Frequently Asked Questions

EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT AND IMMIGRATION MATTERS CAN BE QUITE COMPLEX.
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Employment-Based Immigration

Can my employee start working after I file the non-immigrant petition on the employee’s behalf?

There are different types of employment-based immigration petitions. Typically, your employee can only start working if you are petitioning for an H-1B non-immigrant and the employee is already in the United States under H-1B classification.  In all other circumstances, you must wait for approval of the petition.

What is Premium Processing and how can it be used?

Premium Processing is a special USCIS processing route that provides significantly faster processing in exchange for an additional fee. For an additional fee USCIS guarantees either a decision or a request for additional evidence within 15 calendar days on the following types of visa petitions or applications: H-1B, H-2B, H-3, O, P, Q-1, E-1, E-2, L, TN, some R-1, and certain I-140 petitions.

Is an employee allowed to reimburse the employer for immigration costs?

It depends on the type of visa status obtained and the amount in question.

General Questions

What is the basic law that governs immigration?

The federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides the basis for U.S. immigration law.

Can a visa be obtained in the United States?

All foreign nationals requiring new visas must apply for their visas at a U.S embassy or consulate outside the United States.

What are some factors that are considered by USCIS when granting immigration status?
  • Does the applicant have an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen?
  • Does the applicant have a permanent employment opportunity or offer in the U.S. Does that employment fit under one of the five eligibility categories?
  • Is the applicant able to make a capital investment in the U.S. that meets certain monetary thresholds? Does making such investments create or save a specified number of jobs?
  • Does the applicant qualify for refugee or asylee status as an individual who suffers or fears persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political view, or membership in a certain group in his or her country of origin.
Do I need to register my home and mailing address?

Yes.  All non-immigrants and lawful permanent residents must register any change of address using USCIS Form AR-11.

Diversity Visa Lottery

What is the Diversity Lottery Program (DV)?

The DV Lottery Program annually awards immigrant visas to applicants whose country of origin has low immigration rates to the U.S. (not more than 50,000 in the last five years). This is also referred to as quotas. The program is called a lottery because there are more applicants than available visas. The visas are granted randomly allocated to qualified applicants.

Is the Diversity Lottery Program real?

Yes, absolutely.  It is not a ruse or scam to locate those who are illegally present in the US.

Deportation Proceedings

What is the basis for being deported? What are the consequences of deportation proceedings?

Deportation (or removal) proceedings occur when an alien is found to have violated certain immigration or criminal laws. The consequences being that the alien forfeits his or her right to remain in the U.S., and is usually barred from returning to the U.S.

How is the deportation process started?

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issues a Notice to Appear (NTA) stating the reason why the alien should be deported or removed. The NTA is served on the alien and is filed with the Immigration Court. A hearing is then scheduled, at which an Immigration Judge will determine if the information in the NTA is correct. The removal of the alien will be ordered if no objections or findings in favor of the alien are recorded. That’s why it is important to have an attorney represent you.

Can a deportation or removal order be appealed?

Yes. The alien has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the BIA decides against the alien, the matter can be appealed further to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Finally, if the Court of Appeals also finds against the alien, the matter can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (the highest court in the U.S.).

Family-Based Immigration

Does marriage to a U.S. citizen automatically grants a green card (permanent residency) to a foreign national?

No. It may take several months to years to complete the green card process.

Under what circumstance will a foreign spouse’s permanent resident status in the U.S. be conditional?

A spouse’s permanent resident status will be conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old from the day the permanent resident status was granted. To remove the conditions, the spouse must establish that the marriage was entered in good faith (also called bona fide) and was not to circumvent the U.S. immigration laws.

Under what circumstances a foreign fiancé(e), who has been admitted into the U.S. for the purpose of getting married, can be required to leave the U.S.

If the marriage to the U.S. citizen who filed the petition to let the fiancé(e) into the U.S. does not take place within 90 days from the date of entry to the U.S., the fiancé(e) will be required to leave the country.

Can an alien request a fee waiver for immigration services?

Yes. USCIS provides several filing fee waiver options if the applicant can establish that he or she is unable to pay. In order to have the USCIS consider waiving a fee, the applicant must follow specific instructions, including completion of a form and demonstrating financial hardship.

International Students

Can a student work?

Only if the student has been authorized for curricular practical training (CPT), optional practical training (OPT), or has an employment authorization document obtained under different immigration provisions.

If I sponsor an employee for a green card, can he or she leave my employ before his or her case is finished, yet continue to use the benefits of my sponsorship?

Yes, once the I-140 petition is approved.

Can my employee’s spouse work?

L-2 visa holders (spouses of L-1 visa holders) and spouses of E visa-holders, and some H-4 (H1-B visa dependents) visa holders can apply for employment authorization (EAD).

If my employee needs to travel, how easy is it to get a visa for return to the U.S.?

Each consulate or embassy has different local regulations for obtaining visas.  Visit the Department of State to see the websites for American embassies and consulates across the world.

How has 9/11 and related developments affected prospective employees?

Here is an unofficial list of countries whose nationals may be subject to additional clearances that may delay visa issuance: Bangladesh; Egypt; Indonesia; Jordan; Kuwait; Afghanistan; Algeria; Bahrain; Eritrea; Iran; Iraq; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; North Korea; Oman; Pakistan; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; and Yemen.

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