The E2 Visa Denial: Why it Happens and How to Avoid it

credit: gazelle index

credit: gazelle index

The E2 Visa is for treaty investors.  Its requirements were covered in a previous blog post.  To recap: in order to be granted an E2 visa, an applicant must: (1) be a national of an E2 treaty country, (2) must make a substantial investment, and (3) develop a bona fide enterprise.  For E2 visa investors in traditionally small businesses or for startup companies that are destined for growth, a common issue arises with this last requirement: demonstrating that the enterprise is bona fide. 

A bona fide enterprise is one that has the present or future capacity to generate more than adequate living expenses for a treaty investor and his or her family. If the enterprise cannot generate more than adequate living expenses immediately, it must have the capacity to generate such income within five years from the date that the treaty investor’s E2 classification is granted.  If this is not the case, the investment is deemed to be a “marginal enterprise.” A marginal enterprise is defined as a business investment that does not have the present or future ability to produce more than enough income to provide anything but a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family.  Applicants found to have invested in marginal enterprises are often denied E2 visas, or are at least heavily questioned about the finances of the business.

The marginal enterprise question is essentially one of profit; it asks how much money a business can generate relative to the cost of living expenses for an E2 investor and his or her family.  Many things impact this inquiry, especially location.  For example, it is more expensive to support a family in San Francisco, CA, than it is to support a family in Dallas, TX.  The marginal enterprise question also looks at the potential for job creation.  Businesses with a high growth potential are generally not considered marginal enterprises because they will need to hire additional employees over time.  As immigration attorneys based in the Silicon Valley, we are keenly aware of the financial requirements for investments relative to places with high costs of living.  

Given that the marginal enterprise question looks at both profitability and growth, it is extremely beneficial for E2 applicants to submit a well-researched business plan along with their visa application.  Other documents that are helpful to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in proving that an enterprise is bona fide include:

-Notice of assignment of an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

-Tax returns

-Financial statements

-Quarterly wage reports or payroll summaries, like W-2s and W-3s

-Business organizational chart

-Business licenses

-Bank statements, utility bills, and advertisements/telephone directory listings

-Contracts or customer/vendor agreements

-Escrow documents if any

-Lease agreements

-A well documented business plan

Our immigration attorneys can help you avoid this common pitfall in the E2 visa application process.  We can assist with presenting your investment to the government in the most favorable light possible.  Please contact our offices in San Jose [408-293-2026], San Francisco [415-300-0174], or Pasadena [626-398-1992] to arrange an appointment.

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Want to Start or Staff a U.S. Office Affiliated with a Multinational Company? The L-1A Visa Can Help

credit: tlc-corp

credit: tlc-corp

The L-1A visa enables a multinational company to transfer an executive or manager from an office overseas to an office in the United States.  The office in the U.S. can be an existing part of the company’s corporate network or executives/managers can be sent to establish a U.S. branch of an existing foreign company.  To be considered a “multinational company,” the company must currently be (or soon to be) doing business in the United States and at least one other country.  The foreign entity and the U.S. entity must be related as either a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.  Both the foreign and domestic entities must be engaged in business matters, as mere presence of an agent or office does not count for L-1A visa purposes.

The employee who is transferring to the United States must have been working for the foreign business entity for one continuous year within the three years prior to his or her entry into the U.S.  Only employees in managerial or executive positions qualify for the L-1A visa.  An employee is in an executive position if that employee makes business decisions for the entity without much supervision.  An employee is in a managerial position if that employee directs and controls the work of other high-level employees and/or oversees the implementation of some integral component of the business.  Low-level managerial positions do not count for L-1A purposes.  

An L-1A visa lasts for a total of seven years.  Employees coming to the U.S. to establish a new office are initially authorized for a one-year stay.  Employees coming to the U.S. to work at an already established office are initially authorized for a three-year stay.  Extensions on this visa are granted in two-year increments until the employee reaches seven years.  The spouse and unmarried children under 21 of the employee may accompany him or her to the U.S. on an L-2 visa.   

Each transferring employee needs his or her own approved petition unless the business has secured an approved blanket petition.  A blanket petition establishes the link between the U.S. entity and the foreign entity ahead of time.  An approved blanket petition allows the employer more flexibility in transferring several employees and the turnaround from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services tends to be quicker. 

Businesses are eligible to apply for blanket certification if:

- the foreign and domestic entities are engaged in commercial trade or services;

- the office in the U.S. has been in business for at least one year;

- the business has at least three branches, either foreign or domestic;

- and, at least one of the following is met:

a.          Ten individual L-1A petition approvals have been granted in the preceding 12-month period

b.          Combined annual sales are $25 million or more, or

c.          The U.S. workforce has 1,000 or more employees.

Our MJ Law attorneys are available to assist with individual L-1A and blanket L petitions.  Let our expertise help you establish the relationship between your business entities and help ensure that your transferring employees are considered to be executives or managers as defined by federal law.

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Los Perdones I-601A’s: ¿Qué es la dificultad extrema?

Credit: NCWD

Credit: NCWD

Los perdones I-601A’s afectan a los inmigrantes quien, por causa de estar en los EE.UU. más que 180 días sin permiso legal, normalmente tienen que salir de los EE.UU. por tres o diez años para arreglar su estatus migratorio.  El perdón I-601A les dan una manera que el inmigrante puede quedarse en los EE.UU. con su familia mientras que obtenga la residencia legal.


Para prevalecer en una solicitud de perdón I-601A, el solicitante tiene que mostrar que si él / ella se vio obligada a regresar a su país de origen y si su familia directa (esposo, padres, hijos) iban a moverse con el inmigrante a su país de origen, que su familia directa estadounidense sufriría “dificultad extrema.”  El término “dificultad extrema” no está definido específicamente en la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad, y se interpreta con un grado significativo de subjetividad.  Sin embargo, la jurisprudencia y las experiencias pasadas de los clientes nos ha dado una buena idea de cuáles son los factores que el USCIS considera al decidir si existe una “dificultad extrema.”  Estos factores incluyen: 


-Problemas médicos de los familiares directos estadounidenses (e.g. se necesita el inmigrante en los EE.UU. para cuidar a su esposo ciudadano estadounidense quien tiene diabetes)


-Problemas de salud mental de los familiares directos estadounidenses (e.g. se necesita el inmigrante en los EE.UU. para cuidar a su esposo ciudadano estadounidense quien sufre de depresión y ansiedad)


-Problemas educacionales de los hijos ciudadanos estadounidenses (e.g. el hijo ciudadano estadounidense está en clases de educación especial y sufriría si se mueve a otro país)


-Los lazos familiares en los EE.UU. (e.g. la gran mayoría de la familia del inmigrante están legalmente en los EE.UU.)


-Las preocupaciones económicas (e.g. la familia no sería capaz de mantenerse a sí mismos en el país de origen del inmigrante; e.g. el esposo ciudadano de los EE.UU. no sería capaz de soportar si misma en los EE.UU. sin la esposa inmigrante)


-Duración del presencia en los EE.UU.


-Asistencia especial / contribución a la comunidad EE.UU.


Aunque “dificultad extrema” no está definido específicamente por la ley, el USCIS y la jurisprudencia ha dejado claro que la separación familiar y las dificultades financieras por sí solos son insuficientes para establecer la dificultad extrema.  Sin embargo esos argumentos se incluyen con frecuencia porque los perdones I-601A son evaluados sobre la base de todos los factores pertinentes tomados en conjunto.

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I-601A Waivers: What is Extreme Hardship?

Credit: NCWD

Credit: NCWD

An I-601A waiver affects those immigrants who would, due to being unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days, normally be required to move out of the United States for three or ten years in order to adjust his/her immigration status.  The I-601A waiver provides a way for the immigrant to remain with his/her family in the United States while gaining legal residency.

In order to prevail on an I-601A waiver application, the applicant must show that if he/she were forced to return to his/her country of origin and if the applicant’s immediate family (spouse, parents, children) were to move with the immigrant to his/her country of origin, that his/her U.S. citizen immediate family members would suffer “extreme hardship.”  The term “extreme hardship” is not specifically defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act and is interpreted with a significant degree of subjectivity.   However, case law and past experiences of clients have given us a good idea of what factors the USCIS considers in deciding whether “extreme hardship” exists.  These factors include: 

-Physical health concerns of the U.S. citizen’s immediate family members (e.g. the immigrant is needed in the U.S. to care for her U.S. citizen husband’s severe diabetes)

-Mental health concerns of the U.S. citizen’s immediate family members (e.g. the immigrant is needed in the U.S. to care for her U.S. citizen husband’s depression and anxiety)

-Educational issues pertaining to the U.S. citizen children (e.g. the U.S. citizen child is in special education classes and would suffer if moved to another country)

-Family ties in the U.S. (e.g. the great majority of the immigrant’s family are legally present in the U.S.)

-Economic concerns (e.g. the family would not be able to support themselves in the immigrant’s country of origin; e.g. the U.S. citizen spouse would not be able to support him/herself in the U.S. without the immigrant spouse)

-Length of presence in the U.S.

-Special assistance/contribution to the U.S. community

Although “extreme hardship” is not specifically defined by law, the USCIS and case law has made clear that family separation and financial difficulty alone are insufficient to establish extreme hardship.  However, those arguments are commonly included because applications are evaluated based on all the relevant factors taken together.

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Que hacer si se niega su perdón I-601A



Se puede negar un perdón I-601A por varios razones.  ¡No obstante, hay buenas noticias!  Aunque negaciones de un I-601A no se pueden apelar, los solicitantes pueden volver a presentar una nueva solicitud de perdón mostrando evidencia nueva o adicional.

Si un perdón está negado porque el oficial de USCIS decidió que había prueba insuficiente de dificultades extremas (él / ella no creía que el solicitante siendo obligado a salir de los Estados Unidos por tres o diez años resultaría en dificultad extrema de parte del esposo / padre ciudadano), entonces una aplicación nueva debe incluir prueba adicional a ese efecto.  Por ejemplo, una aplicación de perdón alega que el esposo ciudadano estadounidense sufriría dificultad extrema si su esposa tuviera que salir de los EE.UU. porque el esposo necesita a su esposa para ayudar con sus problemas de salud mental.  Esa aplicación puede ser negada por falta de prueba suficiente de los problemas de salud mental del esposo.  Si el esposo ciudadano después se somete a un tratamiento adicional o evaluación de sus problemas de salud mental, los registros médicos y los informes de los médicos u otros profesionales pertinentes podrán presentarse junto con una nueva aplicación.


Como otro ejemplo, miremos la situación de un solicitante inmigrante cuya padre ciudadano de los EE.UU.  se enferma después de presentar su aplicación original del perdón I-601A.  Si el solicitante necesita estar en los EE.UU. para cuidar a su padre enfermo, él puede someter un perdón nuevo que explique las circunstancias nuevas y da documentación de la enfermedad del padre. 


Además de las situaciones en que las circunstancias familiares del solicitante se han cambiado desde la presentación de la I-601A original, también puede valer la pena enviar un nuevo perdón si el  original (negado) no estaba bien organizado y preparado por un abogado competente.  Porque los perdones I-601ª’s normalmente incluyen una gran cantidad de pruebas documentales, es importante que estén organizados de una manera que permite que el agente de la adjudicación de USCIS puede evaluar fácilmente los argumentos.  Si usted tiene un perdón I-601A negado que usted cree que no se ha ensamblado adecuadamente, quizás nuestra oficina puede ayudar en la elaboración de una aplicación más persuasiva y completa.

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What to Do If Your I-601A Waiver is Denied



An I-601A waiver might be denied for any of several reasons.   However, there is good news!  Although I-601A waiver denials cannot be appealed, applicants may resubmit a new waiver application showing new or additional evidence. 

If an I-601A waiver is denied because the USCIS adjudicating officer decided that there was insufficient proof of extreme hardship (meaning that he/she did not believe that the immigrant applicant being forced to leave the United States for three or ten years would result in an extreme hardship on the applicant’s U.S. citizen spouse or parent), then a new application should include additional evidence to that effect.  For example, say a waiver application argues that the U.S. citizen husband would suffer extreme hardship if his immigrant wife had to leave the country, as the husband needs his wife to help manage his mental health issues.  That waiver application might be denied for lack of adequate proof of the husband’s mental health issues.  If the citizen husband later undergoes additional treatment or evaluation for his mental health problems, medical records and reports from doctors or other relevant professionals may be submitted along with a new application. 

As another example, let us look at the situation of an immigrant applicant whose U.S. citizen parent becomes ill after submitting his original I-601A waiver application.  If the applicant needs to help care for his ill parent, he may submit a new waiver application explaining the new circumstances and providing documentation of his parent’s illness. 

In addition to situations where an applicant’s family circumstances have changed since submitting the original I-601A waiver, it may also be worth submitting a new waiver if the original (denied) waiver application was not well organized or prepared by competent legal counsel.   Because I-601A waiver applications generally include a great deal of supporting documentary evidence, it is important that they be properly assembled in a way that lets the USCIS adjudicating officer easily evaluate the arguments.  If you have a denied I-601A waiver that you believe was not adequately assembled, our office may be able to assist in putting together a more persuasive and thorough application. 

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Razones para la negación de un perdón I-601A

Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today


El perdón migratorio I-601A, o en inglés el “Provisional Unlawful Presense Waiver,” permite a los inmigrantes con una petición I-130 ya aprobada permanecer en los Estados Unidos mientras que se arreglan su estatus migratoria.  Tradicionalmente, los inmigrantes que son elegibles para convertirse en residentes legales de los Estados Unidos (e.g. porque están casados a un ciudadano estadounidense), pero que han estado en los EE.UU. sin autorización por más que 180 días, normalmente se requieren salir de los Estados Unidos por un período de tres o diez años si quieran ajustar su estatus migratorio.  En cambio, el perdón I-601A permite a estos inmigrantes permanecer en los Estados Unidos para ajustar su estatus si pueden demostrar que salir resultaría en dificultades extremas para su cónyuge ciudadano estadounidense o para sus padres.


Un perdón I-601A puede ser negado por el USCIS por varias razones.  Una petición puede ser negada si es incompleta, si hay errores o inconsistencias, si el USCIS considera que el solicitante sería inadmisible a los EE.UU. por razones distintas a la presencia ilegal, o si el USCIS no considera que el esposo / padre ciudadano sufriría dificultades extremas como resultado de que el inmigrante esté obligado a salir de los Estados Unidos por tres o diez años.


Esta última razón, pruebas insuficientes de dificultad extrema, es uno de los más comunes.  Porque la ley dice que los perdones I-601A son discrecionales, las decisiones pueden ser muy subjetivos.   El oficial de USCIS quien evalúa la aplicación tiene un amplio grado de libertad de acción en decidir si la situación de la familia resultaría en dificultad extrema.  Por este razón, es importante que el solicitante entregue una aplicación exhaustivo, bien organizado, y persuasivo.


MJ Law tiene experiencia en manejar con éxito estos perdones y es orgulloso de haber ayudado a mantener unidas numerosas familias.

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Reasons for I-601A Wavier Denials

Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

The I-601A waiver, or “Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver,” allows immigrants with an approved I-130 petition to remain in the United States while adjusting their immigration status.   Traditionally, immigrants who are eligible to become legal U.S. residents (e.g. because they are married to a U.S. citizen), but who have been in the United States without authorization for more than 180 days, are normally required to leave the United States for a period of three or ten years if they wish to adjust their immigration status.  The I-601A waiver allows those immigrants to instead remain in the United States while they adjust status if they can show that leaving would result in extreme hardship on the immigrant’s U.S. citizen spouse or parent. 

An I-601A Waiver may be denied by the USCIS for a number of reasons.  A petition may be denied if it is incomplete, if there are errors or inconsistencies, if the USCIS believes the applicant would be inadmissible to the U.S. for reasons other than unlawful presence, or if the USCIS does not believe the U.S. citizen spouse/parent would suffer extreme hardship as a result of the immigrant being forced to leave the United States for three or ten years.  

This last reason, insufficient evidence of extreme hardship, is one of the most common.   Because the law says that I-601A waivers are discretionary, the decisions can be very subjective.  The individual USCIS officer evaluating the application has a large degree of leeway in deciding whether a family’s situation would result in extreme hardship.  For this reason, it is important that the applicant submit a thorough, well-organized, and persuasive application. 

MJ Law has experience successfully handling these waiver petitions and is proud to have played a role in keeping numerous families together.  Please contact our office for a consultation to see if the I-601A waiver can help your family’s immigration situation.

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Employers, Get Ready: H-1B Filing Season Starts April 1, 2014, for Fiscal Year 2015

Credit: Andrew Sinclair

Credit: Andrew Sinclair

H-1B filing season is upon us!  This specialty occupations visa is coveted across a variety of industries, including science, technology, and engineering.  H-1Bs enable employers and entrepreneurs to hire the best and brightest talent from across the globe.  The filing season for H-1B visa petitions for fiscal year 2015 opens on April 1, 2014. If employers fail to submit visa applications in a timely manner and the cap is reached, they will not be permitted to file for new employees until April 1, 2015.  As the H-1B cap is very small, it is met fairly quickly.  For fiscal year 2015, the H-1B cap is 65,000, as established by federal law.  There are 20,000 additional visas available for applicants with a Master’s degree or higher that graduated from accredited U.S. educational institutions.  These visas fall under the advance degree exemption. 

For fiscal year 2014, the cap was reached during the first week of the filing period.  United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 124,000 H-1B petitions between April 1 and April 5, 2013.  The H-1B quota is usually filled during the first five business days of the filing season because applications received during those five days are treated equally for lottery purposes.  This means that for fiscal year 2015, the quota will be filled with applications submitted between April 1 and April 7, 2014.

On April 8, 2014, the sixth business day after H-1B filings open, USCIS will administer a computer-generated lottery to determine which H-1B applications it will process under both the 65,000 and 20,000 caps.  All applications not selected by the lottery will be returned to the petitioner with filing fees.  The advanced degree lottery is run first.  Those applications that do not make it into the 20,000 quota are run through the standard 65,000 quota lottery until the cap is met. 

Since demand always exceeds supply, it is essential for employers to have all necessary paperwork ready to go by April 1.  Recall that all H-1B petitions require a Labor Condition Application (LCA) approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).  The DOL approval process can take seven business days or longer.  As such, employers hoping to make the filing deadline should submit all LCAs as soon as possible, so that that DOL can certify and return them in time for April 1.

Our attorneys are available to assist with H-1B filings, LCAs, and any questions pertaining to process or eligibility.  Please contact our offices immediately if you are planning to file for fiscal year 2015.  The deadline is in two weeks!

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Nuevas Políticas Dan Mayor Certidumbre al Proceso del Perdón Migratorio I-601A para Personas con Récord Criminal

Nuevas Políticas Dan Mayor Certidumbre al Proceso del Perdón Migratorio I-601A para Personas con Récord Criminal

El perdón migratorio I-601A fue creado por la administración del Presidente Obama el 4 de Marzo de 2013. El propósito de este perdón es acortar el tiempo que tarda un solicitante de visa de inmigrante, fuera de los Estados Unidos y lejos de su familia. Este perdón aplicaba para casos en los que el único delito del solicitante de la visa, era haber entrado y permanecido ilegalmente en los Estados Unidos por más de 180 días. Para calificar para un perdón migratorio, el solicitante debe tener 17 años o más, tener una petición aprobada de visa de inmigrante y demostrar que si se es removido de los Estados Unidos, causará un gran sufrimiento a su familiar directo que sea ciudadano Americano, (ya sea esposo, esposa o padre o madre) además de ya encontrarse físicamente en los Estados Unidos.

Tradicionalmente, el proceso para los solicitantes de una visa de inmigrante que se encuentran ilegalmente en los Estados Unidos consiste en salir del país para aplicar para su visa.

Por ejemplo, supongamos que un ciudadano Mexicano entra a los Estados Unidos “sin papeles” y ya estando aquí, se casa con una ciudadana Americana. Este ciudadano Mexicano no puede aplicar para su residencia permanente (Conocida como “green card” o “mica”) dentro de Estados Unidos. Tendría que salir a México para aplicar en el consulado de Estados Unidos en Ciudad Juárez.

El problema es, que si lleva más de 180 días viviendo ilegalmente en los Estados Unidos y viaja a México (aunque sea para la aplicación de su visa) esa persona automáticamente recibe un “castigo” de 3 a 10 años de no poder regresar a Estados Unidos. Esto significa que aunque la visa sea aprobada, le va a ser negado su regreso al país. Esta situación es muy difícil para las familias que tienen que vivir separadas por mucho tiempo. El perdón migratorio I-601A ahora ya elimina este castigo a los esposos, hijos o padres de ciudadanos Americanos cuyo único delito haya sido permanecer ilegalmente en los Estados Unidos. Los beneficiarios de esta ley ya pueden viajar a su país de origen si les es aprobado el perdón, para recibir su visa de inmigrante sin temor a ser castigados.

El 24 de Enero de 2014, el Servicio de Inmigración y Ciudadanía de los Estados Unidos (USCIS) emitió un comunicado que le da más claridad y certidumbre a los aplicantes de un perdón migratorio I-601A. Anteriormente, los beneficiarios que cuentan con récord criminal , no calificaban para este beneficio. Ahora, el aplicante puede acceder al perdón si (1) tiene un crimen menor o un récord criminal con ofensas pequeñas que no excedan un año en la cárcel y que la sentencia no haya sido mayor a seis meses en prisión, o bien con la excepción si cometió delitos juveniles (mientras que haya sido menor de 18 años y el aplicante haya sido puesto en libertad 5 años antes de aplicar para el perdón); o (2) que no involucre un crimen de depravación moral lo que podría dejar al aplicante sin admisión. Los aplicantes ya no serán negados del perdón migratorio mientras sus delitos no caigan en alguna de las dos categorías ya mencionadas.

Nuestros abogados ya están comenzando a tomar casos del perdón I-601A para esta nueva categoría de beneficiarios. Creo que este es un hecho muy alentador en la búsqueda de un mini-programa de amnistía. Póngase en contacto con nosotros para analizar su situación y buscar una solución a su problema migratorio.



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