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.