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. Being able to successfully navigate ever-changing legal, regulatory, and political environments can maximize your chances of attracting top recruits.
For more than 30 years, our immigration lawyers have been guiding effective immigration programs for clients of all sizes, including a number of higher education entities. Our primary goal is to facilitate the transfer of foreign nationals to the U.S. for employment. We obtain their temporary (and usually more immediate) U.S. work authorization, ensure their compliance with all immigration requirements while in the U.S., and finally secure their permanent resident status. We have advised higher education clients on a wide range of immigration matters including temporary work authorization, faculty permanent residence and immigration compliant recruiting practices.
Awards reflect our outstanding work and excellent service. Our Immigration group has been recognized every year since 2012 in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Chambers USA, the worldwide leader in attorney and firm rankings, has been ranking the best lawyers since 1990, and now covers over 185 jurisdictions. No other organization has the strength-in-depth of their editorial and research team when it comes to assessing the world’s business lawyers. In 2016, we were awarded this coveted ranking for our work in New York State, not just the Upstate New York region.
“They’re proactive, they bring key renewals required of our employees to our attention prior to us bringing it up. They also deliver solutions when cases aren’t straightforward, they’re always thinking about creative ways to get things done quicker and more effectively, but all within the law,” is just one of the comments clients said about our Immigration group to the researchers at Chambers USA.
Our role in serving both the short and long-term needs of clients is multi-faceted, and due to the dedication and experience of our practitioners, we are on the cutting edge of critical issues facing immigrants.
- 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.
Frank Novak is a former member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Board of Governors, and former Chair of the AILA Health Care Professionals Committee. He served on the AILA Vermont Service Center Liaison Committee, which addressed policy and practice concerns on behalf of immigration attorneys nationwide. Frank recently served as President of the Volunteer Legal Services Project in Rochester, NY. Frank’s clients had this to say about him to Chambers USA researchers: “A powerhouse…..deep knowledge of government regulations and policies…very customer-focused.”
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.
- Corporations (ranging from Fortune 500 to closely-held companies)
- Health Care Institutions
- Colleges and Universities
- Technology Companies
- Sports Teams
- Arts and Cultural Organizations
- Family-Based Matters