MVP LAW GROUP – Q & A Forum, July 9, 2010

Question #1 – Marriage Based Immigration – Conditional Permanent Resident
I would like to know the procedure for “removing conditions.” When can I file? I’m married to a U.S. Citizen and my conditional green card is set to expire in May of 2011.

Answer #1
You can file to remove the conditions 90 days prior to the expiration of your second anniversary as a conditional resident. It is very important that you file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) within the 90 day window of time. If you file too early, the USCIS will send your application back. You may file at any time during the 90 day window, but it is suggested that you file fairly early in the window. If you fail to properly file Form I-751 within the 90 day period, your conditional resident status will automatically be terminated and the USCIS will order removal proceedings against you and a hearing will be conducted where you will be given the opportunity to rebut the government’s allegations against you.

The items involved in filing the application to “remove conditions” include: a completed Form I-751; USCIS filing fee of $545.00; certified copy of front and back of permanent resident card; evidence of a bona fide relationship; and a detailed cover sheet indicating the contents of the package.

Question #2 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card
I’m confused. My priority date is current and I want to file my I-485 application. Do I have to pay for both Employment Authorization and Advance Parole; I’ve seen conflicting information on various immigration forums.

Answer #2
Taken verbatim from the USCIS website – If you file Form I-485 to adjust your status as a permanent resident on or after July 30, 2007, no additional fee is required to also file an application for employment authorization (EAD) on Form I-765 and/or advance parole (AP) on Form I-131. If you choose to file the I-765 and/or I-131 separately after July 30, 2007, you must also submit a copy of your I-797C, Notice of Action receipt as evidence of the filing of an I-485.

Accordingly, for a total of $1,010.00 you may submit Form I-485; Form I-765 and Form I-131 to the USCIS for processing. The filing fees are less for applicants 79+, and for children under the age of 14.

If you would like to renew your EAD and/or AP document, you will be required to pay the associated fees of $340.00 for EAD renewal and/or $305.00 for AP renewal.

Question #3 – General
I am not sure what is going on with my pending I-140 application. I heard that I can contact USCIS and make a service request for them to look further into my case and why it is taking so long. Is this true? How do I do it? Does my employer need to contact them?

Answer #3
The USCIS National Customer Service Center, which can be reached at 1-800-375-5283, will initiate a service request when a petition is outside of the normal processing time if the request is made by the sponsoring Petitioner, the Applicant/Beneficiary, or an Authorized Representative or an Attorney for the Petitioner/Applicant.

If making a service request to the Customer Service Center, please have the following information handy so that the Officer/Agent will be better able to assist you: your full name, your complete mailing address, your date of birth, your receipt number for the pending application/petition, the filing date of your pending application/petition, your priority date, your preference category, and possibly, the position indicated on your certified labor. If your case is outside of the normal processing time, the Officer/Agent will initiate a service request and will provide you with a timeframe for a response and a referral number in case you have to call back because no correspondence was issued within the timeframe suggested.

Question #4 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
My immigration details are as follows:

Visa type : F1 Visa Issue Date : 20 June 2007 Visa Expiration Date : 18 June 2012
Course : M.S. in Computer Engineering Status : Completed Course Completion Date : 30 May 2010 Course Duration : Fall 2007 – Spring 2010
Initial I-20 issued on : 08/17/2007 New I-20 issued on : 01/19/2010
The problem that I am currently facing is that I was issued a new I-20 for the period 01/19/2010 to 05/30/2010 with a different Sevis number. I was required to pay the Sevis fees once again. Due to the same, I have one semester of study reflecting on my current Sevis. To apply for an OPT, one needs at least two semesters of study. Hence, I am not able to apply for an OPT. I am therefore looking for a job in a company that can process my H1B. Do I qualify to file an H-1B if I can find a willing sponsor?

Answer #4
Given the circumstances of your current situation, I do not foresee any issues in you applying for an H-1B visa under the Master’s CAP exemption. If the sponsoring employer has a position for you that normally requires at a minimum the attainment of a Bachelors degree in a field related to your specific degree, then you should qualify given the details you have provided. However, you will need to speak with an Experienced Immigration Lawyer to better evaluate the situation once you have secured an employer to sponsor your visa.

Question #5 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
Are H-1B visas for FY2011 still available? What do the numbers look like? Is there still time to file?

Answer #5
The H-1B 2011 CAP opened on April 1, 2010 and is still OPEN. The H-1B FY2011 runs from October 1, 2010 until September 30, 2011. As of July 2, 2010, 40,800 H-1B regular CAP visas are still available for FY2011 out of 65,000. There are approximately 9,600 H-1B Master’s exemption visas still available for FY2011 out of 20,000.

Question #6 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
My company has filed several H-1B visas for Physical Therapists, only two are in the US, working as of now. One of them wants to leave my company and go to another employer. This is something against our interests, as to date we have spent a lot of time and effort in bringing them to the US. Is there anything we can do about it? At any time during the transfer of the candidate’s H1B visa – is our consent or concurrence required at all?

Answer #6
No. If your employment contract with the beneficiary was “at-will” the beneficiary may leave your employ at any time provided he/she gives the required notice as indicated in the employment agreement. Additionally, at no time during the transfer is your consent or concurrence required.

Question #7 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
If we sponsor an employee and pay the associated legal fees and USCIS filing fees, can we consider those payments in their employment review/raise evaluation in subsequent years? I am trying to treat all employees fairly, and it seems odd that the company is required to pay legal fees for one employee, but not another who may have legal fees associated with divorce, child custody, or other legal matters which would also affect their ability to work.

Answer #7
I understand your frustrations; however, the H-1B nonimmigrant program is a program designed to allow foreign professional workers to work temporarily in the United States to help boost the economy and keep U.S. businesses at the top in terms of work productivity, developing new products, etc. When you speak of using the associated legal fees when determining employment reviews/raise evaluations, it is not fair to the H-1B worker who has been sponsored by you for the sole purpose of working for your company to then take those fees and hold them against them. To my knowledge, it is unlawful and the Department of Labor (DOL) would not look favorably over this issue. It may seem odd that you are required to pay for the foreign worker’s legal fees and associated filing fees, but that is just an aspect of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and DOL’s partnership in the H-1B nonimmigrant program.

The other employees you are referring to in regards to divorce, child custody issues, those are personal in nature. Although they may affect an individual’s ability to work, an employer has no legal obligation to pay those fees as those personal related issues and fees should not play into your employment reviews/raise evaluations. A job is a job and when performance reviews/raise evaluations are conducted, they should be based entirely on the ability/productivity and experience of the worker.

Question #8 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
No new H1B application will be approved, as per the new guidelines provided USCIS on Jan 08, 2010 memorandum – for 3rd Party Consulting company. No new H1B extension/stamping will be approved, as per the new guidelines provided USCIS on Jan 08, 2010 memorandum – for 3rd Party Consulting company. If an employee has H1B approved or extension approved, and if he/she comes back to US from a vacation or from an emergency, he/she would be deported back to his/her home country from the Port of Entry (PoE) – for 3rd Party Consulting company. How is my company to remain in business?

Answer #8
Yes, the memo has made it more difficult to petition for 3rd party consultants; however, it is not impossible. We cannot generalize and say that no case will be approved; no extension will be approved; because you cannot generalize with the USCIS, you must look at each case and the evidence presented on a case-by-case basis. You are not required to put forth all of the evidence listed in the memo, but a majority of it to illustrate that there is a valid employer-employee relationship, and that you maintain CONTROL over the beneficiary, not actual control, but the RIGHT TO CONTROL.

The USCIS adjudicators are to take the memo as guidance, and are to adjudicate the petition based on a totality of the circumstances, not narrowly like you have mentioned. They are to take all of the evidence presented and determine whether a valid employer-employee relationship exists, and based on that determination, either approve or deny the non-immigrant visa petition.

When traveling, there is not much that we can do, as the Officers of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have developed their own interpretation of the memo released on January 8, 2010. If a 3rd party consultant MUST travel, we would recommend that they have the following: at least two month’s worth of paystubs, a copy of the approved H-1B petition, an employment verification letter, approval notice, and any other documentation that would demonstrate compliance with the laws governing the H-1B program and the establishment of a bona fide job opportunity.

Question #9 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
I recently got a new project in Washington DC. I will be working at a client in DC downtown and staying in northern Virginia. I have Pennsylvania labor filed on my H1B petition. Do I need to file a new labor in DC? If so can you guide me and my employer in filing labor in a new state?

Answer #9
According to the regulations governing the H-1B program, when you move to a new location outside of the geographical location listed on the original certified LCA, a new LCA as well as an amended petition must be filed with the USCIS. In summary, since your location change would be considered a “material change” in your previously approved employment, you would need to file a new LCA as well as the amended petition to stay within the regulations.

Question #10 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card – LABOR/PERM
It seems like it’s taking a lot longer to conduct recruitment prior to filing the Labor application, what’s the issue?

Answer #10
As of January 1, 2010 the Department of Labor (DOL) federalized the process for obtaining Prevailing wage requests, which is the first step in the Labor process before recruitment can be conducted. We normally could obtain a prevailing wage request directly from the specific state workforce agency within a few days to a week. In addition to federalizing the process, the DOL made the process for obtaining the prevailing wages by electronic means as well as by requesting a prevailing wage through the U.S .mail. At this time, it is taking approximately 45-60 days to obtain a prevailing wage determination from the DOL. The determinations are issued on a first come, first serve basis.

MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment. We hope the information provided is helpful.

Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, July 23, 2010! Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our h1bvisalawyerblog.

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