BIG News! some H-4 spouse to get work authorization

Under proposed regulations announced today CIS is proposing to allow some H-4 spouses to apply for work authorization. These would be the spouses of H-1Bs who are the beneficiaries of an employer’s approved I-140 or are in a 7th etc year extension – i.e. those stuck in the Visa Bulletin backlog for their EB classification for immigration and hence unable to file an I-485 for adjustment of status that is the last stage towards getting a green card. The proposed rules need to become final to be effective, a process which may take months so stay tuned …

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Travel history

CBP announced on 4/30/2014 a new web page on its site for getting a record of nonimmigrant entries and exits for the past 5 years from the request date.

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I-94 vs. I-797 approval notice’s H-1B term dates

IMPORTANT NOTE: The dates of admission on the I-94 received after entry from abroad can often differ from the dates of on an I-797 approval notice for an H-1B term. Therefore, it is essential after every entry to check an I-94 against the I-797 approval. Always access online at the CBP’s website and playout an electronic I-94 as soon as available within the few days after entry. The I-94 determines the dates of H-1B work authorization if cut off sooner than the I-797’s term. Filing for H-1B extension may be necessary to remain in status and work authorized. On the other hand, if an I-94 extends beyond the I-797’s term these extra (usually 10) days are NOT work authorized. They are merely courtesy time to depart the US after the end of an H-1B term.

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Alleged visa violations settled for $34M!

Infosys is one of India’s biggest IT consulting companies. It recently settled with the Dept. of Homeland Security for alleged misuse of B-1 visas in lieu of H-1B and for I-9 violations.

The B-1 is a business visitor visa not to be used for work. The government alleged Infsys used B-1 in lieu of the work-authorized H-1B. While the fine is the hugest ever no criminal or debarment penalties resulted likely due to the requirement for intent to prove fraud and the B-1 law’s long existent ambiguity. However, we can now expect the law in this area to be tightened (cf. S.744).

A point to note is how the enforcement proceeding initiated: a disgruntled employee blew the whistle, often the trigger for DHS investigations and even though in this case the whistleblower’s private case was dismissed.

A take away for the U.S. employer contracting with an IT provider is also that it would be wise to assure that the IT company has I-9s for the employees it assigns to the client’s premises as precaution against being ensnared in the contractor’s immigration compliance issues. Wal-Mart was ensnared some years ago in connection with an independent contractor’s employees.

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Visa lottery begins Oct. 1, 2013

Please see details at the Dept. of State’s website for the Diversity Visa Program aka the “Green Card Lottery” for 2015 for which entry period begins October 1, 2013 at noon and concludes Nov. 2 at noon:

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