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Question #1 – Green Card
If my permanent residence card has expired, do I need a visa? Or is it possible to renew my permanent residence?
A green card is valid for a period of 10 years; you may renew 6 months prior to its expiration. You may renew your green card by filing Form I-90 with the USCIS.
Question #2 – Temporary Work Visa: H-1B
When applying for an H-1B, what is considered a “specialty occupation”?
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.
Question #3 – Temporary Work Visa: H-1B
What should I do if I am fired from my job while in the United States on an H-1B visa?
If you have been fired from your job while in the United States your employer is liable to pay for your return transportation to your country of residence. Your employer is also responsible for informing the USCIS that you are no longer an employee. Once the USCIS receives this information, they will revoke the underlying H-1B.
Question #4 – Temporary Work Visa: H-1B
What qualifies me as an “exempt H-1B employee”?
An exempt H-1B nonimmigrant is an H-1B worker who meets one of the following statutory standards: (1) receives at least $60,000 in annual wages; or (2) has attained a master’s or higher degree (or its equivalent) in a specialty related to the intended H-1B employment.
Question #5 – Temporary Work Visa: H-1B
Can I travel in and out the country at free will while on an H-1B visa?
You may travel in and out of the U.S. while on the H-1B visa; however, we recommend that you limit your international travel to emergency/vacation purposes. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is the agency that grants or denies re-entry into the U.S.
Question #6 – Temporary Dependent Visas
What is a dependent visa (i.e. F2, H4)?
A dependent visa is reserved for spouses and unmarried children. If the primary applicant holds an F1 student visa, then the appropriate dependent visa for the spouse and any unmarried children is called an F2 visa. If the primary applicant holds an H1B nonimmigrant visa, then the appropriate dependent visa for the spouse and any unmarried children is the H4 visa. F2 and H4 dependents may not work; however, children are allowed to attend school while in the U.S.
Question #7 – Temporary Work Visa: H-1B
How long is an H-1B visa valid for?
An H-1B nonimmigrant visa is valid for a period of 3 years. It may be extended for another three years, resulting in a total of 6 years in H1B nonimmigrant visa status. Under AC21 law, an H-1B nonimmigrant may extend their H-1B visa status further under certain circumstances. Otherwise, at the end of the 6 years, the applicant must return to their country of residence and remain there for a period of one (1) year before they can reapply for a new H-1B visa.
Question #8 – Temporary Work Visa: H-1B
If I have more than the required years of experience in my field of work, but no master’s degree or the international equivalent of a master’s degree, can I still apply for an H-1B visa?
At a minimum, the H-1B nonimmigrant visa classification requires the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree in a specific field.
Question #9 – Temporary Work Visa: H-1B
How often does the annual cap on H1B visas change? What determines when or if they change?
65,000 H1B nonimmigrant visas are available under the H-1B CAP each fiscal year. In addition, 20,000 H-1B nonimmigrant visas are exempt from the CAP under the Advanced Degree exemption. Please note that up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements. Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year. Only Congress may change the number of H-1B nonimmigrant visas available each fiscal year. The annual cap was originally 195,000 until it was reduced to 65,000 in the fiscal year of 2004.
Question #10 – Temporary Work Visas
If I come on a seasonal work visa, can I stay in the U.S. until the next work season or do I need to return to the country of which I am a citizen and apply for another visa?
You will need to return to the country of which you are a citizen and apply for another visa for the next work season if there remains a need for your services.
MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.
Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, February 17, 2012!
Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our h1bvisalawyer blog.