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State Governors’ Opposition towards Syrian Refugees Fleeing to U.S.

Due to conflict and civil war there are reportedly 12 million Syrians fleeing Syria and seeking refuge in other countries. President Obama announced that the U.S. will expand the amount of Syrian refugees admitted and would admit 10,000 refugees to the U.S. over the next 12 months. However, after the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, some have taken steps to make it more difficult for Syrian refugees to come to the U.S. Republicans in Congress voted to make it more difficult for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter to the U.S and U.S. governors have begun to openly state that they will not welcome Syrian refugees. CNN reported that Syrian refugees are not welcome in 31 U.S. states.

Many state governors do not wish to have Syrian refugees entertheir states

In the aftermath of the attacks on Paris, there was a report that one of the suspects was a Syrian refugee. In response, several U.S. governors announced they would not support any reform by Congress to admit more Syrian refugees and other governors have flat out announced they would not allow Syrian refugees in their state. Over 31state governors have taken to twitter or other media outlets to voice their opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the U.S. However, legally speaking, it may not be possible for States to directly prohibit the refugees from seeking Asylum in the U.S., nor is it possible to prevent the entry of refugees in their respective states.They can, however, make it tough for refugees to settle in and assimilate with the local population by not providing them with the necessary facilities/incentives.

California appears open to admitting Syrian refugees

California has taken a neutral status and has not made a statement that it will not allow Syrian refugees to come to California. Attorney General Kamala Harris has reportedly stated that keeping immigrants out is a scary trend. She also noted that at the same time we must be vigilant. California is a state made up of many immigrants and minority groups. Of all the Syrian refugees who migrated to the U.S.since 2012, about 11% of them have settled in California.

Refugees and Asylum in the U.S.

Refugees who come to the U.S. make seek refugee status or an asylum. Refugee and asylum status is granted to those who demonstrate that they have been persecuted or have a credible fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality,membership in a particular social group or political option. These immigrants maybe able to gain refugee status or be granted an asylum. Granting the refugee status must also be of humanitarian concern of the U.S.

Asylums are granted to those who meet the definition of refugee, are in the U.S. and are seeking entry. Those who are granted asylum are permitted to remain in theU.S. and may also include a spouse and children on the application for asylum as well. Once granted an asylum, the applicant may work in the U.S. This process can be detailed can complicated. Consulting an attorney is a good idea to ensure the application is correctly and promptly field.

Contact Us

To discuss any immigrant issue contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandewal to speakto an experienced immigration attorney. Attorney Khandewal is an experiencedimmigration attorney and has practiced immigration law for over 10 years.

Cited Sources

More than half of the nation’s governors say Syrian refugees not welcome,November 19, 2015, Ashley Fantz and Ben Brumfield

Refugees & Asylum, November 12, 2015, USCIS


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Visa Options for Trainees

Training is often an important part of advancing in a career or being skilled at a job. There are two visa options that visa applicants may utilize to receive practical training in the U.S. for a particular job or occupational field. These two visas, H-3 and J-1, have several requirements but can be very useful to obtain when to receive beneficial training in the U.S.

What is a “trainee?”

art-student-15-1537721A trainee is a person who is receiving training in the U.S. The training is usually for a job. Trainees on these visas are intended to receive training for a job that the trainee may later obtain.

H-3 Visa

To apply for the H-3 visa a detailed account of the type of training the trainee will receive must be submitted to the USCIS. The applicant must also identify a U.S. employer or organization that will provide the training. If the petition is approved the trainee may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 2 years.

What kind of training does the trainee under an H-3 visa receive?

An H-3 visa is available to trainees who come to the U.S. to receive training in a particular field. The training is intended to be for a job located outside of the U.S. The USCIS states on its webpage that training in any field will qualify; some of the listed fields are agriculture, commerce, communications, finance, government and transportation. While this visa covers any field, it cannot be used for medical education or training.

H-4 Visa for Dependents

There is also an H-4 visa available for family members of the trainees. If the H-3 visa is approved, the applicant may be able to take family members to the U.S. while trainee is completed.

J-1 Visa for Exchange

Another option for trainees is the J-1 Visa. This visa is intended for those coming to the U.S. to teach, learn, receive training, research and observe. This visa could be a good option for those coming to the U.S. for an internship or to receive occupational training. Medical students seeking training in the U.S. may use this visa.

This visa is designed as an exchange program. The exchange program must be approved by the government in order for the applicant to participate in the training program. The programs will generally train the individual in a specific business field. There are three requirements that the trainee must meet in order to be able to apply for a J-1 visa.

These requirements are:

  1. The applicant must possess a degree from a foreign post-secondary academic institution.
  2. The applicant must have at least one year of work experience in the applicant’s specific academic field and training must have been received outside of the U.S.
  3. The applicant must have had five years of work experience outside of the U.S. The work experience must be in the same field that the applicant is seeking training for in the U.S.

Contact us

Contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal to discuss the H-3 visa, J-1 visa or other options for trainees. Attorney Khandewal has over 10 years of experience working on immigration cases. The Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal is conveniently located in the Silicon Valley.

Cited Sources:

Exchange Visitors, July 17, 2015, USCIS

H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor, July 20, 2015, USCIS


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Visa Options for Artists and Entertainers

While the U.S. offers several different types of visas for foreigners coming to the U.S., some of the less discussed visas are those for artists and entertainers. P and O visas are available to artists and entertainers coming to the US to work, teach or learn. The P visa is available to artists and entertainers who coordinate with reciprocal foreign exchange programs or are coming to the U.S. to teach a unique or cultural art form. The O-visa is available to artist and entertainers that can demonstrate an extraordinary ability and level of skill in the field. These visas also have a corresponding visa that is available for dependents.

P-2 Visa

artist-at-work-2-1529089The P-2 visa was created for artist and entertainers coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform. To obtain this visa, there must be a reciprocal exchange program between the U.S. and a foreign organization. There must be a program outside the U.S. that This reciprocal exchange agreement must be government recognized and the skill set of the entertainer must be similar to the performers or artists taking part in the exchange program outside of the U.S.

P-4 Visa for Family Members

Spouses and dependants may obtain a P-4 visa. This allows the entertainers family members to travel to the U.S. along with the P-2 visa holder.

P-3 Visa

A P-3 visa is available to artists or entertainers coming to the U.S. to teach, coach, develop or represent a unique or cultural tradition; such as a dance or musical performance. This visa can only be usedfor education purposes, such as furthering an understanding and development of the art form.

To receive this visa the applicants must have a sponsoring employer or organization. P-4 visa status is also available to family members of P-3 visa holders.


The O- Visa is for applicants that possess an extraordinary skill or ability in the fields of science, art, education, business or athletics. It is also available for those who can demonstrate an extraordinary achievement in film or television and has received national or international recognition in this area.

As part of the application process, the applicant must submit an advisory opinion from someone in the applicant’s peer group or by someone with expertise in the area. This advisory opinion will be considered by the USCIS when making visa approval determinations. This requirement may be waived if the applicant can prove that the appropriate peer group does not exist. This determination will be made after the USCIS has considered appropriate evidence supporting this claim.

O-3 Visa for Dependents

Alike many other visas, the O-visa also has an option for dependents. Family members of an O-visa holder may apply for an O-3 visa and accompany the O-visa holder to the U.S.

Contact Us

Artists and entertainers planning to come over the U.S. may consider several different visa options. To discuss the P or O visas, visas for dependents or any other immigration issue, contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal has over 10 years of experience with immigration law and is conveniently located in the Silicon Valley.

Cited Sources:

P-2 Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program, July 15, 2015, USCIS

P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program, July 17, 2015, USCIS

O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement, September 14, 2015, USCIS


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The Startup Visa and Reform for Entrepreneurs

The Startup Visa Act

The Startup Visa Act of 2011 was introduced in Congress in 2011 but did not pass. The goal of this visa was to provide a visa to entrepreneurs who have generated outside funding from investors to start a business in the United States. The proposed visa would have been an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act and carried two requirements. First, the entrepreneur must demonstrate a certain amount of financial backing and show that their commercial activities will generate certain levels of employment, capital or investment. While the startup visa could have been a good option for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the US, the bill was never enacted. The Startup Visa was introduced in Congress again in 2013 and the bill is still currently under review.

business-people-1237604Many have been advocating for immigration reform and many are in support of a startup visa. Some hope appeared to be on the horizon with Obama’s executive action on immigration reform. While the executive action proposed significant changes to immigration reform and specifically to entrepreneurs, a startup visa could further benefit the US economy. A startup visa would encourage entrepreneurs to build companies on US soil and promote growth of the economy.

Obama Executive Action on Immigration Reform

Obama proposed some new options for entrepreneurs in the executive action announced last November. These new proposals include the national interest waiver and parole status for an immigrant who would offer a significant public benefit. These programs require the entrepreneur to demonstrate substantial financial backing or show a promise of innovation and job creation through new technology. We discussed the parole program in a more in-depth post. To read this post, click here.

Other Resources Offered to Entrepreneurs by Obama Administration

Obama, an active proponent of immigration reform and immigrant entrepreneurs, has introduced other resources to assist entrepreneurs that entrepreneurs can use in the meantime to assist with researching visa options. The Obama Administration created the Entrepreneur Pathways, which is a resource to help entrepreneurs easily navigate the US visa system. The resource explains which visas may be available to the applicant and what is required to apply.

With Obama’s executive action for immigration reform that proposed additional options for entrepreneurs there could be hope for a new startup visa. With the emergence of many start up companies making it big in the US, this could put additional pressure on Congress to pass a startup visa.

Other Options for Entrepreneurs

In the meantime there are other business visa options available to utilize while the startup is not yet available. Talking to an attorney about other options that may be available can be a good start to figure out options, requirements that must be met and determining filing deadlines. The Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal has experience helping many apply for various types of visas.

Contact Us

To discuss visa options for entrepreneurs or other business visa options contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal is an experienced immigration attorney has worked on immigration cases for over 10 years. The practice is conveniently located in the Silicon Valley.

Cited Sources:

The StartUp Visa Act of 2011,

Entrepreneur Pathways, USCIS


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