Frequently Asked Questions: Visas, Green Cards & Immigration Law
As a result of assisting hundreds of immigration clients with various visa matters in past years, our immigration lawyers have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Be sure to check back often as this list is continually updated. Still have a question? Contact us today to speak with an experienced immigration law attorney.
- Page 1
If I have a valid H-1B visa, can my spouse and children accompany me to the United States?
Yes, certain dependents can travel to the United States with you and live with you in America if you have a valid H-1 visa. However, they must first apply for an H-4 visa for dependents to obtain their own visa.
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for an H-4 visa for dependents. With this visa, they will be able to attend school full-time, but they will not be able to seek employment or work in the United States. The H-4 visa allows your family to travel freely throughout the country and the world, and is valid for as long as the H-1 visa holder’s paperwork is current. An H-4 visa can be extended just as an H-1 visa can be extended.
If you would like to work while in the United States on an H-4 visa, you must change your visa status. Likewise, if you are a child of an H visa holder and turn 21 while studying in the United States, you must change your visa status in order to legally continue your education.
What Is a STEM Worker?
A person with an educational background in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics is considered a STEM worker. The majority of STEM workers have advanced degrees, such as masters' degrees and doctorates in these areas.
Do We Have Enough STEM Workers in the United States?
Currently in the United States, lawmakers, businesses, and universities are engaged in an important discussion: is the United States producing enough STEM workers? Are we allowing enough STEM workers to enter the country through work visas? And what can we do to ensure that we are producing enough STEM workers in the future?
As technology advances and many manufacturing jobs move overseas, the U.S. would like to focus on growing the economy through certain high-tech industries. However, many companies complain that a STEM worker shortage makes it impossible for us to keep pace with other competing countries across the world, including India and China. Many believe that increasing the number of STEM worker immigrants can help solve this problem – along with new programs that focus on technology in schools.
New Immigration Policies To Attract STEM Workers to American Companies
At this time, the federal government generally agrees that new immigration policies and reforms should be put in place to help get the most talented STEM workers in the world to American companies.
I am on an H-1B visa and I have been laid off from my job. How much time do I have to find a new job and what are my options?
If you have been laid off or otherwise terminated from your employment in California, or elsewhere throughout the United States, and you are in the country under an H-1B visa, there is a 60-day grace period for you to either find a new employer willing to sponsor your H-1B or change your status to another visa.
Our H-1B immigration lawyers will speak with you about your options, which may include:
- Finding a new employer before your I-94 expires, or your petition is revoked and processed by the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS).
- Filing for a change in visa status, including changing to a B-1 or B-2 visa, until you find a new job.
When should I apply for an H1B Visa?
The H-1B is a very popular immigration option. At the time of this FAQ, the United States grants 85,000 H-1B visas each year. In the past, within a relatively short time after the visas are made available each year (starting on April 1st), all the visas were used up within a few weeks. In today's economic climate, however, the visas are being used up at a slower rate. Nonetheless, the quota has been filed each year, leaving some people without the option of applying. That's why our immigration lawyers always recommend that clients apply early. Note that if this is your first H-1B application you will only be allowed to begin working with the employer in H-1B status on October 1 of that year.
Basic Rules Governing H1-B Workers Sponsored by a University
- All applications for an academic H-1B must be filed by the hiring university. Individuals cannot file for H-1B visas on their own behalf.
- You may be in the U.S. on another type of visa, such as a student or visitor visa, while you are being considered for H-1B sponsorship.
- All applicants must receive a labor condition certification from the U.S. Department of Labor and employment authorization from USCIS. The university must do this for each sponsored applicant.
- If you are granted an H-1B visa, you may work for an academic institution for up to six years.
- Once your H-1 petition has been approved by USCIS, you are prohibited from accepting any monetary payment, compensation, or reimbursement from any organization or employer outside of the university.
- You may transfer your H-1B visa to another academic or research institution; however, you cannot transfer to a U.S. company. If you leave academia, you must be sponsored for a new H-1B visa.
In order to be approved for this type of visa, you must have adhered to the requirements of any former visas as well as all U.S. laws.