Articles Posted in Free Trade (TN, E-3)

The H-1B quota has now reached approximately 46,700 and although the USCIS has announced that they’ve received approximately 20,000 advanced degree applications, it still continues to accept advanced degree cases.

I have been fielding a lot of questions about whether a person is still “in H-1B status” even if they are no longer working for the employer who sponsored them. Simply put, the answer is “no.” When H-1B workers are petitioned for by a specific employer, not only are they expected to work for that employer only (unless they have a concurrently approved H-1B for a separate employer), but they must always comply with the original terms of the H-1B petition. Any changes considered to be material to the employment must be reported to the US Department of Labor and possibly to the USCIS.

Further, H-1B employees are considered to be out of status if they lose their jobs or quit working for the H-1B sponsor. And as of late, the USCIS has been conducting random on-site visits to H-1B employers, interviewing the foreign worker(s), HR or the company owner, as well as verifying the terms and conditions of their work.

Microphone.jpgRomben Law, APC in Los Angeles has received several calls about artists who have been involved in the preparations for the series of Michael Jackson concerts which were scheduled to take place in London beginning this summer. The performer’s recent death has thrown arrangements for those concerts into chaos.

Although the Jackson concerts were to take place in the United Kingdom, extensive preparations were taking place both in the UK and in the United States. In preparation for any big rehearsal, event, performance, or concert, teams of make-up artists, costume designers, hair stylists, choreographers, dancers, back-up vocalists, special effects personnel, music arrangers, musicians, lighting engineers, etc. etc. come together to create the shows that so many enjoy. The number of people involved with a complex series of high-tech, music and dance spectaculars can be upwards of 50 -100 people, not all of them American.

Renowned performers and artists can qualify for the O-1 visa (“extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics) to enter the USA. However, when something catastrophic happens — like the death of a performer — the performance or concert on which the O-1 visa is based is cancelled, the performer or artist risks falling out of legal immigration status.

Those who are patiently awaiting their EB-3 and EB-2 petitions to become current probably check the Department of State’s website every month for the newest visa bulletin. Many of you have probably been in the processing queue for several years, are on AC-21 extensions of your H-1B, or are relying on your work permits (EADs), and EAD renewals year after to year so you can keep working legally while you await your “greencard.” Some of you are facing situations where your children face “age out” issues and even more of you are awaiting permanent residency so you can then travel legally to visit relatives in your home country. Some may waiting abroad. Nonetheless, you are all waiting and waiting…

The July 2009 visa bulletin released by the US Department of State confirms what we already know – that waiting times are painfully long and slow. But an announcement by the US Department of State’s Visa Office to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), confirms what we have dreaded along: that the situation is “dire” and will amount to extended delays beyond what you have already endured.

The Visa Office has already indicated that the worldwide cutoff date for EB-3 will be set on or around March 1, 2003. With any luck, we may see quick advances in that category near the beginning of 2010, but I’m not counting on it.

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