MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. And, therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.
Question #1 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
Does the time on my H-1B visa start the day that is approved or when I first enter the U.S. using it?
The six year period begins to accrue when you first enter the U.S. on a valid H-1B nonimmigrant visa. Your I-94 card will be stamped to reflect the date you arrived.
Question #2 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
If I did not use all six years on my previous H-1B visa, can I use the remaining years now?
Yes, if you have time remaining on your H-1B nonimmigrant visa status and have applied for the visa within the past six years, you are not subject to the H-1B numerical cap and are able to apply to use those remaining years now if you have an employer willing to sponsor you for your employment in the Specialty Occupation.
Question #3 – Tourist Visa
How do I provide proof of return if I have gone home after being on a tourist visa?
When you exit the United States, you hand over your I-94, Arrival-Departure Document. When you enter your home country, your passport is stamped with the date of your arrival. This passport stamp serves as proof of your return to your home country.
Question #4 – Student Visa (F1)
Should I apply for a student visa before or after I am accepted to an institution in the U.S.? And approximately how much time should be in between when I apply for the visa and when I plan on coming to the States?
You should apply for a student visa after you are accepted into an SEVP certified institution in the United States. The School will assist you in completing the necessary paperwork and obtaining the appropriate papers (Form I-20) for you to obtain your student visa, enter the U.S. and begin your education in the U.S. Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample time for visa processing. Students should note that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your student visa 120 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date. Students should be advised of the Department of Homeland Security regulation which requires that all initial or beginning students enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start/report date as shown on the Form I-20.
Question #5 – Tourist Visa
When applying for a tourist visa, do I use a travel agent or a lawyer?
When applying for a tourist visa, we recommend that you utilize the services of an Experienced Immigration Attorney.
Question #6 – Student Visa (F1)
What is the SEVIS system?
According to the Department of State (DOS): The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and DOS better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors. Exchange visitor and student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the DHS and DOS throughout a student or exchange visitor’s stay in the United States.
Question #7 – Diversity Visa Lottery
What is the Diversity Visa Lottery and who can win it?
Annually, the United States government issues a maximum of 50,000 green cards through a computer-generated random lottery drawing. These green cards are only available to those eligible participants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
To enter the DV lottery , you must be a native of one of the eligible countries. In most cases this means the country in which you were born. However, there are two other ways you may be able to qualify. First, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible but your spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth provided both you and your spouse are on the selected entry, are issued visas and enter the U.S. simultaneously. Second, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but neither of your parents was born there or resided there at the time of your birth, you may claim nativity in one of your parents’ country of birth if it is a country whose natives qualify for the DV program.
You must also meet either the education or work experience requirement of the DV program. You must have either a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR, two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net On-Line database will be used to determine qualifying work experience.
If you cannot meet either of these requirements, you should NOT submit an entry to the DV program.
Question #8 – Travel
My visa is still valid but my passport is expired, can I still enter the U.S. with a visa on an expired passport? Can I transfer the visa in my old passport to my new passport?
If you have renewed your passport, you may enter the U.S. with the new passport. You will be required to show the valid but unexpired visa stamp in the expired passport to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer. (You will need to carry both the expired passport containing the valid visa stamp and the new passport).
Question #9 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
My current H-1B expires on 4/02/12 and I filed for an extension in January 2012 and got a receipt. May I continue to work for my employer without the extension approval?
Yes, under regulation 8 C.F.R. §274a.12(b)(20), a person lawfully employed under A-3, E-1,E-2,E-3,G-5, H-1B, H-2A/B, H-3, I, J-1, L-1, O-1/O-2, P-1/P-2/P-3, R or TN status who timely files an application for extension consistent with 8 C.F.R. §214.1, is automatically given 240 days from the date of expiration. During 240 days, there is no INA 245(c) bar to adjustment of status.
Question #10 – General
Does premium processing apply to visas other than the employment based?
At the present time, the option to premium processing only applies to Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.
Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, March 30, 2012!
Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our H1B Visa Lawyer blog!