Q&A’s published on Lawyers.com and the Epoch Times on May 29, 2020 1. Effect of Divorce on Green Card? 2. Can I Travel on B1 (Initial Training) While L-1B Blanket Petition is on the Way? 3. Can I Send my Fiance Appeal Application With a Note that Say We Have Kids and I Am Pregnant?

1. Effect of Divorce on Green Card?

I have a 10-year green card obtained through a 4-year marriage with my USC husband. We are now peacefully heading to get a divorce. I obtained my green card Oct of 2018. Will I lose my green card? Can I still naturalize in 5 years?

Mr. Lee answers,
Many people divorce in the United States every year. The fact that you are now heading to the divorce after obtaining your green card in 2018 would not necessarily raise flags with U.S.C.I.S. You would not lose your green card based on that circumstance. You can also still naturalize in five years. At the naturalization interview, you may be asked questions to verify that the marriage was bona fide, but just on the circumstances that you present, there is nothing alarming. 

2. Can I Travel on B1 (Initial Training) While L-1B Blanket Petition is on the Way?

I am having valid B1 Visa till 2027 , My employer has already filed L1B for me and I will be receiving petition in next week, but visa interview date is after 50 days and my employer want me to come early , can I travel on B1 (for initial training) now and later on come back to my home country for visa interview ? Will it increase my chance of rejection during L1B visa interview ? can I give visa interview in 3rd country near to USA because my home country is far away (18 hours flight) from USA , will it increase chance of rejection of L-1B?

Mr. Lee answers,
There is a possibility that you may encounter a problem at the time of interview if the consular officer believes that the employer and you were trying to jump start your date of employment.  There is a risk if your employer takes this path. Interviewing in a third country near the USA increases the chances of rejection as many consular officers believe that the persons best able to handle initial cases are consular officers in the person’s home country. You may be asked to go back to your home country for interview by a third country consulate if you decide to take that path. 

3. Can I Send my Fiance Appeal Application With a Note that Say We Have Kids and I Am Pregnant?

I am a USA permanent resident. The judge denied my fiance case and he made an Oder to remove him to leave USA in 30 days. I am pregnant I have 2 kids.

Mr. Lee answers,
Unfortunately your fiancé will not be able to appeal the judge’s order successfully on the basis that he has U. S. citizen children and that you are now pregnant. If he has other grounds for appeal, he may bring those out before the Board of Immigration Appeals. As you are a green card holder, you and your fiancé may wish for a consultation with an immigration lawyer to explore any other options that you may have. 

Q&A’s published on the World Journal Weekly on April 26, 2020 1. Selected for H-1B Registration, but I Do Not Know How Long the Job Will Last – How to Prepare? 2. In Light of the Changes for H-1B This Year, What Should We (The Company) Look Out For? 3. I have My I-601A Approved and Voluntary Departure Until July 1, 2020. When Should I Leave?

1. Selected for H-1B Registration, but I Do Not Know How Long the Job Will Last – How to Prepare?

I was selected for the H-1B registration last week, but do not know if the job will last because of the present Covid-19 pandemic and my employer is uncertain also. I am presently on my OPT until June 25, 2020. How can I best protect myself?

Mr. Lee answers,
Congratulations on your selection and sorry about the uncertainty of your situation. The best way to protect yourself is to be on your employer’s good side and hopefully not be laid off. Other than that, please note that even if your employer goes forward with filing the petition and the H-1B petition is approved prior to the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, the H-1B status will only vest on that date. Assuming approval before the date, you can continue to work under your cap-gap status and change over to H-1B automatically on October 1. Hopefully you will continue to work for the employer past that date and have proof of doing so – payslips – in the event that you are laid off. You are then eligible for a 60 day grace period to find new H-1B employment, change status to another category, or prepare to depart the country. Best of luck to you!

2. In Light of the Changes for H-1B This Year, What Should We (The Company) Look Out For?

We are a company that sponsored 13 H-1B candidates for registration and had four selections. We are more wary of the process this year and would like some tips on what we should look out for because of the changed procedures.

Mr. Lee answers,
New changes to be aware of are that the jurisdiction of cases has changed and whereas previous location filings were dictated by the organization’s headquarters location, each H-1B registration now has the address of the U.S.C.I.S. service center to which the petition must be delivered. A copy of the H-1B registration notice must be placed in the application itself, preferably on top. Because of the coronavirus, U.S.C.I.S. is not insisting upon a “wet” signature and will instead accept one that is not original although it reserves the right to later request the original “wet” one. There is no indication thus far that U.S.C.I.S. will extend the deadline of 6/30/20 for organizations to submit the H-1B petitions, and so those should be filed in by that date. In point of fact, petitions should be sent in as quickly as possible (they must of course be thoroughly documented and completed with care) as such could allow organizations the opportunity to correct errors if petitions are rejected by U.S.C.I.S. and there is sufficient time prior to 6/30/20 to correct and resubmit the petitions. (In previous years with the H-1B selection occurring in a five business day window with full petitions, any technical errors causing rejection were fatal).

3. I have My I-601A Approved and Voluntary Departure Until July 1, 2020. When Should I Leave?

I entered the United States from Mexico in 2001 by sneaking in after flying there from China and am married to a green card holder and we have two children. She petitioned for me and my I-130 petition was approved and I-601A waiver application also approved last year. I was in deportation proceedings, and with my lawyer I got my voluntary departure until July 1, 2020. Now my lawyer tells me that the US Consulate in Guangzhou China is closed for visa appointments and he does not know when my appointment can be scheduled for the immigration interview. Should I leave around June 26-July 1?

Mr. Lee answers,
The choices would appear to be trying to get an extension of the voluntary departure from ICE or leaving on time. There is no telling what the state of ICE will be in June to entertain extension requests because of the present pandemic. The consulate in China may also be up and running by that date for visa interviews. I further note that an extension request is not automatically granted and may be denied. On the other hand, you have the certainty of leaving without an order of removal if you leave by July 1, 2020. Under present-day circumstances in which there are fewer and fewer flights to China, you should think seriously about leaving and booking your passage in the early part of June so that you have a chance to recover if there is a flight cancellation or other mishap which prevents you from taking the flight. I also note that upon your return, you may find that time will have to be consumed in quarantine and internal travel within China to the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou.

Article: Payment Of Fees Becomes More Restrictive At U.S.C.I.S.; Aliens Being Defrauded By DHS Look-Alikes; H-1B Denial Rates Show Need For Lawyers And Sharper Lawyering

As published in the Immigration Daily on April 24, 2019

The purpose in writing about the above 3 topics is to inform on new restrictions on U.S.C.I.S. fee payments, warn readers who are not already aware of a doppelgänger DHS scam, and to encourage use of lawyers and sharper lawyering in the face of record H-1B denials.

  1. How to pay at U.S.C.I.S. – Your wife’s mother is dying in the home country and she has already applied for I-485 adjustment of status through you her U. S. citizen husband, but not for travel permission through advance parole. You look up all the rules on required documents, and go to your local U.S.C.I.S. field office with your wife to request advance parole. You bring the Form I-131 Application for Travel Document to the cashier where your payment of $575 in cash is summarily rejected. In the same scenario, your payment with a $575 money order is rejected. Do you remember when legacy INS/U.S.C.I.S. wanted payment in cash, money orders, or cashier’s checks? That was because these forms of payment would not bounce. Not anymore. Cash is no longer accepted, and there are significant limitations on the use of money orders and cashier’s checks. According to U.S.C.I.S. instructions on fee payment, 33 offices including Chicago, Detroit, Hartford, Jacksonville, Louisville, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Newark, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Tampa will only accept personal checks, attorney checks, business checks, debit cards, credit cards, or reloadable prepaid credit or debit cards. Money orders and cashier’s checks are no longer accepted at these offices. Filing at the service centers is less restrictive as payment by checks can be by bank drafts, cashier’s checks, certified checks, personal checks, and money orders drawn on U. S. financial institutions. It can also be made with cards such as credit cards, debit cards, or prepaid cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. If by card, petitioners or applicants must complete and sign Form G-1450 Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, place the form on top of the application or petition, and mail the entire package to the appropriate U.S.C.I.S. service center lockbox. U.S.C.I.S. justifies its changing payment policy at field offices under its new use of electronic payment processing to increase transaction security and reduce processing errors. However, this change is another blow to many U.S.C.I.S. customers who are poor, traditionally process most of their transactions by cash, money orders, and cashier’s checks, and need to deal with U.S.C.I.S.’s field offices.

  2. Aliens defrauded by DHS look-alikes – To show the prevalence of scams that are affecting persons dealing with U.S.C.I.S., the agency says in its payment instructions that when paying fees with a credit, debit, or prepaid card, its system will automatically direct you to the secure Department of Treasury site, gov, to pay the fees online. It then repeats that “We only use pay.gov to process fees. Always check the website address before you pay. Beware of scam websites and scammers who may pretend to be a U.S.C.I.S. website.” That is just one part of a growing endemic problem of scammers using Department of Homeland Security numbers and look-alike email addresses to gain access to private information and money. The DHS’s office of the Inspector General issued a fraud alert on March 1, 2019, that DHS telephone numbers have been used recently as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. They alter caller ID systems to make it appear that the call is coming from the DHS Headquarters operator number or the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties number. They obtain or verify identifiable information from victims through various tactics including telling persons that they are victims of identity theft. They also pose as law enforcement or immigration officials and threaten victims with arrest unless they make payments to the scammers using a variety of methods. The scammers also email victims from email addresses ending in “uscis.org” when the correct email address for U.S.C.I.S. is “uscis.gov.”

  3. Skyrocketing H-1B denial rates show the need for H-1B familiar lawyers and for sharper lawyering among them. Stuart Anderson’s article “New Data Show H-1B Denial Rates Reaching Highest Levels,” 4/10/19, com, examined information from U.S.C.I.S.’s new H-1B employer data hub showing that denial rates for initial H-1B petitions increased from 6% in FY-2015 to 32% in FY- 2019 (through the first quarter of FY-2019 which was 10/1/18 – 12/31/18). This dovetails with earlier statistics from another source that 60% of all completed H-1B cases received an RFE (Request for Further Evidence) in that same first quarter. The article further showed that for those who already held H-1B status and filed for continuation, the denial rate grew from 3% in FY-2015 to 18% through the first quarter of FY-2019. A wry observation among attorneys doing H-1B work used to be that a client would wonder what the lawyer was doing wrong if he or she received an RFE, much less a denial. These days, the RFE is commonplace among all attorneys handling such cases. The above points out that the area has become so complex that organizations that have been using human resources department staff without attorneys to process H-1B petitions should seriously consider legal assistance from attorneys versed in H-1B law. They are the best equipped to effectively answer RFE’s and take the government further to task if required. For most effectiveness, they should be engaged from the beginning of the process. H-1B attorneys have had to sharpen their skills constantly in the recent past in considering how to approach H-1B petitions and consider pitfalls/possible problems and how to answer them even prior to filing labor condition applications (LCA’s) to begin the process.

In our next article, we will discuss ways to protect the green card if one takes extended trips out of the country, when a nonimmigrant worker is entitled to the 10 day and/or 60 day grace periods, and dangers signals for findings of public charge under current rules.