Business Immigration Law Business Law Immigration

New Rules Announced for CW-1 Employers

New visa requirements have been announced for CW-1 employers in an effort to protect American workers from displacement or disadvantages against non-U.S. workers. 

While the U.S. allows thousands of foreign employees to work in America every year, all foreign workers must have the permission to work legally in the United States and in the CNMI, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).  

Many temporary workers of CNMI, however, do not qualify under traditional temporary worker categories under the Immigration and Nationality Act. These individuals are then eligible for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker classification, or the CW Visa.  

Here at the Benkabbou Law Firm, we prioritize keeping our clients informed of business immigration law changes that may affect our clients. We have compiled a list of the changed requirements for you:  


The IFR requires new steps for employers when hiring CW-1 workers:  

  • Employers must enroll in the federal government’s online employment verification system, E-Verify, for all of their hiring sites in the CNMI;   
  • They must also be in good standing within the E-Verify program; 
  • CW-1 filings for FY 2020 must include an approved temporary labor certification (TLC) from the U.S. Department of Labor; 
  • CW-1 employers must file a semiannual report verifying the continued employment and payment of the CW-1 worker; 
  • USCIS is implementing this new statutory requirement through a new form, Form I-129CWR, Semiannual Report for CW-1 Employers.  

Other updates in the IFR include:  

  • Establishing minimum wage requirements for a CW employer; 
  • Establishing procedures for revoking an employer’s CW-1 petition; 
  • Incorporating the definition of a legitimate business as set forth in the Workforce Act.  


Business immigration law allow companies to utilize people with the specialized skills, knowledge, and investment capital they need to thrive. However, navigating these laws and determining the appropriate course of action while protecting yourself against enforcement efforts can prove to be a daunting and complex task.

With so much on the line, it is important to have a sophisticated Tampa business immigration lawyer with expertise in this area of law on your side. At the Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC, we provide you with legal counsel you can trust to guide you through these processes, offering a range of business immigration services to meet your every need. 

If you need help paying for a business immigration attorney, please read our blog post on Covering the Cost of Immigration Fees here.


Are you an employer that needs help navigating these new changes? We can assist with filing the new forms required by the IFR.  

Or, if you are a business owner who would not like to follow the new guidelines, please connect with us so that we can help you file a petition before the deadline.  


The Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC, is a boutique law firm located in Tampa, Florida. Our firm focuses on business law, immigration law, business immigration law, and intellectual property law. At our firm, we treat our clients like family and treat their interests and dreams as our own.  


At the Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC, we value keeping our clients informed of all possible problems they may face. We provide proactive legal solutions to help our clients avoid the possibility of liability, which saves our clients money, time, and resources. In uncertain times like these, we are prioritizing the long-term interests of our clients and their livelihoods.  

To receive updates just like this, please consider subscribing to our newsletter. We skip the legal jargon and send the need-to-know updates straight to your inbox. Join our newsletter here.

DISCLAIMER: Information communicated in, to, or through this blog post and your receipt or use thereof: (1) does not create an attorney-client relationship; (2) it is not intended as a solicitation; (3) is not intended to convey legal advice or constitute legal advice; (4) and it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on your specific matter. 


How to Cover the Cost of Immigration Fees

Becoming a citizen of the United States involves much more than just completing paperwork while proving you have good intentions when entering the country. Immigrants are charged hefty fees to become citizens of the United States. These fees include the cost of completing the United States citizenship application, the application processing fee, and the USCIS Immigration Fee. If you are coming to the United States in search of work or greater opportunity, you may not have the disposable income available to cover these fees, and you may feel like your chance of gaining United States citizenship are slim to none. Do not worry; there are ways to secure the money you need to cover your immigration expenses.

Secure a Loan for the Money You Need

Many immigrants believe there is no hope when it comes to securing the funds needed to pay their immigration fees. While traditional lenders are usually not willing to provide loans to people who are not citizens of the United States, our law firm has teamed up with a non-profit organization that can assist immigrants secure a loan for the immigration fees needed. The loan could cover the cost of filing fees as well as legal fees associated with hiring an immigration attorney to assist with the different steps that must be taken to obtain legal status in the United States. 

Obtain a Waiver for the Filing Fees

Hiring a good immigration attorney is the best choice you can make because the attorney can help you obtain a waiver for the filing fees. You will need to qualify for the waiver, but most people looking to become legal immigrants do qualify to have their fees waived. If an individual does not qualify to have the fees waived for any reason, The Benkabbou Law Firm always makes available the option of setting up a convenient payment plan. Instead of paying the full amount due at once, which is nearly impossible for most immigrants, you would have the opportunity to pay what you owe in smaller increments on a monthly basis with our firm. 

If you are an immigrant who would like to gain citizenship in the United States the proper way, you need to hire an immigration attorney to help you get through the process with as minimum hurdles as possible. Our lead immigration attorney understands how much of a burden these legal fees are to you and to others who are traveling from countries all around the world to come to America. She is an immigrant herself and had to go through the same struggles you are facing now.

If you are ready to get help, schedule your consultation with The
Benkabbou Law Firm today by calling 813-586-3351 or emailing us at Our staff will work tirelessly to assist you obtain the freedom and security you immigrated to America for. 


The Dangers of Completing the USCIS Forms Yourself

When the time comes to file the forms provided by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it is within your best interest to work with an experienced immigration attorney. The forms required to obtain citizenship, a green card, a student visa, and other documents for you and your family are very important. These forms cannot have any mistakes on them if you wish to have your request approved by USCIS and avoid being subject to deportation. The team from The Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC is here to prepare your forms and petitions along with complete and accurate supporting evidence to support your request and avoid a denial.

Incorrect Answers

There are dozens of questions you must answer when completing the USCIS forms. These questions might have simple answers, but if you answer even just one of them wrong, your application could wind up being denied and you could automatically be put into deportation proceedings. It can be as simple as providing an incorrect address, or mixing up the dates of your addresses. It can also be as simple as providing the USCIS with an incorrect answer about your employment because you forgot about a particular timeframe. Our immigration attorney will complete your forms in-depth to avoid any mistakes, major or minor. Our firm asks you all of the necessary information required to complete the forms without any incorrect answers. 

Some major mistakes include a misunderstanding of the questions asked on the forms. Such misunderstandings may rise to fraudulent answers if answered incorrectly and tarnish your file with bad moral character not only for your green card, but also for your citizenship filings later on. You are creating a record with USCIS with everything you submit to them and so you are building your profile with each petition and evidence submitted. Do not rely on the instructions on USCIS website for guidance on how to apply for a green card or how to apply for citizenship because the instructions can be confusing to most people. 

Clerical Mistakes

Small clerical mistakes on USCIS forms can lead to your application being denied, as well. What is a clerical mistake? A clerical mistake can be anything from a typo found in your name to a missing word in one of your answers. Clerical mistakes also include entire pages missing from a petition and submitting unsigned or incorrectly signed forms to USCIS. 

Other clerical errors include the following:

  • Using correction fluid or correction tape
  • Failing to complete the entire form
  • Paying the incorrect fees
  • Illegible handwriting

Form Instructions Are Not the Only Instructions

The instructions you find on the forms you wish to file with USCIS are not the only instructions that you will need to follow. 

For example, our firm has seen USCIS denials for people who filed for a green card without a lawyer or filed for citizenship without a lawyer because they failed to submit a complete record of tax returns. The applicants were immediately placed in deportation proceedings without having the chance to submit the entire record and correct what they submitted.  

An experienced immigration attorney knows how harshly USCIS reviews the filed forms and supporting evidence. Our firm implemented a quality control process to ensure that no mistakes are made so that your application is not denied for these type of errors.

Please understand that when USCIS denies your application, you lose your legal status, which means you will be placed in deportation. It is not worth it to risk your entire livelihood for simply not hiring an immigration lawyer. 

Need to File USCIS Forms? Contact the Benkabbou Law Firm Today!

If you need to file USCIS forms for residency or a student visa, or if a family member needs to file for a green card or citizenship, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

It’s also important to note that you do not use form preparers, notarios, paralegals, or any translation offices for these filings. These offices or service providers are not lawyers and they cannot represent you in front of USCIS. In fact, they are engaged in criminal activity for unauthorized practice of law as a lot of the answers on the forms require a legal analysis and strategy to ensure that you are protected. The mistakes can cost you your entire future, it is NOT worth it to save a few dollars. 

Call the office of the Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC at 813-586-3351 or send us an email at to schedule a consultation to get started on obtaining your American Dream.

If you need help paying for the attorney fees and USCIS filing fees, check out our blog on How to Cover Immigration Fees.


What is Donald Trump’s New Public Charge Rule?

The Trump Administration officially released the final version of the new public charge rule on Monday, August 12. The rule was entered into the Public Register and saw a nationwide official release on Wednesday, August 14. The rule will then go into effect 60 days from August 14, in October. The new rule increases the ability of the federal government to reject the request for green cards based on a person’s likelihood to use federal assistance programs. The immigration status of a person will now be linked to their public program usage and their income level.

Trumps New Public Charge Rule Announcement

“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is re-enforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility ensuring immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America. We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet,” Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli said. “A poor person can prepare to be self-sufficient… so let’s not look at that as the be all end all.”

The administration is touting the new public charge rule as a way for immigrants to become independent and to increase self-sufficiency.

How the New Public Charge Rule Affects Immigration

The new rule will affect immigration in a major way, as thousands of people looking to legally obtain a green card could be denied. Right now, immigration agents are required to ask applicants for green cards how they will not place a burden (public charge) on the country if granted a green card. Under the new rule, immigration agents would be forced to make decisions based on the usage of food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, and medical assistance by immigrants applying for green cards.

Basically, if a household falls under a specific level of income, the immigration agent will be required to evaluate the home under the public charge test. This includes ascertaining how well the occupants of the home can read, speak, and write English. If you receive any of the benefits mentioned above for a 12-month period in a span of three years and are not a citizen, it will be viewed as unfavorable when determining whether or not you are a public charge.

Trumps New Public Charge Rule

File for a Green Card Now

It is dangerous for you or a family member to wait to file for a green card. With the 60-day countdown already started, you are running out of time to apply for a green card under the old public charge rule if you are a low-income family. The longer you wait to apply for a green card, the likelier it becomes that your case will not be evaluated until after the new rule officially takes effect, causing your case to be evaluated under the new public charge test explained earlier.

Have Questions About the New Public Charge Rule? Contact an Immigration Attorney Today!

Do you have lingering worries and questions about how the new public charge rule will affect you or a family member? If so, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced immigration services attorney. Call or text the office of The Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC at 813-586-3351 to schedule a consultation today.


Investor Visa Limits Increased Under Trump Administration

A controversial visa program that was created in 1990 is being revamped by President Donald Trump and his administration. The program, which provides visas for foreign investors, will see an increase in the amount of money required to invest in order to obtain the visas.

The previous limit was $500,000. The new limit will be $900,000 in order to secure an EB-5 investor visa. The standards that govern what a needy neighborhood is will also be updated to prevent investors from picking areas that border affluent neighborhoods for their own benefit.

Non-Needy Area Investments

If a foreign investor wishes to invest in a project in a non-needy area, the investment limit will increase from $1 million to $1.8 million and will adjust for inflation automatically every five years, according to a report from The Washington Post. All of these changes will take effect beginning on November 21, 2019 and are the first major changes to the program since 1993, when it was just three years old.

EB-5 Investor Visa Limits

The Old Investor Visa Rule

Under the old requirements, an investment of $1 million was required to bring at least 10 new jobs to a non-needy area. A $500,000 investment was required for a project that would be located in areas of high unemployment rates. In exchange for the investments, the foreign investors would receive conditional green cards for themselves and their immediate family members for two years.

The New Investor Visa Rule

As mentioned earlier, the limits will increase under the new rule. The new rule also eliminates the ability for an individual state to determine which specific geographic and political areas are labeled as high unemployment. Instead of the state making this determination, the Department of Homeland Security would make the determination.

EB-5 Investor Visa Limits

Avenues to Adjust Immigration Status Limited

At the same time that the EB-5 visa program is being revamped, the Trump Administration is working toward limiting the avenues immigrants have in changing their status, therefore keeping their promise to limit legal immigration at the same time that they work to curb illegal immigration. It is important to learn about your options as soon as possible.

Do You Have Immigration Questions? Contact an Experienced Immigration Services Attorney Today!

If you have questions about immigration, or how to obtain the EB-5 investor visa, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced immigration services attorney. Call or text the office of The Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC at 813-586-3351 to schedule a consultation today.


Tampa Immigration Lawyer

Florida is home to a large population of immigrants. Some Floridians come from other states, and some are even from other countries. Many of the residents have only been in Florida for a few years, and most came here for business purposes. When we arrive, and when the temporary stays we planned become permanent, we all need legal help settling in. That is where an experienced Tampa immigration lawyer can be a huge help.

At the
Benkabbou Law Firm, we are dedicated to families just like yours. So, we offer a full range of immigration services. Especially in the post-9/11 world, entering this country from a foreign land is never a straightforward process. Status adjustments are not easy to achieve, either. Along the way, some immigrants face removal proceedings and other adverse actions. Regardless of the situation, our professional team is ready to help.

Initial Determinations in Hillsborough County

For the most part, U.S. laws encourage individuals and families to come to America for various reasons. Nevertheless, the process is not always immigrant-friendly. Without a strong and experienced advocate, it is difficult to obtain the assistance you need. So, we routinely help families with things like:

  • Family Visas: Spouses, parents, children, or siblings who are citizens or lawful permanent residents may obtain an F-series or IR-series visa. A sought-after family visa enables people to both live and work in the United States.
  • Work Permit: Many times, people obtain employment authorization documents to stay in the United States for temporary periods, such as an extended business trip, or while waiting for immigration-related events, such as an asylum claim.
  • Employment Visa: This document is broader and more permanent than a work permit. If the immigrant has a U.S. business sponsor, the immigrant may come to the U.S. and work on a long-term basis with little official supervision.
  • Permanent Residence: Both incoming immigrants and long-term residents often seek green cards. This level of entry is not quite like citizenship, but it is pretty close.

Whether you must begin the process in the United States or at a foreign embassy, our professional team can help. We are also well-positioned to assist with the nuts and bolts of visas and immigration, such as medical exams and security screening measures.

Status Adjustments

As mentioned, when many immigrants come to America, they plan to stay for a short while to work or go to school, then they plan to go home, but these plans often change.

The green card status upgrade is one of the most common requests we handle at the Benkabbou Law Firm. Generally, it is easier to obtain a green card after one already has a visa and has been living in the United States for at least a year. Green cards are usually valid for a decade and they are not as vulnerable to adverse action.

Becoming a citizen is the ultimate goal for many immigrants, and our professional team can make that dream a reality. We not only file paperwork in a way that minimizes red flags, but we also offer practical assistance with interview techniques and with the citizenship test.

Adverse Proceedings

Shortly after 9/11, lawmakers divided the old Immigration and Naturalization Services bureau into two entities. The USCIS, which is the “good cop” of immigration law. And ICE, which is the “bad cop.” As a result, authorities are more aggressive than ever when it comes to prosecuting immigration violations.

A technicality like an expired visa,may trigger ICE adverse action. In other situations, a person is convicted of an aggravated felony or a crime of moral turpitude. Most deportation and removal proceedings involve alleged criminal conduct. Fortunately, several recent United State Supreme Court cases, such as 2018’s Sessions v. Dimaya, have substantially expanded immigrant rights.

Contact an Assertive Lawyer

A strong immigration advocate gives your personal American dream a positive start. For a confidential consultation with an experienced immigration attorneys in Tampa, contact the Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC. After-hours appointments are available.


Naturalization: The Process of Becoming a U.S. Citizen

While many people come to the United States to each year as immigrants, not all choose to pursue naturalization. This involves the process of becoming an actual citizen, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it. Naturalization can be a long and confusing process, but our Tampa immigration lawyer is here to help. The following outlines the requirements for becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. and the steps involved in the process.

Qualifying for Naturalization

There are numerous options for coming to the United States. Many come with the intent to work, others to go to school, or to reunite with other family members. Naturalization can be seen as the culmination of the process of obtaining a visa, visiting the country, living, and working here while developing ties in the community, and finally taking an oath of allegiance and claiming it as your own.

The process for becoming a
citizen of the United States can take years to complete. The first step is determining whether you qualify. Applicants must have a valid Permanent Resident card, otherwise known as a green card, for at least five years before applying or three years if you are the spouse of a current U.S. resident. Additional eligibility requirements include:

  • All applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time you apply for naturalization;
  • Applicants must be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
  • You must have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • You must show an attachment to the U.S. Constitution, and the principles under which the United States was founded;
  • You must be a person of good moral character, with no history of deviant behavior or convictions for felony crimes over the prior five-year period.

Applicants must also meet certain residency requirements, which includes being in the U.S. continuously for close to three of the past five years and being a resident of the state in which you file for at least three months.

Steps in the Naturalization Process

U.S. Custom and Immigration Services (USCIS) outlines the path to citizenship in the pamphlet 10 Steps to Naturalization. If you have determined that you qualify to become a citizen of the United States, the following steps need to be taken:

  • Filing form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the appropriate supporting documents.
  • Submitting to bio-metrics, which involves being fingerprinted and photographed for the purpose of running a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check and paying the required fees.
  • Attending an in-person interview with the USCIS, unless exempt, and taking both and English and Civics exam.

Once the above steps are completed, applicants will be notified of whether the application was approved or denied. If a denial was believed to be issued in error, the applicant may appeal the decision.

Consult with a Tampa Immigration Lawyer

At the Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC, we are here to guide you through every step of the naturalization process. Reach out to a Tampa immigration lawyer to request a consultation about your case and how we can help you.