Articles Posted in H-1B Visa

This year 233,000 applicants competed for the 65,000 H-1B visas available. This means over 150,000 applicants were not considered and denied the opportunity to apply. The unlucky applicants can wait and try again next year, but in the meantime there are other options available. This video gives a breakdown of the 6 alternative visas.

In addition to the options discussed in the video, below are some of the options explained further.

F-1 Student Visa

Students going to school in the US can apply for a F-1 visa. The F-1 visa allows the student to stay in the US as long as the student is enrolled in an accredited school and are active in a program that will result in a degree. Continue Reading

H-1B holders working at multiple worksites must have a Labor Condition Application (LCA) on file for each worksite. Last week the USCIS Administrative Appeals released a decision that states any geographic change in the workplace listed on the LCA accompanying all H-1B visas requires filing an amended application. Also, any material change in the terms and conditions of the employment requires the filing of an amended H-1B with a new LCA.

Matter of Simeio Solutions, Inc., the case decided last week, reinforced this requirement. In the instant case, a foreign worker in India obtained an H-1B and applied for the visa at the United States Embassy in New Delhi. During the interview at the embassy the applicant indicated that he performed services not reflected in his application. This prompted an investigation by the USCIS, which included a visit to the worksite.

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With the school year coming to a close, it’s time for foreign students to start thinking on ways to continue to remain in the United States, following the conclusion of their academic programs. Some college students on F-1 visas who are authorized to work pursuant to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program are able to find jobs in their field of study and may continue to remain in the US  their stay on an H-1B visa. However, moving from an F-1/OPT directly to H-1B can create a gap of time between the expiration of the OPT and before the H-1B visa starts. Fortunately there is a Cap-Gap, which allows applicants with pending or approved H-1B’s to extend OPT work authorization to cover this gap.

What’s required for an F-1 extension?

students-1197349-mIf you’ve secured an employer that will apply for an H-1B on your behalf, it’s essential that the H-1B is timely filed. The H-1B should be applied while the OPT is still in effect.

If the H-1B application is selected in the lottery and approved, an automatic F1/OPT extension will take place. On October 1st when the H-1B visa can officially take effect, the applicant should request a change of status. This will allow for a smooth transition from F-1/OPT to H-1B.

Things to watch out for

  • If the H-1B application is not chosen in the CAP or the H-1B application is denied, the applicant will be granted a 60-day grace period. During this time the applicant must make plans to leave the United States.
  • Once an applicant enters the 60-day grace period, the applicant is no longer authorized to legally work inside the United States.

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woman-1134419-m (1)Currently dependent spouses on H-4 visas cannot lawfully seek employment in the United States, but that will be changing soon! The USCIS has officially announced that certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders may seek employment in the United States starting May 26, 2015.

Those eligible are H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B holders who are the principal beneficiary on an approved I-140 or the H-4 dependent spouses who have been granted H-1B status under section 106(a) and (b) of the American Competiveness in the Twenty-fist Century Act of 2000 (amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorizations Act).

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As H-1B season approaches, it’s time to begin your application process for a spot in the lottery. Currently, the USCIS allots 65,000 H-1B visas each year. Vying for a spot in the lottery are an estimated  195,000 applicants.   With three times the amount of applicants than visas available,  many applicants will be unable to get H-1B status due to sheer lack of numbers.

The Obama administration has attempted to combat  immigration reform but these attempts have not survived in Congress. One bill called the Immigration Innovation Act proposes to increase the amount of H-1B issued from 65,000 to 115,000.  The bill also proposes a removal of the 20,000 Cap on applicants with U.S. Master’s degree.

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President Obama’s “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” proposes several changes to the immigration system many of which could affect employment-based visas. The proposed changes could be good news for employees and employers by decreasing wait times for certain classifications, allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work and in some cases increasing the amount of time a employee can remain on his visa.

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The employment-based changes will affect green cards, H-4, L-1B, OPT and PERM classifications.

Ex
ecutive Action re Pre-Registration for Adjustment Cases
Main proposals:

  • Decrease wait time to file adjustment of status
  • Pre-register for green card and receive green card benefits while waiting for approval
  • Allow the temporary non-immigrant visa holder to change jobs while before green card is approved

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The H-1B cap for the 2015-2016 fiscal year will open on April 1, 2015.  Timely filing is important because there are a limited number of H-1B visas issued each year.  Application process is complex with no room for error.  It’s time for employers to identify the candidates for whom they wish to file H-1B visa, and start the paperwork.

H-1B visas are popular among employers seeking to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations in the United States.  A specialty occupation is a position that requires at least a Bachelor’s Degree.  It follows that the H-1B visa applicants must possess a four-year bachelor’s degree in a field related to the position; or the applicants must have relevant and required experience to qualify.

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Many universities are home to foreign students from all over the world. These foreign students spend four years earning a phenomenal degree from American universities while also building friends and network connections. However, for many of these students are forced to leave the United States because they haven’t secured proper post-graduate visas. A F-1 student visa, which is what most if not all of these students are covered under, is temporary and only allows a person to stay in the United States as long as they are a student. In this article, we will explore what kind of options are available to F-1 visa holding foreign students after graduation.

F-1 -> OPT

Although there is no such thing as an “OPT visa”, a student may extend their F-1 status if they can secure optional practical training (OPT). There is a maximum of a single 12 month extension and starts upon graduation or completion of course of study. This is mostly handled through the F-1 student’s school’s international students department.

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In approximately two months, H-1B visa petitions can be filed with USCIS during the first week of April. Only 85,000 of these visas will be selected, and last year they were distributed via a random lottery system. Companies across America are gearing up their internal departments and coordinating with immigration attorneys in preparation for these H-1B filings.

Demand has only increased in the last few years. In the fiscal years of 2010, 2011, and 2012, USCIS was able to accept H1-B petitions well into November, December, and January. However, for the fiscal year of 2013, the quota was met in June. Then for the fiscal year of 2014, the quota was met on April 5. Approximately 150,000 petitions were filed during that first week of April, meaning that approximately 65,000 H1-B applicants may have been turned away. Given this pent up demand, it is likely that the H1-B visa cap for the fiscal year of 2015 will fill up quickly.

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It is a stressful, but rewarding, time when a noncitizen finally begins their adjustment of status process to obtain a green card. Not only are many of the visa restrictions lifted, but it also allows for more frequent travel in and out of the United States. This article will explore some of the issues, however, of travelling with a pending I-485 adjustment of status application with USCIS.

The old law required a foreign national to obtain an Advance Parole document to travel outside the US while the I-485 was filed and still pending adjudication with USCIS. However H-1B, L, and K-3/K-4 (but not K-1/K-2) visa holders with a pending I-485/Adjustment need not seek advanced parole before travel. However, there is no harm in obtaining one, and in fact a memorandum put out by USCIS states that it is the alien’s prerogative to present either the advanced parole document or their H-1, L, or K-3/K-4 visa papers to evidence proper entry into the United States. If the noncitizen presents both, however, the reviewing officer should take the visa papers instead of the advanced parole document and inform the noncitizen that they don’t need the advanced parole document.

If the noncitizen re-enters the United States by using the Advanced Parole document instead of his or her visa papers, it does not negate their H-1B status. Thus, when a nonimmigrant is attempting to adjust status to obtain a green card, there is no break in the requirement to continuously maintain valid nonimmigrant status. For all intents and purposes, the H-1B status is continuously maintained and H-B beneficiaries have gone on to successfully obtain extensions premised on a valid underlying H-1B visa. Even if there were to be some question about this, the Act specifically creates a safe harbor exception for “technical violations,” which this situation would fall under. It would be incongruous for the noncitizen to be considered “out of status” when using an Advanced Parole document to re-enter the United States, but still allow him or her to obtain extensions on that H-1B visa.

If you have questions about your visa and the effect of obtaining an Advanced Parole document, contact our office today for more information or to speak with an attorney.