Jessica Cook

Jessica Cook is an associate in the Atlanta office of the law firm Fisher & Phillips, and a member of the firm's Global Immigration Practice Group. Her practice is focused on immigration and nationality law, including visa work, handling both temporary and permanent visa cases, as well as advice regarding I-9 compliance, discrimination, and document abuse provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Contact her at jcook@laborlawyers.com.

Articles by Jessica Cook

Global HR, Legal Issues

The O-1A Visa: It’s For People With Extraordinary Abilities

O1-AVisa

By Jessica Cook

The O-1A visa category is available to foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics who want to work in the United States. These individuals are a part of a small percentage of people who have risen to the very top in their respective fields of expertise.

To qualify for an O-1 visa, the foreign national must have sustained national or international recognition in his or her area of expertise and be coming to the United States to continue working in his or her area of extraordinary ability.

Sustained national or international recognition is evidenced by the foreign national’s receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize or evidence of at least three of the following: Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

What You Need to Do to Prepare Your Company for an I-9 Audit

I-9

By Jessica Cook

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) continues to issue Form I-9 Notices of Inspection to businesses across the nation.

In fiscal year 2012, ICE served 3,004 Notices of Inspection to businesses, totaling over $12 million in fines. Additionally, ICE made 520 criminal arrests tied to worksite enforcement investigations. These criminal arrests involved 240 individuals who were owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees.

The Notices of Inspection require employers to allow ICE to inspect their I-9 forms to determine compliance with employment eligibility verification laws. Once the Notice of Inspection has been issued, the targeted employer has three days to provide ICE with the company’s I-9 forms to be reviewed. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Immigration Will Begin Accepting 2013 H-1B Visa Petitions on April 1

Immigration

By Jessica Cook

On Monday, April 1, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting FY 2014 H-1B cap-subject petitions for employment starting on October 1, 2013.

What is the H-1B cap?

There is an annual cap on the number of new H-1B petitions available each year. The law allows for 65,000 new H-1B visas to be issued annually, and an additional 20,000 visas are available to foreign workers with an advanced degree from a U.S. academic institution. Because there is a cap on the number of available visas each year, employers interested in hiring foreign workers in an H-1B status should take advantage of the April 1 filing opportunity. Read more…

Global HR, Recruiting and Staffing

Hiring Australians? Then You Should Take a Look at the E-3 Visas

123RF Stock Photo

By Jessica T. Cook

U.S. employers wishing to hire a foreign worker who is an Australian citizen should consider the E-3 visa category.

The E-3 visa category is only available for Australian citizens, and the E-3 visa permits Australian citizens to work in the U.S. in “specialty occupations” on a temporary basis.

Specialty occupations are those which are professional in nature and require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field. In order to qualify for the E-3 visa category, the Australian citizen must also possess the required bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in education or work experience.

There is an annual limit of 10,500 new E-3 visas available to Australian citizens each year. Under the E-3 visa category, an Australian citizen can obtain employment authorization in two-year increments and renew indefinitely. Read more…

Global HR, Legal Issues

TN Visa Option for Canadian, Mexican Citizens Wanting Work in U.S.

TNvisa

By Jessica T. Cook

Since the H-1B visa cap was reached on June 11, 2012, U.S. employers wishing to hire a foreign worker who is a Canadian or Mexican citizen should consider the TN visa category.

The TN visa category is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and permits Canadian and Mexican citizens to enter the United States to participate in professional business activities on a temporary basis.

Under the TN visa category, Canadian and Mexican citizens are permitted to work in the U.S. in certain defined professional occupations, including, but not limited to, Accountant, Architect, Computer Systems Analyst, Engineer, Hotel Manager, Management Consultant, Mathematician, Scientific Technician/Technologist, and Scientist. There are specific educational requirements and alternative credentials for each category and TN status is only available to individuals employed in the listed occupations who possess the required credentials. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

USCIS Will Start Accepting H-1B Visa Petitions on April 2

Immigration

By Jessica Cook

On Monday, April 2, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting FY 2013 H-1B cap-subject petitions for employment starting on October 1, 2012.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B visa to employ foreign workers in “professional” or “specialty occupation” positions. The H-1B visa allows for six (6) years of employment in the United States, which is extendable if the company sponsors the individual for permanent residence. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Immigration Service Hits Employers With New Round of I-9 Audits

I-9

By Jessica T. Cook

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to make good on its promise to audit employer’s I-9 forms to ensure compliance with federal immigration laws.

ICE served another round of I-9 Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 1,000 businesses nationwide. Employers receiving a Notice of Inspection will be given three days to prepare for a meeting with federal officials in which the company’s I-9 forms will be reviewed. In addition to properly completed I-9 forms for all current and recently terminated employees, employers may be asked to turn over payroll documentation and other employee documentation. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Court Upholds Arizona’s E-Verify Law, Penalties for Using Unauthorized Workers

Photo by istockphoto

By Jessica Cook and Kim Thompson

This week (May 26, 2011) the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s 2007 immigration law that requires all employers to use E-Verify for all new hires and permits the revocation of a company’s business license as a penalty for employing unauthorized workers.

This decision resulted from a challenge to the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007, not to be confused with the 2010 controversial Arizona “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.”

The Legal Arizona Workers Act

In July 2007, Arizona enacted the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which prohibits Arizona employers from knowingly or intentionally employing individuals unauthorized to work in the U.S. Under the Act, any person may submit a complaint alleging that an employer employs unauthorized workers. Read more…