Photo of Cassie Ramos

Cassie Ramos is an Associate based in the firm’s Boston office. Her practice focuses on working with entrepreneurs, start-up companies, and multinational companies on employment-based immigration matters, which includes the processing of E, H, J, L, and TN nonimmigrant visa petitions, outstanding researcher and extraordinary ability petitions, labor certification applications, and adjustment of status applications.

All individuals entering the U.S. at international ports of entry are inspected by US Customs & Border Protection (CBP).  This occurs at either the arrival airport in the U.S., Pre-Flight Inspection if flying from most Canadian airports, or border crossings into the U.S. from either Canada or Mexico.  This is an inspection to determine the individual’s eligibility to legally enter the U.S., as well as to confirm any necessary customs declarations or possession of contraband.

Because of the unique nature of the border or port of entry inspection and the concern over national security, U.S. law gives CBP officers wide latitude in how to conduct the inspection, including verbal questioning, inspection of luggage, and, lately, even inspection and retention of electronic devices. Usually, the inspection process is quick and painless. However, since the administration’s recent attempts to ban certain individuals from entering the country in the name of national security, CBP officers have reportedly been reaching beyond the normal procedures to search people’s phones and compel individuals to unlock their smartphone as a part of the search. Not only are border agents doing cursory searches, as in thumbing through an individual’s phone, but in some instances, they will dig deeper and download the contents of the device onto their own computer system and run forensic search algorithms to reveal all the data, including deleted files that have not yet been overwritten and metadata that the owner did not know was there. Case law for this kind of search is undeveloped, so an individual’s rights against this invasion of privacy are not clear until challenged in court.

Below are some FAQs to help you through this process if you face additional scrutiny.  These questions and responses have been formulated with the best information available, but you should know that in any given situation, CBP officers may expand the inspection process subjecting you or your possessions to additional scrutiny.

Continue Reading FAQs for Entering the U.S.—Entry Inspection and Electronic Devices

Late this spring, two lawsuits were filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking information about and challenging the administration of the H-1B visa lottery process.

The first lawsuit was filed by two immigration organizations – American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) – who “teamed up” to file a lawsuit requesting information about the lottery process.

The second lawsuit is a class action filed on behalf of two companies and their employees. This lawsuit claims that the H-1B lottery process is illegal because the language of the statute does not allow for a lottery. Continue Reading Lawsuits Question Procedure and Substance of H-1B Lottery

In an update to our post from January 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Thursday further restricted visa-free travel to the U.S. for people who have traveled to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. If visited in the last five years, since March 1, 2011, an otherwise eligible individual is precluded from using the Visa Waiver Program to enter the U.S. for business or tourism. Those travelers to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen must apply for a nonimmigrant visitor’s visa at a U.S. consular post abroad, where they will be subject to the normal vetting process for U.S. visas. The restriction on people who have visited Libya, Somalia, and Yemen come as part of DHS’s implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act that was enacted as part of the year-end spending bill. Continue Reading Visa-Waiver Program Further Restricted for Travelers of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen

As a part of President Obama’s recent announcement regarding his executive action on immigration, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson issued several memoranda to the directors of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  On November 24th, we posted a comprehensive overview of changes the business community can expect as a result of the executive action. In this post, we focus on one aspect of Secretary Johnson’s memo on “Policies Supporting U.S. High Skilled Businesses and Workers”, namely Optional Practical Training (OPT) for foreign students and graduates of US colleges and universities.

OPT provides a mechanism for foreign students to get experience in their field of study, both during school and after their graduation.  Most foreign students are entitled to post-graduation OPT for only a 12 month period.  However, students who major in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) fields and work for employers who are enrolled in E-Verify, can extend their post-graduation OPT for an additional 17 months, resulting in a total post-graduation OPT  period of 29 months.  The STEM OPT extension was designed to solve a fundamental problem resulting from the insufficiency of H-1B visas. Continue Reading President Obama’s Executive Immigration Reform: Shining a Spotlight on Reforming Optional Practical Training “OPT”