Compliance FAQs

Government Shutdown – Impact on Immigration Matters

Authored on: Fri, 10/04/2013 - 02:43

Question

1. Our employees are deployed at government sites. Are we still obliged to pay the H-1 wage?

2. Can we ask such employees to use their paid leave?

Answer

A1. Yes. In my view, that obligation continues unabated.

A2. No. If the employees voluntarily wish to do so for their convenience, I feel that would be legal. But the employer may not force employees to do so.

Ability to Pay

Authored on: Thu, 09/05/2013 - 01:05

Question

1. Is submitting consolidated returns and audited financial statements for a parent company and its wholly owned subsidiaries sufficient to meet the burden of proof for establishing the company’s ability to pay by a preponderance of the evidence?

2. Where an employee who is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 and is eligible for AC-21 portability ports to a new employer in the same or similar occupation, must the new employer demonstrate the ability to pay the proffered wage from the date of portability?

3. When adjudicating I-485 applications for portability-eligible individuals where the petitioning employer is no longer in business, does USCIS require the subsequent employer to satisfy both the ability-to-pay requirement and the bona fide offer of employment requirement from the date of the employee’s subsequent hire through the approval of adjustment of status?

4. Why are prorated net assets not sufficient evidence to support ability to pay?

5. Why is the Yates Memo not applied if a beneficiary’s W-2 indicates that the actual wage paid to him/her is at least as much as the beneficiary’s proffered wage for the prorated period?

Answer

1. USCIS says that it evaluates each consolidated financial statement on a caseby-case basis under the preponderance of evidence standard to determine whether the petitioner has the ability to pay the proffered wage.

2. USCIS says that, in this situation, the new employer is not obligated to demonstrate the ability to pay from the date of portability.

3. USCIS says that, in this situation, the new employer does not have to demonstrate the ability to pay during the entire period.  Once the Form I-485 has been pending for 180 days, the applicant may port and present evidence.  If AC-21 portability requirements are met, the dissolution or withdrawal of the I-140 petition (after the 180-day point) by the former employer does not affect portability.

4. USCIS does not specifically address why it will not accept prorated net assets as sufficient evidence to support ability to pay.  Prorating is not provided for in any policy, regulation, or statute.  Therefore, only current assets should be included in the calculation.

5. According to USCIS, the Yates Memo will apply only in respect of ability to pay. The adjudicating officer will look at the rate paid and not the total amount paid.  It is the petitioner’s burden to demonstrate that the rate that is being paid is an appropriate increment to the proffered wage.

Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate

Authored on: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 03:35

Question

Q1. What is FDNS?

Q2. What is the function of FDNS?

Answer

A1.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created FDNS in 2004 in order to strengthen USCIS’s efforts to ensure immigration benefits are not granted to individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety, or who seek to defraud our immigration system.  In 2010, FDNS was promoted to a Directorate which elevated the profile of this work within USCIS, brought about operational improvements, and enhanced the integration of the FDNS mission in all facets of the agency’s work.  Today FDNS continues to lead the USCIS effort to ensure the integrity of the nation’s immigration benefits processes. FDNS’s primary mission is to determine whether individuals or organizations filing for immigration benefits pose a threat to national security, public safety, or the integrity of the nation’s legal immigration system.  FDNS officers are located in every USCIS Center, District, Field, and Asylum Office.  FDNS officers are also located in other government agencies. 

Supporting the USCIS mission, FDNS’s objective is to enhance USCIS’s effectiveness and efficiency in detecting and removing known and suspected fraud from the application process, thus promoting the efficient processing of legitimate applications and petitions.

Q2.  FDNS officers resolve background check information and other concerns that surface during the processing of immigration benefit applications and petitions.  Resolution often requires communication with law enforcement or intelligence agencies to make sure that the information is relevant to the applicant or petitioner at hand and, if so, whether the information would have an impact on eligibility for the benefit.  

FDNS officers also perform checks of USCIS databases and public information, as well as other administrative inquiries, to verify information provided on, and in support of, applications and petitions.  Administrative inquiries may include:

1. Performance of fraud assessments – FDNS officers engage in fraud assessments (including Benefit Fraud and Compliance Assessments) to determine the types and volumes of fraud in certain immigration benefits programs;

2. Compliance Reviews – Systematic reviews of certain types of applications or petitions to ensure the integrity of the immigration benefits system, and

3. Targeted site visits – Inquiries conducted in cases where fraud is suspected.

FDNS uses the Fraud Detection and National Security Data System (FDNS-DS) to identify fraud and track potential patterns. 

 

USCIS has formed a partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in which FDNS pursues administrative inquiries into most application and petition fraud, while ICE conducts criminal investigations into major fraud conspiracies. 

 

Other Functions

FDNS also conducts Benefit Fraud and Compliance Assessments to identify the types and volumes of fraud and develop mitigation strategies to deter and disrupt fraud.

 

In July 2009, FDNS implemented the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP) to conduct unannounced site inspections to verify information contained in certain visa petitions.  USCIS provides petitioners and their representatives of record (if any) an opportunity to review and address the information before denying or revoking an approved petition based on information obtained during a site inspection. To find out more please click here 

Out of Status

Authored on: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 02:36

Question

How many months gap is permisible for H-1 and also in GC process if person is on H-1 ?

I mean to say supposse one H-1 holder lost his job and if he got another job after 02 months ( Gap of 02 months ) then his H-1 and GC process will be effected ? His last co. is supporting by keeping her I-140 as such ( no revock )

(Condition: Person has H-1 and his I-140 was also aproved in last co. but due to some reason she left job and would like to join another co. on 3rd month, say after 02 months and would like to file H-1 in this new company )

Answer

A gap of even one day (unless excused by USCIS) puts a person out of status and is not permitted. When you leave a sponsoring employer, it certainly calls into question the continuity of existence the green card job'

H1B Status

Authored on: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 02:32

Question

My wife is on H1B and now she is 7th month pregnant. If she takes leave on non-payment, will she be in H1B status or out of status?

Answer

As long as the leave of absence is reasonable and customary (or required by medical necessity), she should be considered in status.

Importance of having continuity of employment/pay stubs

Authored on: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 05:50

Question

Whats the relevance or importance of having continuous pay stubs (How much gap is permissible if Not significant?) in the processing of Green card of an H1B holder.

Answer

Continued payments are required by law for H-1 holder, unless they come under some very limited exceptions for leave for employee's personal reasons. Not paying, exposes the employer to investigation and penalties and may place the employee out of status.

In the green card context, non-payment can lead to problems with demonstrating ability to pay wages.

For both H-1 and GC, nonpayment can lead to an assumption that no genuine job exists. That could lead to cancellation of one or both processes, except for situations where AC21 portability is involved.

H-1 visa denial and investigation

Authored on: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 03:50

Question

1. I had filed for H1B visa last year but the VISA consulate in Delhi denied it as they wanted Tax returns of the Client company and other details which my H1B sponsor company was not willing to share. I was really frustrated with VO at embassy. I then applied to embassy to withdrawn my H1B visa application. I got a confirmation that it has been withdrawn.

Now today after so many days when I checked my H1B status on USCIS, it said " This case has been received from the State Department with a request we review it."

Please let me know what does it mean and does it mean something serious to take care of.

2. Updated FAQ - What are the implications of H1B Visa revocation for future H1b application

Answer

1. This means that the consulate sent the case back to USCIS for review, revocation (and may be investigation of the employer). Usually, you should not have any issue with it. But from what I recall, if the case is revoked, you will be subject to the H-1 quota in future.

2. I do not see any implications for the individual unless the revocation was based upon some problem with the individual's qualifications.

Compensation for H-1 lay off

Authored on: Mon, 08/03/2009 - 15:05

Question

My friend is working for NASDAQ listed company in US. We were in a discussion about the compensation details available for H1B employee if the company does a lay-off and he is affected due to it. He is on end of his 6th year and just got his 7th year extension.
If something like that happen(not that it should happen) but if that happen what are the compensation he is entitled to get from the company, apart from 2 weeks pay.

Answer

There is no special protection of compensation under H-1 laws once employment is terminated. Under immigration laws, the employer is required only pay for a one-way ticket back to your home country. The protection, if any, comes from employment contracts.

Status, authorized period of stay and unlawful presence

Authored on: Mon, 05/11/2009 - 02:56

Question

Answer

Status, authorized period of stay and unlawful presence are three VERY important concepts in US immigration laws with far reaching implications. The nuances in these concepts are so intricate that they can trip up even my fellow-lawyers. I see issues in this all the time.

Here is a brief primier to enable you to understand the basics. This is by no means an exhaustive analysis.

Status
Status is the immigration designation what has been given to you by USCIS. For instance, when USCIS approves your H-1 with an I-94 attached to the approval notice, you are in H-1 status.

Status and Visa
The difference between status and visa is important. A visa is a stamp on your passport. This stamp is placed by US consulates outside USA. The system of entry and stay in USA is governed by dual permission (DHS and DOS). When you are outside USA and you wish to enter, you first go to a US consulate (an arm of DOS - Department of State or State Department) for the appropriate visa stamping.

For instance, for a tourist visa, you go the US consulate in your home country, follow their procedures and apply for a "B-2" visa. When you get the B visa stamp you have been permitted by one agency (US State Department) to enter USA. If the visa stamp is valid for 5 years, you may travel to USA any time during those 5 years. This is your first permission in the dual permissioning system.

Now with the B-2 visa, you travel to USA. When you land at the US port, CBP (an arm of DHS - the Department of Homeland Security) decides whether you will be allowed to enter USA and how long you can stay in USA. The permission to stay in USA is given to you in the form of a small card that is put inside your passport. This card is called "Arrival Departure Record" or Form I-94. The I-94 has an expiration date.

Once you are inside USA, you are "in status" only till your I-94 is unexpired. If you wish to seek an extension of of your stay, you must request USCIS (another arm of DHS) for an extension.

Authorized Period of Stay
Authorized period of stay means you are not illegal but you are not in full status. Taking the example of B-2 extension I was discussing above, let us say you want to stay longer than the stay initially given on your I-94. You will need to apply for an extension BEFORE your current status (the termination date on your I-94) expires. Once you have made a timely application for extension or a change of status (for instance you wish to change to H-1B), you can continue to stay in USA till your application is decided (but not past the point you had asked for as an extension). The moment your I-94 expires, you go from being "in status" to being in "authorized period of stay." This is less than full status (for instance you cannot change status within USA when you are in authorized period of stay, but you can do so when you are "in status."

Authorized period of stay also applies to people who have applied for the last step of their green card, "Adjustment of Status" (AOS or I-485). When someone files an appropriate AOS, they are in authorized period of stay until their AOS is adjudicated, no matter how long it takes.

Unlawful Presence
This is the real bad one you have to watch for. If you accrue 180 days of unlawful presence in USA, you are barred from entering USA for 3 years. If you are unlawfully present for one year, you are barred for 10 years. This is referred to as the 3/10 bar. A rule of thumb is, unlawful presence begins to accrue when your I-94 expires and you have done nothing to extend/change your status or when the government says your unlawful presence has begun (typically happens when an extension or change of status is denied.
 

In AOS (I-485) Context

Quote: Hope you remember me. I am one of your clients and you had represented me for my H1-B. Today I was laid off from my employer who was the H1-B sponsor. I have my AOS EAD as a beneficiery to my husband's PR process. I am concerned about my status in the US. My husband is also on EAD as he recently changed his employer using AC-21. Could you please help me? What status am I on now? Can I stay in the US? I currently have a valid I-94 in my passport. I need to decide the future course of action

Ans. You are now in authorized period of stay and can legally stay in USA. To work, you will need an EAD and to travel an AP.

In Change of Status Context
Updated 11 May 2009

Q. I am currently on H4 visa and the expiration date of my I-94 is May 23, 2009. My spouse had applied for an extension during the last week of April 09. In between, I received an offer for MS course at Penn state University, PA - US. I am planning to join school again on F1 visa since I have received assistantship/ financial aid from my University. I am planning to join for Fall 09 semester which begins in August 09.

Since I have to apply for a change of status from H4- F1 , is it possible to do this having applied for H4 extension now? Is there any way by which I can submit an application for F1 visa directly to USCIS without going for H4 extension?

Ans.
The rule of thumb is you can always apply for COS when you are in status, but not when you are in authorized period of stay. Upto 23 May, you are still in full H-4 status. After that day you will move to authorized period of stay because your H-4 status would have expired. So, if you file for a COS now, it should be fine. After 5/23 you have two choices. Wait for H-4 to be extended, then apply for COS to F-1 OR go outside USA any time and get F-1 visa stamping.

H-1 without specific job/GC continuation without H-1

Authored on: Thu, 04/23/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer


1. I don't have a work order or client letter to support my H1B extension which is expiring on 2nd June. Is it legally not allowed to file for H1B extension without this or to avoid RFE one need to support extension with this.

Ans. USCIS has criminalized civil conduct. To my amazement, I saw a criminal indictment count against an employer (Vision Systems - recently in the news) alleging that to obtain H-1 without a specific job in hand is a crime. I think this is ludicrous overreaching and misuse of law. Nevertheless, it is not a good idea to file an H-1 unless there is a specific job in hand.

2. My labor and I-140 is approved but if H1B extension is denied then I have to go back to Inida. Can GC processing be continued? If yes, In order to maintain my GC processing how quickly do I need to come back to US? What other options do I have in this scenario?

Ans. The green card can go on in your absence, but I am concerned that USCIS may consider that since there is no permanent job available, the green card should be canceled. To the best of my knowledge, they have never done it so far and may not do it, but the risk remains. Not much I can say other than if you dont have a choice then you have to leave and we will deal with other issues when (or if) they arise.

US employee working from India

Authored on: Tue, 04/21/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer

1. I will be going to India and work for my company from India (before October if the H1b gets approved and continue to work from India if H1b is not approved).
Will you guys be able to answer the following questions for me? Is it okay for my company to wire the money (USD) to me monthly as individual consultation expense and will they have to pay any taxes to the Indian and/or US government for that?

Ans. I see no problem with that from the immigration law perspective. I am not a tax expert, but the way it is done is the company pays you as an independent contractor. Since you are working in India, they do NOT need to deduct any US taxes. You are responsible for your own taxes to the Indian govt. Do double check the details with a CPA. Feel free to call our CPA. Anna o Suman ji can give you the number or anyone in accounting can.

2. On their accounts they would show that they are paying me in India as a consultant, will that be okay? ( I won't be on their payroll here in the USA).

Ans. Yes. That is fine.

3. Is it sufficient to say that I was doing independent consultation or sub-contracting work for my current company from India?

Ans. Yes. Immigration laws require nothing more.

New H-1 employee returning -- rights and issues

Authored on: Wed, 04/15/2009 - 01:00

Question

Our employee XYZ has arrived in the US. However, it appears that because of the job market in the US, he is going to return home to his old job. I know you said they are allowed to return back to USA at a later date if they choose to work for us down the road. But my question is how long may he stay without getting paid until he must return home? I know you sent me information about benching, stating:

Q. What is the law regarding the benching of H-1 holding employees?
A. The law does NOT permit benching without full salary payment by the employer. The only exception is that when an employer first hires an employee on H-1B they are allowed an initial period of 30 or 60 days during which the employee does not have to be paid while on bench.
i. If the employee is currently in USA and adjusts status or transfers from one employer to another within USA - the bench-without-pay period is 60 days from the date of approval of the petition by INS.
ii. If the employee is entering USA from abroad, the period is 30 days from the date of entry into USA.

If I'm interpreting this correctly, we must pay him no later than day 30 of his arrival here in the USA?

Answer

There are a couple of issues I want to clarify. The period of payment begins on the earlier of the two events: when the employee presents himself/herself for the job or 30/60 days. DOL considers it to be irrefutable evidence of having reported when a consulting company starts "marketing" the resume (Note also that to bring an employee in without a project has been elevated by this administration to be an indictable offense, which I think is unlikely to stand up in courts).

If the employee wishes to continue to stay for tourism, I think they should apply for B status. See this post: http://forums.immigration.com/blog.p...gcategoryid=36

As for returning in the future, that can be problematic because the govt. can questions whether there truly exists a job for him. If you have a truthful answer for that, return should be possible and can be done any time during the life of this H-1. Note also that you have no obligation to pay him while he is outside USA, but there is a general obligation to withdraw an H-1 if the worker leaves. SO, that makes this a gray area as well.

Effect of Bankruptcy on immigration

Authored on: Tue, 04/14/2009 - 01:00

Question

I tried to find information on the internet on how bankruptcy affects H-1 visa status and future green card processing, but couldn't find any information on this.

Answer

Bankruptcy should have no effect on H-1 or on future green card. I am not aware of any immigration laws that could cause a problem for you.

Unreasonable H-1 requests from CIS

Authored on: Mon, 04/13/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer

USCIS now wants consulting companies to provide tax information on their clients. This is gross over-reaching in my view. Here is an excerpt from an RFE we received last week:

Quote: Submit evidence that clearly substantiates that the petitioner or petitioner's client's are legitimate business entities and employers. Evidence should include copies of the client’s most recent signed Federal Tax Return and quarterly wage reports for the last quarter. If the clients are publicly traded companies, provide a copy of their most recent annual report and a letter from the president of the company explaining what business they have with the petitioner. If the client is a government agency, provide the contract number and the name of the company that has the primary contract.

As with most things dished out by USCIS, we are dealing with it.

Are H-1 holders being turned back at the airport?

Authored on: Fri, 04/03/2009 - 01:00

Question

This is the buzz going around in techie town. If you have already heard it then pl. ignore if not this is interesting.

A techie based of Jersey goes to India to visit his family recently. Techie is assumed have lived in the US for quite some time. He is currently working on his work permit as an alien worker. Techie also has a temporary un-approved/un-guaranteed green card called the EAD.

While re entering an immi-officer that if they can call his manager. Techie then hands all the contact information. Officer gives him a call and asks if they really need a H1B worker for his position. Officer also ensures if the H1B possesses exceptional skills. Manager replies back with a YES!

Officer then calls an office that could tell how many citizens posses the same skill and are unemployed. Officer is told numerous unemployed. Officer now decides to send the techie back. Techie then pleads that he has a house on mortage, a car out of a loan. He needs time to return. Officer then grants him a month on a visiting visa. Techie once again pleads and successfully bargains a 3 month on a visitor visa to return back.

Answer

If this is all what happened, then the govt. has acted illegally. There is no question in my mind about it.

When does CIS investigate fraud?

Authored on: Thu, 03/19/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer

The attached document explains the criteria.

H-1 Compliance: Wage Source; Exempt Employees; Posting; Starting Payroll; SSN; When to amend

Authored on: Thu, 03/19/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer

1. Is it advisable or compulsory to get the prevailing wage determination from the states or Online Wage Library is enough at the time of taking LCA? Because most of the time we are taking the LCAs for the job titles like: Software Engineer, Programmer Analyst and System Analyst for which the wage determination available in the online wage library.

Ans. OES wages can be used as long as the correct job category and job level are used. Applying for prevailing wages from the govt. is time consuming, but does have the benefit of being almost beyond question in case of an audit.

2. For an exempt employee, where are not agreeing for Recruitment Efforts, Displacement and Secondary Displacement conditions, is it compulsory to do the Job Posting at the place of work ? How will be the approach of DOL at the time of auditing the LCA of an exempt employee, as we are maintaining the list of exempt employees as per DOL regulation in the public access file? Can we expect any kind of relaxation regarding the doing of job posting at the place of work, which is not always practical for the IT consulting companies? Nowadays we are listening to the stories, where the Officers from the Service Centers, Port of Entries and Consulates are questioning the employers or their clients regarding the recruitment efforts that were made in the case of exempt workers also. Then what is the use of hiring exempt employees?

Ans. You are not required to show recruitment or non-displacement for exempt employees, but there is no exemption from posting. Your notices MUST be posted at the work site.

3. In some cases, for the H1B employee who is entering into US for the first time, SSN is being issued after one month. Is it compulsory to put the new H1B employee on pay roll from the very next day he got admitted on H1B, by asking him to fill up the I-9 form before he gets SSN? Or Can we ask the new H1B employee to come and report after obtaining SSN? Is there any allowable waiting for the new H1B employee to report for his work after he got admitted into USA on H1B visa? If the new H1B employee enters into USA without informing the employer and starts living in the USA and the H1B employer comes to know about the H1B beneficiary’s stay in USA after some time, what kind of action the H1B employer has to take in this kind of scenario?

Ans. An employee can start work even without the SSN. You are REQUIRED to start the payroll upon the earlier of the following two conditions:
A. When the employee reports for the job; or
B. No later than 30 days for employees coming from outside USA or 60 days for employees in USA. The days begin to be counted from the date of the H-1 approval.
For "uninvited" employees, the better practice is to withdraw the H-1 immediately and document the fact that the employee did not report for the job. This document can be a detailed statement of an employee, such as HR, about the facts of the case with times and dates. Place the original of the statement (preferably notarized) in the employee's file.

4. After taking the new LCA for the new work location, is it compulsory to file the Amended I-129 petition? If not, in what circumstances we need to file the amended I-129 petition compulsorily?

Ans. An H-1 must be amended if the job location is changed to a place beyond normal commuting distance from the approved location.

 

 

 

 

Employers questions on H-1 compliance

Authored on: Mon, 03/09/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer

1. Are we OK in keeping an H1B worker without work as long as we pay him during the project break too - at the LCA wage level.

Ans. You must pay your H-1 workers the legal wage. This is the higher of the prevailing wage or the actual wage. Actual wage is defined as that which you pay other similar employees in the same geographical location. So, as long as you pay the legal wage, there is no problem.

2. Is it OK to give advances - besides paying LCA wages while the person in on project and then during the project break, run the payroll for LCA wages but recover the advances (post-tax obviously) and pay only balances if any?

Ans. In my view, this is illegal for many reasons.

3. Is it OK to pay all our consulting employees a wage of 60K or the LCA wage whichever is higher, irrespective of the skill set - by making this a standard wage policy in the company.

Ans. As long as you are following the wage guidelines and paying according to the seniority level of the job, I see no issue with this arrangement. But you cannot pay level, 1, 2, 3, and 4 employees $60,000. The wage must be paid according to the job they perform.

4. Further, is it OK to give discretionary bonuses above these levels to employees that the management considers are more valuable to the company?

Ans. As long as you can objectively justify the salary variance, I see no issues with this.

Employer not paying, may I tranfer H-1?

Authored on: Wed, 02/04/2009 - 01:00

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!