Frequently Asked Questions: Visas, Green Cards & Investment Immigration Law
As a result of assisting hundreds of immigration clients with various visa matters in past years, our immigration lawyers have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Be sure to check back often as this list is continually updated. Still have a question? Contact us today to speak with an experienced immigration law attorney.
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Is an L-1A visa approval required prior to obtaining an EB-1C visa approval if a California company is looking to petition a multinational executive or manager?
The EB-1C visa and the L-1A visa are similar, but one major difference is that the L-1A visa is a non-immigrant visa, while individuals with an EB-1C visa approval would also qualify for permanent residency in the United States.
This makes the EB-1C visa more attractive to multinational companies and individuals. However, according to experienced California immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of Vaughan de Kirby, the approval process for an L-1 visa tends to be less burdensome.
The L-1A visa is not a prerequisite for the EB-1C visa, and approval of an L-1A visa does not automatically guarantee approval of an EB-1C visa. Further, a multinational corporation may file an EB-1C petition directly as long as all of the requirements are met.
However, a company may choose to petition for an L-1A visa because the requirements are not as strict as the EB-1C visa. In particular, under the EB-1C visa requirements, the U.S. company is required to have been in “substantial operation” for one year prior to applying for the EB-1C visa.
As explained by an immigration lawyer in California, this means that if your California office is looking to petition for an EB-1C visa for an executive or manager, it must have an established corporate structure in the United States for at least one year with a reasonable number of employees. The revenue of this U.S. business must have then led to the need for a manager or executive to head operations.
How can a San Francisco L visa lawyer show proof of an affiliate business relationship for purposes of an L-1 visa?
The L-1 visa is important to companies conducting business outside of the United States, as it allows the foreign entity to open a United States subsidiary and transfer managers and executives to operate the U.S. business. Employees of the foreign corporation can obtain an L-1 visa if the corporation has a related branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partners.
Contact an L visa lawyer in San Francisco for assistance if you are looking to show proof of an affiliate business relationship, as this is complicated. There is no direct relationship between the foreign corporation and the affiliate. Instead, both are controlled by a third party, which may include another company, group of companies, an individual or a group of people.
If you are looking to apply for an L-visa in the San Francisco area, our attorneys can assist you in showing proof of an affiliate business relationship if:
- An individual or business entity owns at least 50% of the U.S. company and 50% of the non-U.S. company; or
- If there is more than one single entity, each owner of the non-U.S. company owns the U.S. company in the same percentages.
For additional information about the L-1 visa, order our free book The Business Owner’s Guide To: United States Residency via the L-1 Visa.
I am on an H-1B visa and I have been laid off from my job in California. How much time do I have to find a new job and what are my options?
If you have been laid off or otherwise terminated from your employment in California, or elsewhere throughout the United States, and you are in the country under an H-1B visa, there is no grace period and you immediately fall out of status. Unfortunately, once you fall out of status, you could be removed from the U.S. Call a California immigration attorney right away if you are under an H-1B visa and you lose your employment, as you will need to move quickly and follow appropriate procedures if you are seeking to stay in the United States.
H-1B California immigration lawyers from the Law Offices of Vaughan de Kirby will speak with you about your options, which may include:
- Finding a new employer before your I-94 expires, or your petition is revoked and processed by the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS).
- Filing for a change in visa status, including changing to a B-1 or B-2 visa, until you find a new job.
I am applying for an F-1 student visa and my school collected a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee, does this cover the fee paid to the government?
Not necessarily. A California immigration lawyer can help distinguish between a fee collected by the college or university and the required I-901 fee to be paid to the government. Please read through the following scenarios and recommendations:
- Some colleges and universities collect a fee to help with the costs that support international students. This may be called an I-901 fee, but does not cover the mandated paperwork and costs that you need to pay the US government prior to applying for an F-1 visa.
- Other colleges and universities collect the SEVIS I-901 fee and pay on your behalf.
- If your college or university has charged a SEVIS I-901 fee, you must ask whether this is the government fee or a school fee.
- If this is a government fee, the school will provide you with a written receipt on a Form I-797 for proof of payment or separate confirmation of payment.
Call our California immigration attorneys if you have any questions, as a properly completed SEVIS I-901 form will allow the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to:
- Determine the appropriate fee (which is usually $200)
- Post payment to the SEVIS record
- Mail the receipt
- Provide for expedited delivery, if you have requested and paid extra for this service
Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee is required prior to processing your F-1 visa application and prior to your interview. If you are enrolled in or have been accepted to an approved college or university in California, or elsewhere throughout the United States, our F-1 immigration attorneys in California can provide assistance throughout the process.
What Is a P-4 Visa?
P-4 visa is the type of visa that the spouse and dependent children of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder applies for in order to accompany a family member to the United States legally.
Here are some more quick facts about the P-4 visa:
- To be approved for a P-4 visa, you must prove your relationship with the holder of the P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa.
- Those with P-4 visa status may study in the United States either full-time or part-time without acquiring an F-1 student visa.
- Those with P-4 visa status may not work at all during their stay in the United States unless they receive separate approval to do so, such as through a worker visa.
- P-4 visa holders can study in the country for as long as their family member's visa is valid.
- To apply for a P-4 visa, you must have a valid passport, evidence of your relationship to the P visa holder, and a copy of your family member's Notice of Action Form I-797.
Does an EB-1 "Extraordinary Ability" Green Card applicant have to have an employer?
No. One important advantage of the EB-1 is that (unlike with the non-immigrant O-1 Visa) the applicant doesn't need to have found an employer willing to guarantee a job. In other words, the applicant can "self petition"-that is, apply on his or her own behalf.
This is a critical difference between the O-1 non-immigrant visa and the EB-1 immigrant option.
How long can I stay in the U.S. on an O-1 Visa?
Should your evidence and petition to the USCIS succeed in proving that you are indeed a person of extraordinary ability, the O-1 can be approved for a maximum of three years at a time. You will be allowed to apply for unlimited extensions should you be able to provide additional evidence of upcoming events or employment. However, O-1 visas are not always approved for three years. When a person applies for an O-1 visa, the validity dates-meaning the period the recipient is allowed to stay in the U.S.-are set around the specific period of time that is required to perform or participate in a certain event or events. If you have only one short event or project in which you wish to participate, then the USCIS will approve your O-1 visa to cover only this time period.
When should I apply for an H1B Visa?
The H-1B is a very popular immigration option. At the time of this FAQ, the United States grants 65,000 H-1B visas each year. In the past, within a relatively short time after the visas are made available each year (starting on April 1st), all the visas were used up within a few weeks. In today's economic climate, however, the visas are being used up at a slower rate. Nonetheless, the quota has been filed each year, leaving some people without the option of applying. That's why our immigration lawyers always recommend that clients apply early. Note that if this is your first H1B application you will only be allowed to begin working with the employer in H1B status on October 1 of that year.
Basic Rules Governing H1-B Workers Sponsored by a California University
- All applications for an academic H-1B must be filed by the hiring university. Individuals cannot file for H-1B visas on their own behalf.
- You may be in the U.S. on another type of visa, such as a student or visitor visa, while you are being considered for H-1B sponsorship.
- All applicants must receive a labor condition certification from the U.S. Department of Labor and employment authorization from USCIS. The university must do this for each sponsored applicant.
- If you are granted an H-1B visa, you may work for a California academic institution for up to six years.
- Once your H-1 petition has been approved by USCIS, you are prohibited from accepting any monetary payment, compensation, or reimbursement from any organization or employer outside of the university.
- You may transfer your H-1B visa to another academic or research institution; however, you cannot transfer to a U.S. company. If you leave academia, you must be sponsored for a new H-1B visa.
In order to be approved for this type of visa, you must have adhered to the requirements of any former visas as well as all U.S. laws.
What advantage does the EB-1 Green Card route provide?
One of the major advantages of the EB-1 category is that it often allows a qualified applicant to receive a Green Card in far less time than it takes to navigate through some of the other categories. Some EB categories, for example the EB-3 option, can take over four years! Right now, the EB-1 category is considered "current," which means that as soon as an EB-1 application is filed, the only waiting time is however long it takes USCIS to process the application and make a decision.
How May I Prove My Clear Intention To Return Home After Graduation On My F-1 Visa Application?
During the F-1 application process, officials will be interested in determining whether or not you intend to return home once your course of study is complete in the United States. Your application has a better chance of being approved if you can verify that you have important ties to your country and long-term plans to reside there.
While there are no specific documentation requests, you may wish to prove through documentation that:
• You own a home in your country or have a long-term rent agreement.
• You have immediate family members residing in your home country, such as a spouse or children.
• You have a bank account or have investments in your home country.
• Your or your family own a business in your home country.
• You have a job you plan to return to in your home country.
• Your future degree will lead to employment opportunities near your home.
• You are involved in ongoing cultural activities or organizations in your home country.
• If you do not currently live in your home country, that you visit home frequently.
Proving your intent to return to your country of origin after school is over is one of the most difficult and confusing aspects of an F-1 Visa application.