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Immigration Law

Innovative thinking and practical solutions

New STEM OPT Extension Rules: Critical Takeaways, Part 2

Posted in F-1 Visas, STEM OPT Series

In this short series on the new STEM OPT rules, Susan Cohen, Chair of Mintz Levin’s Immigration Section will examine the top takeaways for students and their employers. The second post will focus on the expansion of the regulation and related changes and reporting requirements for students.  Continue Reading

Innocents Abroad: Emergency at the Border—Key Considerations

Posted in Innocents Abroad Series, USCBP

From: Ned Help

To: Carrie Counselor

Subject:    URGENT: Employee Detained at the Airport?

Carrie:

What an afternoon!  When Winston Wild’s manager called me, indicating that he was detained at Pearson International Airport, we did not know what to do, which is why I called you.

Thank you for calling Winston Wild so quickly and explaining that he was only delayed and placed in Secondary Inspection.  This scare made me realize that I have little understanding about what our employees might experience at the airport and what could go wrong.  When you have a moment, please explain what you mean by “secondary inspection” and strategies we can employ internally when something goes awry at the airport. Continue Reading

Immigration Policy By Lottery? Another Year, Nothing Changes.

Posted in Diversity Lottery, H-1B

The diversity visa green card lottery has been an important part of U.S. immigration law for the last 20 years.  It allows 55,000 foreign nationals to immigrate each year and was implemented to fulfill the worthy goal of increasing the diversity of immigrants in the U.S.  This policy is implemented each year after government analysis of the countries of origin of immigrants in other green card categories and then allocating the 55,000 green cards allowed by law amongst those underrepresented countries of origin.

There is another immigration lottery that occurs around this time of year for one of the most essential visa categories to U.S. business—the H-1B. You may have read my post on this subject last year, and unfortunately this year’s post looks quite similar, because almost nothing has changed.  Continue Reading

H-1B Cap Filings Break Record

Posted in H-1B

USCIS announced that it completed the lottery for the new fiscal year’s H-1B cap cases. The agency also released the final (approximate) count of cap-eligible H-1B cases filed for FY2017; a new record of 236,000 cases were filed. This is an increase of approximately 3,000 petitions (1.3%) over the total number of filings last year.  Continue Reading

Innocents Abroad: Sending Employees Into Harm’s Way – A Word About Offer Letters Part 2

Posted in Employment Law, Innocents Abroad Series

From:  Ned Help

To: Carrie Counselor

Date: April 5, 2016

Subject: Offer Letters for Employees Working Abroad

Ned:

As promised, I am following up on my email from last week regarding some additional resources for employees working abroad.  The offer/assignment letter is a great place to specifically outline additional resources and tools the employer will provide to the employee stationed abroad, which may include the following:

  • A Safety Hotline. Employers should provide employees a single number they can call for round-the-clock help for emergencies like immediate travel needs, passport / visa problems, and health issues. Although this is extremely effective, you might be surprised to know that only 22% of international employers provide any emergency contact information, according to Travel Weekly. There are numerous third-party vendors who can assist you with this support, or – if it makes sense business-wise – you can provide this service internally.
  • New-Arrival Transition. Companies should have another employee or appropriate company representative/liaison meet the traveling employee when they reach their destination. This person should be familiar with the area’s geography, local currency, and customs and should  remain in the area for at least one week while the employee gets settled.  If providing Company-sponsored internal support is impractical, we suggest partnering with a local relocation specialist, who can provide concierege-level support based on your internal needs.
  • A Domestic Manager. Companies should have a single point of contact for employees who have non-emergency questions or who have typical employment-related grievances that would domestically be addressed by Human Resources. To the extent possible, this contact should be the same throughout the course of the assignment to provide the employee with continuity and consistency.
  • Consular Monitoring Programs. Make it mandatory for all employees traveling internationally or stationed abroad to register with the local embassy or consulate of their home country.  For US citizens, for example, this can be accomplished through the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Through this program, a periodic business traveler can register individual trips with the consular post, and frequent business travelers and short/long term transferees can create individual profiles, or a group profile if employees are traveling as a team. The benefits of enrolling in STEP include the following :
  • Receiving important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in the country of destination, and helping the traveler make informed decisions about his or her travel plans.
  • Enabling the U.S. Embassy to contact the registered traveler in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
  • Helping family and friends get in touch with the traveler in an emergency.

Remember,  it is ultimately the employee who is risking their life traveling abroad. Not only should the offer letter empower the employee with information useful in determining whether to accept a job, but employers should vest employees – in writing – with the ability to use their own judgement regarding safety. If a meeting location or time is suspicious or of concern, the employee abroad should have final say about last-minute cancellations. Transparency and empowerment can help employees abroad navigate and confidently handle acts of terrorism, petty crime, and – most common – natural disasters like earthquakes, power outages, and floods.

If you have any questions about any of the above or if you wish to discuss the various employment, immigration and corporate structure issues that surround stationing employees overseas, feel free to call or email at any time.

Sincerely,

Carrie Counselor

Innocents Abroad: Sending Employees Into Harm’s Way – A Word About Offer Letters

Posted in Employment Law, Innocents Abroad Series

From: Ned Help

To: Carrie Counselor

Subject: Offer Letters for Employees Working Abroad

Carrie:

Although I’ve been writing offer and assignment letters for more than 15 years, I’m curious as to what are today’s best practices for preparing these documents as our company extends its global reach.  Specifically, what are the critical components these letters need to address for employees who will be working abroad in places like Latin America, Northern Africa, and the Middle East?  Continue Reading

Event: Immigration and Visa Issues for German-American Cross Border Business

Posted in Events

On April 11, Douglas Hauer, a Member in our Boston office, will moderate, and William Coffman, Of Counsel on our immigration team, will speak as part of a panel on German-American visa and immigration issues. Topics covered will include dual citizenship, work visas for employment in Germany, US green card issues, and changes in the US visa waiver program.

The panel will be held at Mintz Levin, 1 Financial Center, Boston, from 5:30-7:00pm.

The event is free to attend, but pre-registration is required. Please RSVP with your name, title, and company by April 5th to info@gabc-boston.org.