US Consulate FAQs

Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments and blog on immigration.com

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 I then applied to embassy to withdrawn my H1B visa application. I got a confirmation that it has been withdrawn.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.

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 holder aplying for H-4 visa

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

Question

My wife has been in US for 6 months on H1 and is going back to India.
In india if she applies for H4 , will it be necessary to carry any Salary Slips generated during her stay in US on H1?
Is there a possibility that the consulate might demand for her W2 and salary slips before stamping her H4 visa?

Answer

The cardinal rule in visas is that consulates can ask for pretty much anything. If they do ask for proof of H-1 employment or pay stubs and you do not have it, the H-4 still cannot be denied. The fact that one has been out of status is no bar to the grant of an H-4 visa.

When is an H visa stamping required?

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

Question

Answer

1. My story begins like this: I was working for company A, got stamping in May2007(in canada). Came back to US, changed to company B. Got laid off on Feb 27th, 09. In order to have a valid status I got married on Feb 15th and got my H4 legally on March 20th, 09. Two weeks back a miracle happened, got a job through company C and applied for PP H1b, received it last Thursday. Now, I am planning to go to India for a week in June, 09. Tough having a valid H1b stamping prior to the H4-H1, do I still need another H1b stamping?

PS: I do not have H4 stamping.

Ans. I do not believe you need a new visa stamp because you already have an H-1 visa from another employer. You should be able to travel with the same visa (and a new H-1 approval). If you had ever been out of status, you would have been well-advised to get a new stamp. In your case, you appear to always have maintained status (albeit H-4 for a brief while). So, I see no issues. As always, double check with your H-1 lawyers.

PS. I would be careful how I phrase my thoughts if I were you.

2. In order to have a valid status I got married on Feb 15th?

Ans. I know you do not mean that :-), but the govt might think otherwise.

Using B visa with F-1

Authored on: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 01:00

Question

I have a tourist visa to the US which expires in 2009. However, back in 2004, i was able to obtain a F-1 visa for MBA studies. It expired in 2006 and my stay was extended through practical training. I have all necessary documents supporting that. My question is, will I still be able to use my tourist visa until the March 2009 expiration?

Answer

My assumption is that you are still on F-1 and in USA. If this is correct, you cannot use your B visa within USA.

While in USA, your stay and status is controlled exclusively by your I-94.

You can, however, try to reenter USA on B visa but after having stayed here for so long, a reentry is likely to be denied.

If, you are outside USA and have been out for a while (like a year or more), I think you can still use that B visa and try to enter USA.