On May 31, 2019, the US Department of State updated their Form DS-160 (online nonimmigrant visa application) and Form DS-260 (online immigrant visa application) to collect social media identifiers for those applying for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. Applicants for US visas are now being asked to provide all social media identifiers they have used within the past five (5) years. This update was announced in a statement to the press by a US Department of State official on June 1, 2019.
A social media “handle” or “identifier” is any name used by the individual on social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The updated visa application forms currently employ a drop-down menu which list the specific social media platforms for which identifiers are being requested. An example of the drop-down menu from online visa application form can be seen below: (more…)
Pursuant to a recent announcement by the U.S. Embassy in Israel, E-2 Investor visas will be available to Israeli citizens starting May 1, 2019. While the bill granting Israeli citizens eligibility for the United States E-2 Treaty Investor visa was signed into law in 2012, the availability of visas was delayed by lengthy negotiations over the final terms of the reciprocal agreement between Israel and the United States. Fortunately, the terms of the reciprocal agreement between the two countries have now been finalized, allowing for the issuance of E-2 investor visas to Israel citizens starting in May.
The E-2 investor visa is available to citizens of qualifying countries who are actively engaged in the development and direction of a United States enterprise. In order to qualify for the E-2 visa, the foreign investor must have already invested, or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital into the United States company. Although the list of qualifying nations for the E-2 visa includes over 70 countries, that list did not include Israel – until now. (more…)
Changes are in the works related to the processing of H-1B visa petitions, and employers intending to file such petitions should be aware. On Monday, December 3, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposal to change the annual cap-subject H-1B visa petition filing system in two significant ways: (1) the establishment of an online H-1B registration system; and (2) a major change in the procedures related to the annual H-1B visa cap lottery.
By law, the number of new H-1B visa petitions for professional worker beneficiaries is capped at 65,000 annually, with an additional 20,000 set aside for individuals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Advanced degrees are considered to be master’s degrees or higher. Certain employers, such as hospitals, non-profit research institutions and universities are exempt from this annual cap. As a result of this limitation on H-1B filings, the USCIS receives well in excess of the allowable number of petitions at the beginning of each year’s filing season, April 1. Accordingly, a random lottery has taken place in early April of each year. Employers are notified over the next few months if their petitions are among the lucky 85,000 selected. The numbers are daunting – approximately 198,000 petitions where received in fiscal year 2017, and approximately 236,000 in fiscal year 2016. (more…)
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that provided the following:
Suspends nonimmigrants (persons coming temporarily to the United States) from designated countries from entry to the United States for a period of up to ninety (90) days from the date of the order (January 27, 2017). At this time, the designated countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Additional countries may be added. This prohibition does not apply to foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, NATO visas, and United Nations visas. It is unclear if the Executive Order applies only to (1) individuals who hold passports from the designated countries, or if it also applies to (2) foreign nationals who were born in the designated countries, but who are citizens of other, non-designated countries or who are dual nationals, or (3) whose parents were born or hold citizenship from the designated countries. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the State Department will announce that dual nationals are subject to the ban. For example, a dual national of Iraq and the United Kingdom would be denied entry, even if the dual national travels on a UK passport.
Many U.S. startups are co-founded by foreign nationals, and for those that are not, all start-ups need capital. Fortunately, it is not necessary to limit the potential investor pool exclusively to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. A large number of U.S. startups are either co-founded or funded by foreign investors, and the U.S. government understands that in order to attract foreign investment into the U.S. economy there must be designated visa categories available to those investors. These specific visa categories were established to allow investors and co-founders to travel to the U.S. to manage and oversee their investment. While a wide variety of visas may be applicable to any situation, the two most common visa categories utilized by foreign investors and entrepreneurs are the E-2 and the L-1A “new office” visa. (more…)
10 tips to prepare for the most frequent immigration scenarios faced by startups:
Photo credit: iStock.com/Delpixart
If the company will be owned, in-whole or in-part by a foreign investor, immigration planning should start as early as possible – even before the company is established. There are visas available to foreign entrepreneurs who are investing a significant amount of money into a new U.S. business. This visa application process should be handled in concert with the creation of the business.
If the U.S. business will have a foreign office (parent, subsidiary, or affiliate) the managers, executives, and essential personnel from the foreign office(s) may be able to travel to the United States on multinational transferee visas.
If the U.S. business is recruiting from local U.S. universities and colleges, many of these candidates may be foreign nationals on U.S. student visas. These individuals may be eligible for at least one year of employment authorization in the U.S. following graduation. (more…)