimum capital requirement.

Successful applicants to the Chilean Entrepreneur Visa program receive 20 million pesos (approx $35K) and to the French program EUR 12,5K (approx $14K).

Which countries have the easiest visa process?
It is difficult to say, as the rules do not always match what happens in real life. On paper, the Dutch, Italian and Spanish visas promise a simple and easy process with a quick turnaround on the decision (from 10 to 30 days maximum).

In Italy, the entrepreneur application is reduced to the bare minimum: electronically…

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USCIS temporarily suspend H1b premium processing to process H4 EADs

USCIS announced last week that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for H1b petitions as they need give additional attention to the processing of H4 employment authorization document.  Below is a copy of the text from USCIS:

 

copy text from USCIS

This is an update to the alert that we issued on Tuesday, May 19 with the same headline. That alert can be found in the USCIS Archive. Starting May 26, 2015, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B extension of stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B extension of stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015. USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if: • A petitioner filed H-1B petitions prior to May 26, 2015, using the premium processing service, and • USCIS did not act on the case within the 15-calendar-day period. Premium Processing Remains Available for Certain H-1B Petitions Premium processing remains available for: • Form I-129 H-1B petitions subject to the H-1B cap and cap exempt petitions, as long as the petition is requesting: o A change of nonimmigrant status, or o Consular notification; • Form I-129 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who already have H-1B nonimmigrant status, as long as the petition is requesting: o Consular notification, or o An amendment of a previously approved petition that does not include a request for an extension of stay; and • All Form I-129 H-1B1 petitions.

Why We Are Suspending Premium Processing

This temporary suspension will allow USCIS to implement the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses final rule in a timely manner and adjudicate applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulations. We anticipate receiving an extremely high volume of Form I-765 applications once the H-4 final rule becomes effective on May 26, 2015, and need to temporarily suspend premium processing to ensure that we can provide good customer service to both H-1B petitioners and H-4 applicants. We will monitor our workloads closely and may resume accepting premium processing requests before July 27, 2015, if we determine that we can once again provide customers with the level of service offered withpremium processing.

Expedited Processing

Petitioners may request expedited processing for their H-1B extension of stay petition during the temporary suspension of premium processing. We will review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and grant the requests at the discretion of the Director. The burden is on the petitioner to demonstrate that one or more of the expedite criteria have been met. For further information on how to request expedited processing, please see our Expedite Criteria webpage.

USCIS released guidance on when to file amended H1bs if employee will change work site.

Yesterday, USCIS issued guidance clarifying when an amended H1b is necessary if your employee moves from one work location to another.  Here is a link.  Copy of the information is posted below for convenience. 

USCIS Guidance on When to File an Amended H-1B Petition after the Simeio Solutions Decision

On April 9, 2015, USCIS’ Administrative Appeal Office (AAO) issued a precedent decision, Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, which held that employers must file amended H-1B petitions when a new Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers (LCA) is required due to a change in the H-1B worker’s worksite location. Specifically, the decision stated:

  1. When H-1B employees change their place of employment to a worksite location that requires employers to certify a new Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers (LCA) to the Department of Homeland Security, this change may affect the employee’s eligibility for H-1B status; it is therefore a material change for purposes of 8 C.F.R. §§ 214.2(h)(2)(i)(E) and (11)(i)(A) (2014).
  2. When there is a material change in the terms and conditions of employment, the petitioner must file an amended or new H−1B petition with the corresponding LCA.

This precedent decision represents the USCIS position that employers are required to file an amended petition before placing an H-1B employee at a new worksite. H-1B petitioners should follow the guidance below.

When You Must File an Amended Petition

You must file an amended H-1B petition if your H-1B employee changed or is going to change his or her place of employment to a worksite location outside of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or an “area of intended employment” (as defined at 20 CFR 655.715) covered by the existing approved H-1B petition, even if a new LCA is already certified and posted at the new location.

Note: Once you file the amended petition, your H-1B employee can immediately begin to work at the new location. You do not have to wait for a final decision on the amended petition for your H-1B employee to start work at the new location.

When You Do NOT Need to File an Amended Petition

  • A move within an MSA: If your H-1B employee is moving to a new job location within the same MSA or area of intended employment a new LCA is not required. Therefore, you do not need to file an amended H-1B petition. However, you must still post the original LCA in the new work location within the same MSA or area of intended employment. For example, an H-1B employee moving to a new job location within the New York City MSA (NYC) would not trigger the need for a new LCA, but you would still need to post the previously obtained LCA at the new work location. This is required regardless of whether an entire office moved from one location to another within NYC or if just one H-1B employee moves from one client site to another within NYC.
  • Short term placements: Under certain circumstances, you may place an H-1B employee at a new job location for up to 30 days, and in some cases 60 days (where the employee is still based at the original location), without obtaining a new LCA. See 20 CFR 655.735. In these situations, you do not need to file an amended H-1B petition.
  • Non-worksite locations: If your H-1B employee is only going to a non-worksite location, you do not need to file an amended H-1B petition. A location is considered to be “non-worksite” if:
    • The H-1B employees are going to a location to participate in employee developmental activity, such as management conferences and staff seminars;
    • The H-1B employees spend little time at any one location; or
    • The job is “peripatetic in nature,” such as situations where their primary job is at one location but they occasionally travel for short periods to other locations “on a casual, short-term basis, which can be recurring but not excessive (i.e., not exceeding five consecutive workdays for any one visit by a peripatetic worker, or 10 consecutive workdays for any one visit by a worker who spends most work time at one location and travels occasionally to other locations).” See 20 CFR 655.715.

Filing Amended H-1B Petitions

  • If your H-1B employees were changing worksite locations at the time of the Simeio Solutions decision, you have 90 days from the date of this web alert (May 21, 2015) to file amended petitions for H-1B employees who changed their place of employment to an MSA or area of intended employment requiring coverage by a new or different LCA than that submitted with the original H-1B petition. Therefore, if you have not filed an amended petition for an H-1B worker who moved worksite locations before May 21, 2015, you have until August 19, 2015 to file an amended petition.
  • If your H-1B workers changed their worksite location before the Simeio Solutions decision, USCIS will not take adverse action against you or your employees if you, in good faith, relied on prior non-binding agency correspondence and did not file an amended petition due to a change in an MSA or area of intended employment by May 21, 2015. However, as noted above, you must now file an amended petition for these H-1B employees by August 19, 2015.
  • If you do not file an amended petition for these employees by August 19, 2015, you will be out of compliance with USCIS regulation and policy and thus subject to adverse action.  Similarly, your H-1B employees would not be maintaining their nonimmigrant status and would also be subject to adverse action.
  • If your amended H-1B petition is denied, but the original petition is still valid your H-1B employee may return to the worksite covered by the original petition as long as the H-1B employee is able to maintain valid nonimmigrant status at the original worksite.
  • If your previously-filed amended H-1B petition is still pending, you may still file another amended petition to allow your H-1B employee to change worksite locations immediately upon your latest filing. However, every H-1B amended petition must separately meet the requirements for H-1B classification and any requests for extension of stay.  In the event that the H-1B nonimmigrant beneficiary’s status has expired while successive amended petitions are pending, the denial of any petition or request to amend or extend status will result in the denial of all successive requests to amend or extend status. SeeMemorandum from Michael Aytes, Acting Director of Domestic Operations (Dec. 27, 2005) for similar instructions about portability petitions.

To the extent possible, you should submit receipt notices of prior petitions. USCIS will determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a petition was filed before the current I-94 expired.

For More Information

If you have any questions about filing an amended H-1B petition, please visit our Customer Contact Center.

 

H-4 Visa Holders- Some of You Can Get Work Authorization!

For the first time ever, H-4 visa holders will be able to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) starting from May 26th 2015.

Who can apply?

Spouses of H-1B visa holders who have an approved I-140 or are in the extension period of their H-1bs beyond 6 years.

How to apply?

You can file using Form I-765 which can be obtained from the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov. You will need $380 for the filing fees and supporting evidence to prove eligibility.

How long will it take?

I-765 applications take about 90 days to process.

What do I do after I receive my EAD?

If you have not worked before, the first step to take will be to apply for a social security number with the Department of Social Security. It can take anywhere between 3 days to 8 weeks to receive a social security number.

What will be the duration of my EAD?

The EAD duration will likely be the same as your H-4 visa status. It can be issued for up to 3 years.

Where can I work?

As an H-4 visa holder, your work is not restricted to a specific employer. Therefore, you can work anywhere you want. You can also work for yourself, if you had a burning desire to run your own business!

All in all, this is a profound moment in immigration history. This was a hard fought win for activists and advocates fighting for this privilege.  The USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez mentioned during a stakeholder teleconference recently that he received emails and calls every 15 minutes during an 8 month period from people telling their stories of hardship.

While it would have been better, in my opinion, to allow all H-4 visa holders to apply for work authorization, it is hoped the rule can be broadened in the future.

I hope everyone eligible applies for work authorization and engages in meaningful work that contributes to the U.S. economy which will prove that this was a necessary to step to economic prosperity.

 

June 2015 visa bulletin commentary

The June 2015 visa bulletin was released this week. Here is our commentary.

For all countries except India, China, Philippines, and Mexico: F2A category advances 31 days to priority date at 1 October 2013, no movement in F2B preference with PD at 15 September 2008; F4 category advanced 28 days to PD at 8 September 2002; EB2 is current and, and EB3 moves forward 32d to PD at 15 February 2015.

For India only: F2A category advances 31 days to priority date at 1 October 2013, F2B preference does not move with PD at 15 September 2008 ; F4 category advanced 28 days to PD at 8 September 2002;  movement in EB2 where PD advances 5 months 17 day  at 1 October 2008; EB3 advances 8 days taking PD to 22 January 2004.

Note in the bulletin about further retrogression:

D.  VISA RETROGRESSION OF MEXICO AND PHILIPPINES
CUT-OFF DATES

Mexico:

Family-sponsored Fourth preference: It has been necessary to slightly retrogress this cut-off date to March 1, 1997 in an attempt to hold number use within the annual limit.

Philippines:

Family-sponsored First preference: This cut-off date had been advanced very rapidly during the past year in an effort to generate sufficient demand to fully utilize all available numbers. The resulting increase in demand has required the retrogression of this cut-off date for the month of June, in an attempt to hold number use within the annual limit for this preference category.

Employment-based Third and Third Other Worker preference: Continued heavy applicant demand for numbers has required a second retrogression of these cut-off dates. Further corrective action cannot be ruled out.
Please Note: Applicants entitled to immigrant status become documentarily qualified at their own initiative and convenience. By no means has every applicant with a priority date earlier than a prevailing cut-off date been processed for final visa action. On the contrary, visa allotments are made only on the basis of the total applicants reported documentarily qualified each month, compared with the amount of available numbers under the respective annual limits. For example, during the past month, over 20,000 applicants who have become documentarily qualified in the Family preference categories have priority dates earlier than the cut-off dates established for May. Demand for visa numbers can fluctuate from one month to another, with the inevitable impact on cut-off dates.

In Depth High-Tech Immigration Report in Puget Sound Business Journal

The Puget Business Journal has gone to great efforts to provide in-depth reports and stories on the need for high-skilled immigration reform.  The stories are poignant and provide great insight on why immigration reform is essential for economic growth.  Thank you to the PSBJ and report Emily Parkhurst for caring about issues that are important in immigration law. These issues are particularly important for Washington State as we have a robust technology industry. I encourage all my readers to get their hands on a hardcopy of the PSBJ. Read it, talk about it and share with your friends and colleagues. Use it as an advocacy tool and send to your Congress representative. These issues are important and everyone’s voice is necessary to see change. I am honored to have been able to share my thoughts too.  Let’s us know if you have questions and thoughts on these, tell us if you do indeed share it with your Congressman/woman and Senator. we would love to hear from you!

 

USCIS ready to return ‘unlucky in the lottery’ H1b files

Today USCIS made the below announcement.  My guess is that mid-late June is tentative time frame for receiving your H1b petition that didn’t get selected.  I do hope that many of you were lucky this year. But if not, start finding your backup plan until you can file next fiscal year.

 

USCIS Completes Data Entry of Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

USCIS announced May 4, 2015, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, the time frame for returning these petitions is uncertain. USCIS asks petitioners to not inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the petitions have been returned.

May 2015 Visa Bulletin Out- EB5 China Retrogresses Almost 2 Years

The May 2015 Visa Bulletin was released today by the Dept. of State. Our commentary will follow soon. BUT headline:

The much anticipated retrogression for China EB5 preference is finally here.  Cut-off date is May 1, 2013- that is almost 2 years. below is notice from DOS about what to expect but warning of further retrogression.  Please note that this is only applicable to citizens of China. 

To our regular visa bulletin readers- sorry we have not been able to post our usual commentary in a timely manner over the last couple of months. We will do so soon though.

____________

 

 

D.  OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF THE CHINA-mainland born
EMPLOYMENT FIFTH PREFERENCE CATEGORY

Heavy applicant demand has required the implementation of an Employment Fifth preference cut-off date to hold number use within the maximum level of numbers which may be made available for use by such applicants during FY-2015. No specific prediction regarding movement of this date is possible at present. Future visa availability will depend on a combination of demand for numbers being reported each month, and the extent to which otherwise unused numbers may become available. An increase in visa demand by applicants with relatively early priority dates COULD make necessary a retrogression of this cut-off date prior to the end of the fiscal year; retrogression is NOT being predicted but it cannot be ruled out. It is extremely likely that this category will remain subject to a cut-off date indefinitely.

E.  PHILIPPINES VISA AVAILABILITY

Family First preference: This cut-off date had been advanced very rapidly during the course of the last year in an effort to generate sufficient demand to fully utilize all available numbers. In recent months the amount of demand being received has been increasing at a steady pace. A continued increase in demand may require a retrogression of the cut-off date within the next several months to hold number use within the annual limit for this preference category.

Employment Third preference: This cut-off date had also been advanced very rapidly in an effort to generate sufficient demand to fully utilize all available numbers. The current rate of increase in demand has required the retrogression of this cut-off date for the month of May, in an attempt to hold number use within the annual limit for this preference category.

USCIS received 233,000 H1b visa petitions

Today, USCIS announced that they received 233,000 petitions for fiscal year 2016.  The random selection process will begin soon.  See below copy of USCIS notice. If you have filed a petition, we wish you all the best in ‘winning the lottery’!

 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2015 that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the masters cap.

USCIS received about nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 13, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

As announced on March 12, 2015, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 11, 2015.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will also not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming.

For more information, please see: http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-completes-h-1b-cap-random-selection-process-fy-2016

 

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Tahmina to Speak at Bitspiration Festival in Poland

We are very proud to announce that Tahmina will be speaking on Startup Visa issues at the Bitspiration Festival 2015 in Poland. The Bitspiration Festival will be held on June 22-23 in Warsaw, Poland.  We are very honored for the invitation, thank you Bitspiration!

If you or anyone you know will attend, please do say hi in advance! If any of our friends and colleagues are in the vicinity, please say hi too! We will post more updates in due course.

Bitspiration 2015 official tweet

 

bispiration page w/Tahmina

 

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