Immigration law has always played a vital role in the country’s growth and economy. Today, more than ever, employers seeking to remain competitive in the global marketplace need to attract and retain the best and brightest talent available. This recruiting effort often includes individuals from foreign countries.
For more than 30 years, our legal professionals have been instrumental in setting up active, successful immigration programs for clients of all sizes. During the past three years, we have submitted an annual average of 1,500 filings to the various government agencies involved in our work.
Our primary goal is to effectuate the transfer of foreign nationals to the U.S. with appropriate work authorizations. We work both on facilitating their temporary (and usually more immediate) transfer into the U.S. and in securing their permanent residence.
Our role in serving both the short and long-term needs of clients is multi-faceted, and often involves issues relating to mergers, acquisitions and divestitures of companies. Due to the dedication and experience of our practitioners, we are on the cutting edge of critical issues facing immigrants.
Maggie Catillaz, as a current member of the Board of Governors and former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), has represented AILA as chair of liaison committees interacting with the highest-ranking decision makers in the USCIS, the Department of State and the Department of Labor. Maggie’s expertise has been recognized nationally and internationally, having been named for her work in immigration in Best Lawyers in the U.S., International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, and The Chambers Group.
Frank Novak has served as Chair of the Upstate Chapter of AILA, is presently Chair of the AILA Health Care Professionals Committee and previously served on the AILA-Vermont Service Center Liaison Committee, responsible for addressing policy and practice concerns on behalf of practitioners throughout the U.S.
- Corporations (ranging from Fortune 500 to closely-held companies)
- Health Care Institutions
- Colleges and Universities
Temporary, Nonimmigrant Visas. The temporary visa process is time sensitive, driven by immediate business needs and requires a high level of expertise to deliver timely results. In our role as counselors, we advise clients on the appropriate visa status necessary to permit the required activity in the U.S. We also assist in preparing applications to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Labor to secure the correct visa status.
Permanent Residence Based on Employment or Family Ties. The permanent visa process is one that requires strategic planning, assessment of the marketplace and the future of the business unit, as well a balancing of the needs of the client company and the employee. For those reasons, the process under PERM of becoming a permanent resident of the U.S. (i.e., obtaining a “green card”) based upon employment is a complex matter, and virtually every case is unique. Our attorneys are experienced in the labor certification process and the USCIS preference system, including matters relating to outstanding researchers, persons of extraordinary ability, national interest waivers and intracompany managers. We regularly provide counsel on securing re-entry permits to preserve the permanent residence status of corporate executives who are assigned to positions abroad. We also counsel clients on securing permanent residence through family relationships to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents.
Compliance with Employer Verification Requirements. The Immigration Reform and Control Law of 1986 mandates that all employers verify the work authorization of every employee hired after 1986. Failure to comply with this law subjects employers to potential civil and criminal fines and penalties. Our legal professionals conduct I-9 compliance audits and advise employers on requirements for the completion of I-9 Forms and acceptance documentation. Additionally, we defend clients who have been cited for failure to comply.
Unfair Discrimination Complaints Under Immigration Law. Employers are liable for acts of discrimination based upon national origin and citizenship status. Our attorneys represent clients in discrimination cases brought by individuals or the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices. We also counsel clients on preventive measures to avoid such claims, such as compliance audits and reviews of company policies and handbooks.
Compliance With Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 requires the maintenance and updating of information on foreign students and exchange visitors during the course of their stay in the United States. Practice attorneys counsel clients on compliance with this detailed system and provide support to clients’ international students and exchange visitors.
Naturalization. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen (i.e., naturalization) requires extremely careful planning for multinational corporate employees who frequently travel. We advise such individuals on the planning necessary to secure this status and counsel others on the process of becoming a U.S. citizen and retaining that status.
Planning and Crisis Intervention. We are often involved in cases at the onset of the employment relationship and many times prior to the extension of an employment offer. We assess the feasibility of securing both short-term and long-term immigration benefits, and develop a strategy for securing the employment of key people for the client company. We regularly counsel clients when crisis arise affecting employees, including status violations, border delays, consular processing issues and personal issues including illness, family emergencies and political upheaval in home countries. We recognize the extreme urgency of these issues and their impact on immigration status, and our professionals are available to address them on short notice.
Mergers/Acquisitions. Due diligence in mergers and acquisitions requires analysis of the impact of the deal on foreign national employees, and the determination of the appropriate action to take in order to maintain their status after the transition. We have been called upon regularly to intervene in these circumstances to assure the seamless employment of key employees.