Green Card FAQs

Permanent residency in more than one country

Authored on: Sat, 02/21/2015 - 01:08

Question

If a GC holder applies for permanent residency in another country (say Canada or Australia) is that automatically considered an abandonment of the GC here in the US?
I am getting a very good job offer in Australia and would like to go try it out for a few months to see if its a good fit.

Answer

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BDxO6-OQbc#t=375

FAQ Transcript:

The question here is can I have permanent residency in more than one country?

Yes. You can. I can only comment about USA. I don't know about other countries, so if you have a Green Card in the United States there are possibilities you have a Green Card in U.S. and you have permanent residence for Canada as well. But in fact you stay in USA permanently, you work here, you stay here we really don't care what other permanent residency you have. So if as a matter of fact you are living in the United States we don't care how many other permanent residency you have. 
If on the other hand, you quit your job, go to other country and take permanent residency there, it can be an issue for your Green Card here in the United States. Government can ask you, what is your intention. I would advice you to take detail consultation with your lawyer and make sure your particular circumstances covered. I think re-entry can be applied to protect your Green Card. But in that case getting a permanent residency in a third country may not be very good idea. However temporary visa would be OK specially when combined with re-entry permit, Form I-131 and or N-470 to preserve your Naturalization. 
So look into that before you make any firm plan. As a theoretical matter if you are permanent resident of USA and you are living here we don't care how many other permanent residency you have.

Evaluation of Foreign Degrees for Green Cards

Authored on: Mon, 11/05/2012 - 01:31

Question

What is USCIS’s policy on using evaluations of foreign degrees for Green Card purposes?

Answer

USCIS has verified that the education evaluation system that it regularly uses to evaluate the equivalency of foreign degrees to a US degree is the AACRAO EDGE database (edge.aacrao.org/). While alternate education evaluations can be submitted to USCIS, they must be documented with evidence as to why the alternate evaluation should be considered instead of the EDGE evaluation. USCIS will consider alternate evaluations from sources other than EDGE only on a case-by-case basis.

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'

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.

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.