Proposed Changes to E-2 Treaty Investor Category

Posted by Douglas Cowgill|US Immigration
Apr 15

U.S. Congressmen David Jolly is working on legislation that could significantly change the lives of E-2 Treaty Investors. Currently, this category is available to citizens of treaty countries who make a substantial investment in a U.S. business. It is a non-immigrant visa category, meaning that E-2 visa holders cannot become permanent residents unless they are eligible under an immigrant visa category.

At this time, the employment based immigrant visa categories are not directly in line with the E-2 visa. There are many situations where an E-2 visa holder would not be eligible for an employment based green card. For example, an E-2 investor would not be eligible under the fifth preference Employment category (EB-5), unless they had invested at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area and created 10 full-time jobs. Further, an E-2 investor would not be eligible for the first preference Employment Category (EB-1C), unless they served as the Manager or Executive of an affiliated foreign business for at least one year.

The proposed legislation would rectify this problem by allowing E-2 visa holders to apply for permanent residence through a new category. The new category would require applicants to prove that they were physically present in the U.S. for at least 10 years in E-2 status. Additionally, the applicant must demonstrate that their U.S. business created at least two full-time jobs. If these criteria were met, the individual would be eligible for permanent residence.

In addition, the proposed legislation could have significant impacts for dependent children of the primary investor. Currently, children may only possess E-2 dependent status until they are 21 years old, and they cannot apply for work authorization. The proposed legislation would allow children to remain as E-2 dependents up to the age of 26, and would allow them to apply for work authorization once they are 18 years old.

It is important to note that at this time, the changes discussed above are merely proposed changes. To officially become part of U.S. law, the legislation must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and signed into law by the President. For further information about the E-2 visa category and the potential changes discussed above, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.

Posted by Douglas Cowgill » No Comments »

L-1 Worksheet for Denied Cases

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Feb 15

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed the deployment of an L-1 Checklist at U.S.-Canada Ports of Entry (POE) for cases that are not approved. L-1 checklists should now be used by CBP if any L-1 petition is deemed deficient when presented by a Canadian citizen seeking petition adjudication and admission under NAFTA. CBP has also released a second L-1 checklist covering basic points of L-1 eligibility, which is intended to serve as both a guide for applicants and an internal officer training tool.

If a Canadian citizen is refused admission following L-1 adjudication at a U.S.-Canada POE, the applicant should now receive an L-1 deficiency checklist. This document should indicate the specific reason(s) why the petition was not approved. The purpose of the checklist is to better inform applicants of the deficiencies in their petitions so that they can return to the same POE to successfully re-apply with the appropriate documents.

At the same time, the checklist is intended to assist the re-adjudicating CBP officer in simplifying their review of the petition. During the re-adjudication, the officer should focus on only those areas which were previously found deficient. For now, the checklist will be in use only at U.S.-Canada POE where NAFTA adjudications are common. For further information about L-1 applications at a U.S. POE, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.

Posted by Immigration Law Team » No Comments »

Looking for a Student Visa? Do your Research

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Feb 15

Looking for a Student Visa? Do your Research

The U.S. offers a variety of visa options designed for foreign students to obtain an education at some of the country’s most prestigious and well-known universities. Unfortunately, some students learned the hard way that Tri-Valley University was not one of those institutions. In fact, it was a sham school designed to issue phony documents to students so that they could obtain student visas, while providing virtually no educational value.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has started to crack down on schools like Tri-Valley University in recent years, with reports that 5 – 10 schools have been closed amongst allegations of immigration fraud. The difficulty for students abroad is that some of these phony institutions actually appear legitimate online. Also, since the school issues the student a visa, it is easy for young, foreign students to accept that the school must be legitimate.

But students looking to come to the U.S. should be extremely cautious when deciding which school to attend. Every effort should be made to verify information on the school’s website. Ideally, the student could visit the school in the U.S. before receiving their visa to ensure that it is a properly functioning university.

Understandably, a student may not have this option, and may not have any reason to doubt the university’s legitimacy until they actually enter the U.S. But once it becomes clear that a school is not offering any courses, the foreigner must decide what to do next. One option would be transferring to a legitimate university; another would be reporting the school to ICE. At no point should the student engage in work which they are not authorized to perform, as this could lead to major problems down the road.

Just ask some of the Indian students who attended Tri-Valley University. Even though they were led to believe they could work full-time jobs, they were not only returned to India once their visas were revoked, but were also required to wear ankle monitors by U.S. authorities. While this may seem a bit extreme for students who were scammed by a U.S. institution, it teaches a valuable lesson: You can never be “too safe” when it comes to your immigration status in the U.S.

For further information regarding student visas or any other immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.

Posted by Immigration Law Team » No Comments »

H-1B Denials overturned in Federal Court

Posted by Immigration Law Team|US Immigration
Jan 15

H-1B Denials overturned in Federal Court

The H-1B visa category is available to foreigners who perform services in a specialty occupation. The general requirements for these applications are twofold: (1) The proposed position with the U.S. company must be a specialty occupation (e.g. it requires a Bachelor’s degree or higher) ; and (2) The applicant must possess the requisite education, training, certificates, or work experience necessary to perform the specialty occupation.

Two recent federal cases illustrate the complexity of this category. In Warren Chiropractic & Rehab Clinic, P.C., v. USCIS, a federal judge overturned a USCIS denial where the applicant sought H-1B status as a Medical and Health Services Manager. The Judge ruled the agency was wrong in finding that a “medical and health services manager” position did not qualify as a specialty occupation. The court also found that USCIS was wrong to classify the beneficiary’s job as an “administrative services manager.”

Earlier this month, a different federal judge overturned a USCIS denial where the applicant applied for H-1B status as a Marketing Analyst (Raj and Co. v. USCIS). USCIS argued this was not a specialty occupation because it did not require a specialized bachelor’s degree, and did not meet their other regulatory criteria. The judge disagreed with USCIS, stating that “the patently specialized nature of the position sets it apart from those that merely require a generic degree.” The case was remanded to USCIS with orders to grant the H-1B petition.

Due to the complex nature of this category, it is not uncommon for initial petitions to result in denial due to lack of supporting evidence or improper job description. For further information, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.

Posted by Immigration Law Team » No Comments »

Working in the U.S. While Under an F-1 Student Visa: Curricular and Optional Practical Training

Posted by Ife Ashabo|US Immigration
Dec 13

In general, foreign nationals in the United States on an F-1 student visa are not permitted to work in the U.S.  However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, two of which are Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.



Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of employment authorization that allows an F-1 student to obtain employment in an area that is directly related to his/her studies. Also, the student must receive school credit for such work.


To be eligible for CPT, you must have been enrolled full-time in a U.S. academic institution for at least one full academic year.  Therefore, you may not work pursuant to CPT during your first year of study. An exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in an internship, a practicum, or other employment.  CPT is not available for F-1 students in language learning programs.

The CPT program permits you to work for an employer within a field that is an integral part of an established curriculum and directly related to your course of study.  Your employment must be pursuant to an internship, cooperative education program, practicum or any other type of arrangement where your course of study permits you to receive credit through employment.

Terms of Employment

F-1 students can engage in CPT on a part or full-time basis.  CPT students who obtain part-time employment may not work more than 20 hours per week.  As long as you maintain your F-1 status, there is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time Curricular Practical Training.

F-1 students may work full-time pursuant to CPT during University breaks, including summer break and holidays.  You may also engage in full-time employment under CPT during your dissertation or thesis stage of schooling or while taking a class where full-time employment is required for the completion of the course.

Full-time CPT allows you to work more than 20 hours per week, and there is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in the full-time employment. However, if you participate in 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training, which is explained below.  The exception to the bar on Optional Practical Training after completing one year of full-time employment applies to F-1 students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in Curricular Practical Training.



F-1 students who participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) may work in the U.S. in a field that is directly related to their course of study for a total of 12 – 29 months, depending on the student’s major.

Students Who Graduate with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (“STEM” Students)

Students who have received a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (“STEM” students) may work in the U.S. under the OPT program for a total of 29 months. Non-STEM students may work in the U.S. under the OPT program for no more than 12 months.

Employment need not be for School Credit

The employment you obtain pursuant to OPT need not be pursuant to an internship, practicum, or anything to that effect.  In fact, the employment may be totally independent of your schooling as long as it is directly related to your course of study.  For example, an F-1 student studying business at a university in the U.S. may work part-time at a consulting firm during the school year, full-time at the firm during the summer, or full-time at the firm after graduating even though the work is not an internship and she is not receiving any credit for her employment at the company.

Duration of Employment

Optional practical training is available both during and after the completion of your academic program. However, the total amount of practical training permitted is 12 months (or 29 months for STEM students). For example, if, prior to graduation, you have worked for 4 months under the OPT program, and you are not a STEM student, you will only be eligible for 8 more months of post-graduation OPT work.

Also, work done under CPT counts towards your OPT period.  Therefore, if you work for a total of 12 months under CPT while in school, and you are not a STEM student, then you will not be able to work under OPT upon graduation.

OPT As a Path to Obtaining an Employment Visa

One of the main benefits of the OPT program is that it can be used as a path towards obtaining an employment visa after graduation.  For example, if an employer in the U.S. hires you to work in a field directly related to your area of study under OPT, the employer may also sponsor you for an H-1B, TN, or any other non-immigrant visa you are eligible for during the course of your employment.

Can I Change Jobs?

You may change employers while working in the U.S. pursuant to OPT as long as the new job is directly related to your field of study.

Can I Work at More Than One Job?

With OPT you may have as many jobs with as many employers as you wish.

Unemployment upon Graduation

F-1 students who wish to obtain employment in the U.S. under OPT, and who have thus obtained their OPT registration, have up to 90 days to find a job.  Thus, upon graduating from a U.S. institution as an F-1 student, you may stay in the U.S. for an additional 90 days to look for work that is directly related to your field of study.  STEM students have 120 days to obtain a job in the U.S. upon graduation.

Posted by Ife Ashabo » No Comments »

U.S. Visa/Status Classifications – what are the various types?

Posted by Mark Dey|US Immigration
Dec 13

The United States offers a broad range of visa classifications, indeed, an alphabet soup, to foreign nationals seeing to enter the U.S. from “A” (diplomats) to “U” (victims of criminal activity).  These are:

A Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials
A-2 Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S.
B-1 Business Visitor (including amateur & professional athletes competing for prize money only; domestic employees or nanny accompanying foreign employer)
B-2 Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitors, visitors for medical treatment
BCC Border Crossing Card for Mexicans
C Transiting the U.S.
D Crewmembers (air or ship)
E-1 Treaty Trader
E-2 Treaty Investor
E-3 Australian professional specialty
F-1 Student – academic
G1 – G5 Employees of designated international organizations
H-1A Nurses
H-1B Specialty occupation workers
H-1B1 Free Trade Agreement Professionals – Chile and Singapore
H-2A Temporary agricultural workers
H-2B Temporary workers performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature
H-3 Training
I Media, journalists
J-1 Exchange visitor – professor, scholar, teacher; trainee; intern; physician; au pairs
K-1 / K-3 Fiancé(e) / Spouse of U.S. citizen
L-1 Intra-company transferees
M-1 Vocational students
NATO NATO personnel
O Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics
P Performing athletes, artists, entertainers
Q International cultural exchange visitors
R Religious workers
S assist US law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and terrorist activities
T Victims of human trafficking
TN NAFTA professional
U Victims of criminal activity

Each of the above visa classifications has its own unique purposes and requirements which must be met for the granting of the visa and/or admission to the U.S. For more information on this or any other US or Canadian immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP – Immigration Lawyers at 1-800-993-9971 or

Posted by Mark Dey » No Comments »