Tips for temporary visa holders for entering the U.S.

Each time foreign nationals re-enter the U.S. after temporary travel abroad, they should check their I-94 expiration date online at Previously, U.S. Customs & Border Protection ("CBP") officers issued nonimmigrant air travelers a physical Form I-94 card (in the form of a small, white piece of paper) after conducting inspection.  Although physical I-94 cards are still completed at US land borders, CBP has been employing the electronic I-94 system for those traveling by air and sea since April 2013. Foreign nationals should always check their electronic I-94 records to ensure that their name, date of entry and expiration of stay has been properly entered into the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's database correctly to avoid any problems with future legal status in the U.S.  If a foreign national is unable to find her/his I-94 record online after entering their passport details correctly, or if the date displayed for period of admission is incorrect, the foreign national may return to the airport's international section and request to see a CBP officer at the Deferred Inspection office. Some CBP offices will entertain requests via email, while others only accept I-94 corrections in person with an appointment. 
With summer coming to a close and October approaching, many international students are returning to classes and soon many new H-1B visa holders will be arriving or looking to travel.  We remind F-1 students to always check with their school's international student office before undertaking any international travel, as they must have an up-to-date I-20, and if in their period of Optional Practical Training ("OPT"), proof they are maintaining their F-1 status by working (with an employment letter and/or paystubs) and not incurring more than the authorized number of days of unemployment. New H-1B arrivals should be reminded they can be admitted into the U.S. no earlier than 10 days before the start date listed on their I-797 approval notices. Those in other non-immigrant status (such as F-1, H-4, or L-1 or L-2), whose employers filed H-1B change of status petitions to take effect October 1 should remember to plan their next international trip carefully, ensuring that once they depart the U.S. they have made arrangements for obtaining a new H-1B visa abroad for re-entry into the U.S.


USCIS adopts recent AAO decision about L-1A functional managers

On April 14, 2016, USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum officially adopting Matter of Z-A-, Inc. and establishing policy guidance that applies to and binds all USCIS employees adjudicating L-1A petitions for managers. In its holding in Matter of Z-A-, Inc., the Administration Appeals Office ("AAO") confirmed USCIS officers must weigh all relevant factors in determining whether the beneficiary of an L-1A will manage an essential function, including evidence of the beneficiary's role within the wider qualifying international organization. 

In the instant case, USCIS had initially denied the employer's L-1A functional manager petition on behalf of one of its company Vice Presidents. In its denial, USCIS stated the Petitioner did not establish it had an organizational structure sufficient to support the Beneficiary in a qualifying managerial capacity in light of there only being two U.S. payroll employees in sales and administrative positions. USCIS suggested that because of this small organizational structure, the Petitioner had not adequately demonstrated how Beneficiary would be working in a managerial capacity rather than as a sales person or administrator. The AAO disagreed and found USCIS failed to take into account the fact that the Beneficiary, in addition to supervising the two U.S. payroll employees, also oversaw the duties performed by eight foreign staff located in Japan whose roles support the U.S. enterprise.

In making future determinations concerning managing an essential function of an organization, USCIS must now consider evidence presented by the Petitioner of personnel employed by another related entity within the qualifying organization who perform day-to-day non-managerial tasks of the petitioning entity.  To read the new Policy Memo and AAO decision in the Matter of Z-A-, Inc., visit USCIS's policy memorandum site.