MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, October 15th, 2010

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Question #1 – Temporary Work Visa – E3 Australian Visa
As an Australian, I am eligible for an E-3 visa, but my potential employer has suggested I am eligible and should look into an H1-B visa too. What is the difference, and which is preferable?

Answer #1
The H-1B non-immigrant worker visa is subject to numerical limitations imposed by Congress. Each fiscal year, beginning on April 1, 65,000 visas are available for those who qualify for ‘Specialty Occupations.’ Specialty Occupations are defined as those that require a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States. The H-1B visa allows foreign workers to enter the U.S. and work in a variety of fields ranging from architecture and engineering to teaching and medicine. The H-1B visa offers a wide range of employment possibilities and is a logical first step toward permanent immigration. In order to qualify for H-1B classification, the applicant must have at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent AND the job sought must require at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. This is not a self-petitioning category; therefore the applicant must have a sponsoring employer in the U.S.

The E-3 visa is exclusively reserved for Australian nationals. The visa allows Australian Professionals to come to the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation, similar in many aspects to the H-1B nonimmigrant worker visa. The new E-3 visa classification is limited to 10,500 Australian nationals annually. E-3 principal nonimmigrant aliens must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a “specialty occupation”. This term is used and defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act in the same context as the H1B visa program, and will be interpreted in accordance with the criteria used for H1Bs. The category has requirements with respect to the education of the beneficiary and the job duties to be performed which mirror the H1B requirements. It thus will be helpful in some situations where the H1B CAP has been exhausted. To be eligible, the Australian citizen must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent) AND the specialty occupation must require the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge.

Question #2 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card – EAD Renewal
Can I expedite the EAD renewal process since my EAD expires next week? I made a Service Request after 90 days. Is there an interim EAD card that I can get in the meantime?

Answer #2
According to the information you have provided, it seems as though you have made the expedite request when you made the service request after 90 days of your case being in the pending status. You can file an EAD renewal request up to 120 days in advance of the expiration of your current EAD. You should be aware of the Service Center processing times well in advance of filing so that you can obtain an approval of the EAD, so that you can continue working. If you do not receive your EAD renewal request by next week when your current EAD expires, you MUST WAIT and NOT WORK until your EAD is approved and you receive the actual EAD card in the mail.

Question #3 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
Is the H-1B quota still open?

Answer #3
As of October 8, there were approximately 23,100 H-1B Regular CAP subject nonimmigrant visas remaining and approximately 4,600 H-1B Masters Exemption nonimmigrant visas remaining. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn. For continuous FY2011 H-1B Cap updates, please refer to www.mvp.com.

Question #4 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visa – H-2B Nonimmigrant Visa
What is the H-2B temporary visa?

Answer #4
The H2B working visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. temporarily and engage in nonagricultural employment which is seasonal, intermittent, a peak load need, or a one-time occurrence. To qualify for an H-2B visa, you must have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer to perform temporary or seasonal nonagricultural work and proof of an intent to return to your home country on expiration of the visa.

The limitations of the H-2B visa are that the job must be temporary in nature and the need must be for one year or less, the employer’s need may not be ongoing or continuous. The employer has the burden of establishing the facts necessary to support a finding that the need is a one-time occurrence, seasonal, peak load or intermittent need. H-2b time counts whether you are in the U.S. or abroad, and H-2b dependents may not work in the U.S.

Question #5 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
I recently got a new project in Northern Virginia. I will be working at a client in Northern Virginia and living in Maryland. I have North Carolina labor filed on my H1B petition. Do I need to file a new labor for Northern Virginia? If so can you guide me and my employer in filing a new labor in a new state?

Answer #5
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 #6 – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B & L1A/L1B Nonimmigrant Visas
I am a U.S. small business employer with 20 employees with half of them being on H-1B status. I have read different articles about the new public law and its applicability to nonimmigrant visas, but I am somewhat confused based on what I have read. Does the new public law fee apply to me and my company?

Answer #6
Under Public law 111-230, Employers with 50 or more employees in the U.S., for which more than 50% of their workforce utilize H and L visas are subject to the new fee. Employers to which the Public law is applies will have to pay an additional fee of $2,000.00 for each H-1B filed, in addition to normal USCIS filing fees associated with the H-1B visa. If your company employs less than 50 employees, you are not subject to the new fee. If you are a larger company and have 50 or more employees and have less than 50% of those employees on H1B/L1 visas, then you are not subject to the new fee.

Question #7 – Employment Based Immigration – Employment Authorization Document (EAD)/Advance Parole Document (AP)
My EAD and AP are expiring this year sometime. When is the earliest that I can file my renewal petitions?

Answer #7
You can file for an EAD renewal with the USCIS no more than 120 days in advance of the expiration of your current EAD. You can file for AP renewal no more than 30 days in advance of the expiration of your current AP or the USCIS will issue an RFE requesting your current AP document before issuing a new AP document.

Question #8 – General – Social Security Card
How and when do I obtain a Social Security Card?

Answer #8
Generally, you may obtain a Social Security Card once you are legally authorized to work in the United States. Such authorization may be evidenced by receipt of an employment authorization card, an Alien Registration Card (Green Card), or receipt of temporary evidence of Green Card status (as established by presentation of an I-551 stamp in your passport). You will need to file an application for a Social Security Number in person at the Social Security Office. When filing this application at the Social Security Office, you should bring the following documents with you: your original birth certificate, passport, and employment authorization document, stamped passport or Green Card. Call 1-800-772-1213 for further information including the address of your local Social Security office, or visit their website at www.ssa.gov.

Question #9 – Employment Based Immigration – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
One of my employees is nearing her 6th year on H-1B visa status, but she has an approved I-140 filed by a different company. Is it possible to use that approved I-140 to get her a three year extension with our company.

Answer #9
Generally, the answer to that question is yes. Pursuant to AC21 law, an H-1B immigrant may extend his or her status beyond the 6 year limitation if a labor certification, I-140, or employment based adjustment of status application has been filed where 365 days or more have elapsed since the filing of the labor certification or I-140. Or, where the H-1B immigrant has an I-140 petition which has been approved under the employment based green card and the AOS/485 is pending due to the unavailability of visa numbers.

Question #10 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
My H1b visa got approved in 2008 which was filed by my previous employer.I did not get chance to travel to USA and even my visa is not stampted. Now I am with another employer. Can I transfer my H1b to the new employer?

Answer #10
The safest option to utilize at this point given the facts as you have provided is to file a new H-1B petition. Transfers and Extensions do not apply in this scenario because you have never entered the U.S as an H-1B nonimmigrant. Once the petition is filed and approval received, you would need to attend the Consulate interview and if all goes well, you would be able to then travel to the U.S. and after speaking with CBP, enter as an H-1B nonimmigrant visa holder.

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, November 5, 2010! Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our h1bvisalawyerblog.