US Immigration Questions

  1. Sunday, 22...
    Question: My father is on an H1 b visa and his employer has filled for his green card Me and my Family are on H 4 but i am about to be 21 and thus my h4 visa cannot be renewed.I-140 of all the members of the family has been cleared but we cannot yet file I 485 as the priority date is not near. Do I have to convert my visa status into F 1 so that i can live and study here? Is there anyway that i can file for my green card as when i filled my papers i was not 21 and it is because the file is pending i cant put forth my 485 papers. Is there any chance that under special cases like mine we can get my papers filled as I am about to transfer to a University and it is very hard for me to afford to pay the fees as an International student when my papers are so close to green card.
    Answer:

     I do not see any way around filing an F-1.

  2. Sunday, 22...
    Question: Form I-90 Green Card was lost. Instead of checking Part 2, 2a, I checked Part 2, 2f. Submitted online and paid with credit card. The instructions state the following: "If it is necessary t o change any information on your submitted I-90 application, please bring evidence to support the change with you to your biometrics appointment. DO NOT send written correspondence regarding changes to the address below." At the biometrics appointment, can the interested party state the above mistake and solve this situation? Or will the USCIS denie the application? And another filing fee will have to be paid?
    Answer:

    You should certainly point this out at the biometrics appt. You should also call the CIS customer service number and explain the problem. In addition, you should contact your Congressman. Let them contact CIS and help you correct this issue.

  3. Sunday, 22...
    Question: What if an employer is indicted on multiple counts and he is cleared of all other charges but he pleads to a conspiracy charge with home detention for a few months as his punishment. How does this effect pending cases at his business?
    Answer:

    That depends upon whether or not the conspiracy was in fact in relation to the pending cases. For example, if the fraud/conspiracy involved non-payment of H-1 employees, that should have no affect on pending green card cases. 

  4. Sunday, 22...
    Question:
    Answer:

    1. I am curruntly on HIB Visa for the past 5yrs and 2 months (GC process started and 1-140 approved) working for a State Health Department.
    Being a medical doctor from India i will be starting my medical residency from July on a J1 Visa. Once i complete my 3yr Medical residency and apply for J1 Waiver in 2012 (for working in medically underserved area), will the duration of HIB i am using up now (almost 5 and half years) effect the Physician HIB offered as a part of J1 waiver.So, will the 'JI Waiver Visa' be entirely different type of HI visa with a new 3yr time period or will i have only 6months of HIB left at that time(due to 6yr limit)as i am right now using up 5 and half years by June. Please advice.

    Ans. Your total limit of H-1 is still 6 years, Ravi. There is no special provision for physicians. But you may be able to leverage your green card for extensions beyond six years.

    2. How to leverage the I-140 to get H-1 extensions?

    Ans. When your I-140 is approved and your priority date is backed up, you are entitled to a 3-year H-1 extension even beyond 6 years of your H-1. This extension should be given even if the H-1 extension is for an employer other than the one who sponsored your green card.

    3. Is an approved I-140 ground for an automatic denial of J visa?

    Ans. No. But, it makes the grant of a J-1 very difficult because you have exhibited immigrant intent. J-1 visa (unlike H or L visas) does not permit you to have immigrant intent. The matter is totally in the discretion of USCIS or the consulates.

  5. Thursday,...
    Question: I am a licenced physical therapist in Michigan and working on my OPT. Is it true that PTs and nurses are exempted from the labor certification during green card process? and they do not need to file labor certification? And considering the current scenario, can you please let me know approximately how much time does it take for a physical therapist to get a green card?
    Answer:

     PT's and RN's are both exempt from filing labor cert, but the time for their green card processing is still tied to the time it takes for people from the country of their birth. An India-born PT will wait the same time in EB-3 category as any other India-born EB-3 applicant.

  6. Thursday,...
    Question: Is it possible to start GC process during my first year medical residency if my hospital agrees. Have you dealt with cases like this.
    Answer:

    The essence of a green card application is that it is meant to be for a job in the future. 

    Thus, where an employee is currently working or working before obtaining a green card
    approval is largely irrelevant.

    You must, however, be fully qualified to take the job on the date the PERM application is filed. So, if the State in which you are filing your GC, permits you to get a license to practice in 2nd year of residency, you can file only in the second year.

    The process is also governed by good faith. You must have a good faith intention of joining the employer and the employer must have the intention of hiring you. Do you actually have to join the employer? Well, probably not. Look at the law on AC21.

  7. Thursday,...
    Question:
    Answer:

    Quote:

    1. If an employee is on a H1 they cannot have a 10% pay cut unless their H1 was amended and refiled.

    Ans. Probably yes. That is the safest thing to do. The rule of thumb is, you can never pay an H-1 holder below the prevailing wage. You can also not pay them below what you pay other similarly employed professionals in the geographical location of the employment. So, if the 10% pay cut does not violate these two principles, the only other issue in immigration compliance is whether 10% cut in salary is a "substantial" change in the job. An H-1 amendment is always necessary when there is a substantial change. To be safe, I would recommend you amend.

    Quote:

    2. If an employee is on a GC processing (I140 or I485) they can have a reduction but need to be paid the amount equal to or greater that was listed on the GC petition on the day their GC is approved.

    Ans. Basically, yes.

    The main issue here is, if the salary being paid is below that expressed in the GC application, does the employer still have the ability to pay wages. This issue is usually not raised past the I-140 approval, but I see no law that says it cannot be raised after the I-140 approval. And in all cases before 140 approval, the salary shortfall must be balanced by showing an equal amount of taxable income or net current assets for each GC beneficiary (employee) still in the process.

    For example, you have to give a pay reduction to an employee on H-1. Assuming you have not violated the H-1 requirements we have discussed above, you will need to show continued ability to pay the GC salary. Let us say the salary stated on the GC application in $80,000. The employee is now making $75,000 after the pay cut.

    For GC, we will have to show $5,000 taxable income/current assets (or the proportion of salary that falls in that tax year). If there are 5 employees in the same situation, that amount would rise to $25,000.

    Quote:

    3. If an employee is on a GC processing and has a H1 they need to have their H1 revoked and work on their EAD for the #2 above to be accepted.

    Ans. You can do that as long as that employee is getting paid the same as others.

    Quote:

    4. Benefits that were listed as a part of an employees immigration processing cannot be decreased.

    Ans. There is no place where we commit to benefits or state them in the GC application as far as I know. The law does not require benefits.

     

  8. Wednesday,...
    Question:
    Answer:

    Quote:

    If we apply for a H1b extension for another year ( I believe we can apply 6 months before the expiry of the current 7th year H1b ) and if its approved, does that mean that I can still work till Nov 2010 even if the I -140 gets rejected before the extension comes into effect?

    Ans. Yes. You are safe. Under current practice, CIS does not take away extensions already given.

    Quote:

    I really want to thank and appreciate the good work you and your team is doing.
    I had a question regarding Status. I am currently working on H1(6th Year) with one company and have another company who has filled for my GC. The I-140 has been approved(Oct'07) and 485 was also filled in Oct'07.
    My question is if my present employer lays me off and terminates my H1,
    1. Can apply for H1B transfer to other company?
    2. Will I be consider out of Status under any condition?
    3. Will H1B cap apply to me as its going to be a new H1B as the previous company will cancel the H1b after Layoff.
    4. Can you also tell me can I apply for the H1B from another company as a backup and join that company after layoff?

    Ans. You should be able to apply for an H-1 through another company. You may have to apply for an H-1 visa to get back into H-1, but you will not be out of status because your 485 is pending. You will not be subject to the quota. Having an H-1 as a backup is legallly possible, but tricky. Make sure you discuss this with your H-1 lawyers.

  9. Friday, 13...
    Question:
    Answer:

    In a recent meeting, USDOL has stated:

    Quote:

    ...As of late January 2009, DOL is processing cases with priority dates in June 2008, cases in the audit queue with priority dates in August 2007, and cases in the appeal queue of April 2007....

    One of the reasons that case processing slowed in the 4th quarter of 2008 was that DOL was hiring and training contractor staff for the Atlanta National Processing Center. The contract was awarded last summer, a losing contractor appealed and won the appeal, then the initial contractor sued. The workers did not come on board until last September 2008. The Atlanta Processing Center has only 40 federal employees and the rest of the staff consists of contractors. With the contractors now in place, the pace of processing has picked up. Only 4,571 PERM applications were completed in October-December 2008 but 3,500 PERM applications were completed in January 2009. However, DOL expects this will level off and processing rates will slow down again because of the limited number of federal employees available to review the contractors’ work.

     

  10. Tuesday, 10...
    Question: My wife is on cap-exempt H1B working for a non-profit hospital. She got the offer from another non-profit community hospital but, their lawyer declined to file a H1B transfer with the reason that a new employer is not a cap-exempt employer because it's not affiliated with any higher education institution. It's a very large community non-profit hospital but, no affiliation with any universities or research organization. Do you think, any chances here ?
    Answer:

    Difficult to say what the chances are, but read on.

    Note that sometimes the employer may not be exempt from the quota, but the job may be. In the last three months, we have processed three cases like this.

    Two H-1 cases were for a for-profit employer who was subject to the quota. But the employees are working at a Federal Research Lab. So that jobs are being performed to assist the function of a quota-exempt entity. H-1 were approved.

    One case was for an educator who was doing trainings for a private company. The employer is obviously subject to the quota, but there was a large component of the job where she is assisting art education outreach for a university. H-1 approved.

    But this is never easy, simply because CIS itself does not understand its own law. The first set of cases were returned as unapprovable by CIS 4 times and finally approved. The second, returned once and then approved. I will not get into the amount of pushing we had to do to get the govt. to obey the law, but we did get them approved.

  11. Tuesday, 10...
    Question: Thanks in advance for your help. My current situation is this : 1. Applied for I140 and received RFE 2. RFE requires Employer's 2007 tax document and my recent W2 3. There is a salary difference in W2 and Labor ( salary < Labor = 7000 USD) and the company was in loss for the fiscal year 2008. 4. This is my 6th year in H1 B and it expires in October,2009 My questions are: 1. Can I transfer my H1 B to another Employer at this situation and apply for my new Labor? 2. If Labor is approved, can I file my I140 premium and apply for 7th year extension? 3. How long will it take to cancel the current I140? Please help me out regarding this situation. Thanks and awaiting for your valuable suggestions.
    Answer:

     You can get an H-1 extension when your I-140 or an appeal against the denial of an I-140 is pending. So you can have the employer file an appeal against the 140 denial and change employers. The appeal of employer A, will get you H-1 extensions for employer B. This could be easily good for 1-2 years of H-1 extensions. Start the green card again with B.

  12. Tuesday, 10...
    Question: I really appreciate ur efforts here.I had one question to ask u if u can answer humbly.I am a doctor from india and i had got a residency in internal medicine last year.I got my H1b visa stamped but coulnt go to usa coz of some reasons.So the hospital got my H1B visa legally cancelled.This year again i have got residency in another hospital and they r ready to sponsor my H1b visa.I wanted to ask u that will there be any problem from USCIS in processing my petition this time as my visa got cancelled last year.As i have not told this hospital about my visa cancellation last year will that be a problem.Will my petiton be processed in a routine way this time too by uscis.
    Answer:

    It looks like your visa was not canceled, you just did not use it. Note two things. First, non-use of an earlier issued visa should not create any problems in the future. But second and much more important, you HAVE to tell the hospital that you had an H-1 earlier. As far as I know, there is a question on the H-1 forms that specifically asks that question. Not answering the questions on the forms truthfully can get you into trouble. Check the forms, if there is no question that asks about any earlier H-1, you are fine. But I am pretty sure there is such a question and you have to get that answered truthfully.

  13. Tuesday, 10...
    Question: Hi...i have a question...i came to US on my L2 visa and am here for 1 month.meanwhile my company has initiated for my L1b visa in India..now my question is... 1. Should i have to travel back to my native for Visa stamping or i can apply for COS from L2 to L1B in US itself? 2.Since i already own L2 visa is there any chance that my L1B is rejected?i have been working in the company for 1yr and 2 months only now. 3.in case if my L1b is rejected is there will be any impact on my already approved L2 visa?can i come back to US again using L2 visa?
    Answer:

    You can apply for COS. Even if L-1 is rejected, you can still maintain your L-2. In case of a visa rejection, you should be able to come back on L-2 visa or reapply for L-2 visa on the spot.

  14. Friday, 6...
    Question: If you leave USA for job outside USA before using 6 years of H visa and work for 1 year, does the H1B clock reset for another 6 years and what happens to unused period of H visa?
    Answer:

    After one year abroad, you have 6 more years. The unused portion is ignored.

  15. Wednesday,...
    Question: At the very outset I would like to appreciate your for the credible service you are doing by explaining the law in a very lucid manner to a common man. I have an issue where I need your help. I am on H1 B since Oct 1st 2008 and working with my employer at his site. Though he is paying me in cash and kind he is not running a payroll for me since the inception. Now if I want to move or transfer my H1 to a different company can I do that with out the paystubs. If so that is great news for me, if not what are the options I have. Appreciate your help in this matter.
    Answer:

    It is illegal for an employer to pay you in cash (or kind) and not deduct payroll taxes.

    You can transfer. Ask CIS to "forgive" being out of status because this is not your fault. If you want to make your case stronger, file a complaint against the employer for non-payment of wages. Use this form:
    http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/wh-4.pdf

    You can also contact the local WHD of DOL where you are:
    http://www.dol.gov/whd/

    Not only will you most likely get your full salary for every day of H-2, you also well protected from any problems past or future due to non-payment. Good luck!

  16. Wednesday,...
    Question: I have a friend who is having L1 visa came USA two years before on L1 working in Company A. After coming USA he applied for H1 and got approved in 2008 October thru Company B. His status from L1 to H1 is also changed in Oct 2008. The candidate is still working in the company A (with L1 Visa). 1) How long he can work in Company B(with L1 visa)? (due to market down he is not getting job and may take time to get job on H1 Visa, to come out of the company A (L1) What is the time limit to shift to H1 company from L1 company after change of status to H1 from L1. 2) Is there any impact in future (in H1 extensions or in Green Card process) if he continues to work in the same company A (with L1 Visa, even though his change of status is changed to H1 with new I-94 number)?
    Answer:

    I think I have mentioned this in my blog earlier. Once the COS is approved and kicks in (October 1, 2008), he is NOT on L-1 hence the work on L-1 is illegal. This can have an impact on several things.

    To correct matters, he must immediately reenter USA with an L-1 visa or apply for COS back to L-1.

  17. Tuesday, 27...
    Question: When we apply for Green card under EB2 category, should the masters degree and present job be related? Here is a situation: I have a masters in Agribusiness and I am working as a business analyst. My employer says I am not eligible to apply under the EB2 as my masters is not related to my present job in IT sector. Please let me know the reality.
    Answer:

    In fact there is no simple answer.  Legally, there is nothing that requires that the degree must be in a related field.  But, the employer needs to make sure, under penalty of perjury, that they do require a Master's degree, even if it is unrelated.

  18. Tuesday, 27...
    Question: I am here on L1b visa from x company. My sister sponsored me Immigration visa in 2006. (File is still in processing). My assignment is going to over here. Is there any work around or change of status through which i can stay here?
    Answer:

    So, the questions is does filing for any green card permit me to stay in USA?

    The answer is no.

    Only those green card application in which there is no wait for a visa number (example: spouse or parent of a US citizen or EB1 category currently) permit you to stay in USA but only if AOS (I-485) is filed in a timely manner.

    That is the reason spouses of green card holders have to wait OUTSIDE USA for many, many years.

  19. Tuesday, 20...
    Question: Have a situation. My company applied for Labor in oct 2007 which got approved and we filed I-140 (EB-2) in april 2008. We got a RFE in Sep 2008 and reply recieved by the USCIS on oct 16th 2008. Mean while my 7th year of H1b was approved and now it expires on Nov 2009. We have not received any updates on my case and its been >90 days. My current lawyer now says that I should apply for EB-2 NIW as a back up. My concerns are: 1. If my current I-140 gets rejected will my 7th year of H1b be revoked? since it was based on labor pending? 2. What will be my options if it gets denied( can I file for Motion to reconsider). Will I still be in Status and work till nov 2009? 3. Will they extend my H1b beyond nov 2009 if the MTR is not resolved by then? 4. If at all everything is rejected what can I do to start residency in july if I match? If all else fails what are my options to continue working in the US? My wife is on her independent H1B visa and I have 2 US citizen kids. I also have a US citizen brother( dont know if that would help any)
    Answer:

    Generally speaking, NIW is a lousy back up for a number of reasons. But I say this not knowing the merits of your situation, as your lawyer does.

    But here are some things to consider.

    Under current practice, CIS does NOT take away the H-1 time they have given you even if the 140 is denied.

    An MTR is another dumb option in most cases. An appeal is the way to go. While the appeal is pending, you are permitted to keep getting H-1 extensions (an MTR does not give you that right). During that time you can work out other GC options. Consult with your lawyers and also get a second opinion.

    The kids and your brother cannot do much. Your kids can petition for your green card only when they turn 21.

  20. Tuesday, 20...
    Question: I have recently gotten engaged to a green card holder. We are making plans for our wedding, very likely to happen this year. However, the following questions arose: 1. Does the fact that I already hold another Master and a Ph.D. degrees accelerate my green card application? I understand that the backlog is of 5-6 years, but I wonder if my advanced education will assist my application. 2. My H-1B application last year was approved, but I did not use the visa, as I decided to go back to school for (yet!) another degree. Will the approval of the H-1B be looked at favorably, unfavorably, or will it not make a difference? 3. I am currently an F-1 holder. If I marry my fiance' this year, may I simply maintain my Visa independent of his? I am eligible to an OPT after I graduate (to happen this year or in mid-2010) and I am certain I will be able to obtain an H-1B afterwards. Therefore, I do not depend on my fiance' to keep a legal status in the country. Is it legal (or advisable) to keep my Immigration records separate from his? 4. How about when we file for taxes, after the wedding happens? May we file separately, or do we need to declare we are married?
    Answer:

     1. Advanced degrees do not help in a family-based green card.

    2. H-1 approval also does not help in the GC process.

    3. Check with your international students office about the OPT part. This one is difficult for me to comment upon.

    4. Whether or not you declare, if you are married then that is so. You must state that you are married if any immigration forms ask you. This is VERY important. Regarding taxes, check with a CPA. You do not want tax advice from a guy who barely passed his Federal Tax exam in law school.

    If I were you, I would depend on my H-1, not OPT. The H-1 permits dual intent (Nonimmigrant and Immigrant) and is likely to be a strong visa for a person married to a green card holder

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