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The O-1A visa is designed for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. To qualify for an O-1A visa, applicants must demonstrate that they have achieved a level of expertise that is significantly above that of their peers in their field. At Zneimer & Zneimer, our experienced immigration attorneys can help you navigate the O-1A visa application process and analyze each criteria to determine if you qualify.To qualify for an O-1A visa, applicants must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  1. Documentation of the beneficiary’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  2. Documentation of the beneficiary’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
  3. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the beneficiary, relating to the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which must include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;
  4. Evidence of the beneficiary’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization for which classification is sought;
  5. Evidence of the beneficiary’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
  6. Evidence of the beneficiary’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
  7. Evidence that the beneficiary has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or
  8. Evidence that the beneficiary has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidenc

The first criteria for O-1A visa eligibility is receipt of nationally or internationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence in the applicant’s field of endeavor. This criterion is one of the most straightforward ways to demonstrate extraordinary ability, as it provides concrete evidence of the applicant’s achievements and recognition within their field.

To meet this criterion, the award or prize must be significant and widely recognized within the applicant’s field of endeavor. This can include awards or prizes from government agencies, professional associations, or other reputable organizations. It is important to note that the award or prize must be based on the applicant’s individual accomplishments and not on the achievements of their Continue reading →

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If you are a potential H-1B worker who has not been selected for the H-1B lottery, you have other options. At Zneimer & Zneimer, our experienced immigration attorneys can help employers and workers who were not selected for the H-1B visa lottery to find the best path forward.

One option for H-1B workers who have not been selected in the lottery is to consider alternative visa options. There are several other visas that may be available, depending on your individual circumstances. For example, if you have an advanced degree, you may be eligible for an O-1 visa, which is designed for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.  Another option is to seek F-1 status as a student, or if you have OPT and are eligible for STEM OPT, you can seek extension of your STEM OPT.  It is also possible to explore other work visa options, such as the L-1 visa, which is designed for intracompany transferees, or the E-2 visa, which is designed for individuals from treaty countries who invest in a U.S. business.  If the company has overseas offices, a temporary work abroad may provide ability to obtain L-1A or L-1B visa next year.  Some people may qualify for permanent residence through National Interest Waiver or as people of exceptional or extraordinary abilities.

If you have not been selected for the H-1B lottery, don’t give up hope. Contact Zneimer & Zneimer today for a consultation, and let our immigration attorneys help you find the best path forward. We are here to help you achieve your immigration goals and build a successful future in the United States.

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The Chicago immigration lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer are preparing for the H-1B registration.  The H-1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. To qualify for an H-1B visa, the job must meet the following requirements:

  1. Specialty Occupation: The job must require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific field or its equivalent.
  2. Bachelor’s degree or higher: The worker must have completed a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the specific field related to the job.
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The Chicago Immigration J Waiver Lawyers  remind employers that the fiscal year for the Conrad-30 J waiver application starts on October 1, and that it is never too late to begin the waiver process.

A J-1 Visa Waiver, is a waiver of the two-year home country physical presence requirement for foreign medical graduates (FMGs) who enter the United States on a J-1 visa. This requirement states that FMGs must return to their home country for two years before they can apply for a green card or other non-immigrant visa. The J-1 Visa Waiver allows FMGs to apply for a waiver of this requirement if they are able to secure a job in an area of the United States that has been designated as having a shortage of healthcare professionals, and if they agree to work in that area for three years, at least 40 hours of week, and provide medical clinical services.

The main ways of obtaining a J-1 waiver are:

-Conrad 30 Waiver program, which allows states’ departments of health to sponsor up to 30 foreign medical graduates (FMGs) per fiscal year for waivers of the two-year home residency requirement.

-DHHS Waiver Program, which acts as an interested government agency for primary care physicians who agree to work in medically underserved areas.  This program provides sponsorship only for physicians who will practice in primary care and who has graduated from a primary care residency recently (less than one year ago)

-Other interested government agencies (IGA) programs (Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission , which allow FMGs who agree to work within the area covered by the federal  government agency for a specified period of time to obtain waivers of the two-year home residency requirement. Continue reading →

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The immigration law firm Zneimer & Zneimer is informing its clients and the public that the USCIS will open the H-1B registration period for the fiscal year 2024 H-1B cap at noon EST on March 1, 2023, until noon EST on March 17, 2023. During this period, prospective petitioners and representatives will be able to complete and submit their registrations using our online H-1B registration system.  The USCIS will “assign a confirmation number to each registration submitted for the FY 2024 H-1B cap. This number is used solely to track registrations”, states USCIS.  This number cannot be used to track case status.

Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives are required to use a myUSCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. Prospective petitioners submitting their own registrations (U.S. employers and U.S. agents, collectively known as “registrants”) will use a “registrant” account. Registrants will be able to create new accounts beginning at noon Eastern on Feb. 21.

Representatives may add clients to their accounts at any time, but both representatives and registrants must wait until March 1 to enter beneficiary information and submit the registration with the $10 fee. Prospective petitioners or their representatives will be able to submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations prior to final payment and submission of each registration.

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The H-1B visa registration process for FY 2024 has not been announced yet.   The immigration lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer PC are preparing for the registration period to ensure that our clients can successfully register their H-1B visa beneficiaries.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) typically opens the registration process for H-1B visas in the beginning of the year. The exact dates and details of the registration process are typically announced several weeks in advance by the USCIS. It is important to stay informed about the H-1B registration process and be prepared to submit your application as soon as the registration period opens.  We expect that USCIS will announce the registration process within the next couple of months.  Please complete and send us this H-1B Registration Form if you would like our help.

Employers who wish to sponsor an employee for an H-1B visa must create an H-1B registrant account on the USCIS website. This account allows employers to submit registrations for their employees during the H-1B registration period.

It is important for employers to stay informed about the H-1B registration process and ensure that they are following all requirements set by the USCIS. Following the USCIS’s announcements helps to ensure that the registration process runs smoothly and reduces the risk of errors or complications that could delay or prevent an employee from obtaining an H-1B visa.  To ensure compliance, employers should:

  • stay up-to-date with the latest information and changes to the H-1B registration process and requirements as announced by the USCIS.
  • review and understand the guidelines set by the USCIS for the H-1B registration process.
  • gather all required documents and information for the employee and the employer before the registration period opens.
  • double check all the information and documents for accuracy before submitting the registration.
  • consult with a qualified immigration attorney or a registered agent if in doubt.

By following these steps, employers can help ensure that their H-1B registration is complete and accurate, which will increase the chances of their employees being selected for the H-1B program.

The registrant account will require the employer to provide basic information about their company, including Employer Identification Number (EIN), company name, and contact information. Once the account is created, the employer can use it to register their employees for the H-1B visa program. It is important to note that creating an H-1B registrant account does not guarantee that an employee will be selected for the H-1B program. The number of H-1B visas available is limited and selected through a lottery system.

To ensure proper registration, we typically require the following information for H-1B registration: Continue reading →

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H-1B Chicago Immigration Lawyer

The H-1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, such as in the fields of technology, engineering, and science.  The H-1B status permits a foreign worker to live and work in the United States for up to six years, along with the worker’s spouse and children, unmarried and under 21, who receive H-4 status.  Some H-1B workers who are in a process of applying for permanent residence can remain in the U.S. beyond the six-year maximum.  Because immigrant visas are subject to per-country quotas, workers born in oversubscribed countries like India or China may take years, sometimes decades to receive permanent residence.   Our Chicago immigration lawyers like to point out that under current backlogs, a physician born in India will wait over 11 years in line to receive a green card.  In comparison, persons born in countries without backlogs, can immigrate as soon as the paperwork goes through, even if they are not in a professional or a specialty occupation.

If an H-1B worker is laid off, they will generally have to either find a new job and have their H-1B visa transferred to the new employer, or leave the United States.  If the H-1B worker is waiting for a green card and is in a backlogged country, the new employer will have to restart the green card from scratch, but the worker’s place in line will not change because the new petition will receive the earliest filing date from any prior petition.  If the worker is unable to find a new job and their H-1B visa is not transferred to a new employer, they will be out of status and may be subject to deportation.  When a worker falls out of status for more than 180 days, they lose their ability to receive a green card even if they are close to receiving their green card in the line. It’s important for H-1B workers who have been laid off to talk with an immigration attorney to understand their options and ensure that they are in compliance with U.S. immigration laws.

If an H-1B worker is laid off, they may be eligible for a 60-day grace period during which they can remain in the United States and look for a new job. This grace period is known as “60-day portability” and it applies to H-1B workers who have been previously granted H-1B status and who have a new, non-frivolous H-1B petition filed on their behalf within 60 days of their previous H-1B employment ending. This provision Continue reading →

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Under the Biden Administration, the USCIS has announced that it intends to fight the backlog of immigration applications through three new action steps: reducing processing backlogs, expanding premium processing, and improving access to Employment Authorization Documents. Our Chicago Immigration Law Office intends to inform all clients on what to expect with their own applications given the recent updates by the USCIS. Read below to learn more about the USCIS’ efforts to reduce backlog and wait times.

Reducing Backlogs in Processing

The USCIS has redesigned their internal cycle times to reduce the wait-time of immigration application decisions. The new cycle times reflect the average amount of time it takes the USCIS to process and decide on a case. These cycle times offer clear and consistent guidance to USCIS workers on the average time a specific application takes to process from beginning to end. For example, an application for an I-129 application takes on average 2 months to process without the premium processing service. Other applications like the N-400, I-140, or I-130 take an average of 6 months to process from start to finish.  To support the internal cycle times for reducing backlog, USCIS has implemented another feature in their plan by expanding premium processing services to more application types.

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Automatic EAD Extension

The Chicago immigration law team of Zneimer & Zneimer alerts our clients that the DHS has increased the automatic extension validity period for expiring Employment Authorization Documents.  The automatic extension period is increased to up to 540 days for all eligible classes who properly filed their renewal application on or before October 26, 2023. Such automatic extension period will automatically terminate the earlier of up to 540 days after the expiration date of the Employment Authorization Document (Form I–766, or successor form) or upon issuance of notification of a denial on the renewal request, even if such date is after October 26, 2023. Those  whose automatic extension expired before May 4, 2022, will receive an automatic resumption of employment authorization and the validity of their Employment Authorization Document, as applicable, for an additional period beginning from May 4, 2022, and up to 540 days from the expiration of their employment authorization and/or Employment Authorization Document as shown on the face of such document.

An Employment Authorization Document that has expired on its face is considered unexpired when combined with a Notice of Action (Form I–797C), which demonstrates that the requirements have been met, notwithstanding any notations on such notice indicating an automatic extension of up to 180 days.

Categories Eligible for Automatic Extensions

Not all categories receive the benefit of automatic extension.  For example, people who have EAD as H-4 spouses are not eligible for the automatic extension.  To receive the automatic extension, the application must be:

  • Properly filed before the expiration date shown on the face of the Employment Authorization Document, or for EADs based on Temporary Protected Status, during the filing period described in the applicable Federal Register notice regarding procedures for obtaining Temporary Protected Status-related EADs;
  • Based on the same employment authorization category as shown on the face of the expiring Employment Authorization Document or is for an individual approved for Temporary Protected Status or whose EAD was issued pursuant to TPS status; and
  • Based on a class whose eligibility to apply for employment authorization continues notwithstanding expiration of the Employment Authorization Document and is based on an employment authorization category that does not require adjudication of an underlying application or petition before adjudication of the renewal application.

Continue reading →

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The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that noncitizens with exceptional abilities or who are members of the professions holding an advanced degree, may receive a waiver of the job offer requirement if the USCIS deems such waiver in the “national interest.”  The national interest waiver is available only to noncitizens in the second preference category (EB-2).  This category is backlogged for years for noncitizens born in India or China, and without the ability to apply for adjustment of status for many years, such noncitizens will have to maintain H-1B status.  The requirement to maintain nonimmigrant status puts such noncitizens in a bind and makes it very difficult to develop their endeavor even if such endeavor meets all the requirements for a national waiver.   Noncitizens who apply for National Interest Waiver should be allowed to apply for employment authorization.

To prove eligibility, the petitioner has the burden to show that the person qualifies as either (i) a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or (ii) as a person of exceptional abilities.  Either of these two qualifications is a threshold issue.  Once the person demonstrates that such person meets at least one of the categories, the person also must prove that (iii) the waiver of the job offer requirement, which requires a test of the US market through labor certification requirement, is in the “national interest.” Continue reading →

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