by Adena Bowmen, Attorney at Law

 

Like many hopeful applicants this year, your employer filed an H-1B petition on your behalf. You are currently in the United States, but in another status. You're aware that the number of applications filed will likely exceed the number of actual visas available, which will result in a lottery. You're currently in the U.S., and if your application is selected and approved, you plan to change your status here.

Question 1: Can I travel outside the U.S. while the application is pending?

Answer 1: USCIS views travelling outside the United States while your H-1B application is pending as abandoning your application. Even if you H-1B application is selected in the lottery and gets approved, if you return to the U.S. before October 1, your change of status will be denied. If you plan to remain outside of the U.S. until October1, you can apply for consular processing at a U.S. consulate and enter the U.S. in H-1B status.

Question 2: I am a student here in the U.S. on an F1/OPT/OPT STEM Extension. My H-1B application is selected in the lottery, and gets approved. Can I travel now?

Answer 2: You can travel if have no plans to return until on or after October 1. You will then need to apply for consular processing at a U.S. consulate and enter the U.S. in H-1B status.

Question 3: I am a student currently in the U.S. with an F1/OPT/ OPT Extension. My OPT expires after April 1 but before October 1, and I fall under the cap-gap provision which allows me to stay and work in the U.S. until my H-1B status begins on October 1. MY H-1B application has been approved. Can I travel after the expiration of my OPT but before October 1?

Answer 3: USCIS has never stated a position on this, but most attorneys suggest that you not travel. If you do decide to leave the United States, you will likely be in the same position as other F1 students who travel during this period, and be stuck outside the U.S. until October 1, when you apply for consular processing at a U.S. consulate and enter the U.S. in H-1B status.

Question 4: What if my H-1B application is denied, but I still have time left on my F1/OPT/OPT STEM Extension. Can I travel now?

Answer 4: Maintaining your F1 status requires you to have "nonimmigrant intent" i.e. you plan to go back to your home country after the visa period ends. By filing an H-1B application, you have declared your intent to remain in the U.S. after the end of your F-1 status, so it is possible you will be denied re-entry. If you want to stay in the United States after the denial of your H-1B application on your F1/OPT /OPT Extension, travel is not advised.

Question 5: My H-1B application has been approved for an October 1 start date. I am currently on H-4. Can I travel?

Answer 5: Your last action controls your current visa status. If you travel outside the U.S. beforeOctober 1 on your H-4 visa, your last action invalidates your request to change your visa status in the U.S. to H-1B. You will still have your H-1B approval, and will not be required to enter the lottery again. To change your status to H-1B, you will need to either re-apply for a change of status in the U.S. or apply for consular processing at a U.S. consulate and enter the U.S. in your H-1B status. Unlike F1 visas, H4 allows for "dual intent" so your status is unaffected by filing the H-1B application.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Our experienced team of immigration lawyers in Houston & Dallas advises clients throughout the H-1B visa application process, including responding to various requests for evidence and consular processing issues. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U. S. advanced degree exemption.

Before running a random selection process, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period which ended today. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date on which it will conduct the random selection process.

A computer-generated process will randomly select the number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions that are not selected, unless found to be a duplicate filing.

The agency will conduct the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2015 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

- Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

- Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

- Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and

- Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Our experienced team of immigration lawyers in Houston & Dallas advises clients throughout the H-1B visa application process, including responding to various requests for evidence and consular processing issues. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

A Bay Area businessman pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to multiple counts of visa fraud admitting he submitted employment visa applications on behalf of 19 foreign high-tech workers he falsely claimed had jobs lined up with an area biotech firm.

Balakrishnan Patwardhan, 53, of Cupertino, admitted that, between July 2008 and October 2010, he knowingly submitted false immigration forms and supporting documentation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services seeking high-tech worker visas for 19 applicants. Patwardhan claimed the individuals had job offers with Gilead Sciences in Foster City, though he knew the firm did not have positions for the applicants. Patwardhan also admitted he had included altered contracts and created false statements of work as part of the visa fraud scam.

The case is the result of a probe led by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service's representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), which is overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

Patwardhan was indicted in March 2013. As part of his plea, Patwardhan agreed to forfeit $100,000 in proceeds he obtained from the fraud scheme. He has been free on $50,000 bond since his arrest last March. As a condition of his release, Patwardhan was barred from providing consulting services for technology companies or any visa services.

Patwardhan's sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 18 before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for visa fraud is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The prosecution was handled by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of California. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Fazioli and Jeff Nedrow are prosecuting the case, aided by Legal Assistants Laurie Worthen and Susan Kreider.

The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations involving fraudulent immigration documents. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also assisted with the case.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Our experienced team of immigration lawyers in Houston & Dallas advises clients throughout the H-1B visa application process, including responding to various requests for evidence and consular processing issues. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

Now that your application has been filed and will be in the H-1B visa lottery, or “random selection” as it is referred to by USCIS, you want to know what happens next. While we have no exact answers, we can give you a pretty good idea of what will occur based on the previous H-1B lotteries in 2008, 2009 and 2013. The most important question first!

Question 1: When will I know if I have been selected?!
Answer 1: Acceptance and rejection notices begin to trickle in by the beginning of May, but can be sent as late as July.

Question 2: If I filed with Premium Processing will I receive notice of my selection early?
Answer 2: This will have no effect on your selection in the lottery, or how quickly we get back your acceptance or rejection notice. However, USCIS has announced for this lottery that they will start the 15 day clock on all Premium Processing cases filed under the Master’s quota no later than April 28. However, that processing date is based on the amount of applications USCIS received in previous lotteries, so it may be subject to change if USCIS receives more of this type of petition than in previous lotteries.

Question 3: How will the lottery be conducted?
Answer 3: USCIS will assign each application a number when it is received into their system. At the end of Monday, April 7the lottery will close. USCIS will run a program which an algorithm which randomly selects numbers assigned to the applications.

Question 4: If I filed under the Master’s quota, will I have a better chance of being selected?
Answer 4: If more than 20,000 applications were filed under the Master’s quota, USCIS will conduct the lottery for the Masters quota first and select 20,000 applications. Applications that are rejected in the lottery for Master’s quota will have a second chance to win the lottery and will be put into the regular lottery with those who filed under the Bachelor’s quota.

Question 5: How will my application be selected if I filed under the Bachelor’s quota?
Answer 5: After the Master’s quota applicants are selected, those applications which were not selected in the Master’s quota will be added to the pool of applicants in the Bachelor’s quota. USCIS will then conduct the lottery for all applicants in the Bachelor’s quota and those not selected in the Master’s quota.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Our experienced team of immigration lawyers in Houston & Dallas advises clients throughout the H-1B visa application process, including responding to various requests for evidence and consular processing issues. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.