We have experience with a variety of temporary visas, whether through a change of status application with USCIS while inside the United States or through the U.S. consulate in your home country. Depending on your current visa status and the visa that you want to change to, it may be more beneficial to apply through the consulate instead of through USCIS.
Here are some of the common visas and issues we have dealt with for our clients:
J Visa and the Two-Year Residency Program
The J-1 Visa is an exchange visitor program through which foreign nationals can come to the U.S. to be au pairs, camp counselors, students, interns, physicians, trainees, etc. One of the problems that we see often and have had experience with, particularly with our Chinese clients, is that they enter the U.S. using the J-1 visa, then discover much later that they are subject to a two-year residency program and cannot adjust status unless they return to their home country for two years. Our firm can help you determine early on whether you are subject to this program and obtain a waiver, if it is needed, so that you are not left hanging regarding your immigration status.
F Visa, Duration of Status, OPT, and STEM OPT Extension
If you came to the U.S. to study, you usually entered with the F-1 Visa. Those that are here on F-1 Visas usually will have “Duration of status” stated on their I-94. This means that you would be in status so long as you are in school. After graduation, students are F-1 Visa are usually eligible to pursue Optional Practical Training (OPT), after obtaining the recommendation from your school’s Designated School Official (DSO). OPT’s are usually for one year. Those in STEM degrees would be eligible for a STEM OPT Extension of 24 months, totaling 3 years on F-1 status.
It is possible to start your own business while you are on OPT or STEM OPT. Please schedule a consultation with us if you plan to do that. There is somewhat of a balancing act, which you should be aware of, particularly if you are on your STEM OPT Extension period.
K Visas, Fiancé(e)s and Spouses of USC’s with Pending Applications
If your fiancé(e) is overseas, you can bring him/her to the U.S. using the K-1 visa. You must marry that person within 90 days of entering the U.S. The requirement is that you have met your fiancé(e) at least once within 2 years of filing for the K-1 visa. However, a waiver may be available if you can show that (1) the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of either you or your fiancé(e)’s culture or social practice, or (2) the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you, the petitioner.
If you have already married someone overseas and filed the I-130 immigrant petition for them, you can apply for the K-3 visa to bring them into the U.S. while the petition is still pending. Once they enter the U.S., they can apply for the I-485 adjustment of status and I-765 employment authorization. This visa is beneficial because it dramatically decreases the amount of time you and your foreign national wife have to be apart from each other.
H Visas – Specialty Occupation and Seasonal Workers
H-1B is one the most popular work visas. The eligibility threshold is low – so long as you have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher and you must be working in the same field as your field of study. However, this visa is under a lot of scrutiny under the Trump administration and immigration practitioners are anticipating large scale changes. While we have experience with H-1B’s, we are experts in providing alternative considerations, please schedule a consultation with us if you are worried about the future of your H-1B status.
H-2B visas provide employers with the opportunity to hire temporary employees for seasonal, peak load need, or one-time occurrence work. It is subject to a quota of 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 allocated for each half of the year. While it is subject to a Temporary Labor Certification and you have to post with the State Workforce Agency, it is a much faster process than the PERM Labor Certification and could be a good way to get temporary help while you wait for the PERM Labor Certification.
Our firm has experience working and communicating directly with the Massachusetts Department of Career Services, which is the department responsible for the Commonwealth’s H-2B job postings.
B1/B2 Business and Visitor Visas
These are nonimmigrant intent visas, which means that when you entered the U.S. with the B1/B2 Visa, you could not have the intent to immigrate here. The immigration officers conducting the interviews at the U.S. Consulate are seasoned at detecting immigrant intent and may deny your visa if they determine that you have the intent of leaving your home country permanently. Our firm has the experience to help you determine what documents you should have to show that you do not have the intent to immigrate to the U.S. and what facts may be red flags for the officer.