Q&A’s published on Lawyers.com and the Epoch Times on March 20, 2020 1. My H-1 to H-4 Conversion Denied 2. Can my cousin wait for her residence here if her stepdad is filling for her? Is her visa still be available during this process? 3. Was given a citation for shoplifting, case was dismissed. Does it affect applying for citizenship?

1. My H-1 to H-4 Conversion Denied

My H1 to H4 conversion denied on 11/30/2019 which I applied on 3/15/2019. Reason is: My spouse H1B expired on 7/31/2019 and currently in extension process. What should I do now? Can I submit my spouse’s extension receipt number?

Mr. Lee answers:
When a case is denied, you can file a motion within 30 days to have the case reopened with proof that your spouse has either obtained an H-1B extension or that it is still pending. If you are still in valid H-1B status, your other choice would be to file a new change of status application with the proof of your spouse’s approval or pending petition.

2. Can my cousin wait for her residence here if her stepdad is filling for her? Is her visa still be available during this process?

I want to know if she will be able to get her permanent residence here or she has to go to her country to wait for it. Or if her visa will still be available to travel during this process.

Mr. Lee answers:
Whether your cousin can wait for her residence here when her stepfather files for her depends upon a few things. First, he must be a US citizen or permanent resident. Currently the category for green card holders to spouse, children under the age of 21 is open, but the child must be maintaining legal status and not have worked illegally in order to adjust status here without leaving.  If he is a U.S. citizen, a legal entry is generally the determining factor and being an overstay or working without permission are not disqualifying.  Second, when was the stepchild relationship created. The immigration laws recognize the stepparent – stepchild relationship for immigration purposes only if the marriage creating the step relationship occurred prior to the child turning the age of 18. Third is the age and visa status of your cousin – if the above conditions are fulfilled and your cousin under the age of 21 at the time that the I-485 adjustment of status papers are filed, your cousin would be allowed to stay during the time of the adjudication. If 21 or older at the time of contemplated filing, her stepfather would only be able to file an I-130 petition for alien relative, and she would only be able to stay legally if she had a valid nonimmigrant status during the period of waiting which would be approximately 7-8 years. On the question of travel, there are two answers – if she is eligible for adjustment of status through form I-485 and such is filed, she would only be able to leave the country and reenter under advance parole or a nonimmigrant visa in the H or L categories. If not eligible to adjust but the step relationship is established before the age of 18 and the stepfather files an I-130 petition for alien relative, she could be allowed to travel to the US for short and infrequent visits during the pendency of her case under a B visiting visa.

3. Was given a citation for shoplifting, case was dismissed. Does it affect applying for citizenship?

Mr. Lee answers:
If the shoplifting charge was dismissed, it should not affect the citizenship application unless you admit the deed, and it was done within five years of the date of application if applying under the five-year rule and three years if applying under the three-year rule.


As published in the Immigration Daily on Match 20, 2020

The US has had a long history of racism against Chinese, beginning with the 1871 Chinese massacre in Los Angeles, 1882 Chinese exclusion laws, 1921 and 1924 immigration laws establishing a national origins formula to further exclude Asians and others, yellow peril stories beginning in the early 1900s epitomized by the Fu Manchu character in the 1930s, and jingoistic mistrust of Chinese during the Cold War and now under a Trump administration at war with the Chinese over trade and which nation will lead in the 21st century.

Against this background, Mr. Trump is aggressively inflaming Americans against persons of East Asian origin in the country by repeatedly calling the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” while another in his administration just referred to it as the “Kung flu.” Inflammation appears to be working even in a city as diverse and ethnically tolerant as New York as seen even in this law firm’s anecdotal experience of one of our Chinese-American staff member’s two incidents within the past week, one that she witnessed of a man on the New York subway threatening Asians wearing face masks when one coughed, and the other this morning of another man cursing her when she lightly coughed (right outside Penn Station) with her mask on.

This constant emphasis on blaming the Chinese has escalated tensions across the country and highlighted Asian businesses to such a negative degree that business owners have faced colossal losses even though just about all Chinese-American citizens, permanent residents originating from China, and visitors from China are virus free due to the China travel ban, and the riskiest populations are from Europe and the Middle East with Italy and Iran leading in current contagious spread. In New York City, much of the infection was spread by a Jewish attorney from New Rochelle.

While saying the term once or twice serves as a denial to the China made rumor that the new coronavirus was brought to China by the US military (obviously someone in China read about the origins of the Spanish flu of 1918), the world at large is already cognizant of its origins. Yet Mr. Trump is using a megaphone consistently to assign blame to a known fact.

To what end the blame? The answer is diversion from the horrible job that the president has done from the very beginning to contain the virus. From abolishing the National Security Council Directorate for Global Health and Security and Bio Defense to believing that he could “wall” off the coronavirus to saying that it was a “hoax” and not taking it seriously to not having a plan in place and failing miserably to listen to public health experts and coordinate government response early in the crisis, his handling of the situation has been haphazard and dumbfounding. While Hong Kong and Singapore have solved the coronaviruses in their countries through huge amounts of testing and contact tracing, the US has fallen so far behind that it appears the only viable strategy is social distancing and lockdowns.

Mr. Trump is clearly not an advocate of Harry Truman’s famous desk sign, “The Buck Stops Here,” but an advocate of buckpassing. Repeated and continual use of the “Chinese virus” term is an attempt to deflect blame. Yet we do not need a president in this crisis to throw off blame and in so doing put the lives and property of Asians in this country at peril, but a president who accepts the blame without caring whether he is reelected or not, and moves the country forward to solve the predicament.

Q&A’s published on the World Journal Weekly on March 1, 2020 1. What are the new H-1B procedures for this year? 2. How can I stay in US when my H-1B employer will be firing me? 3. J-1 exchange visitor – am I subject to two-year home residence requirement even though my paperwork says that I am not? 4. Do I do change of status to F-1 or go outside US and interview for F-1 visa at US consulate?

1. What are the new H-1B procedures for this year? 

I am interested in applying for the H-1B this April, and my employer wants to sponsor me. However, this will be the first time that he is sponsoring anyone, and he wants me to find out the procedure. I hear that there are some changes for this year. Can you tell us what those are?

Mr. Lee answers,

USCIS has implemented a registration system for employers under which any employer that wishes to sponsor cap H-1B’s (those that traditionally go in during the first five business days of April) must register themselves and the persons that they wish to sponsor with USCIS. Upon registration,USCIS will conduct the random selection and only those that are selected will have to submit an H-1B petition with supporting documentation. From what we know so far (and subject to change),

  • USCIS will use the my USCIS online portal for the registration and accept the payments through itsgov portal.
  • There is a $10 registration fee for each registration.
  • The initial registration period will be 3/1/20 – 3/20/20.
  • Employers can use one filing to register as many persons as they wish to sponsor.
  • They are allowed to submit additional registrations within the filing period.
  • Employers are not allowed to edit a registration after it has been submitted, but it appears that the registration may be deleted, and then redrafted and resubmitted prior to the close of the registration.
  • If the employer needs to withdraw one of 10 names, there is currently no guidance as to whether the system would force the employer to withdraw all 10 names and resubmit the other nine names.
  • Payment can be made from a bank account, checking or savings, credit card, or debit card. The registration system will allow for batch payments to pay the fee for multiple registrations submitted simultaneously.
2. How can I stay in US when my H-1B employer will be firing me?

I am on H-1B with three years left, but the company is dismissing me, although they will try to be flexible so that I can have time to find another employer. They are willing to stretch out my pay until the middle of next month to help me out. Is there anything else that can be done?

Mr. Lee answers,

USCIS foresaw this situation and, for people like you, it now allows you to remain in legal status for 60 days after the date of quitting or dismissal for you to prepare to leave, change employers, change status, or for any other legal purpose. If the employer does not know of the 60 day rule, it should be informed so that it can consider its options with open eyes. Where an employer is dismissing an H-1B employee, it continues to have liability for payment of salary in accordance with the H-1B until it notifies USCIS of the termination, properly notifies the employee, and pays for the transportation back home.

3. J-1 exchange visitor – am I subject to two-year home residence requirement even though my paperwork says that I am not?

I am on a J- visa, and want to file for my I-485 adjustment of status application based on my wife’s employment. I am originally from China, but spent three years in Germany as a scholar before receiving my J-1 visa in Frankfurt and coming to the US. Neither my passport nor DS-2019 form says that I am subject to a two-year foreign residence requirement. Although I have not taken any type of governmental or intergovernmental financing, I am on the skills list of China. I am not a medical doctor. What should I do?

Mr. Lee answers,

From your account, it is questionable whether you are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement because of the time and status that you held in Germany. Undoubtedly the American consulate in Frankfurt considered your situation before putting the markings on your visa and DS-2019 form. I suggest, however, that you request an advisory opinion from the Department of State prior to filing the I-485 application. A favorable advisory opinion would settle the matter with USCIS. If the opinion is negative, however, and you are deemed subject to the requirement, you may seek other channels to avoid the two-year home residence requirement, including asking for a no objection statement from your home government.

4. Do I do change of status to F-1 or go outside US and interview for F-1 visa at US consulate?

I was given six months to stay under my tourist visa and am in my fourth month and found a school that I want to study at. The designated school officer said that I could either try to change my status with USCIS or take the I-20 admission form and apply at the consulate in my home country. What are the considerations that I should take in account in making my decision?

Mr. Lee answers,

Your decision may depend upon a variety of factors. The first is that under current USCIS rules, you must maintain your legal status at all times until the agency adjudicates your change of status to student. Because you have only two months left, you will most probably have to also file for a B-2 extension during the time that your F-1 student change of status is pending. Another factor is that the change of status by USCIS once approved is only on a piece of paper. If you must leave the US at any time in the future, you would have to interview for the F-1 student visa at a US Embassy or Consulate before being allowed back into the US as a student. Against those factors is the common perception that obtaining an F-1 student visa at a US consulate or embassy is usually more difficult for many than obtaining a change of status by USCIS.