Q&A’s published on the World Journal Weekly on September 24, 2023: 1. I-140 has just been approved and I want to change jobs… 2. Apply for EB-1A on your own, not necessary need an employment letter

1. I-140 has just been approved and I want to change jobs…

A reader asks: 
At present, my H-1B’s three years are almost used up and I am about to renew it. For the sake of legal status, I have been working in a small company with low wages. I consulted about job-hopping before, but they all suggested that I should try to change jobs after my I-140 was approved. At present, my I-140 has just been approved less than 180 days. I plan to start looking for a job now. My questions are:

1. At present, the processing time for PERM is getting longer and longer.  If I switch to a new company, how long will it take to re-apply for PERM+I-140?
2. Are there any differences in the relevant policies for green cards of construction companies?
3. I requested to put the phrase of applying green card on day 1 in my contract, therefore, I believe only small companies would hire me, correct?  At present, I am struggling whether to ask my family for money for another four years or take the risk of possible problems/risks to do I-140 again? I am already exhausted from getting this I-140 approved.

Arthur Lee Esq. answers:

  1. Firstly, you should make sure not to leave your current position until your I-140 has been approved for more than 180 days if fearful that your employer will seek to revoke it. If you are from a country such as China or India which is backlogged on the visa bulletin, then a withdrawal of an approved I-140 petition by your current employer may still help you in giving you an earlier priority date (i.e. when your PERM was filed or your I-140 was filed if there was no PERM labor certification). If your I-140 is revoked due to fraud or willful misrepresentation, revocation of labor certification, or invalidation of labor certification, then you do not retain an old priority date. Again, this only truly helps you if you were born in a country with significant backlog, which I would assume that you are since you have not applied for a green card yet. A timely revocation within 180 days by an employer would disadvantage you when you need to be on H-1B status for over the 6 year maximin time limit.
    In the case that you found a new job, you would need to redo the labor certification process—meaning filing a prevailing wage determination, testing the labor market, and filing ETA 9089, then filing another I-140. The good news is you would likely be eligible to keep your old priority date. However, this process would likely take another 2 years to get another approved form I-140 (with I-140 premium processing) with your new position. Then, you may file an I-485 application once your retained priority date becomes current. Typically, an adjudication on an employment based I-485 will take approximately 1 year. 
    I note that the labor certification steps may be skipped if you have an approved I-140 (or pending I-140 that is ultimately approved in the EB-1, 2, or 3 categories), and you have a properly filed I-485 application pending with USCIS for 180+ days. In that case, you may “port” your I-140 petition to a job in the same or similar job classification. But in your case, porting is not available as you have not filed an I-485 yet.
  2. In USCIS’ eyes, there are not. Your job position would need to make sense in terms of the company’s needs, the company would need to show the ability to pay you the stated fulltime salary as promised in the labor certification application, and you would need to be a full-time salaried W-2 employee upon receiving the green card.
    However, due to the nature of many construction jobs, there are some things that you and your potential employer need to look out for. Some jobs require licensure by the state and local government. For instance, if you are working as an engineer (mechanical, civil, etc.), you may need an engineering license unless you plan to work under the supervision of a licensed engineer; architects, electricians, and general contracted construction workers generally need licenses too in many jurisdictions. Therefore your employer must review the relevant licensure requirements in your jurisdiction to ensure that you are qualified for your proffered green card position. Also, PERM recruitment for construction-related positions may involve notifying a labor union that a company is recruiting a foreign worker in a position. As such, the company and employee should determine whether a labor union covers the green card position and must post a notice of intent to employ a foreign worker with that union. Also, a construction-related position may require the foreign worker to travel to construction sites. In such a case, a notice of filing should be posted at the sites where the employee will perform work as well as internally using all in-house media according to normal internal procedures. Should travel be anticipated for areas outside the metropolitan statistical area of the primary worksite, additional recruitment may be required.
  3. All companies have their own policies—some are willing to sponsor, some are not. Larger size companies may not be willing to include the language that you wish in their employment contracts.  However, I do note that it may be more difficult for a small company to sponsor you as it would need to show financial viability to pay you a full-time DOL-approved salary upon your receipt of a green card. Also its human resources department (if it has one) may not have the knowledge or experience in immigration matters as a larger company.
2. Apply for EB-1A on your own, not necessary need an employment letter

A reader asks:

I am working in the United States, and I am looking for someone to help me apply EB-1A. The person must write an employment letter to prove my work, and I will not change the field and need to ask the company to sign. Is this necessary? Is it enough to prove my job by paystubs? Because I will not change my field, I could sign it myself correct? As I feel it has nothing to do with the company, I don’t want the company to know that I am filing the petition myself. Is this idea feasible?

Arthur Lee Esq. answers:
As a condition of eligibility for EB-1A status, you must be able to show that you will be working in the same field in the United States in which you have extraordinary ability and that you will provide benefit to the United States. The adjudicating officer will decide whether you have proven these points based upon the totality of the evidence. Since you are self-petitioning, there is no requirement for a signed letter from an employer. However, having such a letter would be good evidence to show that you will continue to work in your field of expertise and provide a benefit. If you would prefer not to get such a signed letter, you can provide other evidence showing that you will continue to be in your field of expertise after your EB-1A is approved including but not limited to: (1) a showing that you have recently been working in your field of expertise such as paystubs, current job letter, and letters from others who know your work (not necessarily from management) and can attest that you are continuing to work in your field of expertise; (2) any recent contributions you have made to your field of expertise showing a continued interest in the pursuit of the field; and/or (3) any other evidence you can think of that would show that you are committed to your field.


As published in the Immigration Daily on September 20, 2023

The October 2023 visa bulletin came out on September 15 bringing relief to many and frustration to others in the employment-based (EB) categories. Those in the family-based (FB) categories were mostly frustrated by the lack of movement. There were many positive advances along with a number of retreats in the Visa Office’s “final action dates” and “dates for filing” employment-based charts. The family-based (FB) categories had little or no movement at all in both charts. USCIS followed up with the positive news that it would follow the “dates for filing” chart for employment-based cases for the month, a big change as it last used that chart in March 2023. It continues to use the “dates for filing” chart for family-based cases.

The changes from the September visa bulletin were as follow:

Family-based (FB final action dates) Rest of the world (ROW) except for certain countries – F-2A for spouses and children under the age of 21 and unmarried of permanent residents advanced one year one month and one week to 2/8/19; Mexico F-2B for children over the age of 21 of LPR’s moved up five months to 1/1/02; Mexico F-3 for married children of US citizens advanced one month three weeks to 3/8/98; and India F-4 for siblings of US citizens moved forward three weeks to 10/8/05. FB dates for filing – Unchanged.

Employment-based (EB final action dates) ROW for EB-1 extraordinary aliens, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers jumped to “Current” from 8/1/23 for all countries except China (unchanged from 2/15/22) and India that advanced five years to 1/1/17. EB-2 ROW for exceptional aliens and those with advanced degrees moved up one week to 7/8/22 for all countries except China (advanced two months three weeks to 10/1/19) and India that jumped up one year to 1/1/12. EB-3 ROW for skilled workers and professionals jumped one year seven months to 12/1/21 for all countries except China (advanced four months to 1/1/20) and India that jumped 3 years four months to 5/1/12. EB-3W ROW Other Workers moved up three months to 8/1/20 for all countries except China (advanced four months to 1/1/16) and India which jumped 3 years four months to 5/1/12. EB-4 ROW Certain Special Immigrants moved up three months to 1/1/19 while the component for Certain Religious Workers became unavailable due to unpassed legislation. EB-5 ROW for unreserved investors remained current for all countries except China (advanced three weeks to 10/1/15) and India that dropped one year seven months and three weeks to 12/15/18. EB-5 set-asides remained “Current” worldwide.

Employment-based (EB dates for filing) ROW for EB-1 extraordinary aliens, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers remained “Current”  for all countries except China (advanced two months to 8/1/22 and India that moved backwards almost 3 years to 7/1/19. EB-2 ROW for exceptional aliens and those with advanced degrees moved up one month to 1/1/23 for all countries except China (advanced two months three weeks to 1/1/20) and India that remained unchanged at 5/15/12. EB-3 ROW for skilled workers and professionals advanced three months to 2/1/23 for all countries except China (advanced 10 months to 9/1/20) and India that remained unchanged at 8/1/12. EB-3W ROW Other Workers moved up six months to 12/15/20 for all countries except China (advanced one year six months to 6/1/17) and India which remained unchanged at 8/1/12. EB-4 ROW Certain Special Immigrants moved up five months to 3/1/19 along with the same movement for its component, Certain Religious Workers. EB-5 ROW for unreserved investors remained current for all countries except China (advanced one year to 1/1/17) and India that catapulted two years four months and three weeks to 4/1/22. EB-5 set-asides remained “Current” worldwide.

With a fresh supply of numbers for the start of Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, it remains to be seen how much forward movement the Visa Office can allow in the coming months.


As published in the Immigration Daily on September 14, 2023

USCIS must come to the inevitable conclusion that its current H-1B selection system is inoperable and fatally flawed by fraud. It must then go back to its old system of requesting the submission of full petitions by April 1.

This writer called for the action in a May1, 2023, article “H-1B Selection Process a Travesty-Time to Go ‘Back to the Future’”  after the extent of the chicanery was revealed by USCIS as the rate of selection approval plummeted for those playing by the rules. From FY 2018- 2020 just prior to the implementation of the registration system in FY-2021, the number of received petitions in the three years hovered in the consistent range of 190,000 – 200,000 for the approximate 85,000 available numbers. Since then, petitioners have not been required to submit full petitions from which selections are made, the only current requirements being $10 per candidate and a small online form filled in by the sponsoring organization. Not surprisingly, cheating has been the name of the game as the FY-2023 number of registrations ballooned to an astounding 780,884.

USCIS then announced and ran a second selection process at the end of July, undoubtedly with an eye on the outrage of those shut out by the cheating, and to its credit selected 188,400 to fill the approximate 85,000 slots. But this is an unsustainable situation and the agency does not have the resources to investigate most of the fraud cases.  With the closing of the second round of selections, USCIS sent an update on August 1, 2023, with strong warnings against people trying to game the system, but it revealed statistics that were simply staggering – 780,884 total registrations with eligible registrations being 758,994; eligible registrations for beneficiaries with no other registrations 350,103; and eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations 408,891. Besides attempting to scare off potential fraudsters, does anyone really believe that USCIS has the ability to investigate each selected multiple registration to see whether there are bona fide job openings by bona fide nonaffiliated organizations? Looking at the numbers provided by USCIS, only 21,890 registrations were found ineligible, and many of those were not deemed ineligible due to fraud, but for duplicates and other technical reasons.

USCIS is a cash-strapped organization that clearly does not have the resources to investigate each of the duplicate filings among the 188,400 selectees, nor for that matter, each of the non-selected among the 408,891 multiple registrations. A return to the old system would ensure that each submitted petition is bona fide because of the cost and effort required to put in full petitions. USCIS has until the beginning of the year if it decides to go back to the future since the time to submit petitions had traditionally been the first five business days of April and organizations will need time to put the paperwork together.

Q&A’s published on the World Journal Weekly on September 10, 2023: 1. To be eligible for an EB-2 NIW, your endeavor should be beneficial to the US 2. Should I do an appeal or file a motion after my EB-1A was denied? 3. The duration of an H-1B visa depends on several factors

1. To be eligible for an EB-2 NIW, your endeavor should be beneficial to the US

A reader asks: 
I graduated in 2011 in China with a master’s degree, and I worked as a computer professional teacher in a university for the past 12 years. Recently, because of my children’s education, I have the idea of immigrating. The first thing I considered was to New Zealand or Canada. Basically, people must go there before they can get their status. I don’t want to resign now because my children are still little. Now a middleman recommended me to do NIW, and said that I could apply while in China, and I am not in a hurry to go overseas anyway. The current situation is that I have 7 papers, patents and software works which were of average quality, and served as referees for some national competitions. I feel that my qualifications are quite average.  However, I talked to several China’s middleman, they all thought my qualifications are sufficient, but they did not mention any of the risk. I am very confused now, please help.

Arthur Lee, Esq. answers:
You might be eligible for an EB-2 NIW. The three criteria for demonstrating your eligibility for NIW are: (1) that your proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; (2) that you are well-positioned to advance this endeavor; and (3) that on balance, it would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements.

That said, it is unclear what your proposed endeavor would be, and how it would be beneficial to the U.S. government. Assuming that your proposed endeavor meets the criteria, the second question needs to be addressed whether you are well-posotioned. Your Master’s degree (assuming this is in a field that is computer related), having 7 papers/patents/software, and being a computer science professor at a university would be considered. It would also be a good idea to have experts in your field write letters of recommendations describing your accomplishments in the field and how you are well-positioned to advance this field with your work in the United States to solidify your evidence on being “well-positioned.” NIW is on a case by case basis, so an adjudicating officer would need to find that on balance, your proposed endeavor has substantial merit and national importance—as such, your endeavor with computers must be worthwhile to the U.S. government. In your NIW filing, you must show that your endeavor is worthwhile in that it will help advance human knowledge, create jobs, advance the economy, or a field in the United States that the current administration values. The Biden administration through its policy memorandum encourages granting NIW where a foreign worker will advance the STEM (science technology engineering mathematics) fields. Some examples of endeavors that have been found worthwhile in published decisions include being a software developer of stock option valuation, and a software developer with a PhD in music technology applying computer technology to music-related areas for the interests of the U.S. 

Also, an officer must decide whether on balance, it would be beneficial to the US to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements. This inquiry looks into factors such as whether you will be self-employed in a manner that does not adversely affect U.S. workers; will own a business that provides jobs for U.S. workers; your work will otherwise lead to job creation; your endeavor has potential to generate considerable revenue consistent with the economy; your endeavor will benefit the U.S. even if other U.S. workers are available; national interests in your contributions are sufficiently urgent (such as U.S. competitiveness in STEM fields); or if labor certification is impractical for your position. You may wish to consult with a qualified immigration attorney who will further advise you on your qualifications as an NIW applicant, and the risks associated with filing such an application.

2. Should I do an appeal or file a motion after my EB-1A was denied?

A reader asks: 
I am in China. I submitted the EB-1A application in June last year and received a denial letter in April this year. I submitted a total of four categories and only approved two. What should I do next? Should I do an appeal or file a motion? What is the difference between these two?

Arthur Lee, Esq. answers:
The difference between an appeal and a motion is that a motion will be filed to the same authority that adjudicated your case previously. In your case, it would be the same USCIS service center that handled your EB-1A application. There are two types of motions: (1) motion to reopen would be a motion to the service center to consider new facts that were not present at the time of your original filing; (2) a motion to reconsider is a request to review its application of the law in its previous decision. Meanwhile, an administrative appeal asks a different branch of USCIS (in this case the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) ) to review the field office’s decision. Just like a motion, an appeal must typically be filed within 30 calendar days of the issuance of denial. Unlike a motion, an appeal requests de novo review which means that the AAO looks at the record anew including all facts and applications of law and it may address new issues that were not raised or resolved in the lower agency’s decision. USCIS aims to adjudicate its motions within 90 days, and the AAO aims for 180 days. Whether to file an appeal or motion is up to you.  Many attorneys opt for appeal.  However, if you choose to file a motion note that you can still appeal to the AAO if your motion is denied or dismissed.

3. The duration of an H-1B visa depends on several factors

A reader asks: 
I worked in the United States for more than three years before, and I came back to China this year. In early May, I applied for the first H-1B visa at the Shenyang Consulate. During the visa interview, I told the visa officer that I had been working at Qualcomm, and my work was in the sensitive direction of chip verification. I thought I would be background checked, to my surprise, I passed the interview and my passport was submitted.  However, after getting the passport back, I found that the H-1B is only valid for 4 months. My I-797 is valid until July 2025. My passport doesn’t expire until 2025. I don’t understand why the H-1B is only given 4 months, shouldn’t it be a one-year H-1B?

Arthur Lee Esq. answers,
The duration of an H-1B visa depends on several factors including the specific circumstances of your case, the discretion of the consular officer, and any supporting documentation provided. Since you have a valid passport for 2 years, as well as valid H-1B status for 2 years, there is nothing on the reciprocity schedule for H-1Bs with China to show why you would be given such a short time. On H-1B reciprocity with China, you should be given 12 months or the period of validity of your H-1B petition, whichever is less. Since your passport and H-1B status are valid until 2025, it is surprising that you did not get a 1 year visa. It seems that reason for the shorter duration on your H-1B visa was the consular officer’s discretion, if not a mistake. Consular officers have the authority to determine the validity period of a visa based upon their assessment of the individual’s circumstances such as duration of job offer, petitioner’s compliance history, and other relevant information. While this is just speculation, perhaps the officer chose to give you an easier interview, but limit your ability to go in and out of the country without further questioning due to your work in a sensitive area in technology.