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Check out our extensive resource library to learn more about the various types of visas and how we can help.

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Brandon Valvo

Brandon Valvo is the founder of Valvo & Associates, Inc. He serves as the firm’s Managing Director and lead counsel. Since commencing his legal career in 1989, Mr. Valvo has been devoted solely to the practice of U.S. immigration and nationality law. Mr. Valvo works closely with various governmental entities on U.S. immigration issues.

Recent Articles

What to Know About the L-1 Blanket Visa

There are plenty of options for foreign workers to temporarily work in the U.S. One type that is geared towards larger companies with more than U.S.$25 million in gross annual sales is the Blanket L-1 visa.  There are two classes of Blanket L-1 visas: the L-1A is suited for executive or managerial workers; the L-1B visa is suited for non-managerial or executive workers who have specialized knowledge.  There are two ways companies can go about securing L-1 visas for multinational transferees. One way is to simply use the regular procedure, which is a two step process involving 2 U.S. federal agencies.  The first step requires filing of a L-1 petition by a company with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  After USCIS approval, the transferee must apply for the L-1 visa at an overseas U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The alternative way is securing a L-1 blanket approval, which means employers are able to expedite L-1 visa processing and bypass USCIS review of each transferee. This allows for a more efficient transfer process in one step. However, each visa applicant under the L-1 blanket procedure must still submit documents that show their qualifications. L-1 visa applicants must submit documents to an overseas U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally in their country of residence.  L-1 Blanket Requirements Not every employer is eligible for a L-1 blanket approval. Only employers that satisfy the following conditions are eligible:  The petitioner and qualifying entities are currently engaged in commercial trades or services. The employer has had an office in the U.S. for a minimum of one year. The employer has at least three domestic and foreign affiliates, subsidiaries, and branches. The petitioner and qualifying entities meet one of these three additional criteria:                       1) The petitioner has secured approvals for at least 10 separate L-1 visas in the previous year.                      2) Affiliates, subsidiaries, and branches (in the U.S.) have done at least U.S.$25 million in gross                                      annual sales; or                      3) At least 1,000 U.S. workers are employed by the U.S. petitioner and qualifying entities. Conclusion L-1 blanket visas are not available to all multinational employers. The regular procedure can be just as effective for employers who wish to enrich their U.S. operations with foreign talent, but the process will take longer, undergo more scrutiny and cost more. Whichever […]

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Overview and Considerations Related to the E-2 Visa

If you are willing to put up a substantial amount of capital to invest in an enterprise that will employ U.S. workers, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) might be interested in extending an E-2 visa to you, your spouse, and some key employees. However, many potential E-2 visa applicants are hesitant to apply because they have misconceptions about how much they actually have to invest in a U.S. business. This is but one consideration we will address in this blog, which will also help you decide whether or not the E-2 visa could be useful for your situation.  Who Uses the E-2 Visa? Nationals of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty recognizing mutual commercial goals are welcome to apply for an E-2 visa. Japan, Australia, Taiwan, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. are just a few of the countries that have treaties recognizing E-2 visas. Japanese nationals account for a significant chunk of the E-2 visas issued each year.  Those who fulfill the nationality requirement must then show they have invested or are in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a “bona fide enterprise” in the U.S. The investor must also show that he or she is seeking to come to the U.S. for the sole purpose of developing and directing the enterprise.  E-2 visas are not reserved solely for the investors or owners. You may be able to bring along managers, supervisors and employees with specialized knowledge. Additionally, they must be of the same nationality as you, the investor. Remember, though, that the U.S. wants to see an E-2 business employ American workers and pump money into the U.S. economy.  How Much Do Investors Need to Contribute? There is no minimum amount of capital required for investors. The sufficient amount for your particular enterprise, though, depends on the size and nature of your company. The smaller the company, the greater the investment must be (in proportion to the company’s overall cost). For example, the amount for an E-2 investor who owns a consulting company will probably be much different than an investor who is seeking to open an automobile manufacturing plant. The key is determining the amount of your investment going towards operational costs.  When you’re applying for an E-2 visa, the U.S. Embassy will look at your balance sheet and other financials to determine an acceptable investment amount. If, at first glance, it does not appear you will meet the requirements, our firm can advise you on optimal practices to present a more favorable financial […]

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New H-1B Rules Further Restrict the Program

In the recent past, the demand for the 85,000 H-1B visa slots the U.S. government issues each year has exceeded the supply. The nonimmigrant visa, which is reserved for U.S. non-citizens to fill positions for “specialty occupations,” is set to become more difficult to obtain after federal agencies issued new rules for the H-1B category in early October.  Who is the H-1B Visa Geared Toward? Broadly speaking, the H-1B visa is available for a specific subset of “skilled” foreign workers. More specifically, H-1B visa holders have at least a bachelor’s degree (with many of them having graduate- or doctorate-level degrees) and work in specialty level occupations. Technology companies and other outfits in the STEM fields often make use of the H-1B visa category. Of the 85,000 H-1B visas granted each year, 20,000 are reserved for foreign workers who received an advanced degree from a U.S. institution.  What are the Changes? In short, the changes will make using the H-1B visa program cost-prohibitive for many U.S. employers. Based upon the new rules from the Department of Labor, which immediately went into effect, employers must pay entry-level workers wages in the industry’s 45th percentile. Higher-skilled workers, which previously had to receive wages in the industry’s 67th percentile, must be offered a wage in the 95th percentile.  The rules also restricted the definition of a “specialty occupation” in the context of the H-1B visa program. The USCIS explained that a general degree (such as liberal arts) is not sufficient to qualify as a specialty occupation. Additionally, the changes require the H-1B position to be directly related to the degree earned by the visa holder.  In the release multiple federal agencies announced the modifications to the H-1B visa program, including the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Labor. The purported reason for the changes is to preserve jobs and opportunities for U.S. citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Also cited in the newly published rules are statistics allegedly showing wage stagnation in certain industries. What Happens Now? As of Oct. 13, 2020, the DOL rules are still in effect. The USCIS rules are set to take effect in 60 days. Besides making the program more expensive for U.S. employers and recent U.S. graduates, federal agencies have signaled that they will take a renewed interest in enforcing the H-1B rules.  The federal government estimated that the number of H-1B petitions would decrease by a third in response to the changes. Some have suggested that the timing and substance of the new rules are politically motivated and that the […]

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