How Much Is An H1B VISA?

It’s been a while since my last blog post and for that I apologize. First off, happy new year! And what better way to kick off 2020 than a new H1B visa filing season!
I’ve discussed a lot of H1B issues in the past, and first usually refer newcomers to my blog post providing the big picture H1B process, and what it means to employers and foreign nationals. Please do read my H1B Primer.
Because I’m a solo practitioner, this is often the first question I get about the entire process.  It always feels strange to me, as if the time and expertise needed for immigration application is less if one uses a solo attorney.  More important, does the employee become less valuable depending on the price of the attorney? 
So when I’m posed with a question about fees right off the bat, I try to answer with another question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is the H1B’s approval?”  For foreign nationals who’ve just completed a bachelors or Masters degree or nearing the end …

Lawyers Representing the Company and Noncitizens


"A friend asked me to review a retainer agreement from a law firm representing both the noncitizen employee from Turkey and the sponsoring employer.  The agreement says that, in the event a conflict, the attorney could choose which party to continue representing and that any and all information learned during the course of application's representation would no longer be privileged. 
For persons attempting to obtain a work visa, is it common practice to hire a firm that plays matchmaker between applicant and employer?  If the relationship/arrangement goes south, what, if any, remedies does the applicant, as a non-citizen, have against the law firm and/or the employer?"
Dual representation is indeed a reality in several types of immigration scenarios. In the employment-based immigration setting, many applications must originate from an employer seeking the government’s permission to hire a foreign national. To do this, an employer hir…

What’s In A Name CHANGE?

I recently got the following question from a family law attorney:
Can a Minnesota court order the name change of a non-citizen? Client has a H4 visa, and my understanding is that means they are a lawful temporary resident.  So my thinking is they satisfy the residency requirement of Minn. Stat. 259, having lived here in Minnesota for more than 6 months.  I'm wondering if there is any prohibition to such a name change, or compelling reason not to change their name?
There is no prohibition on the name change for noncitizens, for the statutory reason cited. 
Perhaps there are a couple additional issues worth noting: First, the recordkeeping must be meticulous because the individual will be asked about the name change in future immigration applications. There should be proof that it was done in the proper manner. I recommend multiple certified copies so that the individual can provide one in such applications. 
Second, it may be worth asking the reason for the name chang…

Can I Marry A US citizen While On Post Completion OPT?


I just got back EAD card yesterday for my Post Completion OPT and within 90 days, if I don't get a job, then I'll be deported. My boyfriend is a US citizen and we are planning to get married. I was wondering if I can still stay in the country if we get married since I'm not sure if I have to leave after 90 days if I can't find a job. How does this work? Can I still stay in the US and also can I work as well? 


In the past there was little chance for deportation for such a simple violation. However recent memos from the administration have threatened issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA) in a Removal proceeding for even OPT and other student visa violations.  Please note, it shouldn’t be difficult to fulfill the 90-day job requirement, because unpaid internships and even self-employment count, as long as all other requirements are also met.  To your question of a marriage green card, you would simplify your status issues …

BREAKING: New Selection Process Established for H1B Visa Applications

It was expected. Today the USCIS officially announced that, starting next H1B season, not this H1B season, there will be a pre-selection sign up instead of the traditional post-April 1 application submission lottery. 
In addition, it announced a major shift in how Masters Degree candidates are selected, by giving priority to masters cap applications after the lottery’s conducted, as opposed to  selecting them in their own lottery process. Mathematically, this is tantamount to giving an approval edge to applications with masters degree candidates.
Here is our prior discussion on the pros and cons of this pre-selection process: Pros and Cons of H1B Pre-Registration
Here is the announcement: H1B Pre-Selection Proces Announcement.
Also, here's the hit song from Kim Wilde in honor of H1B Pre-selection's final arrival:

Why An Immigration Consultation WON'T Help You

Have you even seen Monty Python's The Holy Grail? No? Go to Netflix and watch it, and then come back to this post.
Back already? Great! 
So recall the scene where King Arthur must answer three meaningless questions to cross the Bridge of Death. What if King Arther was given the privilege of paying the bridge keeper $360 for the the privilege of telling him his favorite color? Well, that's what some immigration consultations can feel like.  Believe it or not, they can feel like it for the attorney too.
Recently, I did a one-hour, paid consultation for a recently-married couple considering a marriage green card.
I would not do it again. 

Believing that one hour would cover simple issues and "review forms," I encountered process questions that intersected with complicated questions about the noncitizen's current status, and ability to work.  All important questions mind you, but the yarn of issues quickly unraveled.  In 1.25 hour consult, I had also promised to rev…

New H1B Pre-Registration Rule Announced!

Today the USCIS finally announced a much anticipated rule regarding next year's H1B visa (specialty occupation worker) application process.  At the moment, a computer-aided lottery is required to simply choose which applications may go forward for simple consideration.  This is because the law requires an annual cap on new H1B visas to be issued every year, about 65,000.  Recently, American companies have submitted about 3 to 4 times that number for their potential foreign employees, resulting in some sort of system to pick which applications to even consider.  
H1B applications are complicated, requiring multiple steps to even assemble an application to submit to the government.  Also, the fees are quite high, several thousand dollars for small companies and even more for the larger ones.  For a basic run down on the H1B visa, read my previous run down: H1B Visas Explained.
So then why go through all the rigamarole to interview an employee in January or February, offer them a job…