MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, December 9, 2011

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Question #1 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
On my H-1B visa, because I am not yet a citizen of the United States, do I still pay federal taxes?

Answer #1
If you are in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant work visa, you pay federal taxes. As an employee of a U.S. company, the employer is responsible for withholding the applicable taxes from your paychecks in accordance with the laws. You must pay federal and state income taxes – You must report all wages, salaries, and tips even if you do not get a Form W-2 from your employer. You must also report all your taxable interest, including interest from banks, savings and loans, credit unions, etc., even if you do not get a Form 1099-INT.

Question #2 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
I am from Egypt and working as physical therapist from 10 years and I want to find job as P.T in USA. I am unlicensed P.T in USA. I need H1B Visa. Please answer me. Thanks.

Answer #2
The H-1B FY2012 Quota has been reached, accordingly, you will have to wait until April 1, 2012 to submit an H-1B CAP petition for employment beginning October 1, 2012. You will need to find a sponsoring employer to sponsor your H-1B petition. You will need to come to the U.S. to sit for a licensing exam before acquiring your PT license in the U.S. Once you have a sponsoring employer we can assist you, but we cannot assist you until you find a sponsoring employer.

Question #3 – Travel
My husband works under the visa f1/opt, my son and I have f2 visa. Recently, my husband’s company began the process for H1b visa, current status, December 2011, is “initial review.” We would like to leave the country, during this month of December.My questions are: Do our visas and F opt, are still in effect and are valid, while the H1b visa is in the initial review? Can we leave the country and re-enter without any problem? We have the passport, I20 and I94 in order.

Answer #3
I would highly recommend not departing the U.S. while you have an application pending for Immigration benefits. If you do leave the country while your application is pending, the USCIS can consider your departure an abandonment of your case and hence will not approve the extension of status for you, requiring you to obtain visa stamping.

Question #4 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
Any H-1B visas left for this year?

Answer #4
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced November 23, 2011 that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2012. USCIS notified the public that November 22, 2011 was the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions for FY2012. USCIS will reject cap-subject H-1B petitions that arrive after November 22, 2011.

Question #5 – General
If I am in the country on an H-1B visa and I decide to attend college here in the United States, can I continue to work for my H-1B sponsor?

Answer #5
There is a legacy INS letter that states that there is nothing that prevents an H-1B nonimmigrant from attending school so long as it is incidental to the H-1B status. The gist of it is that the main purpose of the individual’s stay in the US has to be to work for the H-1B employer. Taking classes on the side will not interfere with that unless it becomes the main purpose. In other words, if it’s not specifically prohibited by the regulations, it’s permitted.

Question #6 – General
What is the difference between a person who applies for a first preference EB-1 and a person that applies for an H-1B?

Answer #6
The EB1 preference category is a Green Card preference category reserved for Individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; and Outstanding professors or researchers.
The H-1B is a temporary work visa for nonimmigrants; this nonimmigrant work visa is reserved for individuals 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.

Question #7 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
Can an H-1B applicant change employers during the visa process?

Answer #7
Yes, an H-1B applicant is free to change employers during the visa process, changing H-1B employers is considered an H-1B transfer, and that petition would not be counted against the CAP, unless they are changing from a CAP EXEMPT employer to an employer who is not CAP EXEMPT.

Question #8 – General
What is the State Department Diversity Visa Program (DV-2013)?

Answer #8
The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas (DVs) annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Question #9 –H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
As a religious worker looking to apply for a visa, do I need to be sponsored by a religious organization prior to applying, or is that only necessary for other professions?

Answer #9
According to the Department of State, Religious workers include persons authorized, by a recognized employing entity, to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion, and workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation. The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S.; the religious denomination and its affiliate, if applicable, are either exempt from taxation or qualifies for tax-exempt status; and the applicant has been a member of the denomination for two years immediately preceding applying for religious worker status. The applicant is planning to work as a minister of that denomination, or in a religious occupation or vocation for a bona fide, non-profit religious organization (or a tax-exempt affiliate of such an organization).There is no requirement that individuals applying for “R” visas have a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning. However, they must intend to depart the U.S. at the end of their lawful status, absent specific indications or evidence to the contrary. The applicant has resided and been physically present outside the U.S. for the immediate prior year, if he or she has previously spent five years in this category.

Question #10 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
If I am a medical professional, and I want to obtain an H-1B visa, what requirements are there for me to practice medicine in the U.S.? Do I need to pass any specialized examinations?

Answer #10
Depending upon your medical profession, you will need to pass any applicable examinations and also obtain the required license to practice in the medical field in the United States.

MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.

Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, December 23, 2011!
Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our h1bvisalawyer blog.