Employers and HR FAQs

Covid Coronavirus Question from Employers about Payroll for H-1B and others L-1, E, etc. employees

Authored on: Thu, 04/30/2020 - 01:39

Question

We are looking at various measures of safety and expense control. First and foremost everyone is working from home for their on safety and wellness. For expense control one idea that we were discussing was a potential pay rate reduction for a short period of time.

Answer

Watch the Video on this FAQ: Covid Coronavirus Question from

 Employers about Payroll for H-1B and others L-1, E, etc. employees


Video Transcript

If you look at the Department of Labor regulations they say that the employer cannot stop paying a salary or the right amount of salary for anything that the employer does. So if you don’t have a project that's your problem. If by law or by local order you cannot open offices and you cannot work, would you as an employer be allowed to pay a lesser salary and that might be something to look at because rather than laying off all the people that your concerned about I would have you to think about other alternatives. FAQ in detail...


Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form.

Is New H-1B Visa Stamping Needed if you Change Employers?

Authored on: Fri, 09/01/2017 - 01:29

Question

I have a question on H1B stamping. I am currently working with employer A. I have visa stamping till Nov 2018 and it shows the name of my previous employer, employer B. I am planning to visit India in the coming month of November 2017. Should I go to visa stamping and get a new visa showing a new employer, employer A? In the past, I have encountered a similar situation and I came back successfully with out getting a new stamp. I am not aware of current immigration law. Have there been any changes in this aspect?

Answer

Watch the Video on this FAQ: Is new H-1B visa stamping needed if you change employers?

Video Transcript

I don't think you need to. Once again, I caution you that if you ask the consulate they might give you a different answer, but in the Foreign Affairs Manual in their standard operating procedures, I remember seeing there was no such requirement so you could travel on the old visa and the new approval. More...

 

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form.

Processing Times Involved in NIW

Authored on: Tue, 01/03/2017 - 10:43

Question

If I may verify the processing times involved in NIW. Since it falls under EB2 category, I am assuming it may be a long time before I can get my EAD card and be able to change employers. Also, I want to confirm if there could be issues if I change employers during the process - If so, I'd prefer to change my current employer before starting with it.

Answer

You can change employers any time if you are a self-applicant and will continue to work in your stated area of national interest.  But NIW priority date will take the same time as a normal EB-2 application does.  See: http://www.immigration.com/visa-bulletin under employment-based category 2.

No loss of priority date if employer revokes I-140; Green card through future employer

Authored on: Thu, 12/10/2015 - 14:57

Question

I have my perm labor and I-140 approved through EMPLOYER A (Consulting Firm). Priority Date June 2013. If I am going to change Employer, EMPLOYER A is going to REVOKE MY I-140. I heard from your last conference call that i will be loosing my priority if I-140 is revoked by employer.I am close to 5th year of H-1. so cant take chances. If I move to FT position in the next 6 months and say my current employer revokes I-140. I will not be able to get extension for H-1 beyond 6 years.

Answer

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

https://youtu.be/H_VV9kV_lOg?t=688

FAQ Transcript:

This is a very tricky issue that has come up time and time again and one month we have one answer and after six months we have another answer. There are two sets of questions here, one is priority date, if the employer revokes I-140 does it get lost and the other one is some issues about Green Card through a future employer.

So let's discuss two sets of issues, as of November 12th, 2015 the answer is, USCIS will not take away your priority date if the old employer revokes the I-140. However, you will not have any right to extend your H-1 based upon I-140 that is already gone. In addition, if the I-140 is revoked for fraud, misrepresentation or mistakenly having been approved by USCIS, you will not have the priority date then.

USCIS has reversed itself like three or four times. They started of a few years ago saying you will lose your priority date, if the employer revokes the I-140, then the sudden No, you will not. Few months ago they said Yes you will lose the priority date and couple of weeks ago again they said No you will not. So they have gone up and down on this issue all the time.

Another question often asked by a community member who says there are cases were very accurately people reported that their priority date was lost between May 2015 and September 2015 and the answer is yes. I know that because I did lot of consultations in between and there were lot of cases that were denied. Now these cases should try to file a motion to reopen or reconsider and try to get their priority dates.

The other question he put forth was, can we get to see a copy of this teleconference document?

Unfortunately, there is no copy. It is comments from one of the committee members, we have all the volunteer committees as American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), where members go on behalf of AILA and meet the USCIS, in one of those there is a comment from American Immigration Lawyers Association committee member that says; the government has categorically stated in that meeting that they will not take away priority date.

The other question is:  Does withdrawal of I-140 by an employer same as revocation by employer or withdrawal and revocation are two different things?

Withdrawal implies of something little different. Withdrawal implies that I-140 was not approved at least to my mind, even when it was pending it was withdrawn. Because once it is approved only can be revoked, I don't think it can be withdrawn.  Something is not approved and its withdrawn then we are out of luck there is no priority date. Priority date only can be conferred by approved petition. Once it is approved then it is revoked by employer under the current thinking of the government that we all know, they will not revoke or take away your priority date.

I am little hesitant to say that you can depend upon the word of the government, because I have looked at the regulations and I have looked at the way these folks have been flip flopping on the situation makes me very nervous to be in the situation, prepare for the worst, hope for the best that's all I can tell you.

Question: Has USCIS listed their final official position on this issue as like a document anywhere on their website?

Not yet, I have not seen anything in writing from the government.  So I won't be able to give you much there but as soon as I get something official from the government, I would be certain to post it. 

Question: Now Green card through future employer, what if another employer starts my Green card processing, can I continue working for Employer A , while Employer B initiates new GC process for me?

And the answer is yes. You can have 20 new employers to start Green card process. As long as you have good faith, intention to join whichever comes first or whichever is more suitable for you. I don't see any reason that you cannot have multiple Green cards filed.

Question:  Is it possible for me to clear the PERM and I-140 Stage of GC process of Employer B while still working for EMPLOYER A?

It is actually possible to process entire Green card with employer B, even though I-485 gets approved while you still working for employer A.

Question: I may or may not join EMPLOYER B. As I am in the process of looking for FTE (full time) position ) Say I moved to EMPLOYER C (FTE) and I have never worked with Employer B and have I-140 approved with EMPLOYER B .

There is actually Yates memorandum of May 2005 that talks about this. As long as you had good faith intention all the way to join, let’s say your I-140 was approved, PERM of course approved, I-140 was approved through employer B. You are working for employer A, I-140 approved through employer B, priority dates become current you still working for employer A, priority date becomes current after 180 days actually you do not ever have to join the sponsoring employer. You can join any employer who gives you same or similar job whether it is employer A, C, D or E.

There are some issues about coming back to employers after leaving them during the Green card process. I would want you to have one on one consultation with your lawyers, not an easy issue to discuss in a few minutes but it can be a problem if you leave an employer in the middle of the process and come back. Lot of people did not have any problems, one or two cases occasionally do get the problems. The government asks questions like why did you leave if this was the permanent job, if you left who was doing that permanent job, things like that could come up and there are whole set of issues that need to be discussed with your lawyers basically.

Question: I also heard about rejections in PERM. Can EMPLOYER B start two different GC process for me and file two PERMS at the same time?

No. Technically they can file two Green card process against two jobs, I would highly recommend against it. It can be for two different positions only, you can't file a PERM for the same employer, same employee, same job twice No.

Question: Does it cost anything for the Employer to hold an approved I-140? 

It does not, except sometimes the government can question their ability to pay wages and they look at all outstanding Green cards and indirectly it can become an issue for the employers. It does not cost them anything out of ordinary. Let me rephrase it, nothing out of pocket but if the RFE comes and if any of the cases about ability to pay wages I guess at that point they can revoke the I-140 if they want.

New company filing H-1

Authored on: Wed, 12/09/2015 - 06:36

Question

We have started a company recently and wanted to sponsor H-1B for experienced employees and place them with our clients. What is the criteria and can a new company sponsor H-1B?

Answer

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

https://youtu.be/H_VV9kV_lOg?t=530 

FAQ Transcript:

Answer is of course. I am yet to see a major negative effect just because the company is small. What is more important is that you have specific projects that are clearly defined and you can define how long the project is, what the project description is, what the relationship of the employee being placed is with their employer, which is the new company and usually that is done through a letter from the end client or very comprehensive work order or job order kind of thing. 

So if you can prove those things, duration of the projects etc. then filing an H-1 is not an issue but if you do not yet have a clear project in mind I would strongly advice you not to file H-1’s, because there is a trend in criminal indictment these days when companies get criminally indicted, two things government is bringing up time and again. The government is bringing up the fact that company applied for H-1’s without the specific projects and two if they kept employees on the bench. 

H-1 employer not paying

Authored on: Tue, 07/07/2015 - 06:32

Question

My employer did not run my payroll. He told me that we are going to get the project money after 2 months from client. Can I do something for that? If they do not run payroll can it create any problem?

Answer

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

https://youtu.be/PreNUXXW9KU?t=696

FAQ Transcript 

The employer will be in a lot of trouble. The law is employers cannot bench or reduce the salaries of the employees just because they are in between projects. They are required to pay the full salary. If they don’t you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (United States Department of Labor) within a year when the wages were not paid. The form is WH-4. Once you file the complaint, Department of Labor investigates it. You have to do nothing. It does not involve any expense at your part for H-1 holders.  Department of Labor will recover the money and will get the cheques that are due. Secondly if the employer has the practice of doing this in a routine basis then the company can be in a lot of trouble. Please do not get involved in a situation where the employer runs the payroll and you return the cash to them. If that is the situation anybody invites you to that is a party to a fraud. Fraud and misrepresentation can result in criminal prosecution and also can result in a permanent bar from entering the United States.

USCIS Updated Questions &Answers on the H-1B Employer-Employee Relationship

Authored on: Mon, 04/14/2014 - 06:03

Question

Does this memorandum change any of the requirements to establish eligibility for an H-1B petition?

Answer

No. This memorandum does not change any of the requirements for an H-1B petition. The H-1B regulations currently require that a United States employer establish that it has an employer-employee relationship with respect to the beneficiary, as indicated by the fact that it may hire, pay, fire, supervise or otherwise control the work of any such employee. In addition to demonstrating that a valid employer-employee relationship will exist between the petitioner and the beneficiary, the petitioner must continue to comply with all of the requirements for an H-1B petition including:

  • establishing that the beneficiary is coming to the United States temporarily to work in a specialty occupation;
  • demonstrating that the beneficiary is qualified to perform services in the specialty occupation; and
  • filing of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) specific to each location where the beneficiary will perform services.

See more at: http://www.immigration.com/news/h-1-visa/uscis-updated-questions-answer…



I-140 Withdrawal vs NOIR in AC21 Context

Authored on: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 04:22

Question

A couple of questions I have in extension to the I-140 withdrawal by employer are below. If I have I-1485 pending for more than a year via company A and I join company B using my EAD/AC21:
a. what will be the impact if Company-A decides to withdraw/cancel/dissolve the I-140?
b. Is there a possibility for a NOIR to occur on the I140 which had been approved in 2011? If yes what is the impact in either cases?

What are the measures I need to take in either case?

Answer

a. No effect on your AC21 right, but you cannot extend future H-1 (if you need them).

b. Oh yes.

You can just make sure the employer vigorously responds to an NOIR, if needed.

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.

Sufficient Evidence of an Employer-Employee Relationship

Authored on: Tue, 05/14/2013 - 03:52

Question

We are filing an H-1B petition for a three-year period for a potential employee. However, they will be assigned to work at a client site and the contract we have with this client is not for the full three-year period. Will the petition be denied on this basis? We would still want this individual to work for us for the full three years.

Answer

If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship and the availability of sufficient specialty-level work for the duration of the requested validity period, you may be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency through response to a Request for Evidence (RFE).  Your petition may still be approved if you provide evidence that a qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist for a portion of the requested validity period, as long as all other requirements are met.  However, USCIS will limit a petition’s validity to the time period of qualifying employment established by the evidence.

Ability to Pay Wages when Priority Date is in the Middle of the Year

Authored on: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 05:32

Question

How shall ability to pay wages be determined when the Priority Date is in the middle of the year?

Answer

 

USCIS does not calculate ability to pay wages on a pro-rated basis. USCIS will accept proof to show that petitioners have paid the required wage, as shown on ETA Form 9089, for the relevant periods of employment. Additionally, the USICS will accept other forms of evidence, such as pay stubs, W-2’s, and 1099 forms.

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.

Must we withdraw a PERM application if the employee is laid off?

Authored on: Wed, 02/10/2010 - 02:26

Question

I am Mr. Jones, the employer. The employee, Mr. Smith, is no longer employed with us because of company's budget issue. However, we may hire him in the near future if circumstance changes.
My question:
Q1. Do we need to withdraw PERM LC for him that was submitted 2009?

Q2. Question from the employee, Mr. Smith:
If Mr. Smith filed an immigration benefit (e.g. visa, petition, change of status), does he need to answer YES / NO to the following question: "Has an immigrant petition ever been filed for you?" Basically: does submitting PERM/LC mean filing an immigrant petition? This question is often asked in application.

Answer

A1. I do not know of any law that requires an employer to withdraw a PERM application if an employee leaves or gets laid off, but the employer still retains a good faith intention to hire them back. When we first filed the PERM application, we filed it in good faith, asserting to the USDOL under penalty of perjury that:
You have enough funds available to pay the wage or salary offered the alien and you will be able to place the alien on the payroll on or before the date of the alien’s proposed entrance into the United States.
Both these assertions were true when we filed the PERM application on your behalf. So, we have followed the laws to the letter. Now, several months later, circumstances have changed. Do we have an affirmative duty to withdraw the PERM application? I do not see such a duty in the law.
Having a PERM in process, gives your employee an opportunity to continue extending their H-1 with any employer beyond 6 years. That is a considerable benefit.
The government could take the position that your application is now void on two grounds. First, you no longer have a job open, which is a continuing requirement. Second, you had an interruption in your ability to pay the intended wage, which is also a continuing requirement. We could lose the green card on both counts, but I see nothing illegal in letting the application stay pending. My opinion could change if we get an audit request from the USDOL. At that point, it may be inappropriate for us to continue. That is something we will review carefully at that time. Please do remind us. We will also post a note to your file.

A2. A PERM is not a visa application or an immigrant petition, a Form I-140 (the step after PERM) is.

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.

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.

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.

Employers and Employees -- H-1 or EAD?

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

Question

Considering that the economy is not doing that good and sometimes projects get over and consultants go on "bench" without any clients kinda situation, this is something not that uncommon. Related to this, as being on a H1B requires me to maintain the LCA salary as mentioned on my W2, would switching to EAD with my sponsoring employer help with getting away from this restriction?

Does that also mean that if I don't get paid by my employer for a certain period and I am on an EAD, there is no issue with my GC/status at all as there is no H1B.

Just trying to find out what the possible advantages would be at this time with EAD.

Answer

 There are two situations to analyze here: being benched and getting paid a lower salary. Both of them have problematic implications for employers and employees.

Here is what concerns me. As far as I know, it has never been done so far, but the possible consequences of being benched are that the I-485 can be denied and (POSSIBLY, but there are strong arguments against it) I-140 could be revoked if already approved. If I-140 is not approved, USCIS could easily deny the I-140.

 Additionally, I suspect there could be exposure to charges of discrimination if one set of workers is getting paid less than another in the same job categories.

The best solution for most companies is NOT to bench employees whether on H-1 or on EAD. Salary reductions are permissible if they are across the board and still comply with the prevailing wages. The workers on non-immigrant visas will probably need amendments. Watch out for the I-140/I-485 issue though.

GC approved. When should I start working on the green card job?

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

Question

Now that I received my GC through employment, does my employer need to change my position to the one filed in the Labor Certification?

Answer

Yes, now that the GC is approved, your employer should "permanently" give you the job described (including the title, salary and job duties) in the Labor Certification. This change should take place within a "reasonable time" after the GC approval.

Keep in mind, "permanent" does not mean forever. This term describes a job that has no pre-decided termination date. We see no violation of the law, If the employer, due to economic or other circumstances, can no longer support the job after having offered it to you in good faith.

As to what is a "reasonable time," we would have to look at the circumstances of each case.

GC Compliance for Employers

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

Question

Some of our employees' Green cards
have been filed. There projects have ended. They are working on H-1 but possess EAD and have 140 approved and 485 pending more than 180 days.

Answer

Quote: (1) If we revoke their H-1, are we still required to pay full wages if our clients say they do not currently have a project for our employees?

Ans. You are not required to pay "bench salaries" for employees whose H-1 are revoked (remember you must inform CIS and offer employee a one-way ticket home). But we then have exposure to the questions, "do you still have a "permanent" job for them?" If the answer is no, then their GC processing can be interrupted unless they use AC21 portability.

Quote: (2) Do we need to notify anyone about their GC process and let them know that they are no longer working for us?

Ans. There is no such requirement, but the better practice is to write to CIS revoking the I-140.

Quote: (3) Can we re-hire them on their EAD after few (or several) months once they get a project on their EAD?

Ans. Yes, but the question about "permanent job" remains.

Quote: (4) Can we continue their Medical Insurance (and our company pays for it) even if they are NOT employed with us.

Ans. I can see that as objectionable on several grounds.

Quote: (5) Can they stay in USA if I cancel there H-1 and they have a valid EAD but they are NOT employed by anyone.

Ans. Yes. Have them review the entries on my blog under I-485. You will still have unanswered questions about "permanent job."

Quote: (6) Is there an alternative for them to apply for Consular Processing, under what circumstances should they do so, what are the benefits / disadvantages

Ans. I see no advantage in CP. The basic question about a permanent job remains unanswered.

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.

What happens when an employer is under criminal investigation/indictment?

Authored on: Sun, 02/22/2009 - 01:00

Question

What if an employer is indicted on multiple counts and he is cleared of all other charges but he pleads to a conspiracy charge with home detention for a few months as his punishment. How does this effect pending cases at his business?

Answer

That depends upon whether or not the conspiracy was in fact in relation to the pending cases. For example, if the fraud/conspiracy involved non-payment of H-1 employees, that should have no affect on pending green card cases. 

Employers responsibility in H-1 process

Authored on: Sun, 02/22/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer

Dear Rajiv, we are small business firm with few h1b workers. I have few questions that I would like to get your advise:

a) Do we need to file a separate labor petition whenever a h1b worker moves to an different project location?

b) We are having difficulty finding project for one of our h1b worker. As a small firm, we are unable to run a payroll while the candidate is on bench (so to speak). Should we need to withdraw the petition and send the candidate back home? or is it ok to accept a leave of absence from the candidate? She has a EAD also (as her husband has filled I485 in Nov 2007)

Travel on H-1
The rules on travel while on H-1 are fairly complex. Let me state the basic law.

If the employee moves to an area beyond normal commuting distance for the approved location (stated in their approved H-1 and LCA), and you do not have another valid LCA for that location, you MUST amend the H-1.

If the relocation is in the same area, you MUST file a new LCA and post the notice at two places in the new job site. You do NOT need to amend the H-1.

There are a whole set of rules about exceptions for employees who are required to habitually travel (peripatetic employees), short term travel and travel for attending seminars etc. If you folks need more of that I will edit this article further when I get a few minutes.

Leave of Absence on H-1
Regs do permit leave of absence if an employee genuinely needs it. But you must not use LOA as a pretext to bench employees. In my view, you must withdraw the H-1.

FAQ
 

Quote: I have a question regarding the h1b candidates who left our firm almost 2 years ago(there are two case). We didn't send the withdrawal form (as we weren't familiar with the case). If we send a withdrawal notice now (stating that they resigned in the 2006 or 2007) will there be any implications for us? Appreciate your help.

I do not believe we have a choice. You MUST inform USCIS. In my view, the fact that we are stepping forward to correct problems voluntarily is in fact helpful to us.

By the way, I think I am scheduled to do an employer-only phone seminar answering and discussing all compliance issues this Thursday at 2 PM. This may be more for our existing clients. But go ahead and send an email though the "contact us" form on our home page. Send email from your corporate account. We are not opening the seminar for anyone but employers. There is no charge, fo course.

Is salary reduction possible/legal?

Authored on: Thu, 02/19/2009 - 01:00

Question

Answer

Quote:

1. If an employee is on a H1 they cannot have a 10% pay cut unless their H1 was amended and refiled.

Ans. Probably yes. That is the safest thing to do. The rule of thumb is, you can never pay an H-1 holder below the prevailing wage. You can also not pay them below what you pay other similarly employed professionals in the geographical location of the employment. So, if the 10% pay cut does not violate these two principles, the only other issue in immigration compliance is whether 10% cut in salary is a "substantial" change in the job. An H-1 amendment is always necessary when there is a substantial change. To be safe, I would recommend you amend.

Quote:

2. If an employee is on a GC processing (I140 or I485) they can have a reduction but need to be paid the amount equal to or greater that was listed on the GC petition on the day their GC is approved.

Ans. Basically, yes.

The main issue here is, if the salary being paid is below that expressed in the GC application, does the employer still have the ability to pay wages. This issue is usually not raised past the I-140 approval, but I see no law that says it cannot be raised after the I-140 approval. And in all cases before 140 approval, the salary shortfall must be balanced by showing an equal amount of taxable income or net current assets for each GC beneficiary (employee) still in the process.

For example, you have to give a pay reduction to an employee on H-1. Assuming you have not violated the H-1 requirements we have discussed above, you will need to show continued ability to pay the GC salary. Let us say the salary stated on the GC application in $80,000. The employee is now making $75,000 after the pay cut.

For GC, we will have to show $5,000 taxable income/current assets (or the proportion of salary that falls in that tax year). If there are 5 employees in the same situation, that amount would rise to $25,000.

Quote:

3. If an employee is on a GC processing and has a H1 they need to have their H1 revoked and work on their EAD for the #2 above to be accepted.

Ans. You can do that as long as that employee is getting paid the same as others.

Quote:

4. Benefits that were listed as a part of an employees immigration processing cannot be decreased.

Ans. There is no place where we commit to benefits or state them in the GC application as far as I know. The law does not require benefits.

 

Start-up applying for H-1 and AC21 for employees

Authored on: Fri, 11/28/2008 - 01:00

Question

If a new start-up IT consulting company wants to transfer H1 of a prospective employee who is already on H1 and working for his current H1 sponsor, what are the issues and feasibility for such a transfer?

How can such a start-up IT consulting company go about hiring AC21 eligible folks on EAD? May this is the safest route in the beginning until the company gets more employees and grows revenue?

Will the AOS of the prospective employee be safe if he is the only employee of this company in the beginning. Of course the company wants to expand in the future but has to start somewhere.

Answer

 H-1 by Start-up Companies

It can be really difficult for start up (or very small) companies to obtain H-1 visas. Doubly so, if people are being hired outside the U.S. Normally CIS asks you to prove:
1. You are capable of paying wages
2. You have sufficient amount of work
3. You are a reliable company with proper staff, offices and equipment.
4. If providing consulting services, you are able to procure a letter from your end-client showing the terms of engagement including what the H-1 holder will do and who will supervise them.
YOU MAY SUCCEED If you can:
- SHOW HOW YOU CAN PAY THE WAGES
LINE OF CREDIT
We have advised people to try to get a line of credit from a bank. That works sort of like a credit card. Unless you use the money, you pay no interest on it. Contact any local bank for more details. It is difficult to put down exact numbers, but $250,000 line of credit is a healthy number. Please note, merely having money in the bank may not be sufficient. Also, those companies that are starting with a promised Venture Capital of more than $500,000 should be OK.

BUSINESS PLAN
Having a solid, detailed business plan can help. There is mush software out on the shelves that can help you put together a good business plan.
This will also help show how you have enough work for employees.
LETTER FROM/CONTRACTS WITH CLIENTS
If personnel are being outsourced, contracts from clients will help.

Start up Companies Doing AC21
There is no law on this issue. The current thinking of CIS appears to be that there is no problem in doing AC21 for a start up, as long as the job offered to the employee is similar to their labor cert job. In the past, CIS had tried to question the start up on ability to pay wages. But Yates memo of May 2005 (posted on my blog under AOS/485 section) shut that down stating that is not relevant.

Start up companies starting new green cards
This would be difficult because you have to demonstrate the ability to pay wages from the day you file the labor cert on to the time an employee actually receives the green card approval. This ability is usually shown through a profitable tax history. But if you are consistently paying an employee the wage he/she is supposed to be paid under the labor cert, you are in a good position to get your GC through.

How to get back to H-1 status?

Authored on: Mon, 08/18/2008 - 01:00

Question

Answer

We got an approval for a L1 to H1 with an I-94 effective Oct 1, 2008. But the candidate got an admission for a one year full time MBA program which he wants to pursue and join us in August 2009. His MBA program is starting in September 2008. So, he will be applying for his F1 status soon.

Qo1. What choices do we have to keep the H1 approval valid so that he can join us in August 2009 ?
Ans1.  No problem. A few months (upto six months ahead) before August 2009, apply for Change of Status back to H- or a few days before he wants to join, have him go get an H-1 visa stamp.

Qo2. Since he will be applying for L1 to F1 now, Will that automatically cancel the H1 I-94 (to be effective from Oct 1) or do we have to do something.
Ans2.  In my view, nothing else needs to be done if changes status to F-1 now. Make sure he applies from L-1 to F-1 and attaches a copy of the H-1 approval also.