Posted by Cedric M. Shen
A new resource site for Canadians living, studying, traveling, working or moving to the United States: www.CanadiansInUSA.com.
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4.25.12 at 10:14 am | The USCIS began accepting H-1B work visa. . .
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June 21, 2011 | 6:25 pm
Posted by Cedric M. Shen
Foreign nationals with relatives who are U.S. citizens may be able to obtain a green card if certain and specific relationships exist. Different categories of relatives dictate whether, and how soon, you can get a green card.
One category is known as “immediate relatives,” which includes:
1) spouses of U.S. citizens;
2) parents of U.S. citizens who are over 21; and
3) children of U.S. citizens who are under 21.
Any foreign national who falls under one of these categories are immediately eligible for a green card without having to wait for a visa to become available. Assuming that the application process goes smoothly, a foreign national can anticipate receiving a green card within one year of filing the application.
Family preference categories
If you do not fall into one of the “immediate relative” categories, do not despair. There are other categories known as “family preference categories” which may still allow a relative to petition for a green card on your behalf. These relationships include:
1) unmarried sons or daughters (over 21) of U.S. citizens;
2) married children of U.S. citizens who are of any age;
3) brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are over 21; and
4) spouses or children of U.S. green card holders.
Unfortunately, foreign nationals seeking a green card under a family preference category will have to wait several years before a visa becomes available. If you are looking to obtain a green card through this route, you may want to explore other options - including marriage to a U.S. citizen, investing in an EB-5 green card, or obtaining a green card through employment.
June 8, 2011 | 4:31 pm
Posted by Cedric M. Shen
Foreign nationals who are working for a U.S. employer on a valid work visa may adjust their status to a permanent resident if the employer files an employment-based petition. Employment-based petitions are divided into five categories: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5. We will limit our discussion to EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 in this section. EB-5 green cards were discussed in a previous entry.
The wait time for employment-based green card petitions are based on “priority dates.” This is a method of cross-referencing a beneficiary’s country of birth and the employment-based category to determine whether a visa is currently available and, if not, how long the wait is. Different countries have different priority dates. An individual born in Canada seeking an employment-based green card is generally in a better position compared to citizens of other countries, such as China, India, Mexico or the Philippines. This is because the priority dates for those born in Canada under an EB-1 and EB-2 visas are all “current.” This means that a visa is available for them immediately and that their petitions will not be backlogged. In fact, EB-3 is the only category that is backlogged for those born in Canada.
The EB-1 category is reserved for an exclusive group of people, and it likely will not apply to 99% of all applicants. By definition, it applies to individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, businesses or athletics; or outstanding professors or researchers. Only those in the very top of their respective field, as demonstrated through sustained national or international acclaim, will qualify for this green card. Unlike EB-2 and EB-3 green cards, the Canadian applicant does not need an employer to file a petition on his/her behalf. So who are these individuals? There is no restriction with respect to education or profession. It can be anybody who is one of the very best at what they do: a Michelin-award winning chef, an Olympic medal-winning athlete, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, a Juno-award winning singer/songwriter, a published author, a renowned professor, or an Academy Award-winning actress.
The EB-2 category is reserved for individuals of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business; individuals with advanced degrees (M.D., J.D., LLM, Ph.D. etc.); and foreign doctors who will practice in an underserved area in the U.S. Foreign nationals who qualify for an EB-2 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf.
The EB-3 category is reserved for skilled workers with two years training and experience; professionals with bachelor’s degrees; and other “unskilled” workers. As with the EB-2 green card, Foreign nationals who qualify for an EB-3 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf.
June 6, 2011 | 2:39 pm
Posted by Cedric M. Shen
A foreign national who has married a U.S. citizen is generally entitled to apply for permanent residency. This process is known as “adjustment of status,” and it requires the cooperation of both the U.S. citizen as well as the foreign national spouse.
The U.S. citizen spouse will file a form known as “Petition for Alien Relative” with the USCIS, petitioning for the foreign spouse to become a U.S. permanent resident. As part of the petition, the U.S. citizen will also have to sign an affidavit of support, declaring that he/she will be financially able to support the Foreign national and that he/she will not be a public charge. In other words, the U.S. citizen spouse is declaring that he/she can support his/her spouse so that the spouse does not become a burden to society by way of collecting unemployment insurance etc.
The Foreign national spouse may concurrently file a form known as an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, seeking to change the foreign national’s current immigration status to that of a permanent resident. Depending on the foreign national’s situation, he/she may also apply for a temporary work permit or a temporary travel permit. These are optional, and should only be sought if the Foreign national is not currently on a valid work visa or anticipates that the work visa will expire before the green card is approved. The Foreign national will also have to get fingerprinted and undergo a medical examination by a designated civil surgeon to ensure that he/she is healthy - again, so as not to become a public charge.
Upon approval of the adjustment of status, the Foreign national will be given what is known as “conditional residency.” This means that the Foreign national will be a U.S. resident and will get a green card - with a caveat. The caveat is that the both spouses must jointly apply to remove the condition within the three months prior to the second anniversary of receiving residency, thereby turning the “conditional residency” into “permanent residency.”
Example: Johnny married a U.S. citizen in 2010. After filing all the paperwork, he received his conditional residency green card on January 1, 2011. He and his wife must apply to remove the condition of his residency sometime between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 - since this is the three-month period just prior to January 1, 2013, which is the second anniversary of receiving conditional residency.
The rationale behind this process is to prevent non-U.S. citizens from entering into fraudulent marriages in order to obtain a green card. After all, many foreigners marry U.S. citizens simply to get a green card in order to stay and work in the country. The USCIS requires married couples to show that their marriage is still intact two years later in order to curtail such abuse.
Once the application for removal of the condition is removed, the Foreign national becomes a full-fledged U.S. permanent resident. Be careful though, as the Foreign national risks losing his/her residency if the couple forgets to remove the condition within the appropriate timeframe. So remember to mark the one-year and nine-month date of receiving conditional residency on your calendar.
What if I get divorced before the two-year anniversary?
It is common in this day and age for marriages to last fewer than two years (or even two months, for that matter). For Foreign nationals whose conditional residency has not been removed, this could problems with their immigration status. Generally, divorce terminates conditional residence. However, the Foreign national may be able to apply for a waiver of the failure or requirement to remove the condition if he/she can prove that the marriage was bona fide, entered into in good faith, and that he/she was not at fault for failing to file the joint petition.
June 6, 2011 | 2:31 pm
Posted by Cedric M. Shen
In addition to the annual 65,000 H-1B visas, Congress has allotted an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for people with advanced degrees (M.D., J.D., MBA, Ph.D. etc.). So if you are a foreign national with a medical degree, law degree, or any other graduate degree, you are eligible to be considered for one of the 20,000 Master’s Cap visas beyond the 65,000 regular cap. This is beneficial because applicants with a graduate degree do not fall into the general pool of applicants - of which there are usually more than the allotted 65,000. It should also be noted that foreign nationals with a graduate degree have a leg up when it comes to obtaining a green card through employment. I will be discussing employment-based green cards in the near future.
International fashion models can also work in the United States on an H-1B visa. While the H-1B visa generally requires the beneficiary to have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a fashion model under an H-1B does not need to have such a degree. Instead, the requirements for a fashion model under an H-1B visa are that he/she is of “distinguished merit or ability.” What does that mean? Stated simply, the fashion model must be prominent, is nationally or internationally recognized, and has reached a high level of achievement in the field of fashion modeling. Thus, the requirements for a fashion model under an H-1B visa are very different than “specialty occupations,” where educational level and job duties are more of a determining factor. Instead, the requirements of an H-1B for fashion models are more like those needed for a beneficiary of extraordinary ability under an O visa.