MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, November 25, 2011

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
Any H-1B visas left?

Answer #1
As of November 18, 2011, there were approximately 3,200 H-1B Regular CAP subject nonimmigrant visas remaining and the H-1B Masters CAP has been reached. USCIS will continue to accept cap-subject 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to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn. Petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who have obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher will be counted against the regular cap once USCIS has received sufficient petitions to reach the advanced degree exemption.

Question #2 – Family Based Immigration – Green Card
Can I bring siblings with me to the United States when I apply for a green card?

Answer #2
Siblings (Brothers/sisters) are considered a family based preference category and would have to ‘wait in line’ to come to the United States once an Immigrant Petition is first filed on their behalf by a sponsoring relative. Therefore, no your siblings cannot accompany you to the United States when you apply for a green card.

Question #3 – General
If my visa was denied, can I apply again? If so, how soon can I apply again?

Answer #3
Yes, you can apply again, but you should consider the grounds (reasons) for denial of the visa prior to applying again. If you are able to overcome the grounds for denial then maybe you should consider re-applying. We would recommend that you speak with an experienced Immigration Lawyer before re-applying to further discuss your specific situation.

Question #4 – Family Based Immigration – Green Card
I am a US legal permanent resident with a green card, can I get divorced and keep my green card?

Answer #4
It depends. How did you become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), through employment or marriage? If through employment, you should be able to obtain a divorce and legally keep your green card. If through marriage, it depends upon how long you have already been an LPR. If you are still a GC holder within the first two years of marriage, you will have to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence and if you do not, you will be removed. If you are still married, the petition should be filed jointly by you and the spouse through whom you obtained conditional status. However, you may apply for a waiver of this joint filing requirement if: (a) you entered the marriage in good faith, but your spouse subsequently died; (b) you entered the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment; (c) you entered the marriage in good faith and have remained married, but you have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse; or (d) the termination of your status and removal would result in extreme hardship. You will have to provide proof of your reason for applying for the waiver.

Question #5 – General
Will a criminal offense prevent me from becoming a lawful permanent resident in the United States?

Answer #5
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) recognizes three categories of crimes that can place a non-citizen at risk of deportation or prevent a non-citizen from ever becoming a lawful permanent resident. (1) Aggravated felonies are the most serious crimes and are specifically defined by statute in the INA. Because of the sentence imposed by the state criminal court, some common misdemeanor crimes can be considered aggravated felonies for immigration purposes. These crimes include theft and crimes of violence. For both of these crimes a non-citizen can be placed in deportation proceedings and deported from the United States, if the person is sentenced to more than one-year imprisonment, including any suspended time. A “crime of violence” is a term vaguely defined by the United States Code and could include convictions for assault in the fourth degree and felony driving under the influence. (2) Crimes of moral turpitude are the second category of crimes that can impact a non-citizen’s ability to remain in the United States. Generally, a crime of moral turpitude is defined as a crime that encompasses a base or vile act. Although the case law interpreting the term is not entirely uniform, the following types of crimes have been held to involve moral turpitude: crimes (felonies or misdemeanors) in which either an intent to defraud or an intent to steal is an element; crimes (felonies or misdemeanors) in which there is an element of intentional or reckless infliction of harm to persons or property; felonies, and some misdemeanors, in which malice is an element; sex offenses, in which some “lewd” intent is an element. Thus, murder, rape, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, aggravated forms of assault, forgery, prostitution and shoplifting have all been consistently held to involve moral turpitude. (3) A third category of crimes specifically listed in the INA may either trigger deportation or prevent a non-citizen from attaining lawful permanent resident status. Crimes included in this category include violations of any law relating to a controlled substance, domestic violence convictions, judicial determinations of protective order violations and convictions under any law of purchasing, selling, using or possessing a firearm or destructive device.

Question #6 – General
I am on H-1B, just filed I-485, with my pending I-485, can I invest in stocks?

Answer #6
Yes, as an H-1B nonimmigrant, you may own real estate property; you may also invest money in stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Question #7 – H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
My husband’s petition for nonimmigrant I129 was returned to USCIS for review. It has been 4 months since USCIS received the petition from DOS. How long will we wait for the reaffirmation?

Answer #7
There is no set period of time for the USCIS to review a case that has been returned to them by the Department of State (DOS). The USCIS commonly provides the following response when you request information concerning a case returned to them from a U.S. Consulate: The Petitioner for Non-Immigrant Worker Form I-129 was returned to this office from a U.S. Consulate and is currently pending review. Our office processes these cases as our resources and priorities allow. I would recommend following up with the USCIS National Customer Service Center, 1-800-375-5283 every thirty days to see if any decision has been made. I would wait 6 months before initiating a Service Request with the USCIS.

Question #8 – General
I have to travel to India during the months of February and March 2012…do I have wait for Advance parole to process (How long does it take to approve I-131?) or take appointment at an Indian consulate a. Do we have to do anything to expedite the process?
b. Since I will be in the midst of green card processing, does the process jeopardize my visa stamping (if my I-131 is not approved by that time)

Answer #8
a. You cannot expedite the process unless you are traveling for medical reasons, death, etc. The processing time is currently 2-3 months for an approval of the I-131. You can only receive the Advance Parole (AP) document while in the U.S., you cannot receive it at an Indian consulate.
b. The GC and the H-1B are two entirely different programs – GC for permanent residency; H-1B for temporary employment. As long as you have a valid underlying H-1B visa and you continue to be employed by the H-1B sponsor, you may still travel on the H-1B visa if your AP is not approved by the time of your intended travel.

Question #9 –H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa
I’m currently on F-1 (OPT), and the company I work for just started the process to sponsor me an H-1B visa on 11/18/2011. My OPT will expire in June 2012. I wonder if my H-1B petition will be denied given that my mother filed the I-130 for me in 2009 and I have a family member who is a US citizen. Thanks for your assistance.

Answer #9
Your H-1B petition should not be denied because your mother previously filed an I-130 petition for you or for the mere fact that you have a family member who is a U.S. Citizen.

Question #10 – General
Any update on prevailing wage determinations from the Department of Labor?

Answer #10
The Office of Foreign Labor Certification has provided the following update to the public on the issuing of prevailing wage determinations:

PERM: Became current the week of October 23, 2011 H-1B: Became current the week of November 6, 2011 H-2B: Anticipated becoming current the week of November 27, 2011
“Current” carries a different meaning in each program. A prevailing wage determination is “current” in the PERM and H-1B programs when it is issued within 60 days of submission. For H-2B prevailing wage determinations, “current” is within 30 days of submission in accordance with the program’s regulations. These dates may be subject to change based on actions not anticipated by the Department at this time, such as any additional judicial determinations or legislative actions. PWD appeals (redeterminations and Center Director Reviews) are being processed as resources allow, with priority placed on becoming current on initial PWD requests in each of the respective program areas.

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 9, 2011!

Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our h1bvisalawyer blog.

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