Event Date: Oct 17, 2018

Beyond OPT: Navigating Immigration and Your Career – Carnegie Mellon University

Feige Grundmand returns to her alma mater to speak with students on immigration options and best practices for a successful career and future in the United States.

 

Topics Covered at this Event:
  • 2018 Updates
  • Non-Immigrant Status
  • H-1B Requirements
  • H-1B Alternatives
  • Introduction to Permanent Residency
  • Q&As

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Employment-Based Permanent Resident Status or “Green Card”

What is a “green card”?

A green card, also known as a “Permanent Resident Card”, “Alien Registration Receipt Card” or “Form I-551” is a plastic card which documents that an individual has the authority to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely (called “lawful permanent residence”). This identification document is mostly commonly known as the “green card” because it is green. The green card contains the individual’s photo, fingerprint, signature as well as other identifying information. While the card itself may expire and have to be renewed, the individual’s status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) remains in effect unless it is abandoned or taken away.

Who is eligible to apply for permanent resident status or a green card?

There are five categories of individuals who are eligible to apply for permanent resident status. They are:

  • Family-Sponsored Immigrants (Spouses, sons and daughters, and parents of U.S. citizens, and spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents).
  • Employment-Based Immigrants (see below).
  • Investment-Based Immigrants (Investors of $500,000 – $1 million in a U.S. business that creates jobs for ten U.S. workers).
  • Refugee and Asylum (Persons fleeing persecution in their home countries).
  • Diversity (DV) Lottery (Persons from countries with below-average immigration to the U.S. selected in an annual lottery).

What is the process for obtaining an employment-based green card?

The process may involve two or three steps. If an individual qualifies as extraordinary in his or her field or the individual’s employment is in the “national interest”, then the individual or his or her employer is required to file the Form I-140, Petition for Immigrant Worker, with supporting documentation. If the individual qualifies as a multinational manager or outstanding researcher, then the employer must file the I-140 petition. However, if the individual does not fall into one of these categories, then the employer must complete the labor certification process prior to filing the Form I-140. Concurrently with the filing of the I-140 petition, the individual may be eligible to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Is it necessary to be sponsored by an employer?

No. If an individual qualifies as extraordinary in his or her field or if his or her work is in the “national interest,” then he or she may file a self-sponsored petition.

What is the labor certification process?

Protections for U.S. workers are built into the system. Most employment immigrant cases require Department of Labor certification that no U.S. workers are able, qualified or willing to take the position offered to the foreign national and that admitting the immigrant will not negatively impact the wages and working conditions of similarly situated U.S. workers.

Who can qualify without the labor certification process?

The categories exempt from this requirement are those individuals who are recognized to be extraordinary in their field, whose employment is in the “national interest,” or who are outstanding professors or researchers, multinational managers, investors, certain religious ministers or workers, and a small number of “special immigrants.”

How long will it take to obtain a green card?

It is quite difficult to accurately predict exactly how long the process will take. Employers must consider the processing time for petitions and applications at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Regional Service Centers, the PERM process for labor certification processing for the Department of Labor and also the availability of visa numbers. No approval is guaranteed. Cases may take anywhere from 18 months to four years or more depending on these factors.

May the employee remain in the U.S. during the immigrant process?

An employee may not remain in the U.S. merely because a labor certification or immigrant visa petition is pending. The entire process may take place in the U.S. if the individual is able to maintain his or her valid nonimmigrant visa status (J-1, H-1B, L-1, etc.) until the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status can be filed. Once the I-485 is filed, the employee may remain in the U.S. until it is adjudicated.

May an individual work while a petition is pending?

An individual may not be employed in the U.S. merely because a labor certification or immigrant visa petition is pending. An individual may work while a petition is pending if he or she is authorized for employment in the U.S. by maintaining a valid nonimmigrant working visa status such as H-1B or L-1. In addition, he or she may file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, at the same time the Form I-485 package is submitted. Approval of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) allows the individual to work even without a valid nonimmigrant working visa status.

May an individual travel while their petition is pending?

An individual may travel during the labor certification process and while the I-140 is pending if he or she has a valid nonimmigrant visa. An individual may travel while the I-485 adjustment is pending if he or she has obtained an advance parole document and/or is currently in valid H-1B or L-1 status.

What happens if an individual switches jobs or changes employers while a petition is pending or after it has been approved?

For an employer-sponsored petition, a change in employer (or even location of employment) will likely mean that the process must start over from the beginning unless the change takes place more than 180 days after the filing of the I-485 package and the change is to a position in the “same or similar” occupation. Self-petitioners who change employment within their field will usually be able to continue with the pending petition.

After having received an immigrant petition approval notice, when can an individual expect to be scheduled for an interview?

If an individual elects to complete the process abroad at a U.S. Consulate, it could take four to ten months before an appointment is scheduled. If he or she elects to remain in the U.S., the adjustment of status process can take from 12 to 24 months or more.

How long must a legal permanent resident (LPR) remain with an employer?

There is no required amount of time that an LPR must remain with an employer. LPRs must be able to demonstrate that their intention at the time of adjustment to LPR status or entry as an immigrant is to remain with the sponsoring employer indefinitely.

Is there any required amount of time that an LPR must remain in the U.S.?

Yes. Absences of one year or more may result in loss of LPR status unless a reentry permit is applied for in advance of departure from the U.S. Absences of six months or more may result in questioning upon return to the U.S. as to whether the LPR has abandoned his or her residence in the U.S.

Does an LPR lose his or her citizenship?

No, LPR status in the U.S. does not affect one’s citizenship of another country.

May an LPR apply for U.S. citizenship?

Yes. An LPR may apply for naturalization as a U.S. citizen after maintaining LPR status for five years, assuming certain residence and physical presence requirements are met. If an individual is married to and living with a U.S. citizen, then he or she may apply after maintaining LPR status for three years.

Is an LPR required to give up his or her citizenship if he or she applies for naturalization as a U.S. citizen?

The U.S. can only confer U.S. citizenship on an individual, and cannot force a person to lose any other citizenship which they hold. In some instances, an individual’s country of citizenship will regard the person as having lost citizenship in his or her country of nationality when he or she becomes naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Individuals who wish to maintain dual citizenship should consult with officials of their country of current citizenship.

May a spouse and dependent children (unmarried children under the age of 21) be included in the I-140 petition and subsequent I-485 adjustment of status application?

Yes, a spouse and dependent children may be included.

Are spouses and/or dependent children eligible to apply for employment authorization and an advance parole travel document?

Yes, all applicants who apply for adjustment of status are eligible to apply for employment authorization and advance parole.

Green Card Quota Backlogs

WHAT IS THE “QUOTA BACKLOG”?

The Immigration and Nationality Act sets limits on how many green card visas may be issued each Fiscal Year (October 1 through September 30) in all visa categories. In addition, in the employment-based area where immigration is based on employment and not family relationships or investment, nationals of each country may obtain immigrant visas (i.e., a green card), in different preference categories (i.e., EB-1, EB-2, EB-3). The law further provides that no one country may have more than a specific percentage of the total number of visas available annually. If these limits are exceeded in a particular category, for a particular nationality, a waiting list is created and applicants are placed on the list according to the date of their case filing. This date is called a “Priority Date”. The priority date is the single, most important, factor in any immigration case.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CATEGORIES?

Employment-Based First Preference (EB-1)
Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2)
Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3)
Other Workers

WHAT DOES EB-1 MEAN?

Employment-Based First Preference (EB-1) includes: (1) Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics (persons who have risen to the top of their profession); (2) Outstanding professors and researchers; and (3) Multi-national executives and managers.

WHAT DOES EB-2 MEAN?

Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) includes: (1) Members of professions holding advanced degrees (Master’s or Ph.D.) (The position must be one that requires a Master’s or Ph.D. to perform the duties – the degree held by the individual does not determine whether or not it is an EB-2, rather it is the company’s job requirements. Additionally, the immigration regulations provide that a job which requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree PLUS five years of progressively responsible experience will be considered equivalent to a Master’s level position and will qualify for EB-2.); and (2) Persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, art or business. Persons of exceptional ability are those who have a degree of expertise above that which is ordinarily expected

WHAT DOES EB-3 MEAN?

Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3) includes: (1) Professionals and skilled workers (bachelor’s degree or two years of training). The position must require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or two years of training.

WHAT DOES “OTHER WORKERS” MEAN?

Other workers include positions that require less than two years of experience.

WHAT IS THE “PRIORITY DATE”?

If your category is employment-based and requires a labor certification, the priority date is established on the date a labor certification is filed under PERM. If your category is employment-based but does not require a labor certification, then the priority date is established on the date USCIS receives the I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition. However, the priority date does not attach to your case until the I-140 has been approved.

WHY IS THE PRIORITY DATE IMPORTANT?

In order for an individual to obtain an immigrant visa, a visa number must be available to you. This is referred to as the priority date being “current”. The priority date is current if there is no backlog in the category, or if the priority date is on or before the date listed as current in the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin. This Bulletin is accessible at www.travel.state.gov. You may sign up online to have the Visa Bulletin automatically e-mailed to you by the State Department each month.

CAN I GET AHEAD ON THE QUOTA BACKLOG LIST?

There is no way to get ahead on the list, other than filing an Immigrant Visa Petition in a higher preference category, provided that the individual and/or their position meet the criteria to do so. Otherwise, the individual must wait until eligible to apply along with others on the list before proceeding with filing the last step in the green card process. The last step is accomplished by filing an application to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident in the U.S., or by obtaining an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

THE I-140 FILED ON MY BEHALF WAS BASED ON A LABOR CERT SUBSTITUTION. WHAT IS MY PRIORITY DATE?

The Priority Date is determined by USCIS. We will know the Priority Date upon issuance of an I-140 Petition Approval Notice.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VISA CATEGORY BEING “U” (UNAVAILABLE) AND “MM/DD/YY” (QUOTA BACKLOG)?

Unavailable means that there are no more visas available at all for the month. If there is a date noted (i.e., 07-01-02), it is considered to be the cut-off date, and that means that there is a “quota backlog”. Only individuals who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date may move forward with the permanent resident process.

WHAT DOES “C” MEAN?

“Current” – this means that there is no quota backlog in this category.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “CURRENT”?

If there is a “C” in your employment-based category on the Visa Bulletin, then there is no quota backlog and you may proceed with your I-485 adjustment application or immigrant visa application.

IF THE VISA BULLETIN SHOWS A DATE OF 6-1-02 AND MY PRIORITY DATE IS 6-1-02, IS MY PRIORITY DATE CURRENT?

No. In order for the priority date to be current, it must be a date prior to the date published in the Visa Bulletin.

HOW OFTEN DO THE BACKLOGS CHANGE AND WILL THEY IMPROVE?

The priority dates considered “current” in each category are updated monthly by the Department of State, and are published in the Department’s Visa Bulletin (available at http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html. The priority dates move forward and backward each month depending on the number of cases processed by the Department of State and by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. While large movements do sometimes happen in order to use all of the available immigrant visas each year, we predict that backlogs will continue to be an issue unless Congress makes more immigrant visas available for skilled foreign nationals.

THE CUT-OFF DATE CURRENTLY LISTED IS FIVE (OR THREE AND A HALF, OR TWO) YEARS AGO. DOES THIS MEAN THAT IT WILL TAKE FIVE (OR THREE AND A HALF, OR TWO) YEARS BEFORE THE PRIORITY DATE WILL BECOME CURRENT?

No. It all depends on how many visas are used. Please see the answer to the above question.

I HAVE AN APPROVED I-140 PETITION WITH MY PREVIOUS EMPLOYER AND MY CURRENT EMPLOYER IS SPONSORING ME NOW FOR A GREEN CARD. WHAT IS MY PRIORITY DATE?

You may use the Priority Date attached to the approved I-140 Petition. The Priority Date will be printed in the top portion of the Form I-797 Approval Notice. You may use this priority date when you are eligible to file your adjustment or immigrant visa application based on your current employer’s green card process.

VISA AVAILABILITY IS BASED ON COUNTRY. IS THAT COUNTRY OR CITIZENSHIP OR COUNTRY OF BIRTH?

Your country of birth is what determines your country of chargeability.

MY SPOUSE WAS BORN IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY THAN I WAS. SINCE THE I-485 IS BASED ON MY EMPLOYMENT, DOES MY SPOUSE’S COUNTRY OF BIRTH HELP ME?

Your spouse’s country of birth also may be used to determine chargeability. For instance, if you were born in India, but your spouse was born in France and there is a quota backlog for India, but no quota backlog for France in your preference category, you and your spouse may proceed with your immigrant process based on your spouse’s country of birth.

BOTH MY WIFE AND I WERE BORN IN INDIA AND MY PRIORITY DATE IS NOT CURRENT. OUR CHILD WAS BORN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE PRIORITY DATE FOR THAT COUNTRY IS CURRENT. CAN WE USE OUR CHILD’S COUNTRY OF BIRTH FOR ELIGIBILITY?

No. You can use your spouse’s country of birth for eligibility. However, your child’s country of birth cannot be used.

I HAVE HEARD THAT ONLY THOSE INDIVIDUALS FROM INDIA AND CHINA ARE SUBJECT TO QUOTA BACKLOGS. I WAS NOT BORN IN ONE OF THOSE COUNTRIES. DO QUOTA BACKLOGS APPLY TO ME?

Yes. Quota backlogs can apply to everyone, regardless of where they are from. While the backlogs have typically affected some countries more than others, note that on the current Visa Bulletin, the backlogs apply to all countries for the EB-3 preference category.

MY EMPLOYER HAS A LABOR CERTIFICATION PENDING ON MY BEHALF. DO QUOTA BACKLOGS AFFECT THE PROCESSING OF THE APPLICATION?

No. The labor certification process is not affected by quota backlogs.

CAN I CHANGE THE VISA CATEGORY AND/OR REFILE THE LABOR CERTIFICATION TO GET AROUND THE QUOTA BACKLOGS?

Maybe. The visa category of a particular filing cannot be changed once the labor certification (or I-140 if there is no labor certification) has been filed.  Sometimes, starting the application again if your position or qualifications has changed can result in the new application having a more favorable preference category; however, that strategy is not possible in every case. 

THE LABOR CERTIFICATION FILED ON MY BEHALF WAS APPROVED. CAN THE COMPANY STILL FILE THE I-140 PETITION IF THE PRIORITY DATE IS NOT CURRENT?

Yes. The filing and adjudication of an I-140 is not affected by the quota backlogs.

MY I-485 WAS ALREADY APPROVED. HOWEVER, MY DEPENDENT’S APPLICATION IS STILL PENDING AND MY PRIORITY DATE IS NO LONGER CURRENT. IS MY DEPENDENT’S APPLICATION AFFECTED BY THE QUOTA BACKLOG SINCE MY APPLICATION IS APPROVED?

Yes. Even though your case was approved, your dependent’s application is still based on your priority date. USCIS cannot approve the dependent’s application until the priority date is current.

THE QUOTA BACKLOGS WERE NOT IN AFFECT WHEN I FILED MY I-485 APPLICATION. DOES A QUOTA BACKLOG AFFECT ME?

Yes. USCIS can work on the pending application. However, it cannot approve the application unless the priority date is current.

THE I-140 AND I-485 WERE CONCURRENTLY FILED AND BOTH ARE PENDING AT USCIS. WILL THE I-140 BE PROCESSED IF THE PRIORITY DATE IS NO LONGER CURRENT AND THE I-485 CANNOT BE APPROVED?

Yes. USCIS will continue to process the I-140 and it can be approved regardless of the quota backlog

CAN I INQUIRE REGARDING THE STATUS OF AN I-485 CURRENTLY PENDING AT USCIS IF I AM SUBJECT TO A QUOTA BACKLOG?

No. Under USCIS guidelines, inquiries may not be made on a case unless the priority date is current.

IF MY I-485 APPLICATION IS STILL PENDING, AND MY PRIORITY DATE IS NO LONGER CURRENT, WILL USCIS STILL ISSUE A FINGERPRINT NOTICE AND/OR RFE?

It may. USCIS can still process the case but cannot approve it until the priority date is current. Therefore, you may receive requests for evidence or biometrics appointments. It is important to comply with these requests. Even though the case cannot be approved, it can be denied for failure to provide information or show up for biometrics.

MY I-485 HAS BEEN PENDING A LONG TIME DUE TO SECURITY AND BACKGROUND CHECKS. ONCE THEY CLEAR, CAN MY CASE BE APPROVED IF MY PRIORITY DATE IS NO LONGER CURRENT?

No. Even though the only issue may have been the security and background checks, USCIS cannot approve the case until the priority date is current.

DOESN’T USCIS ASSIGN ME A VISA NUMBER WHEN THE CASE IS FILED?

No. Immigrant visa numbers are not assigned to a case until right before approval.

CAN I STILL OBTAIN EAD CARDS AND AP DOCUMENTS IF MY I-485 IS PENDING AND I AM NOW SUBJECT TO A QUOTA BACKLOG?

Yes. As long as you have a pending I-485 application at USCIS, you are eligible to apply for and receive EAD and AP documents.

MY ADJUSTMENT APPLICATION IS PENDING AND I RECENTLY MARRIED. CAN I ADD MY SPOUSE TO THE APPLICATION (I.E., CAN MY SPOUSE FILE THEIR I-485) IF MY PRIORITY DATE IS NOT CURRENT?

No. In order to add a dependent to the pending application, the priority date must be current.

MY BIOMETRICS HAS ALREADY BEEN TAKEN. HOWEVER, DUE TO THE QUOTA BACKLOG, THEY MAY EXPIRE. WILL USCIS REQUIRE ME TO REDO MY BIOMETRICS?IF THE CASE IS PENDING AT USCIS AND CANNOT BE APPROVED DUE TO QUOTA BACKLOGS, WILL I BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ANY UPDATED INFORMATION OR DOCUMENTS?

Yes. Biometrics results expire after 15 months. USCIS will review the fingerprints at the time that they are ready to complete the adjudication of the I-485. If the results have expired, they will send out a new biometrics appointment notice.

IF THE CASE IS PENDING AT USCIS AND CANNOT BE APPROVED DUE TO QUOTA BACKLOGS, WILL I BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ANY UPDATED INFORMATION OR DOCUMENTS?

USCIS may ask for updated employment information. However, new photos and medical exams should not be required.

IF I AM NOT ABLE TO FILE THE I-485 DUE TO QUOTA BACKLOGS, IS THERE ANOTHER WAY FOR MY H-4 SPOUSE TO OBTAIN WORK AUTHORIZATION?

An I-765 (EAD) application cannot be filed unless an I-485 is pending. Therefore, your spouse will not be eligible for an EAD card and will need to seek employment sponsorship for work authorization.

IF THE I-140 PETITION FILED ON MY BEHALF IS STILL PENDING AND MY PRIORITY DATE BECOMES CURRENT, MAY I FILE MY ADJUSTMENT APPLICATION?

Yes, if you have an I-140 Petition pending and your Priority Date becomes current, you and your dependents may file your adjustment applications as long as the Priority Dates remain current.

I AM RUNNING OUT OF H-1B TIME. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY H-1B STATUS IF THE QUOTA BACKLOG HOLDS UP MY GREEN CARD APPLICATION?

The AC21 legislation provided some relief in this area. If you have an approved I-140 and you are unable to proceed with the I-485 due to quota backlogs, the company is eligible to apply for extension of H-1B time, in increments of three years, on your behalf. Your dependent’s H-4 status may also be extended.

If you are not the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition, you may still be able to obtain extensions, in one year increments, as long as the labor certification or I-140 petition have been pending more than 365 days.

IF I AM NOT ABLE TO FILE THE I-485 AND THEN LOSE MY JOB OR CHANGE JOBS, DOES AC21 PORTABILITY PROTECT ME?

No. In order to take advantage of AC21 portability, the I-140 Petition must be approved and the I-485 must be filed and pending over 180 days.

DUE TO THE QUOTA BACKLOGS, I WANT TO REVIEW MY OPTIONS FOR IMMIGRATING THROUGH A U.S. CITIZEN. I HAVE MINOR U.S. CITIZEN CHILDREN AND I HAVE A U.S. CITIZEN SPOUSE, CAN THEY SPONSOR ME FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY?

Unfortunately, a child cannot sponsor you for a permanent residency until they are at least 21 years old. However, if you have a U.S. citizen child who is over 21 or a U.S. citizen spouse, please contact us to discuss your options.

H-1B Nonimmigrant Status For Professionals

Who may obtain H-1B status?

H-1B nonimmigrant status is available for individuals who are coming into the United States temporarily to perform services as a professional in a specialty occupation. Nonimmigrants who are currently in the United States in a legal status may be eligible to change to H-1B status. An H-1B petition must be filed by a U.S. employer on behalf of the intended employee.

What is a specialty occupation?

A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires a “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.” The position must require a bachelor’s or higher degree (or foreign equivalent). Examples of specialty occupations include accountant, computer analyst, engineer, scientist, and architect.

What is involved in applying for H-1B status?

A Labor Condition Application (LCA) is submitted online with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Upon receipt of the certified LCA, the employer must then file the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the H Supplement, Data Collection, supporting documentation, and a copy of the signed and certified LCA with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval, the employee may apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. Consulate, or will be granted a change of status if they are in status in the US.

What are the filing fees for H-1B status?

The filing fee is U.S. $460. Employers must also pay a $1500 ($750 for employers with 25 employees or less) “U.S. Worker Training Fee” to Department of Homeland Security for the initial petition they file and for the first extension they file on behalf of a particular employee. Employers are also required to pay a $500 “Anti-Fraud Fee” for the initial petition filed on behalf of a particular employee. Finally, if faster adjudication is desired, USCIS provides an option to pay an extra fee of $1,225 and obtain “premium processing” of an H-1B petition, which guarantees adjudication within two weeks of filing.

What documentation is required to file a petition for H-1B status?

The following documentation is required:

  1. An approved LCA from the DOL.
  2. Documentation that the job qualifies as a specialty occupation.
  3. A copy of the individual’s U.S. degree (bachelor, master or Ph.D.) and/or a foreign degree with evidence that it is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher. (A combination of education, specialized training, or experience that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree may be submitted to meet this requirement.)
  4. A copy of any required license to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment.

How may an individual determine if a foreign degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree?

An individual may request an evaluation from a reputable credentialing agency.

Is there a certain wage that must be paid to an H-1B employee?

Yes. The wage paid to an H-1B employee must be the higher of 1) the “prevailing wage” (generally, the average wage for the occupation in the geographic area in which the employee will be employed, or the wage set by a union contract for the position) or 2) the “actual wage” (the wage paid by the employer to other employees in the occupation with similar qualifications).

How does an employer determine the prevailing wage?

An employer may request a prevailing wage determination from the State Employment Service Agency (SESA) or may rely upon wage data from an independent survey if the survey meets the Department of Labor requirements.

May an H-1B employee work part-time?

Yes. An H-1B employee may work part-time if the employer petitioned for part-time employment and all other H-1B requirements are met.

How long does this petition process take?

It may take from 6 to 16 weeks to complete the petition process if all of the required documentation was filed with the petition. USCIS provides an option to pay an extra fee of $1000 and obtain “premium processing” of an H-1B petition, which guarantees adjudication within two weeks of filing.

Are there any times of the year when new H-1B visas are unavailable?

Yes. In recent years, the quota or “cap” for H-1B visas has been reached as early as mid-May. When the cap is reached, no individual may obtain an H-1B until October 1 of the following fiscal year unless the individual is already in H-1B status and seeking an extension, change of employer, or addition of employer. H-1B petitions may be filed as soon as six months ahead of time, or on April 1 for an October 1 start date.

May an H-1B individual work for more than one employer?

An H-1B individual may work for more than one employer if each employer has properly filed an H-1B petition. All employees after the first H-1B employer can allow the employee to commence employment after the filing of the new H-1B petition.

How long may an individual remain in H-1B status?

In most cases, an individual may remain in H-1B status for a maximum of six years. The initial petition may be approved for up to three years, and subsequent requests for extensions may be approved for up to a maximum of six years. The six years cannot be extended by changing employers. In certain limited situations, the individual can obtain H-1B extensions beyond six years while a permanent resident case is pending.

What happens if the employment is terminated before the employee’s H-1B status expires?

If the employer terminates the employment for any reason and before the approved expiration date, the employer is responsible for notifying USCIS and providing return transportation of the employee to his or her last place of foreign residence. In this event, the employee loses legal status and may be required to leave the U.S. unless the employee finds a new employer willing to file a new petition on his or her behalf on a timely basis, or is able to obtain a different nonimmigrant status.

May an employee in H-1B status travel outside of the U.S.?

Yes, an employee in H-1B status may travel if the H-1B status is valid and he or she has a valid H-1B visa in the passport. If the employee does not have a valid H-1B visa, then the employee must obtain an H-1B visa abroad.

May an employee in H-1B status with a pending extension travel outside of the U.S.?

Yes, an employee in H-1B status with a pending extension may travel outside of the U.S. However, if the current valid H-1B status expires while the employee is abroad, then the individual must remain abroad until the extension is approved and also must obtain a valid visa before returning to the U.S.

May an individual in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant visa status change to H-1B without leaving the U.S.?

Yes, if he or she meets all of the criteria for H-1B status and is in valid nonimmigrant status.

How may an individual in a valid nonimmigrant status obtain or extend the validity of the visa in his or her passport?

Generally, individuals wishing to apply for nonimmigrant visas must make a personal appearance before a U.S. consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. Most applicants apply in their home country while visiting there after changing status in the United States. In certain instances, an individual may have his or her visa issued in Canada or Mexico, or in another country than his or her home country.

What happens if an H-1B wants to switch employers?

If an H-1B nonimmigrant wants to switch employers, the new employer must file a petition for H-1B status with USCIS. The individual may commence work for the new employer when the new H-1B petition is filed. This only applies to employees already granted H-1B status with another employer.

What happens if an H-1B employee changes positions but remains with the same employer?

Unless the change in position is an insignificant change, a new LCA and H-1B petition will have to be filed.

What happens if the employer transfers the H-1B employee to another location?

In most cases, a new LCA and H-1B petition will have to be filed. There are some exceptions including if the relocation is not a permanent relocation but a short-term transfer.

Must an employer under take any specific recruitment for U.S. workers prior to filing an H-1B petition?

No, unless the employer has been found to be a willing violator of the LCA regulations.

What is the immigration status of an H-1B employee’s family in the U.S.?

A spouse and dependent minor children (unmarried children under the age of 21) of an H-1B employee are entitled to H-4 status. They may not accept employment in that status, but may study in the U.S. If the spouse is eligible for a different status than H-4 (including H-1B), the spouse may elect to enter the U.S. in that status rather than entering as an H-4. Spouses should note that an offer of employment from a U.S. employer is required in order to obtain most types of work-authorized nonimmigrant status.

May a spouse and/or dependent minor children in H-4 status obtain a Social Security Card?

No. Individuals in H-4 status may not be eligible to obtain Social Security Cards. However, they may apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in some circumstances. This application is filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Passports, Visas and the I-94 Card

What is a visa?

A visa is a permit to apply to enter the United States. Visas are different from “status,” which is the length of time an individual may stay in the U.S. after admission. There are two types of visas, nonimmigrant and immigrant. The nonimmigrant visa is issued to individuals who intend to come into the U.S. for a temporary period of stay for a specific purpose. The immigrant visa is issued to individuals who intend to live and work permanently in the U.S. Such individuals obtain “green cards” after arrival and are called permanent residents.

Who needs a visa?

Most individuals coming into the U.S. for a temporary period of stay must obtain a visa. There is an exception for individuals who are nationals of countries which are included in the Visa Waiver Program. Such nonimmigrants are not required to obtain a visa to apply to enter the U.S. as a visitor for business or pleasure (B-1 and/or B-2 visa categories), if they are staying for no more than 90 days. In addition, citizens of Canada do not generally require a nonimmigrant visa unless they are coming to the U.S. as a Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor.

Is there a specific period of time for which a passport must be valid?

The length of the visa may be limited to the expiration date of the passport. In addition, U.S. immigration law requires that a foreign national’s passport be valid during all periods of time spent in the U.S., including the time during an extension of stay, so a person’s status may be limited to the validity of their passport.

How does an individual obtain a visa for entry into the U.S.?

If an individual is planning to travel to the U.S., he or she (and family members) should apply for their nonimmigrant visa(s) at the nearest U.S. embassy or consular post. Prior to applying for the visa, the applicant must obtain the necessary supporting documentation, which may include notice of the approval of a nonimmigrant visa petition by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Does a visa guarantee entry into the U.S.?

No. A visa is issued to an individual by a consular officer outside of the U.S. Having a valid visa does not necessarily guarantee a smooth entry into the U.S. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the authority to grant or deny admission to the U.S. In addition, CBP will determine how long an individual may remain in the U.S. This information is recorded on the I-94 card at the port of entry.

What is an I-94 Card?

The I-94 Card is also known as the Arrival/Departure Document. It serves as the registration form for individuals admitted to the U.S. as nonimmigrants. This document is created by CBP when the individual is inspected upon arrival in the U.S. The CBP inspector will endorse the I-94 with the date, place of arrival, status (i.e., F, J, H, L, etc.), and length of authorized stay. The individual keeps the I-94 Card as the official record of admission and permission to remain in the U.S. If an individual decides to remain in the U.S. beyond the date on the I-94 card, he or she must file a petition for an extension of stay with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When departing the U.S., an individual must surrender his or her I-94 Card except if travelling only to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands other than Cuba for a period not to exceed 30 days, in which case the individual may be able to use the I-94 Card to reenter the U.S.

Does an individual need a new visa every time he or she travels outside of the U.S.?

Not necessarily. An individual should examine the visa in his or her passport to determine the immigration status (H-1, L-1, J-1, etc.), number of entries permitted, and the expiration date. If the individual is reentering in the same immigration status and the initial visa has not expired and is valid for more than one entry, a new visa is not required. If he or she has changed status in the U.S. prior to departing or plans to reenter in a different status, a new visa is required.

How may an individual in a valid nonimmigrant status obtain or extend the validity of the visa in his or her passport?

Generally, individuals wishing to apply for nonimmigrant visas must make a personal appearance before a U.S. consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the U.S. Most applicants apply in their country of nationality; however, some applicants may apply in Canada or Mexico, or in other countries outside their own.

What determines the length of validity of a visa?

A visa is a permit to travel to the U.S. and apply to enter the U.S. The Consular Officer may grant a visa for as little as one month or as long as ten years, depending on the classification of the visa and the treatment given by the individual’s country of nationality to U.S. visa applicants in similar classifications. The U.S. government’s “reciprocity schedule” for each country lists maximum validity of each type of visa for nationals of each country. The validity of the visa does not affect how long an individual may remain in the U.S. on any entry. Therefore, the date on the I-94 Card may be different from the date on the visa.

What determines the length of validity of my stay in the U.S.?

The duration of a nonimmigrant’s lawful stay is recorded on the I-94 Card created by CBP when the individual is inspected upon arrival in the U.S. It may be shorter or longer than the validity of the nonimmigrant’s visa. Nonimmigrants should note the date written on this card, as it governs the time they are “lawfully present” in the U.S.

If a visa has expired and an immigration status extension is in process, may an individual leave the country?

Yes. An individual may leave the U.S.; but, in most cases, he or she must remain out of the country until the extension is approved. Once the approval notice is received, the individual must apply for a new visa at the appropriate U.S. consular post.

What happens if a valid visa is in an expired passport?

The individual should keep the expired passport with the valid visa together with the new passport issued by his or her country of nationality. It is not required — although it may be convenient — to have the visa issued in the new passport.

May an individual travel to the U.S. on a business trip while awaiting a USCIS approval notice for a visa that allows employment in the U.S.?

An individual whose overseas position requires a trip to the U.S. may travel to the U.S. on a business visa (B-1) or under the visa waiver program, but he or she must not assume any of the responsibilities of the U.S. position while in that category. In addition, he or she must remain on the payroll of the foreign company.

EB-1 and NIW Cases

What is KILP’ experience with EB-1 and NIW petitions?

A very significant part of our practice is focused on representing individuals seeking to qualify for permanent residence (“green card”) through the Extraordinary, Exceptional, Outstanding, or National Interest categories. Our success rate is such that over 25 universities, hospitals and research institutions, as well as other immigration attorneys, refer individuals to our firm to prepare these petitions.

How does KILP assist with the petition?

The firm’s EB-1 practice team works closely with you to prepare a petition that clearly reflects how your achievements meet the EB-1 and/or EB-2 regulatory standards.  In addition to working with you, we assist your referees in framing your achievements in terms a lay person can understand.  Our success with these petitions is based in large part on the time we spend understanding the nature and significance of your achievements, and translating very technical concepts into terms that the immigration adjudicators can understand and appreciate.  These detailed explanations, coupled with corroborating documentation, provide a picture of your accomplishments that facilitates the immigration examiner’s understanding of just how extraordinary you are.

With whom will I be working? Who is in charge of my case?

Although I am responsible for your case and am available to you as needed, we work on all cases as a team.  In addition to myself, you should expect to be communicating with at least one other professional, a technical writer, in my office.  The technical writer will have primary responsibility for helping to frame your achievements in terms that the immigration officer can understand.

What are my obligations?

You will need to provide a detailed written input statement describing your field, your accomplishments, the importance of your work, and other requested information.  As best you can, this information should be written in terms that a lay person could understand.  It is not a problem to use technical terms and concepts, as long as you explain the meaning behind those terms and concepts.  We will work with what you provide to draft detailed letters, but you will need to carefully edit and review this information.  This is therefore very much a collaborative effort between yourself and our team.  For example, you will be asked to respond to our requests for more information about your work or questions we may have regarding your input statement.  You will also be expected to identify appropriate referees, and to coordinate the sending and receiving of reference letters directly with your referees.

Will you give me any guidance in preparing the requested input statement?

Of course.  We provide a detailed Input Questionnaire with specific questions to answer and information to provide in written form.  The Input Questionnaire also outlines documentation that you will need to send.  When you are ready to proceed, we will have an input call to review the information and documentation requested in the questionnaire, and guide you specifically on what is needed for your individual situation.  This call will be about an hour.  We will also provide samples of input statements to give you an idea of the level of detail and technicality required.

What is the time frame for preparing the case?

Our work generally takes about two months from the time you provide us the requested information to get started with our work.  We estimate approximately another two months for you to review and edit the reference letters, for us to make the requested changes, for you to forward the reference letters to the referees, for the referees to review and sign the reference letters and get them back to us, and for us to prepare the final transmittal letter to USCIS.

How long will it take the government to decide the case?

Government processing times vary, and the most current processing times are posted at www.uscis.gov.  Presently, the average government processing time for EB-1 cases is about 8 months.  The average government processing time for NIW cases is also about 8 months.  The average processing time for the application for permanent residence is six months, but it will only be processed once the EB-1 or NIW is approved, and the priority date is current.  The average processing time for the applications for employment authorization and travel document, after the filing of the application for permanent residence, is ninety days.

Should I file 1 petition or multiple petitions?

We generally recommend filing multiple petitions.  We do not charge additional for filing both an EB-1 and an NIW application at the same time.

Should I file the application for permanent residence at the same time (concurrently) with the I-140 Petition?

If you are not subject to a quota backlog, you have the option of filing concurrently.  Once we are working on your case, we will provide our recommendation; but the final decision is yours.

What are the legal fees, and what do the legal fees include?

We will provide you a fixed legal fee during the consultation once we evaluate your case.  The legal fee is broken down based on the stages of preparation and filing, and a breakdown will also be provided during your consultation.  Please ask any questions you may have about the quoted legal fee and what it includes.The legal fee includes all of the legal services specified above, as well as our preparation of a detailed transmittal letter to USCIS explaining how and why you qualify for EB-1 or NIW, advice regarding premium processing and concurrent filing, preparation of all government forms, preparation of applications for permanent residence, preparation of applications for employment authorization, preparation of applications for travel documents, prompt response to all telephonic and email inquiries, and follow up with USCIS if there are processing delays.  In addition, we do not bill separately for miscellaneous costs and expenses, including photocopies and FedEx.  Rather, we add 6% to each legal fee payment to cover the expenses.  We accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover.

What are the government filing fees?

The I-140 government filing is $700.  If you file more than one I-140, you will need to pay the $700 with each petition.  The filing fee for the I-485, including employment authorization and travel document applications, is $1,225.  If you are including spouse or children fourteen years of age or older, they will also need to pay the $1,225.  For children under 14, the filing fee is $750.  Government filing fees are separate from legal fees.

Do we need to meet during the course of the case?

You are always welcome to schedule a time to come in and discuss your case.  However, most people prefer to communicate by email and telephone.

What should I look for in choosing an EB-1/NIW attorney?

Click here to review a list of qualifications that you may want to consider in choosing the best EB 1/NIW attorney.

How do I get started?

Please advise me if you wish to pay the retainer payment by check or credit card.  If you wish to pay by credit card, we will email you a credit card authorization form.  Once we receive your retainer payment, we will schedule the input call and proceed as we explained above.

Are you interested in receiving referrals of friends and colleagues who need immigration assistance?

Many of our clients are referred by universities and hospitals, as well as our appreciative EB-1 clients.  We very much appreciate your referrals.

PERM

What Is PERM?

PERM is a system through which employers can hire a foreign national by submitting an application electronically or by mail to DOL in which they attest that they have taken certain steps to recruit U.S. workers and that they have been unable to locate a qualified U.S. worker for the position. Employers will be responsible for documenting their compliance with the recruitment steps enumerated in the regulations, but they will only submit that documentation to DOL if DOL chooses to audit their applications. All labor certification applications for full-time permanent positions filed on or after March 28, 2005, must comply with these regulations.

Where And How Are PERM Labor Certification Applications Processed?

PERM centralizes processing of labor certification applications at two national processing centers, one in Atlanta and one inChicago. Previously, labor certification applications were filed locally with State Workforce Agencies (SWAs), the state-level organizations responsible for unemployment insurance, job training and placement of workers. Under the PERM program, applications are no longer submitted to SWAs for processing, though SWAs will continue to provide determinations of the prevailing wages for occupations through their Labor Market Information (LMI) units.

How Long Will It Take DOL To Process A PERM Application?

Through electronic filing and the audit-based adjudication process, DOL reports that “clean” applications take less than 60 days to adjudicate. In users’ experience, applications may be processed very quickly – sometimes in less than a week – but normally take 60-90 days. Processing times for audited cases also vary, with some being decided quickly and others not processed for months.

How Is Recruitment Being Handled Under PERM?

PERM’s goal is to make nationally uniform the requirements for the recruitment steps an employer must take prior to filing an application for labor certification, and to require every application to undergo pre-filing recruitment. Employers must utilize several forms of recruitment within the six months prior to filing the application, must place a job order with the State Workforce Agency (SWA), must post an internal notice of the job opportunity on site at the company as well through any in-house company media in which jobs are ordinarily posted, and must secure a prevailing wage determination from the SWA.

What Print Ads Are Required Under PERM?

 Prior to filing an application for labor certification, an employer must place two advertisements on two different Sundays in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment. For higher-level positions requiring experience and an advanced degree, the employer may use an advertisement in a professional journal in place of one of the Sunday ads. Both ads must have been placed more than 30 days, but not more than 180 days, before filing, and may be placed on consecutive Sundays. The ad must list the name of the employer, the geographic area of employment (only if the job site is unclear, e.g., if applicants respond to a location other than the job site or if the employer has multiple job sites), and a description of the position specific enough to apprise U.S. workers of the job opportunity. The employer may include minimum education and experience requirements or specific job duties in the ad as long as those requirements also appear on Application for Permanent Employment Certification, Form 9089. The ad must direct applicants to send resumes or report to the employer, as appropriate. The employer’s physical address is not required. A central office or post office box may be designated for receipt of resumes. The ad need not include the salary or a detailed listing of the job description and requirements. However, if the ad does include the salary, the salary stated must meet or exceed the prevailing wage, as determined by the SWA.

Must A SWA Job Order Be Placed Under PERM?

The employer must place a job order with its local SWA for the position. The job order should contain the same information as the advertisement, and the employer should request that the SWA refer any potentially qualified applicants directly to the employer.

Are Recruitment Steps For Professional And Non-Professional Jobs The Same?

The recruitment for a professional occupation (those for which the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree is the usual education requirement) consists of a job order and two print ads plus three additional steps. The recruitment for non-professional occupations consists only of a job order and the two Sunday advertisements.

What Are The Three Additional Recruitment Steps for Professional Jobs?

An employer must both advertise the opening and carry out three additional recruitment steps, choosing from the following options: (1) attendance at job fairs; (2) advertisement of the position on the employer’s website; (3) advertisement of the position on a job search website other than employer’s, including an ad on a newspaper’s web site in conjunction with a print ad; (4) participation in on-campus recruiting; (5) placing a notice in a newsletter or publication of a trade or professional organization; (6) retaining private employment firms; (7) including the position in an employee referral program, if it includes identifiable incentives; (8) placing a notice of the job opening at a campus placement office, if the job requires a degree but no experience; (9) advertisement in local and ethnic newspapers, to the extent they are appropriate for the job opportunity; and (10) placing radio and television advertisements. The employer must conduct three separate recruitment steps; i.e., may not conduct one of the three steps three times. With respect to these additional steps, an employer may advertise either for the specific job opportunity, or merely for the occupation involved in the application. All three recruitment steps must have taken place no more than 180 days before filing, but only one of the steps may have taken place within 30 days of filing. The employer must specify the dates of each of the three additional recruitment steps it has undertaken on the application form, and maintain documentation of the recruitment step, such as a dated printout from a website, or a flyer announcing the employer’s participation in a job fair.

Does PERM Require An Employer to Post a Notice of Job Opportunity?

 An employer must post a Notice of Job Opportunity in conjunction with the outside recruitment for the position. The notice must be posted for a period of ten business days, and the notice period may be no more than 180 days before filing and no less than 30 days before filing. The Notice is posted at a location such as an employee notification bulletin board in an area accessible to all of the employer’s employees. The Notice must contain the salary for the position, but may contain a salary range so long as the lower level of the range meets or exceeds the prevailing wage. The notice may contain the same description of the position as is placed in the newspaper advertisement, and should include a contact person for employees who wish to apply for the position. In addition, the notice must contain language indicating that the posting is in connection with an application for labor certification, and that any person having information bearing on the application can submit that information to the Department of Labor. Importantly,in addition to a printed posted notice, an employer must place the notice in any and all in-house media, whether electronic or printed, in accordance with normal procedures used for recruitment for similar positions in the organization. The notification must include all information posted in print, including salary range and DOL contact information. Since the notification in such media need only be done if it is the employer’s normal practice to do so for the job classification in issue in the application, an employer could avoid listing executive-level positions if it is not normal practice to do so. Duration of the in-house media notification should be as long as other comparable positions are posted.

Can An Employer Use Qualification in Excess of What DOL Considers “Normal?”

DOL will generally not allow an employer to use job requirements that exceed the requirements for a position as found in the DOL’s description of the occupation in its Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system unless the employer can justify it on the basis of “business necessity.” To meet this exception, the employer must show that the requirements are reasonably related to the position and necessary to perform the job duties in the context of the employer’s operation. This ability to deviate from the SOC system is important, as that system categorizes jobs into far fewer categories than the Dictionary of Occupational Titles formerly used to measure “normal” requirements.

Can Experience Gained With The Petitioning Employer Be Used?

Employers may use experience gained by a foreign national with the petitioning employer (as an employee or contractor), but only where the experience was gained in a position that was not “substantially comparable” to the position involved in the labor certification. A prior position will be considered “substantially comparable” if at least 50% of the duties of the two positions are the same. For example, if a software engineer who spends 100% of her time implementing software is promoted to a team leader position in which she spends 20% of her time managing and 80% of her time implementing software, the two positions are “substantially comparable” and her experience as a software engineer cannot be used to qualify her for the position of team leader (of course, her experience prior to joining the employer as a software engineer could be used, if it was enough to qualify her as a team leader).

Is The Use Of Alternative Experience Permitted?

Any alternative means for a worker to be considered qualified must be “substantially equivalent” to the primary means of being considered qualified. For example, if the labor certification application involves a household cook position, it would be reasonable to require one year of experience as a household cook or, alternatively, one year of experience as a restaurant cook, as the two periods of cooking experience are comparable. It would not be reasonable to require one year as a cook or, alternatively, one year of experience as a “household worker with some cooking duties” as the alternative requirement is less stringent than the primary requirement.

If The Job Requires Four Skills And A Job Applicant Lacks One Of These Four Skills, Is This A Lawful Reason To Reject The Applicant?

Lack of one of four required skills may not be enough to lawfully reject an otherwise qualified U.S. worker. The employer will need to explore and evaluate whether the U.S. worker applicant could perform the job with a reasonable amount of on the job training in the lacking skill(s). What is reasonable will depend on the particular employer and the job opportunity. For example, if it would not be reasonable to spend six months training a U.S. worker in one of the required four skills, this would need to be explained and documented.

What Salary Does PERM Require Employers To Pay In Connection With The Labor Certification Position?

An employer must complete a Prevailing Wage Determination Request Form (PWDR) and file it with the SWA before filing the Labor Certification Application. The SWA will use its wage survey data to provide a prevailing wage unless an employer provides an acceptable alternative survey. The SWA uses DOL’s Online Wage Library to provide a wage level based on a formula that compares the employer’s requirements to the DOL’s Standard Vocational Preparation criteria. The employer also has the option of using a qualifying survey, which must meet certain specified criteria to be considered acceptable. These criteria are essentially the same as the criteria under RIR except that a median figure, not just an arithmetic mean, can in certain circumstances be used for the prevailing wage.

The employer must attest that it will pay 100% of the prevailing wage at the time that the foreign national beneficiary obtains permanent residence on the basis of the Labor Certification.

What Can An Employer Do If It Does Not Agree With The SWA Prevailing Wage Determination And It Cannot Find A Qualifying Alternate Survey?

An employer has the opportunity for one submission of additional information to persuade the SWA to change the appropriate skill level or job classification or find that the alternative survey qualifies. After that one submission is made, the employer may either appeal the SWA’s determination to the Certifying Officer or file a new prevailing wage request. If the employer does not agree with the Certifying Officer’s determination, then the employer may file an appeal to BALCA.

How Long Is The PWD Valid?

The SWA specifies the validity period of the prevailing wage on the PWDR form. It must be valid for at least 90 days and no more than one year from the determination date on the form. Employers must either begin the recruitment, or file their PERMapplications, within the validity period on the PWDR.

What Recruitment Documentation Must Be Prepared By Employer?

The employer must prepare documentation of all of its recruitment steps, such as newspaper tearsheets for advertisements and printouts of web sites. The employer should maintain copies of all resumes or applications submitted in connection with the recruitment steps. In addition, the employer must prepare a recruitment report that describes the recruitment steps taken and the results. This report shall include the number of hires and the number of U.S. workers rejected, categorized by the lawful job‑related reasons for rejection. Although it does not need to include the identity of the individual U.S. workers who applied for the job opportunity, it must track them sufficiently that an auditor can determine which resumes were evaluated for each job opportunity. The employer must sign the recruitment report and retain it as part of the supporting documentation.

What Must Employer Do If Application Is Selected For Audit?

If an application is selected for audit, the employer is required to provide the supporting documentation within 30 days of a request by a Certifying Officer (CO). After the documentation has been submitted, the CO can approve the application or deny the application. In addition, if the Certifying Officer is not satisfied that the documentation establishes unavailability of U.S. workers, the CO may require supervised recruitment after the filing. The supervised recruitment will involve a new newspaper advertisement and job order, this one directing responses to the CO, and the employer will be expected to give an applicant-by-applicant evaluation of whether the applicants met the qualifications for the position. If an employer fails to respond to a request for documentation, or is deemed to have misrepresented the recruitment steps it took or its reasons for rejecting U.S. workers, the CO may require the employer to use supervised recruitment for all of its applications for a period of up to two years.

How Long Must Employer Retain Recruitment Documentation?

The employer must retain its recruitment documentation for five (5) years from the date of filing of the application, as the DOL may reopen its labor certification determination even after approval and conduct an audit.

What Happens To Pending Cases and New Cases Prior to March 28, 2005?

Pending cases and new cases filed before PERM’s effective date will continue to be processed under the current system, if the employer wishes.

Can Cases Filed Under the Current System Be Converted To A PERM Case?

A pending case can be converted to a PERM case, while preserving the original filing date, by withdrawing the pending case and refiling it. A case may be withdrawn and refiled if it is an RIR application, or if it is a “traditional” application for which supervised recruitment has not yet begun. In order to be refiled and keep the original filing (priority) date, the application must be for the “identical job opportunity,” and must otherwise comply with all of the PERM requirements. If it is found not to be “identical,” then the earlier filing date or priority date will be lost. In order to refile, therefore, an employer would need to have conducted recruitment that meets the PERM standards no more than 180 days prior to the request for conversion. Given the expense of newspaper advertising alone, many employers will opt to leave their RIR cases pending with DOL rather than converting them to PERM.