US Immigration Questions

Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form. This answer is for information purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Legal options and factors for a future stay in the USA; not selected in H-1B lottery, Master's Degree, and passport renewal

Question details

Currently, I am holding a STEM OPT from May 2022 until May 2024 (2 years).

My employer had applied for H1B this year and last year but had no luck.

Question and suggestion, please:

1) What are my legal options?

1.1 Apply for H1b next year in March and wait for the result, In case H1b is picked, how do I process it as my STEM opt expires in May 2024?

2) Enroll in university for the Master's degree?

2.1 I have a few classes remaining for my master's as I have finished my bachelor's degree in the USA and I take Day One CPT? Once a master's degree is complete, reapply for OPT and STEM OPT.

2.2 Should I continue to apply for H1B in the meantime?

3) If I apply for Master and Day One CPT, do I need to enroll for May–August 2024 (the summer class) or can I enroll for Fall 2024?

Note: STEM OPT Expires: May 15, 2024, or please suggest any other better option to stay in the USA.

Lastly, my passport expires in May 2024 as well. Is there any problem there?

- I'm thinking of starting the process for the renewal online. Should I do it now or wait for some time?

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

OPT can be applied at the next higher educational level. For instance, if your first OPT was based on a master's degree, you would need to pursue a higher level of education, such as a PhD, to apply for another OPT.

Regarding your passport expiration, it shouldn't be a significant issue. You have the option of expedited passport processing, which can help you get your passport renewed quickly. Overall, it should not cause major complications, and you should be fine.

For more information on your question please visit the blog section: 

https://immigration.com/blogs

 

EB-1C (International Managers and Executives): Eligibility for H-1B managers in the USA

Question details

I started working in the USA at my current company as a technical engineer, and they sponsored my GC application under the EB2 category. Recently, I was promoted to a manager position where I now oversee a team of 10 individuals. I'm wondering if I qualify to apply for a GC under the EB1 category based on my managerial role.

What are the available avenues to pursue a GC under EB1 as a manager in my current situation?

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

The answer is yes, but remember, EB-1C requires that you have worked for a branch or a sister company affiliate of this company outside the U.S. for one year as an executive or managerial employee, or equivalent.

Nonimmigrant Visas

Transitioning from H-1B to I-485 GC EAD: maintaining status and re-employment considerations

Question details

I have received my GC EAD based on my dependent status and am currently on an H-1B visa. However, the project I am working on will soon come to an end.

Do I still need to maintain my H-1B status, or will I automatically be in GC EAD status if I stop maintaining H-1B?

If I take a break from work while on GC EAD and then resume working after a 3-4 month period, will my immigration status be unaffected?

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

It is recommended to maintain the H-1, H-4, L-1, L-2, etc., statuses because it provides an additional layer of protection in case of any government errors or complications with the I-485 situation. If, for any reason, the government mistakenly or intentionally targets your I-485 application, having an H-1B to fall back on can be advantageous. The H-1B status remains intact and offers continued benefits. 

On the other hand, the EAD (Employment Authorization Document), unlike H-1B, grants you the freedom to choose whether to work, not work, work multiple jobs, or even start your own business. However, there are certain limitations to consider. Interestingly, the derivative beneficiary, which refers to your spouse, may have more rights under the EAD compared to your own. It's important to exercise caution and be mindful of these distinctions.

 

What are the consequences of H-1B or green card fraud or misinterpretation? How does it affect my departure, assets and financial matters?

Question details

If I am convicted of H1B/Green Card fraud or misrepresentation, resulting in a permanent entry ban, the following inquiries arise:

How soon must I depart from the US?

What will happen to my assets, such as my house and bank account funds? Will they be subject to seizure?

Can I sell my house and withdraw the money before leaving the US?

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

If you are convicted, which implies involvement in a criminal case, you will be unable to leave the U.S. without serving your sentence. If you receive a jail term of six months, one year, or five years (or any other duration), you must complete that period before departing. The timeline for your departure depends on the current status of your case. It is not advisable to stay in the U.S. illegally, considering that you are already facing the worst outcome—a permanent ban from entering the U.S. Overstaying by an additional six or eight months would result in an additional bar of three to five years on top of the existing permanent ban of three to ten years. As for your assets, unless there is some form of asset forfeiture, you can take your money and sell your house before leaving.

Green Card

Immigration Law

Potential visa complications for an H-1B visa holder due to past employment with a blacklisted company and alternatives for obtaining an H-1B stamp

Question details

I came to the US in Aug 2015. Completed masters in 2017. Started OPT on 07/2017. When applying for OPT EAD I joined employer AZTech Technologies. I joined as an intern and was there for like 4 months. He responded for 2 months during training, after a couple of months employer did not respond at all. I got a doubt and found another job and moved to a different company. Later I got an H1B and I 140 approved. I am planning to go to India this August 2023. Recently I found out through social media that the company I joined in the initial stage of OPT EAD was a black listed company. Most people who joined those similar companies' visas got rejected when they went for stamping. I am going for H1B stamping. Will there be a problem in my case? Could you please advise me in this case? In an emergency situation, I need to go to India. I heard from some friends and social media groups out of my research that I can go get stamping done in other countries and then travel to India and can be back to the US. 

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

Firstly, it is crucial to be truthful and transparent about your employment history. Attempting to hide or misrepresent any information can have serious consequences. If there is misrepresentation in your background, it is possible that you may be barred from entering the United States permanently. Unfortunately, there may not be much we can do to change that outcome.

It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney who can assess your specific circumstances and provide personalized advice based on the current immigration laws and regulations.

 

Immigration Law

Options for extending stay in the U.S. after layoff as an international student pursuing a Master's in IT

Question details

I moved to the USA to pursue my Master's in IT. Unfortunately, I have recently been affected by mass layoffs in the tech industry, leaving me with only 30 days to extend my stay in the country to address household responsibilities and potentially secure a full-time job.

I have researched a few options for extending my stay and would greatly appreciate your guidance on these alternatives:

1) Apply for a B2 visa promptly: This option would allow me to remain in the country for an additional six months (until July or August) and continue my job search.

2) Enroll in a community college and obtain an I-20: Many community colleges do not require GRE or TOEFL scores, and their Fall semester usually begins in mid-August. This cost-effective choice would give me time until December, and I could transfer any earned credits to a university if needed.

3) If more time is required, I could join a university in the Spring semester and transfer my community college credits. However, I understand that applying for an MS or PhD program would necessitate a direct application to the university.

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

If you are facing a layoff as an international student pursuing a Master's in IT and seeking to extend your stay in the US, there are several options available. One option is to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa. Please visit Rajiv’s blog at immigration.com for more information.

Another option is to enroll in a community college and obtain an I-20. This can provide you with additional time in the US. If more time is required, you could consider joining a university in the spring semester.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is another option to explore. There is another blog entry specifically discussing CPT, which you should read for more information. Additionally, there is an option to secure a quota exempt job. Our website features frequently asked questions that address quota exempt jobs, so be sure to review them.

 

Immigration Law

H-1B or green card misrepresentation: Legal options and consequences for fighting back against USCIS

Question details

1. Have you taken cases of H1B or GC fraud or misrepresentation?

2. What are the consequences if caught - Just losing status and deportation? Can it lead to Jail in any case?

3. Can we fight back in court to justify our case and win against USCIS?

 

ANSWER
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Yes, our firm has taken cases involving H-1B or green card fraud or misrepresentation for about 30 years. Our focus is on employment and business-based immigration and related cases. Our firm has also assisted criminal defense teams in similar cases. If caught in a fraud or misrepresentation, the government can choose to prosecute you criminally since most immigration papers are filed under penalty of perjury. This can result in imprisonment for up to five years, as felonies are serious crimes. From an immigration perspective, a misrepresentation or fraud can lead to a permanent bar from entering the United States, causing you to lose your stay and potentially be unable to return. However, if you did not intentionally lie or the misrepresentation was immaterial, you can fight back in court by asserting defenses such as lack of intent or immateriality. For example, if a minor detail unrelated to the visa decision is misrepresented, it may not be considered material. These are some of the grounds to consider when fighting against misrepresentation. If you don't have any valid arguments, it may not be worthwhile to fight your case.

Immigration Law

Switching employers while one's spouse is on an H-4 visa and the steps to ensure a smooth return to the U.S.

Question details

If I change my employer while my wife is in India on an H4 dependent visa, will she be able to return to the US even though her visa stamp bears my old employer's name? She has valid stamping till Sept 2024. What steps should we take to ensure a smooth return to the US for her?

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

No, it is not a problem as long as you maintain your H1-B status. Whether you have changed employers or are in the 60-day grace period, she can return on her H-4 visa without any issues. Even if her visa stamp bears the old employer's name, it does not matter. There are no specific steps to take in this situation as it is perfectly legal.

What happens if you stay outside the U.S. for more than 8 months as a permanent resident

Question details

Does it pose a problem if we stay out of the USA for 8 months or more while having permanent residency and returning after that duration? If so, what can be done to remedy this?

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

The green card remains valid as long as you don't exceed the 12-month mark. Crossing this deadline leads to losing the green card and going through complicated procedures to retrieve it. If you stay outside the US for more than six months, you are subject to close examination by Customs and Border Protection at the airport. However, if your absence is less than six months, you can pass without being questioned extensively. The critical six-month mark should be taken seriously. If you stay outside for more than eight months, expect to be asked questions about the reason for your lengthy absence. Therefore, carrying evidence supporting your reason, such as selling your property or helping a family member, can be useful.

Recommendation letters for EB-1A applications

Question details

Questions about 'recommendation letters' for EB1A:

1. For a strong case, a ballpark number of how many recommendation letters should one attach to the application? 5? 10? More the better or quality > quantity?

2. Is there a validity of recommendation letters? What if I collect letters today but apply for EB1A 1 year or 2 years later?

3. Is it mandatory for the recommenders to write the letters on the official letterhead of their company/college

 

ANSWER
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FAQ Transcript

To make a strong case, it is not just about the number of recommendation letters, but also the quality of the letters. A ballpark estimate for the number of letters would be around 5 to 10. Quality is definitely more important than quantity. When considering recommendation letters, people who know you by reputation rather than just personally are given more weight. It is important that the letters are detailed, with specific reasoning about what makes you special and why you are in the top 10%. The qualifications of the people writing the letters, including their resumes, should also be included. The validity of recommendation letters can become questionable if they are too old, so it is better to obtain recent letters if possible. However, if there is a choice between getting an old letter or no letter at all, it is better to have an old letter. If the letter writer cannot write on official letterhead, they should include a line stating that their opinion is not that of their employer.