Archive for May, 2005

NAFTA Business Visitor Visa

May 31, 2005

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) facilitates the entry of certain citizens of Mexico and Canada into the U.S. NAFTA affects four categories of visas (1) business visitors (B-1); (2) traders and investors (E1, E2); (3) intra-company transferees (L-1); and (4) professionals (TN).

Business Visitor Under NAFTA (B-1)

A B-1 visa holder is allowed to engage in commercial transactions in the U.S. Such activities may include negotiating contracts; litigation; consulting with a business; participating in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences, or seminars; and undertaking independent research.

NAFTA also includes a list of activities that are allowed under B-1 status:

Research and Design including technical scientific and statistical researchers conducting independent research or research for an enterprise located in the territory of another Party.

Growth, manufacture and production including harvester owner supervising a harvesting crew admitted under applicable law (applies only to harvesting of agricultural crops: Grain, fiber, fruit and vegetables.)

Purchasing and production management personnel conducting commercial transactions for an enterprise located in the territory of another Party.

Marketing including market researchers and analyst conducting independent research or analysis, or research or analysis for an enterprise located in the territory of another Party. Trade fair and promotional personnel attending a trade convention.

Sales: sales representatives and agents taking orders or negotiating contracts for goods or services for an enterprise located in the territory of another Party but not delivering goods or providing services. Buyers purchasing for an enterprise located in the territory of another Party.

Distribution including transportation operators transporting goods or passengers to the United States, or loading and transporting goods or passengers from the United States to the territory of another Party.

Customs brokers performing brokerage duties associated with the export of goods from the United States to or through Canada.

After-sales service including installers, repair and maintenance personnel, and supervisors, possessing specialized knowledge essential to the seller’s contractual obligation, performing services or training workers to perform services, pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software, purchased from an enterprise located outside the United States, during the life of the warranty or service agreement(the commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software, must have been manufactured outside the United States.)

NAFTA also allows for financial services, management, public relations and tourism personal under a section called “general services.” Generally, a B-1 visa holder must be compensated from a source outside the U.S.

A B-1 visa is an excellent option for many Mexicans and Canadians because there is no prior visa petition or labor certification that must be filed, nor is there a work permit that must be obtained before engaging in business.

New Online Passport Application

May 31, 2005

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has announced a new online passport application form procedure. The new process will eliminata the need to manually enter data from handwritten passport applications.

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May 30, 2005

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about his immigrant roots to a Memorial Day crowd at San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park, “I came to this country to pursue my own dreams and to find success. And I know the opportunities will always be there for me because of the great Americans in uniform who protect our liberty and defend the American dream. And never has this been more evident than in World War II.”

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May 30, 2005

Twenty-three undocumented immigrants lost in the southern Arizona desert were running out of water and time when a “cell phone proved to be their lifeline.”

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May 27, 2005

Ruben Navarrette, Jr. from the SDUT on Mexican immigrant workers:

Be that as it may, Fox was right about how Mexican immigrants – even the illegal variety – have become the MVPs of the U.S. economy. Americans like to say it’s because of declining wages. But it’s mostly about a diminishing work ethic and what passes for progress from one generation to the next. From slaughterhouses in Nebraska to poultry plants in Arkansas to onion fields in Georgia to construction sites in Colorado, Mexican immigrants are doing grueling, dirty jobs that earlier generations of Americans once did but which now their children and grandchildren take pride in no longer having to do

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May 27, 2005

An anti-immigration conference is being held at Cashman Center in Las Vegas. The event is organized by the Wake Up America foundation and being called “Unite to Fight Against Illegal Immigration.”

H1-B Visas Exemption Numbers

May 27, 2005

A USCIS public notice (05/24/05) states that, as of May 20, 2005, 6,393 of the 20,000 H-1B exemption numbers for fiscal year 2005 had been used.

US-VISIT, Western Hemisphere Initiative

May 26, 2005

US VISIT Program:

I just returned from a US-VISIT Program stakeholder forum with senior Department of Homeland Security and Department of State officials. US-VISIT is the DHS program that takes travelers’ biometrics (photographs, fingerprints) upon entering and leaving the U.S. US-VISIT entry procedures are in place at 115 airports, 15 seaports and in the secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land ports of entry.

As part of the US-VISIT program, DHS plans to test a new technology, Radio Frequency Identification (RFI) at several ports including Nogales East and Nogales West in Arizona. A RFI tag or bar code will be inserted into an I-94 card. RFI technology is expected to detect the visitor at a distance and provide the immigration inspector with the visitor’s biographic information. The RFI technology will also link the bar code information to the watch list databases.

Western Hemisphere Initiative:

According to a State Department official at the meeting, by the end of 2007 all U.S. citizens entering or leaving the U.S. will need a U.S. passport or another document “attesting to the person’s nationality.” The other type of documents that will be accepted are yet to be decided. There are rumors that DHS will allow SENTRI documents to be used for those traveling at the U.S.-Mexico border.

DHS and DOS have created the following deadlines for implementing the new initiative:
December 31, 2005: All U.S. travelers from the Caribbean will need a U.S. passport.
December 31, 2006: All U.S. travelers from Mexico and Canada will need a U.S. passport.
December 31, 2007: All borders and ports will be implementing the new program.

Immigration Procedure Update

May 26, 2005

Starting May 31, 2005, applications to renew or replace permanent resident cards (“green cards,” Form I-90s) must be mailed directly to the Los Angeles Lockbox.

What To Look For In An Immigration Attorney

May 24, 2005

Reputation: Know the immigration attorney’s reputation. Most State Bars (the agencies that license and regulate attorneys) have web sites that are available to the public. Consider looking up the attorney’s name in the State Bar’s web site to check if the attorney has a discipline record, if any. An immigration attorney should also be a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which only
accepts members in good standing. You may also want to “google” the attorney’s name to see what others are saying about the attorney you are considering to hire.

Immigration Law Practice Focus: Immigration law is complex and many times completely foreign to most people. It is not only based on complicated statues and regulations, but on government policies and case law that are constantly changing. Becoming a knowledgeable immigration attorney is a daily practice. Be careful of attorneys who specialize in too many areas as it is difficult to stay updated on immigration law if you do not have the time to learn about new laws, regulations and policies.

Length of Practice: How long has the immigration attorney been
practicing immigration law? Don’t be afraid to ask the immigration attorney you are about to invest in about her experience in immigration law. Know your immigration attorney’s resume. Has the immigration attorney worked for reputable firms in the past? Any experience in government service? I would not want a new surgeon operating on me, why should you want a new attorney handling your important immigration case?

Common Sense: If it sounds too good to be true, be careful. If an attorney promises you the moon and stars and a green card in one week, run for the exit door immediately. Unless the attorney has a reliable crystal ball, an attorney is unable to guarantee you a successful result. The only guarantee should be her best efforts and commitment to your immigration case.

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