The H-1B Visa program allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations which require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience for entry into the field. Because Congress has limited the number of foreign nationals that U.S. workers may employ in these positions. This limitation or quota, has resulted in an “H-1B cap season” as demand for these visas far outstrips supply (many U.S. company’s have simply moved parts of their operations overseas due to their inability to bring top talent to the U.S. as a result of the cap). The H-1B cap season begins on the first business day of April usually ends 3 to 5 days.

During this 3 to 5-day period, employers must submit their H1-B applications to USCIS for consideration. Inevitably, there are more applicants than there are available visas and a lottery system is used to determine who will be considered for an H-1B visa. In 2018, there were only 65,000 visas available with nearly 200,000 applicants. H-1B visas are typically granted for a three-year period, but that may be extended to a maximum of six years (exceptions exist under AC21).

Florida employers who hire foreign workers might find the process a bit more challenging than they are used to in the coming years. As immigration continues to take center stage at the national level, employers and foreign workers must take extra care with their visa applications and renewals to ensure workers can obtain initial approval and legally remain in their U.S. jobs once approved.

Tips For Submitting H-1B Visa Applications

USCIS will use any excuse to remove an applicant from the lottery pool. Take extra care when completing the application and make sure all required documentation is provided.

  1. Start Early. Deadlines are absolute and late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Employers and applicants should begin preparing their applications in January, or even earlier, in order to be ready to file their paperwork in April.
  2. Plan for RFEs. Request for Evidence used to be infrequent but over the las 5 to 10 years have now become common place.. RFEs are the new norm. Plan to provide additional documentation and do not panic if you receive an RFE request.
  3. Be Prepared for Changes at any Time. Be vigilant about changes to current H-1B requirements and processing procedures which can change quickly.
  4. Explore your Options. If you are not selected or miss the deadline, there may be other visa alternatives. Speak to an immigration law attorney regarding eligibility for L-1, O-1, E-3, or H-1B1 options. In some instances labor certification may also be an option where long term employment is anticipated. 

Seek Legal Help For Employment-Based Visas

Immigration applications are being scrutinized like never before. We cannot stress enough the need to make sure every application is properly prepared, supported with the appropriate evidence and that all of the statutory requirements are explained. All visa options should be fully explored.

Contact the immigration attorneys at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder, P.A. in Kissimmee, FL for help securing employment-based visas, like the H1-B, or for assistance in hiring foreign workers.

Contact our team at 407.847.5151 to arrange a consultation.

Getting a USCIS Green Card is an important step and a proud moment for people who want to live permanently and work in the United States. A Green Card, or permanent residence, opens the door to many opportunities such enabling individuals to permanently live and work in the U.S., along with providing a path to citizenship for those who wish to become U.S. citizens. Even with the cooperation of an eligible family member, it can be a challenge to get all the bases covered properly which can lead to unnecessary delays or even denials. Working with an experienced immigration lawyer can help avoid common pitfalls associated with green card denials and delays.

Immediate Relatives versus Preference Categories

The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) divides family based immigrants into two categories, “immediate relatives” and “preference based immigrants”. Immediate relatives are permitted to immigrate at any time and there is no limitation on the number of individuals who may immigrate in these categories. For example, the parents, spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens are permitted to immigrate at any time. Of course, they must file the necessary applications and evidence and go through the proper processes but there is no limit on how many individuals can immigrate in these categories.

Family members in the “preference categories”; however, are subject to statutory quotas or annual limits. Because the number of “green cards” USCIS is permitted to issue each year is limited in these categories, waiting times can be lengthy. The preference categories include the following:

  • First preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. (Age 21 or older)
  • Second Preference (2A): Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children (under age 21) of permanent residents
  • Second Preference (2B):  Unmarried adult sons and daughters (any age) of permanent residents
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

Special Situations

Most I-551 cards (green cards) are issued with a validity period of 10 years; however, in some situations a green card may be “conditional”. A conditional green card, or conditional permanent resident, receives a card that is valid for 2 years and specific conditions must be met in order for the “conditions” to be removed and a 10 year card issued. Filing in the specified time frames to remove conditions is critical as both the Obama administration and Trump administration have followed a policy of initiating removal proceedings against individuals who fail to file to remove conditions in the required timeframe. If you are subject to conditions, a lawyer can assist you in making sure your application to remove conditions is timely filed and has the right supporting evidence. 

Experienced Immigration Attorneys 

The Kissimmee Law Firm of Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder is experienced in helping clients get their green cards, so they can enjoy the freedom and security that permanent residence provides. Contact us by calling 407-847-5151 to schedule a consultation, and we’ll tell you how we can help and what you can expect from the process.

Property deeds are used to transfer ownership from one party to another. There are two basic types of property deeds in Florida: a Warranty Deed and a Quit Claim Deed. The two offer different levels of protection for the new owner with the Warranty Deed providing better protection, but many people opt to use the Quit Claim Deed to transfer property, particularly if the transfer occurs between family members.

Even with a familial connection, quit claim deeds raise many concerns and, when not executed properly, can lead to serious repercussions over the short- and long-term.

Cautions Regarding Quit Claim Deeds

Quit claim deeds do not require the property to undergo a title review or attorney review, which means there is no third-party verification that the title is free and clear of liens or that the one transferring the property title has the right to do so or if there will be tax implications for either party.

Failing to have a real estate attorney review the entire transfer process can have many different consequences for both the grantee and the grantor, such as:

  • Documentary Stamp Taxes. Any Florida property that has a mortgage on it is subject to tax when ownership is transferred, even if the transfer occurs between spouses.
  • Capital Gains Taxes. The transfer of property subject to a mortgage is also subject to Capital Gains Taxes per IRS rules. In some cases, a gift of real property can also be subject to Capital Gains.
  • Florida’s Homestead Tax Exemption. It is possible to lose this exemption when ownership changes, depending on who claims it, when they claim it, and who qualifies to take the exemption.
  • Florida’s Save Our Home Cap: Amendment 10. This amendment affects the state Homestead Tax Exemption. The Cap can be lost in certain circumstances, even if the Homestead Tax Exemption is retained.
  • Gift and Estate Taxes. It is possible that a transfer of deed could be interpreted as a gift and be subject to gift taxes and might affect an owner’s estate taxes.
  • Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax. This tax might be required if the grantee is two or more generations younger than the grantor.
  • Non-Citizens. Gifts, transfers, and property sales to non-citizens are subject to their own gift, estate, and capital gains tax implications.
  • Probate. In order to avoid Florida probate the property must be transferred in a certain way. If it is not transferred properly, or if there are any problems with the deed itself, the property will have to go through probate.
  • Challenges. If a property transfer has the effect of disinheriting someone or placing undue hardship on the owner’s spouse or dependents, it can be challenged in court. In some cases, constitutional restrictions on the deed can create a title defect.

These are just a few of the possible complications that can arise during a property transfer, even if the transfer is amicable, within a family, and no money changes hands. Although they appear to be a simple solution to a simple property transfer, quit claim deeds can be anything but simple, creating problems where there were none prior.

It is always advisable to consult a real estate attorney or estate planning attorney when real property conveyance is required. These professionals will be able to examine not only the legality of transferring the property, but can provide insights as to how the transfer might affect your tax situation and other aspects of your life.

For advice on using quit claim deeds to transfer property in Florida, contact the real estate attorneys at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder, P.A, online or call 407.847.5151.