Q&A’s published on the World Journal Weekly on December 20, 2020 1. What are the steps that I will have to do to become legalized under President-elect Biden’s promise to send a bill to Congress for 11 million undocumented immigrants? 2. I am from Hong Kong – do I belong to the China quota at this time? 3. On H-1B, married to a US citizen in another state, thinking of quitting job – will I be legal? 4. Sneaked into the US six months ago – what will happen if I get caught by Immigration?

1. What are the steps that I will have to do to become legalized under President-elect Biden’s promise to send a bill to Congress for 11 million undocumented immigrants?

I heard President-elect Biden say on TV last week that in his first 100 days, he would send a bill to Congress to put 11 million people like me who are undocumented on the path to citizenship. If he does that, can you tell me when this will start? How soon can I put in an application? Does Immigration already have the forms available?

Mr. Lee answers,
President-elect Biden’s promise to send legislation within the first 100 days in office to Congress for undocumented immigrants does not mean that the legislation will pass. Both houses of Congress must agree on the legislation before it goes up to the president for signature. The Democrats will have both the House of Representatives and the Presidency but may not have the Senate. Such will depend upon what happens in the state of Georgia on January 5, 2021, when two Senate seats will be decided. Democrats need both Senate seats to take control of the Senate. I note, however, that legalization of 11 million undocumented immigrants will be a very hard lift even if the Democrats take the Senate by 50-50 with Kamala Harris being the tie-breaking vote. When George W. Bush was president, he had the backing of many Democrats when he tried to pass a legalization program, but fell short because of opposition within his own party. On your specific questions, there is no timetable at this time; neither are there forms as those would have to be designed after the passage of legislation.

2. I am from Hong Kong – do I belong to the China quota at this time?

My company just filed a labor certification application for me for my green card and I want to know how long it will take for me to immigrate since I am born in Hong Kong. I heard that there was a presidential proclamation that made Hong Kong part of China and that would put me under the China quota which is backed up to 2017 while the Hong Kong quota is open and current with the rest of the world.

Mr. Lee answers,
The presidential executive order has not been placed into effect by the Department of State at this time. At a recent November webinar for EB-5 investors, Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control & Reporting Division at DOS, said that Hong Kong is still treated as a separate foreign state for immigrant visa chargeability going forward. Such reiterates the doubt that the Department of State had in July that the executive order was legal. On an American Immigration Lawyers Association check-in with Charlie Oppenheim on 7/24/20, he said that David Newman, the Director of Legal Affairs in the Visa Office, indicated that the Visa Office was still reviewing the matter of whether Hong Kong born individuals could be chargeable to mainland China – that §103 of IMMACT 90 granted separate chargeability treatment to Hong Kong born individuals and that the proclamation does not alter this. Assuming that everything goes well in your case with the Department of Labor and USCIS, you can expect to receive your permanent residence within two years.

3. On H-1B, married to a US citizen in another state, thinking of quitting job – will I be legal?

My job is in New York and I just got married to my husband in Texas. I am on H-1B working remotely in Texas, but my employer now wants employees to go back in, and I am thinking to quit my job. If I do it, will I be legal or illegal? Or should I go back to New York, and we will have a marriage in which he comes to visit me and I go to visit him until I get the green card? We just filed the I-130 and I-485 applications with Immigration for my green card.

Mr. Lee answers,
Having already filed for an adjustment of status based upon your husband’s petition, you are considered in a state of grace with USCIS under which you can remain in the US. With a marriage case, you are much better off being together with your husband as you will both need to prove the bona fides of the marriage at your immigration interview and that is easier to prove when you are both living together. Assuming that you resign your job, you can work under open-market employment once you apply for and obtain the employment authorization document (EAD) (if you have not already done so). The caveat to doing it this way is that, if your adjustment of status application is denied, you would be considered illegal since you would no longer be holding a valid nonimmigrant status.

4. Sneaked into the US six months ago – what will happen if I get caught by Immigration?

I came to the US six months ago using someone else’s passport and gave it back to the smugglers afterwards. Can you tell me what will happen to me if I am picked up by Immigration now?

Mr. Lee answers,
The Trump administration announced that it would be using expedited removal proceedings against those who could not prove that they were legal or in the country for at least two years wherever they were located in the United States. It began using its powers to do such in October 2020. Persons who are caught and subject to expedited removal generally have no right to a hearing before an immigration court. However, they are still entitled to request political asylum and will be given a credible fear interview and afterwards can pursue the claim before the immigration judge. If the credible fear interview is negatively decided by a DHS officer, the applicant will have less rights before the immigration court. Expedited removal has been on the books for a long time, but was applied previously only if the person was found within 100 miles of any border of the United States. Expansion to any location in the United States is new and may be one of the items that President-elect Joe Biden invalidates when he becomes president. In addition, it should be noted that the question of expedited removal is back before the DC District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for her to rule on its merits. She had previously issued a stay against the rule, but the stay had been blocked by the Court of Appeals.

 

Q&A’s published on Lawyers.com and the Epoch Times on December 18, 2020 1. Can I use my green card & go out of the country if it has a small spelling error on my last name? 2. I have a problem with my student visa I had to get a new F1 visa and it’s been more than 2 months embassy still hasn’t replied. 3. Can I marry a U.S. citizen using my 30 days grace period?

1. Can I use my green card & go out of the country if it has a small spelling error on my last name?

I got my green card about a week ago and I just noticed a small mistake, on my last name it’s supposed to be Espinoza but it says Espinosa on the card could this cause issues with me using it or leaving the United States?

Mr. Lee answers,
The difficulty is that, if you use the green card with the wrong spelling, the wrong spelling may migrate over into other identification papers or cause you problems with agencies other than DHS. On using the incorrect card to travel in and out of the US, you may be referred to secondary inspection upon your return while Customs and Border Protection attempts to determine that you are who you say you are. Ultimately you would be admitted, but CBP would probably advise you to file an I-90 application to replace the incorrect green card. You should perhaps do that affirmatively at this time. 

2. I have a problem with my student visa I had to get a new F1 visa and it’s been more than 2 months embassy still hasn’t replied.

I had to get a new F1 visa and embassy still hasn’t replied. They said to check my case status on CEAC and they said its going through administrative processing and it’s been more than 2 months and I missed my semester in college.

Mr. Lee answers,
Unfortunately, this is the risk that F-1 students face when they either want to or have to go overseas to obtain a new visa to reenter the US. In these days of emphasis on security threats, many applications are being held up in administrative processing. Although it may or may not help, you can ask your school to contact the American embassy or approach a congressman or senator’s office, explain the situation of hardship, and attempt to have their offices contact the embassy. 

3. Can I marry a U.S. citizen using my 30 days grace period?

I’m a J1 intern and not subject to 2-year residence. I’m currently using my 30 days grace period. I’m 4 months pregnant to my American boyfriend and about to marry next week. Am I eligible to marry him even if my i94 has already expired?

Mr. Lee answers:
Someone who marries a US citizen is considered an immediate relative under US immigration law, and such individuals are allowed to adjust status even if they have overstayed their visas. In your case, the 30 day grace period is recognized as a period of legal stay. But even if you exceeded it before filing for adjustment of status, you would still be eligible for permanent residence. 

Article “S386/HR1044 – Passed By Senate – Goes to Conference with Part That Must be Fixed”

As published in the Immigration Daily on December 7, 2020

S386, the Senate counterpart to HR1044, which would among other items, change the immigration laws to lift the country restrictions on employment based visas and give most of them to India-born but also allow early filing of I-485 applications to adjust status with three year work and travel authorizations, was passed by Senate voice vote on December 2, 2020, but must go back to the House of Representatives because of amendments made prior to Senate passage.

Details on the bill and the changes through December 2019 were covered by our articles in the Immigration Daily, “Amended HR1044 in S386 Happening Now Amid a Flood of Concerns,” 9/23/19, and “Intersection of the Relief Act and Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019,” 1/2/20. Our opposition to the India domination of employment-based immigrant visas in future years at the expense of the rest of the world including China and new restrictions on H-1B and L-1 visas was tempered by the December 2019 amendment allowing early adjustment of status even when an immigrant visa number was not available. We said then that the changes made the favorability quotient of the legislation a closer question. The amended version of S386 expands the time in which adjustment of status can be filed from 270 days after approval of the immigrant visa petition to two years and places restrictions on duties, hours, and compensation along with requiring a confirmation of bona fide job offer or portability with any request for an employment authorization document.

Without going into detail on the other changes, a major concern is Section 9 which is a “Prohibition on Admission or Adjustment of Status of Aliens Affiliated with the Military Forces of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party.” This may literally have the potential of affecting hundreds of millions of Chinese nationals and seriously hamstring the incoming Administration’s attempts to conduct relations with the People’s Republic of China. Who does it affect? Who knows? The paragraph underneath the heading appears to target applications for adjustment of status, but the heading of the section “Admission or Adjustment of Status” could be used to bar Chinese nationals applying for immigrant visas or even student visas. Now is the time to eliminate this controversial section which, if the legislation is passed and signed into law, may have to be litigated in court, modified by another law, or clarified by DHS regulations or memoranda. In China, many students have joined the Communist Youth League, which is a common occurrence – much more common than joining the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts in America. Are they all to be inadmissible and not adjustable in the future? How to interpret the word “Affiliated”? Is the affiliation to be considered the present only or to include the past?

Before the pandemic, students from China comprised over one third of the foreign students studying in the United States. That is because a degree from the US has been seen in the past to be more valuable than degrees from other countries when the students return to China. Any question of inadmissibility could further prevent or discourage Chinese students from entering this country, thus depriving colleges and universities of much-needed revenue and cultural diversity along with the chance of favorably influencing China’s future leaders to American ideals.

Elimination of the section would be most appropriate as membership in the Communist Party is already covered under INA §212(a)(3)(D) that “Any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist or any other totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), domestic or foreign, is inadmissible.” Chinese nationals that are or were affiliated with the military forces and would be of concern to the US are likely Communist Party members and would be covered by the INA section anyway. (It should also be noted that many who served in the People’s Liberation Army were not indoctrinated or party members and joined for other purposes like one of our clients who was an artist only and not a party member).

If not elimination, the caption of the section should be changed to be consistent with the underlying text – from “Prohibition on Admission or Adjustment of Status of Aliens Affiliated with the Military Forces of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party,” to “Prohibition on Adjustment of Status of Aliens Affiliated with the Military Forces of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party.”

At the very least, a more favorable change should be made to Section 9 in the conference between Senate and House negotiators. Although time is tight and the 116th Congress about to expire, this section should not be ignored in the rush to pass the bill. Same or similar legislation in the 117th Congress should find favor with the Biden administration, especially as one of the bill’s lead sponsors is the incoming Vice President, Kamala Harris, whose mother was Indian.

Q&A’s published on Lawyers.com and the Epoch Times on December 4, 2020 1. Naturalization: having home business (sole proprietorship). Form N-400 asks: are you employed? NO, YES. What is the right answer? 2. Under what circumstances should a US Green Card holder consider travel to Cuba? 3. If I get married during 90 day visa, does spouse have to go back to her home country and wait for immigration to make a decision or can she stay here?

1. Naturalization: having home business (sole proprietorship). Form N-400 asks: are you employed? NO, YES. What is the right answer?

My wife and I are currently living in USA, WA State on Green Cards. 5 years are passed and we are applying for citizenship. My wife has a home business (sole proprietorship). In the form N-400 there is a vague question: are you employed? NO, YES, name of employer. What is the correct answer in her case? NO or YES, with the name of her company?

Mr. Lee Answers:
In the eyes of Immigration, you are employed even if you are just self-employed, and your wife should mark  the application “yes”, and just say self-employed, or put down the name of the company at  your home address. 

2. Under what circumstances should a US Green Card holder consider travel to Cuba?

I’m looking to travel to Cuba along with some friends / colleagues who are giving a research presentation, but I am NOT giving any presentations, nor have I been officially invited to the conference. Per the U.S. Embassy in Cuba’s official website, there are 12 approved (non-illegal) categories for travel to Cuba. I’d be looking to travel under the “Professional research and professional meetings” or “Supporting Cuban people” category. However I’m concerned that even though I may meet the legal requirements, there is always a risk of being scrutinized during my Naturalization process. My questions are (1) how significant is the risk of me traveling and (2) are there anything I can do to help minimize jeopardizing my Naturalization process?

Mr. Lee Answers,
If you meet the legal qualification under one of the 12 categories, you can travel to Cuba, but the trip may certainly be scrutinized as part of a naturalization application. You should keep records of your trip to Cuba relating to what you did when you were in the country in case you are questioned. 

3. If I get married during 90 day visa, does spouse have to go back to her home country and wait for immigration to make a decision or can she stay here?

If she comes here on k-1, we get married, can she stay in United States until immigration makes a decision?

Mr. Lee Answers,
If your fiancée comes to the US on a K-1 visa and you marry within the 90 day period of time that you are supposed to, she can file for adjustment of status to permanent residence without leaving the US and wait for U.S.C.I.S. to make its determination while here. The application is for residence status, whether conditional or permanent, not citizenship.

Comment on USCIS proposed regulation, “Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap Subject H-1B Petitions”, RIN 1615-AC61 – by Alan Lee, Esq.

As published in the Immigration Daily on November 3, 2020


Below is our comment to the above proposed regulation which would allow USCIS to first give favor to the selection of H-1B registrations or petitions (if the registration system is suspended) on the basis of petitioners offering higher wage levels. Persons wishing to comment should do so through the federal e-rulemaking portal, www.regulations.gov by the end of day on December 2, 2020.

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Agency: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Document Type: Rulemaking
Title: 30 DAY COMMENTS CLOSE ON 12/2/2020; 60- DAY IC COMMENTS CLOSE ON 1/4/2021; Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File Cap- Subject H-1B Petitions
Document ID: USCIS-2020-0019-0001

Comment:
Dear Sir/Madam:

I am submitting this comment in opposition to USCIS’s NPRM, USCIS-2020-0019; RIN 1615-AC61 for a number of reasons including its mistaken correlation of money to the worth of a position, discriminatory effect on US workers, its potential harm to the nation, and its violation of the US spirit against egalitarianism.

As a 35 year plus practitioner of immigration law, especially business-related, I believe that I have much practical and theoretical experience in the area of H-1B visas, including that the program was never meant to be as restrictive as the Trump administration would have us believe it to be in its latest bald attempt to make the program unusable to smaller sized organizations.

The proposed rule would allow USCIS to employ wage levels to either the H-1B registration system or to H-1B cap petitions in any year in which the registration requirement is suspended in such manner that selections would first be based on the highest Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) prevailing wage level that the proffered wage equals or exceeds for the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and area(s) of intended employment.

Wage, however, is a poor barometer of a position’s worth. A Fortune 500 company can pay twice or even three times the going rate for college graduates than other workplaces. Many companies or other organizations do not have the resources to compete moneywise with large corporations that are able and willing to overpay for the same level of candidates.

Looking at government hiring practices shows the absurdity of correlating high pay with the worth of a position. The government hires many college graduates who are very bright, but it is unwilling or unable to compete moneywise with large corporations. Does that mean that a job in the government is less complicated or requires someone with lesser brains? The answer in most cases is a resounding no!

Wage inequality and discrimination against US workers is another problem with this proposed regulation. An employer wishing to have a good chance of getting an H-1B worker would have to up the level of pay – on many occasions more than the job is really worth – and wind up paying the alien more than it would a US worker for the same position. The employer might then be liable for practicing employment discrimination.

How will this country compete in the 21st century against the rest of the world? The best way is to nurture those who have come through the US education system and to attract others who may eventually help to keep the country competitive. That is the reason why it is so important to have programs like CPT, OPT, and the H-1B visa program. Rome was not built in a day, and neither do most people become superstars directly after graduation or even after a period of time of CPT, OPT, or even H-1B status. This proposal is part of the suite of regulations designed to raise H-1B qualifications to star level. But this nation needs not only superstars, but highly educated persons who are capable in their fields, and able to support the work of the superstars. The entire history of H-1B practice has been in this direction. The way to attract the highly trained from other countries is to lower and not constantly construct barriers. This nation is especially lacking professionals in the STEM sciences and playing catch-up to many other countries. Although there is now growing emphasis on STEM sciences in colleges and universities, much of America’s youth is more engaged in the liberal arts as STEM subjects are harder, boring to many, and exacting.

Many of the breakthroughs in the future will not come from Fortune 500 companies, but from small ones that cannot afford to pay artificially elevated wages to their employees. Did a small R&D biotechnology firm like Moderna have enough funding to pay level II, III or IV wages in its early stages to incoming graduates at the Master’s or PhD levels? From reports that the company’s experimental vaccine research was greatly accelerated by a $1 million contribution from the country western star Dolly Parton before the federal government stepped in with an offer of funding, one could believe that money was tight. The US will be the loser if USCIS ever implements this proposed regulation.

This country was built in large part by small businesses paying people a fair wage and not by the egalitarianism of big business outbidding the market and grabbing up the prize – in this case, limited H-1B visas. This proposed rule is against the American spirit of equal opportunity for all US businesses and pitches the field against smaller sized businesses.

For the reasons stated above, the proposed rule makes no sense except as a deterrent against use of the H-1B program by many organizations desirous of and in need of the candidates’ services.

Your consideration of this comment is appreciated.

Alan Lee, Attorney-at-Law
408 Eighth Ave., Ste. 5A
New York, NY 10001
2125649496