F Visa

Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments and blog on immigration.com.

Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments and blog on immigration.com.

CPT, OPT, Unlawful Presence

Detailed question:

Answer:

Watch the Video on this FAQ: CPT, OPT, Unlawful presence

Video Transcript

What I tell my clients is if you have already done it and you are okay with a three year bar potentiality with it again another potentiality for 212 (d) (3) waiver, which should be given in cases like this where they let you take a nonimmigrant visa even though you have a three year bar. More...

 

 

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form.



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University of Farmington, Michigan issues

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Answer:

Listen to the Audio on this FAQ: University of Farmington, Michigan issues

Audio Transcript

Tourist visas itself is a visa that can be denied on so many grounds. It is difficult to predict. You can try. Just make sure you don't make any misrepresentations or active concealments of facts because that can lead to a permanent bar from entering the USA. More...

 

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form

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The New Restriction on 12 Months of CPT OPT Combined – – Consequences of H-1B Denial on OPT

Detailed question:

Answer:

Watch the Video on this FAQ:

The new restriction on 12 months of CPT OPT combined – –

consequences of H-1B denial on OPT

Video Transcript

In my view you are still on OPT and to activate your H-1 you have to either refile for change of status or go outside the USA for visa stamping. More...

 

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form.

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Starting Business While on Student Visa

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Answer:

Watch the Video on this FAQ: Starting business while on student visa

Video Transcript

Doing a business while you are still on a F-1 status is illegal unless you get OPT. If you get OPT, the government has set a time or two as long as you are working in your own field. So if you are a software developer or you have a degree in computer science and you start a company where your primary role is software development or something akin to it you are allowed to do that as long as you have your OPT. You cannot do that in STEM OPT extension, but you can do it for the one - year OPT.  More...

 

 

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form.

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Can A Green Card Be Filed For Me If I am On H-4 or L-2?

Detailed question:

Answer:

Watch the Video on this FAQ: Can a green card be filed for me if I am on H4 or L2 or F1 – – any status other than H-1B or L-1A?

Video Transcript

Yes. A green card can be filed while you are on any status. But while filing a green card for visas like F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2 can be complicated in some ways. Consult your lawyers.  Make sure you got every part covered. If you are born in countries like India or China or any other countries that are very backed up you will have to be very careful and make proper plans before you file for a green card directly from any of the other statuses but there is no law that says you cannot do that. More...

 

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form.

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Changing Back to F-1 Student Status After Filing for Green Card

Detailed question:

Answer:

Watch Video: Changing back to F-1 student status after filing for green card


Video Transcript:
If you have exhibited immigrant intent, getting F-1 status should be very difficult. So it is correct that when you have exhibited an immigrant intent the government or the counsellor officers can take the position that you have basically taken yourself out of consideration for a non immigrant visa like a student visa. 

Theoretically at least your chances are made worse because of the green card. I don't think withdrawal of the I-140 necessary helps.

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the referenced audio/video media delivered as oral communication, and, therefore, may not conform to written grammatical or syntactical form. 

 

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Immigration Impact of Crimes, Misdemeanor Conviction and Petty Offense Exception

Detailed question:

Answer:

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp4B1_qhvtM#t=2538

 

FAQ Transcript

If you have criminal conviction, lot of times you can have criminal convictions for minor problems for example you got into altercation with somebody  or some kind of public nuisance conviction, in  this  case selling alcohol to minor did not check the ID. So the question is how does that impact my immigration status?

First of all, there are 2 categories of crimes misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are anything which are punishable don't have to receive that punishment but punishable by more than a year. They are more serious crime and other is misdemeanor is year or less than a year.

So we look at the crime is misdemeanor or it is a felony, then we look whether there is moral turpitude or not. Moral turpitude is the term for dishonesty, reckless, disregard or safety of other people or attack on other people. So these are typically they call them offenses of moral turpitude. So if there is moral turpitude and there is felony chances are, you got the problem. But if there is only one misdemeanor even if it’s turpitude crime it is exempted by something called Petty offense exception. Petty offense exception says if you have only one misdemeanor and the sentence actually imposed upon you was less than 6 months, whether you actually served it or not. Even if it’s a suspended sentence it is considered to be sentence than we leave you alone, give you H-1, F-1 or Green card so petty offense exception. So once again we look at the crime if it is a crime of moral turpitude or not, if it’s not chances are you are going to be OK. If it’s a Felony of moral turpitude you have a problem. If it is only one crime misdemeanor you don't have problem, very generic overview.

Normally when I look into these cases, first thing I do is try to see if we get away from conviction. So if we get the case settled with the government, plea bargain entered without the conviction. 

What is conviction under Immigration law?

A conviction under immigration law is where you admit having committed the offense. If you have to admit the offense then it is conviction, no matter what kind of deal we make. First of all we try to get away from conviction, if there is no conviction there is no crime. If we can do that then we are safe. If we are not able to do so we bargain for misdemeanor. That’s the way typically we handle these cases. . Make sure it is misdemeanor under the state law. You say that it is misdemeanor C. I don't know what that means. State law has to be checked. But it looks that you are going to be OK. 

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Effect of Tourist Visa Denial on Student Visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

When the tourist visa denial is based upon a possible intent to immigrate (also known as INA Section 214(b) denial), it CAN be a problem for student visa.

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Can I Travel Back On F-1 Visa If My Reinstatement Is Denied?

Detailed question:

Answer:

In my view, it is unsafe to travel on an existing visa after being out of status. If they become aware of your status problems, CBP, upon returning, can turn you back at the airport, or worse, even formally deny you admission thereby laying a five-year bar against reentry.

In my view, it is unsafe to travel on an existing visa after being out of status. If they become aware of your status problems, CBP, upon returning, can turn you back at the airport, or worse, even formally deny you admission thereby laying a five-year bar against reentry. - See more at: http://www.immigration.com/comment/14631#comment-14631
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Is CPT an Acceptable Way of Working?

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Answer:

This is tricky. Usually CPT in the first semester is looked upon with suspicion by USCIS, unless: 1. yours is a graduate program; 2. the practical training is integral to the academic program; and 3. the employer has signed a co-operative agreement with the school.

This is tricky. Usually CPT in the first semester is looked upon with suspicion by USCIS, unless: 1. yours is a graduate program; 2. the practical training is integral to the academic program; and 3. the employer has signed a co-operative agreement with the school. - See more at: http://www.immigration.com/comment/14458#comment-14458
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Can H-4/F-2, etc. non-work visa holders volunteer?

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Answer:

This question is raised often and debated much amongst lawyers focusing their practice on employment-based immigration.  I have a call scheduled with a corporate client who is considering the legality of accepting a volunteer in their for-profit IT business.

I intend to inform them that under US immigration laws, if the work is performed for NO remuneration or other benefits, it would not violate the law. This issue has been explored in my blog entry here.

The problem, however, is that the Fair Labor Standards Act (Federal Law) does not permit for-profit employers to hire unpaid "interns" or "volunteers." See this link for FLSA standards according to US Department of Labor. There has been considerable litigation on this issue with employers on the losing side. So, please consult your employment law counsel before deciding on retaining the services of unpaid employees.

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Grounds for Rejection for B and F Visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

The grounds for rejection for B and F visa are usually the "immigrant intent." If indeed that is the reason for your visa rejection, I do not see any difference between B and F applications.

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Handling of the Forms I-20 and DS-2019 by USCIS ELIS

Detailed question:

Answer:

USCIS will accept a photocopy or scanned electronic version of a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019. If USCIS needs to review the original document, USCIS will ask you to provide the original document. USCIS will adjudicate the request electronically. Although the student will receive the approval notice (Form I-797) through the mail, the scanned copy of the Form I-20 will not be stamped and returned. As of Aug. 10, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) no longer provides admission stamps on Forms I-20 and DS-2019 for prospective and returning international students and scholars (traveling with F, M, and J visas) seeking admission to the United States. This change makes CBP processes consistent with USCIS’s recent change to stop stamping the Form I-20.

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Endorsed Form I-20

Detailed question:

Answer:

The Form I-20 is endorsed when it is signed by a DSO, which allows the student to travel internationally or apply for employment authorization.

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Form I-20 and Applying for State or Federal Benefits

Detailed question:

Answer:

An unstamped Form I-20 should have no negative impact on applications for state or federal benefits, including driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards. USCIS is actively communicating with Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) to ensure their understanding that a Form I-20 does not require a stamp to be valid. International students and scholars who encounter issues with their state or federal benefit applications should contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at (703) 603-3400 orSEVP@dhs.gov.

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Form I-20 and Work Authorization

Detailed question:

Answer:

A student should have no negative impact on off-campus employment if s/he has the USCIS-issued Employment Authorization Document and a Form I-20.

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Form I-20 valid without a stamp

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Answer:

Yes. A stamp is not required on the Form I-20. Some state and federal agencies require foreign students to present a Form I-20 to identify the end date for the student’s program. However, a stamp is not required for this purpose.

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SEVIS Form I-20

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Answer:

Foreign exchange students will receive a Form I-20 from the DSO of the educational institution that accepted the student to study in the United States. That student must have a Form I-20 to apply for a visa, to enter the United States, and to apply for benefits.

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I-20 Terminated

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Answer:

1. You will have to look for another school/visa.
2. As long as the school is authorized to issue I-20, you can apply for an F-1 visa. But make sure the school is not running into problems like Tri-Valley University did.

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F-1 or F-2 Extension—Leaving Country Prior to Visa Expiration

Detailed question:

Answer:

You will need a new visa only if you return after August 2013. Check with your DSO to make sure you have all the appropriate requirements completed.

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H-1B petition and Quota

Detailed question:

Answer:

If the employer is exempt from the quota, they may apply at any time. If they are subject to the quota, they can file the H-1B petition to reach USCIS no earlier than April 1, 2013, with a requested start date of employment no earlier than October 1, 2013.

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F-2 to H-4 Visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

If you are subject to H-1 quota, to get status within USA, you must maintain status till September 30. So, it appears you may have to apply for H-4 as well as H-1. Your lawyers can help you figure out the timing. Applying for H-4 now should not be an issue. But move quickly. You can file for H-4 online. Fairly easy.

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COS from H-4 to F-1 visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

You do NOT need USCIS approval to apply for F-1 visa. Just apply for F-1 visa during your visit to France. Ask the school to explain the formalities to you. By the way, if you leave USA during a COS request, the COS is deemed abandoned.


 

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H1-B to F-1

Detailed question:

Answer:

If you are maintaining H-1 status on the date your H-1 to F-1 change of status application is received by USCIS, you can apply for H-1 to F-1 change of status within USA. Check with your school. They should be able to guide you.

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I got my BSN in the US

Detailed question:

Answer:

Your employer's role in this process is limited. You can pay for all expenses yourself. The length of the process is determined by the country of birth.

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My spouse working illegally

Detailed question:

Answer:

You are not responsible for your spouse's illegal employment. I don't see how the govt. can hold otherwise.

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F-1 reinstatement

Detailed question:

Answer:

As far as I know, reinstatement requires exceptional circumstances. A sprain may not be it.

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Lost old EAD card for another OPT application

Detailed question:

Answer:

First, discuss the possible solutions with your international students office. Second, call USCIS customer service and ask for solutions. Third, provide whatever you have with a full explanation to USCIS when filing the new OPT.

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Student visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

There are several issues here and the outcome is uncertain, so I would advise against it. Your idea of entering on visa waiver and then later "activating" the F-1 through reentry should work, but I am concerned about how CBP will view your entry without a return ticket. Of course, you must always tell the truth and the truth appears to favor you, but I have no clue how a CBP officer would view this entry on Visa Waiver.

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F1 visa to business visa or H1/L1

Detailed question:

Answer:

If you qualify, H and L visas are certainly more secure than an F visa.

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F1 and OPT Expired but 60 days not up

Detailed question:

Answer:

This is a common misunderstanding. Starting a PERM-based green card does not give you the right to stay in USA.

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Need information

Detailed question:

Answer:

Generally speaking, getting a new visa endorsement should not be a problem. You cannot get a visa within USA.

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Status change from F1 to H1b

Detailed question:

Answer:

You are cap exempt and should be able to change status OR get H-1 visa stamping right away. No waiting till 1 Oct.

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Visiting Canada on a student visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

Get together with the school and tell them the visit is only to Canada. Also contact CBP. Once OPT is approved, travel to Canada and back to USA for less than 30 days MAY be an option without a visa. This is referred to as "automatic visa revalidation." You can do a search for that term on http://travel.state.gov

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F1 visa to H1-b

Detailed question:

Answer:

Since the H-1 quota is over, OPT is your best option as far as I can tell.

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B-1/B-2 visa to F-2 visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

There are several issues here that should require you consult with a lawyer. For instance, USCIS does not like it when people enter USA on a short-term visa and get married or try converting to a long term status (like F-2).

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F1 student (wife of a GC holder) - pregnant

Detailed question:

Answer:

For various reasons, I usually see no point in applying for a green card through a permanent resident spouse while you are on an F-1. About taking a break, the F status requires you to attend school full time unless there is a medical necessity. You need to discuss that with your international students advisor.

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Time Frame for Green Card

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Answer:

The time frame for employment based green cards depends upon two things: your country of chargeability (usually the country you were born in) and the category of green card through which you apply: EB1, EB2, EB3.

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Confused - B-1 to F-1 change

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Answer:

You should be able to get your OPT and even an H-1 and a green card. But if ever you want to travel outside USA, make sure you discuss the facts of the case with a competent lawyer. You have to make sure you have a good chance of getting a visa to get back in to USA.

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Student Visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

Not if you are in USA without status.

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Travel during 90 days of OPT without Job

Detailed question:

Answer:

This is what ICE says:
2.O. Can I reenter if I left while on OPT?
If your OPT has been approved and you depart before you get a job, your OPT ends and you cannot reenter unless you have a written job offer.
If you have a job, you may travel and reenter to resume work at the same job or you have a written offer for another job.

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Sponsoring daughter over 21 on F1 status

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Answer:

I am assuming you are asking me whether a green card holder can apply for a green card for an over-21 child. The answer is yes, as long she is unmarried, you can. But she cannot stay in USA based only upon the fact that you have applied for her.


Check out the Visa Bulletin: http://www.immigration.com/visa-bulletin


 

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F-2 visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

I do not believe F-2 visa holders have any option for work while they are in F-2 status.

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Working after studying

Detailed question:

Answer:

There are several different kinds of work authorizations like OPT, CPT, etc. Contact your International Students Office.

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F1 Visa Expired on OPT

Detailed question:

Answer:

You will need to get the visa stamping done again.

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Social Security Card -- F-1 visa

Detailed question:

Answer:

You need to discuss your options with your International Students Office. Ask them also about curricular practical training, where you are allowed to work for credits.

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F-1 working off-campus

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Answer:

I do not believe there is any law that specifically addresses this issue, but I believe all work done on US soil is likely to be considered illegal.

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F1 and starting a business

Detailed question:

Answer:

As far as I know, theoretically, you could be working for yourself on OPT as long as your work is related to your area of study. I think I read that in one of the FAQ issued by USCIS. But you will not be able to continue doing that on H-1.

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F1 visa denial

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Answer:

214(b) denial is based upon a suspicion that you have no intention of returning to your home country. This ground is almost impossible to overcome when you are an expatriate, but you can try. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but I doubt this will work.

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Traveling on OPT-F1

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Answer:

Normally, travel to "contiguous territories" (like Canada and Mexico) does not require a visa when the trip is less than 30 days AND you do not happen to be a national of one of the eight countries that US govt. looks upon with some suspicion. But there can be immigration problems. Trip to any one of the 50 states presents no special issue.

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May B-1/B-2, E-1, E-2, F-1, H-1, J-1, L-1 O-1 visa or TN holder apply for green card?

Detailed question:

Answer:

One of the questions I am asked quite frequently is whether or not an E-1/E-2 visa holder can apply for a green card and not jeopardize his or her E status. The answer is PROBABLY yes he can.

In the E visa context, this is what the govt says:

Quote:
9 FAM 41.51 N15 INTENT TO DEPART UPON TERMINATION OF STATUS
(TL:VISA-404; 04-29-2002)
An applicant for an E visa need not establish intent to proceed to the United States for a specific temporary period of time. Nor does an applicant for an E visa need to have a residence in a foreign country which the applicant does not intend to abandon. The alien may sell his or her residence and move all household effects to the U.S. The alien's expression of an unequivocal intent to return when the E status ends is normally sufficient, in the absence of specific indications of evidence that the alien's intent is to the contrary. If there are such objective indications, inquiry is justified to assess the applicant's true intent. As discussed in 9 FAM 41.54 N4, an applicant might be a beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition filed on his or her behalf. However, the alien might satisfy the consular officer that his and/or her intent is to depart the United States upon termination of status, and not stay in the United States to adjust status or otherwise remain in the United States regardless of legality of status.
So, are they saying they will apply the same standards as given in the note below? I THINK that is what they are saying, but this is not clear.

Quote:
9 FAM 41.54 N4 ISSUE OF TEMPORARINESS OF STAY

(CT:VISA-803; 04-27-2006)

L aliens are specifically excluded from the intending immigrant presumption of section 214(b) of the INA and are, furthermore, not required to have a residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning. In addition, INA 214(h) provides the fact that an alien has sought permanent residence in the United States does not preclude him or her from obtaining an L nonimmigrant visa (NIV) or otherwise obtaining or maintaining that status. The alien may legitimately come to the United States as a nonimmigrant under the L classification and depart voluntarily at the end of his or her authorized stay, and, at the same time, lawfully seek to become a permanent resident of the United States. Consequently, the consular officer's evaluation of an applicant's eligibility for an L visa shall not focus on the issue of temporariness of stay or immigrant intent.
There exists in law something called the "doctrine of dual intent." This doctrine permits nonimmigrants to have immigrant intent. In other words, even though, you are coming to USA on a visa that is temporary, you may pursue your green card (exhibiting intent to live in USA permanently).

By law, L-1 and H-1 holders are PERMITTED by the doctrine of dual intent to have their green cards pending. This is beyond question. That your green card application is pending can never be a ground for denial of your H or L visa application (includes H-4 and L-2).

As I have noted above, E-1, E-2 visas have an unclear situation. It appears the consulates WILL permit them dual intent, but may not(???). They do NOT have the same level of protection as H and L visas but usually consulates will permit dual intent.

The following visa types have no such protection and their vise or entry into USA can be denied if they have a green card application application in process: B-1, B-2, F-1/F-2, J-1, J-2.

O-1 is allowed to have an immigrant intent (by regulations - though not by statute).
Pursuant to 8 CFR Section 214.2(O)(13)
(13) Effect of approval of a permanent labor certification or filing of a preference petition on O classification. The approval of a permanent labor certification or the filing of a preference petition for an alien shall not be a basis for denying an O-1 petition, a request to extend such a petition, or the alien's application for admission, change of status, or extension of stay. The alien may legitimately come to the United States for a temporary period as an O-1 nonimmigrant and depart voluntarily at the end of his or her authorized stay and, at the same time, lawfully seek to become a permanent resident of the United States.

TN is also not allowed dual intent, but are often not questioned on their green card pendency.

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Visa after B-1 to F-1 conversion

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Answer:

Chances of getting an F-1 visa are remote. I would want you to reconsider the trip. The biggest problem here is, unless you declared to the consulate that you intended to convert from B to F status, they are likely to consider you to have misrepresented your true intention when you obtained/traveled on B visa.

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F-1 visa stamp, H-4 pending

Detailed question:

Answer:

1. H-4 is her personal application. All she needs to do is send a letter to USCIS stating "I hereby withdraw my application for H-4." Attach a copy of the fee receipt for H-4 application that comes from USCIS. I see no need for you spend money on legal fees, but that is your choice.

2. If nothing else works and she does get the H-4 approval, just have her step outside USA and reenter on F-1 visa and get a new I-94 from CBP at the airport.

3. Generally speaking, no.

4. Let your employer know. They should be able to withdraw for you. If not, do it yourself as I have suggested.

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From H-4 to F-1

Detailed question:

Answer:

1. No. An I-539 is used if you want to change status within USA.

2. You need to check with your school about CPT. The requirements for OPT as I recall are two full semesters on F-1.

3. No one can predict that. Sorry.

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Status, authorized period of stay and unlawful presence

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Answer:

Status, authorized period of stay and unlawful presence are three VERY important concepts in US immigration laws with far reaching implications. The nuances in these concepts are so intricate that they can trip up even my fellow-lawyers. I see issues in this all the time.

Here is a brief primier to enable you to understand the basics. This is by no means an exhaustive analysis.

Status
Status is the immigration designation what has been given to you by USCIS. For instance, when USCIS approves your H-1 with an I-94 attached to the approval notice, you are in H-1 status.

Status and Visa
The difference between status and visa is important. A visa is a stamp on your passport. This stamp is placed by US consulates outside USA. The system of entry and stay in USA is governed by dual permission (DHS and DOS). When you are outside USA and you wish to enter, you first go to a US consulate (an arm of DOS - Department of State or State Department) for the appropriate visa stamping.

For instance, for a tourist visa, you go the US consulate in your home country, follow their procedures and apply for a "B-2" visa. When you get the B visa stamp you have been permitted by one agency (US State Department) to enter USA. If the visa stamp is valid for 5 years, you may travel to USA any time during those 5 years. This is your first permission in the dual permissioning system.

Now with the B-2 visa, you travel to USA. When you land at the US port, CBP (an arm of DHS - the Department of Homeland Security) decides whether you will be allowed to enter USA and how long you can stay in USA. The permission to stay in USA is given to you in the form of a small card that is put inside your passport. This card is called "Arrival Departure Record" or Form I-94. The I-94 has an expiration date.

Once you are inside USA, you are "in status" only till your I-94 is unexpired. If you wish to seek an extension of of your stay, you must request USCIS (another arm of DHS) for an extension.

Authorized Period of Stay
Authorized period of stay means you are not illegal but you are not in full status. Taking the example of B-2 extension I was discussing above, let us say you want to stay longer than the stay initially given on your I-94. You will need to apply for an extension BEFORE your current status (the termination date on your I-94) expires. Once you have made a timely application for extension or a change of status (for instance you wish to change to H-1B), you can continue to stay in USA till your application is decided (but not past the point you had asked for as an extension). The moment your I-94 expires, you go from being "in status" to being in "authorized period of stay." This is less than full status (for instance you cannot change status within USA when you are in authorized period of stay, but you can do so when you are "in status."

Authorized period of stay also applies to people who have applied for the last step of their green card, "Adjustment of Status" (AOS or I-485). When someone files an appropriate AOS, they are in authorized period of stay until their AOS is adjudicated, no matter how long it takes.

Unlawful Presence
This is the real bad one you have to watch for. If you accrue 180 days of unlawful presence in USA, you are barred from entering USA for 3 years. If you are unlawfully present for one year, you are barred for 10 years. This is referred to as the 3/10 bar. A rule of thumb is, unlawful presence begins to accrue when your I-94 expires and you have done nothing to extend/change your status or when the government says your unlawful presence has begun (typically happens when an extension or change of status is denied.
 

In AOS (I-485) Context

Quote: Hope you remember me. I am one of your clients and you had represented me for my H1-B. Today I was laid off from my employer who was the H1-B sponsor. I have my AOS EAD as a beneficiery to my husband's PR process. I am concerned about my status in the US. My husband is also on EAD as he recently changed his employer using AC-21. Could you please help me? What status am I on now? Can I stay in the US? I currently have a valid I-94 in my passport. I need to decide the future course of action

Ans. You are now in authorized period of stay and can legally stay in USA. To work, you will need an EAD and to travel an AP.

In Change of Status Context
Updated 11 May 2009

Q. I am currently on H4 visa and the expiration date of my I-94 is May 23, 2009. My spouse had applied for an extension during the last week of April 09. In between, I received an offer for MS course at Penn state University, PA - US. I am planning to join school again on F1 visa since I have received assistantship/ financial aid from my University. I am planning to join for Fall 09 semester which begins in August 09.

Since I have to apply for a change of status from H4- F1 , is it possible to do this having applied for H4 extension now? Is there any way by which I can submit an application for F1 visa directly to USCIS without going for H4 extension?

Ans.
The rule of thumb is you can always apply for COS when you are in status, but not when you are in authorized period of stay. Upto 23 May, you are still in full H-4 status. After that day you will move to authorized period of stay because your H-4 status would have expired. So, if you file for a COS now, it should be fine. After 5/23 you have two choices. Wait for H-4 to be extended, then apply for COS to F-1 OR go outside USA any time and get F-1 visa stamping.

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Can B visa holder convert to F or other status?

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Answer:

While it is permissible to change from one status to another from within U.S., it may not always be advisable.

Typically, when someone enters the U.S., supposedly for a short visit (e.g. B-1 or B-2) and then tries to change it to a longer term visa (F-1, L-1, H-1, etc.), USCIS often frowns upon it (and may not grant it), but the consulates invariably frown upon it. My recommendation in most of these cases is to avoid this type of change. If you have already obtained the change, it may be very difficult to procure a visa whenever you need to travel abroad.

While it is permissible to change from one status to another from within U.S., it may not always be advisable.

Typically, when someone enters the U.S., supposedly for a short visit (e.g. B-1 or B-2) and then tries to change it to a longer term visa (F-1, L-1, H-1, etc.), USCIS often frowns upon it (and may not grant it), but the consulates invariably frown upon it. My recommendation in most of these cases is to avoid this type of change. If you have already obtained the change, it may be very difficult to procure a visa whenever you need to travel abroad.

In April 2002, INS changed its regulations regarding B to F-1 or M-1 (students) status conversions for people who enter USA from then on. INS maintains that B to F-1/M -1conversions from within USA will be permitted only if at the time of entering the USA (for instance at the airport) the applicant expressly declares to INS his/her intent to change to F-1/M-1 status. AS A PRACTICAL MATTER, HOWEVER, CIS seems to have often given changes from B to F status ignoring its own regulations. But in these cases also, the visa problem from consulates will remain.

The better thing to do is to go back to your home country and try for a visa there. Chances of getting a second visa are better if you have done nothing to violate the terms of an earlier visa.

 

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Can F/J holders apply for green card?

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Answer:

There is no law that prohibits an F-1, J-1, F-2, or J-2 visa holder from applying for a green card directly. But as a practical matter it takes a long time to obtain a green card in most cases. Therefore, even if you begin your green card process while you are on F or J status you will probably be required to convert to H-1 due to lack of time. Conversion to H-1 during green card pendency is no problem.

One more issue that you have to bear in mind is that F and J visas do not allow you to possess immigrant intent. Therefore, if you travel abroad during the pendency of the green card or if you need to obtain F or J visa stamped, you could have trouble because filing for green card you would have established immigrant intent.

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Turning 21 - do I have to convert to F-1 from H-4?

Detailed question:

Answer:

 I do not see any way around filing an F-1.

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Do advanced degrees help in marriage-based green card?

Detailed question:

Answer:

 1. Advanced degrees do not help in a family-based green card.

2. H-1 approval also does not help in the GC process.

3. Check with your international students office about the OPT part. This one is difficult for me to comment upon.

4. Whether or not you declare, if you are married then that is so. You must state that you are married if any immigration forms ask you. This is VERY important. Regarding taxes, check with a CPA. You do not want tax advice from a guy who barely passed his Federal Tax exam in law school.

If I were you, I would depend on my H-1, not OPT. The H-1 permits dual intent (Nonimmigrant and Immigrant) and is likely to be a strong visa for a person married to a green card holder

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Can H-4/F-2 holders perform volunteer work?

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Answer:

The following discussion applies to all visas where working is not permitted. Most typical examples of these types of visas are F-2 and H-4. The question often arises whether or not it is legal for such folks to volunteer their time or are they constrained to stay at home.

Quote: Q. May an H-4 (or F-2 type visa) holder volunteer for work to provide charitable service, to gain experience or just to stay busy?
A. Probably yes. The provisions of law noted below are vague and unclear. But it appears as long as you do not receive any money or other remuneration, you should not be considered to be violating any laws. If you do receive any “in kind” benefits, things get very tricky. Such benefits may be permitted if the H-4/F-2 holder did not ask for the benefits as a condition for volunteering, nor were they offered in exchange for the volunteer work, and if the volunteer would have performed the services regardless of whether he or she were to receive the in-kind benefits. Subsection (f) below defines “employee” as someone who works for an “employer” for “wages or other remuneration.

Subsection (g) defines an “employer” as an individual or entity who engages the services or labor of an “employee” for “wages or other remuneration.”

The problem clause is (h), which states that the term “employment means any service or labor performed by an employee for an employer within the United States.” This subsection makes no reference to wages or remuneration. So, is it legal to perform volunteer work without receiving any money in any form? My best GUESS is yes. Even though subsection (h) makes no reference to money and contains in its definition “any service or labor,” such work must be performed by an “employee,” who by definition (subsection (f)) is someone who works for an “employer” for “wages or other remuneration.”

The Regulations

TITLE 8 OF CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS (8 CFR)/8 CFR PART 274a -- CONTROL OF EMPLOYMENT OF ALIENS/Sec. 274a.1 Definitions.
Sec. 274a.1 Definitions.

For the purpose of this part--

(a) The term unauthorized alien means, with respect to employment of an alien at a particular time, that the alien is not at that time either:
(1) Lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or
(2) authorized to be so employed by this Act or by the Attorney General;

(b) The term entity means any legal entity, including but not limited to, a corporation, partnership, joint venture, governmental body, agency, proprietorship, or association;

(c) The term hire means the actual commencement of employment of an employee for wages or other remuneration. For purposes of section 274A(a)(4) of the Act and Sec. 274a.5 of this part, a hire occurs when a person or entity uses a contract, subcontract or exchange entered into, renegotiated or extended after November 6, 1986, to obtain the labor of an alien in the United States, knowing that the alien is an unauthorized alien;
….

(f) The term employee means an individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration but does not mean independent contractors as defined in paragraph (j) of this section or those engaged in casual domestic employment as stated in paragraph (h) of this section;

(g) The term employer means a person or entity, including an agent or anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interest thereof, who engages the services or labor of an employee to be performed in the United States for wages or other remuneration. In the case of an independent contractor or contract labor or services, the term employer shall mean the independent contractor or contractor and not the person or entity using the contract labor;

(h) The term employment means any service or labor performed by an employee for an employer within the United States, including service or labor performed on a vessel or aircraft that has arrived in the United States and has been inspected, or otherwise included within the provisions of the Anti-Reflagging Act codified at 46 U.S.C. 8704, but not including duties performed by nonimmigrant crewmen defined in sections 101(a)(10) and (a)(15)(D) of the Act. However, employment does not include casual employment by individuals who provide domestic service in a private home that is sporadic, irregular or intermittent;

INS Comments
Back in 1989, INS had commented on the definition of "volunteer" in the context of the employer sanctions provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).

In an October 10, 1989 letter, Mr. Schroeder speaking on behalf of INS stated that while the INS regulations implementing IRCA define such terms as "employer," "employee" and """employment," they fail to define "volunteer." It is clear, however, that employer sanctions apply only to acts of employment, and referral or recruitment for a fee. The regulations, Mr. Schroeder continued, define an employee as a person employed by another for "wages or other remuneration." Any determination as to whether an individual is an employee or a volunteer is made on a case-by-case basis.

Quoting from a hypothetical presented, Mr. Schroeder stated that an individual on an H-4 visa who does volunteer work for a theatrical group does not appear to fall within the definition of employee simply because he or she receives free tickets for the group's performances or is permitted to attend at no cost. Mr. Schroeder continued:
Factors that the Service would examine in making such a determination would be that the volunteer work was entered into without any expectation of compensation, that the volunteer did not require the free tickets, nor were they offered, in exchange for the volunteer work, and that the volunteer would have performed the services regardless of whether he or she were to receive free tickets or attend performances at no cost.

 

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F-1 OPT - No Job

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Answer:

Your best bet is to get your dependent visa stamp from a consulate as soon as possible. That should take care of any potential future problems.

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B visa while GC pending or similar situation

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Answer:

This is upto the discretion of the consulate and then again upto CBP when you land in USA. Consulates have the discretion to issue you a B visa - despite your presumed immigrant intent - if they are convinced that you will return. This is true for all cases where a B (or F or similar) visa is sought while GC is pending or could be pending.

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Using B visa with F-1

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Answer:

My assumption is that you are still on F-1 and in USA. If this is correct, you cannot use your B visa within USA.

While in USA, your stay and status is controlled exclusively by your I-94.

You can, however, try to reenter USA on B visa but after having stayed here for so long, a reentry is likely to be denied.

If, you are outside USA and have been out for a while (like a year or more), I think you can still use that B visa and try to enter USA.

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