Monthly Archives: September 2013

U.S. Immigration Options for Fashion Models Working in the United States

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Models from all over the world come to U.S. cities like New York or Los Angeles for runway, print and many other types of modeling jobs. To do so, models usually enter via one of three types of visas: O-1 visa, H-1B visa or the EB-1 green card.

O-1A Visa

Models who possess “extraordinary ability” or who have been recognized nationally or internationally for his or her achievements may be eligible for an O-1A visa. Specifically, the model must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, and he/she must be entering the United States temporarily to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

Evidentiary Criteria

The model can provide evidence that he/she has received a major, internationally recognized award, or evidence of at least (3) three of the following:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

If the model cannot meet at least three of the aforementioned criteria, other comparable evidence can be substituted in order to establish the model’s eligibility.

Please click here for more information on the O-1 visa.

EB-1 Green Card

Some models may be eligible for EB-1 permanent residency if they can demonstrate that they possess an ability that is “extraordinary” through sustained national or international acclaim. The achievements must be recognized in his/her field through extensive documentation and no offer of employment is required.

Similar to the O-1 visa, the model must meet 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability:

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Evidence of membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Evidence of published material in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that the applicant have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Evidence of original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that the applicant’s work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Evidence of performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Evidence that the applicant commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts

Please click here for more information on the EB-1 green card.

H-1B Visa

Fashion models can also work in the United States on an H-1B visa. While the H-1B visa usually requires the beneficiary to have a bachelor’s degree or higher, this requirement is waived for fashion models under an H-1B status. Instead, the model must be of “distinguished merit or ability.” In other words, the model must be prominent; nationally or internationally recognized; and has reached a high level of achievement in the field of fashion modeling. The H-1B visa is valid for three years (renewable for an additional three years) and requires the model’s employer to file a petition on his/her behalf. The employer must also pay the model the prevailing wage.

Please click here for more information on the H-1B visa for fashion models.

Obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

 

A foreign national who has married a U.S. citizen is generally entitled to apply for permanent residency. This process is known as “adjustment of status,” and it requires the cooperation of both the U.S. citizen as well as the foreign national spouse.

Procedure

The U.S. citizen spouse will file a form known as “Petition for Alien Relative” with the USCIS, petitioning for the foreign spouse to become a U.S. permanent resident. As part of the petition, the U.S. citizen will also have to sign an affidavit of support, declaring that he/she will be financially able to support the Foreign national and that he/she will not be a public charge. In other words, the U.S. citizen spouse is declaring that he/she can support his/her spouse so that the spouse does not become a burden to society by way of collecting unemployment insurance etc.

The Foreign national spouse may concurrently file a form known as an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, seeking to change the foreign national’s current immigration status to that of a permanent resident. Depending on the foreign national’s situation, he/she may also apply for a temporary work permit or a temporary travel permit. These are optional, and should only be sought if the Foreign national is not currently on a valid work visa or anticipates that the work visa will expire before the green card is approved. The Foreign national will also have to get fingerprinted and undergo a medical examination by a designated civil surgeon to ensure that he/she is healthy – again, so as not to become a public charge.

Conditional residency

Upon approval of the adjustment of status, the Foreign national will be given what is known as “conditional residency.” This means that the Foreign national will be a U.S. resident and will get a green card – with a caveat. The caveat is that the both spouses must jointly apply to remove the condition within the three months prior to the second anniversary of receiving residency, thereby turning the “conditional residency” into “permanent residency.”

Example: Johnny married a U.S. citizen in 2010. After filing all the paperwork, he received his conditional residency green card on January 1, 2011. He and his wife must apply to remove the condition of his residency sometime between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 – since this is the three-month period just prior to January 1, 2013, which is the second anniversary of receiving conditional residency.

The rationale behind this process is to prevent non-U.S. citizens from entering into fraudulent marriages in order to obtain a green card. After all, many foreigners marry U.S. citizens simply to get a green card in order to stay and work in the country. The USCIS requires married couples to show that their marriage is still intact two years later in order to curtail such abuse.

Once the application for removal of the condition is removed, the Foreign national becomes a full-fledged U.S. permanent resident. Be careful though, as the Foreign national risks losing his/her residency if the couple forgets to remove the condition within the appropriate timeframe. So remember to mark the one-year and nine-month date of receiving conditional residency on your calendar.

What if I get divorced before the two-year anniversary?

It is common in this day and age for marriages to last fewer than two years (or even two months, for that matter). For Foreign nationals whose conditional residency has not been removed, this could problems with their immigration status. Generally, divorce terminates conditional residence. However, the Foreign national may be able to apply for a waiver of the failure or requirement to remove the condition if he/she can prove that the marriage was bona fide, entered into in good faith, and that he/she was not at fault for failing to file the joint petition.

Please click here for more information on marriage-based permanent residency.

Immigration Options for Nurses and Physical Therapists Working in the United States

 

Physical therapists and registered nurses are in high demand in the United States. There are several visa and green card categories that RN’s and PT’s can qualify for in order to work in the United States:

H-1B Visa

The H-1B work visa may be issued to foreign nationals seeking temporary work in a “specialty occupation,” which requires the skills of a professional. Congress issues 65,000 H-1B visas every year, with an additional 20,000 for those with master’s degrees or higher.

Criteria

The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation under an H-1B visa:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position being offered
  • The degree requirement for the position being offered is common to the industry, or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position being offered
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher (i.e. Master’s, MBA, J.D., PhD., etc.)

To qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation, the foreign national must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes the beneficiary to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
  • Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty

H-1B visas for nurses and physical therapists have almost always been granted because they are considered a specialized occupation. Physical therapists generally possess a graduate degree, such as a Master’s or Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Nurses must possess a valid license in their home country and have completed at least two years of education in nursing.

Please click here for more information on the H-1B visa.

TN Visa

Under Chapter 16 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadian, Mexican and U.S. citizens can enter the three respective countries to conduct business or investment activities. Canadian and Mexican citizens may work in the United States in a specific professional occupation if:

  • They qualify under the “Professionals Under the North American Free Trade Agreement” list;
  • They possess certain specific criteria for that profession (i.e., relevant degree);
  • The position in the U.S. requires a candidate in that professional capacity and;
  • They will be entering to work for a U.S. employer

“Nurses” and “physical therapists” are both listed in NAFTA as occupations that meet the criteria for a TN visa.

TN visa advantages

TN visas are valid for up to three years at a time, and may be renewed indefinitely so long as the applicant can demonstrate an intent to return home to Canada at the expiration of the visa. TN visas are also easier relatively easy to apply for, and to have approved. There are three ways to apply for a TN visa:

  • In person at a port of entry (POE) to the United States
  • By submitting an application to the USCIS while in the United States
  • By submitting an application to the USCIS from abroad

Please click here for more information on the TN visa.

EB-2 Green Card

The EB-2 category is reserved for individuals of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business; individuals with advanced degrees (M.D., J.D., LLM, Ph.D. etc.); and foreign doctors who will practice in an underserved area in the U.S. Foreign nationals who qualify for an EB-2 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf.

Most physical therapists qualify for EB-2 green cards because this occupation usually requires a graduate degree, such as a Master’s in Physical Therapy or a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Nurses who possess a Master’s or a Doctorate degree in nursing may also be eligible for an EB-2 green card.

EB-3 Green Card

The EB-3 category is reserved for skilled workers with two years training and experience; professionals with bachelor’s degrees; and other “unskilled” workers. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing qualify for an EB-3 green card,

As with the EB-2 green card, foreign nationals who qualify for an EB-3 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf.

Please click here for more information on the EB-2 & EB-3 green card.

PERM

Employers filing for an employment-based permanent residency under the EB-2 or EB-3 categories on behalf of a foreign employee must usually undergo a process known as PERM, which includes series of recruiting procedures to demonstrate that it was unable to recruit a qualified U.S. worker for that position. However, physical therapists and nurses are exempted from the PERM process under Schedule A, Group 1. In short, the means that employers do not have to undergo a recruiting process to find other available U.S. nurses or physical therapists in order to sponsor a foreign employee for a green card. This greatly reduces the amount of work needed to be done for the green card application, and it also reduces the time it takes for a foreign nurses or physical therapist to obtain a green card.