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I’m Peter Roberts, immigration attorney who does work for YC and startups. AMA
249 points by proberts 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 306 comments
I’ll be here for the next 2 hours and then again at around noon for another 2 hours. As usual, there are countless possible topics and I'll be guided by whatever you're concerned with. Please remember that I can't provide legal advice on specific cases for obvious liability reasons because I won’t have access to all the facts. Please stick to a factual discussion in your questions and comments and I'll try to do the same in my answers!



I am a US citizen, and was born abroad, and live in the EU. I've never lived in the US, nor worked there for a single day of my life. As such, I've never filed income in the states. I never got asked to do so, either. Due to IRS regulation i currently am in tax noncompliance and on the potential hook for what i guess something like 200K in penalties. I work in IT and my dream is to work in the bay area eventually, but I do not see the point of spending ~2k in paperwork to go through the "streamlined procedure" to bring myself into compliance, and then to be liable to report all my income a lifelong and potentially pay taxes in the US as well as i make more than 100k gross/yr. I don't want to move to the US forever, but maybe a few months here and there would be nice. The opportunity cost of doing that is astronomical, though, if i factor in a lifetime of added accounting costs and additional taxes, just for a few months of time spent in an area. Is there anything I can do to make this happen, but not have to hemorrage money? How can i legally work in the US without having to oblige myself to a lifetime of IRS bullshit? I already pay 52% taxes in my country of residence. Any non-US resident who was born abroad is pretty much in my same boat.


Have you looked into Foreign Earned Income Exclusion?

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/fore...

"If you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and you live abroad, you are taxed on your worldwide income. However, you may qualify to exclude from income up to an amount of your foreign earnings that is adjusted annually for inflation ($92,900 for 2011, $95,100 for 2012, $97,600 for 2013, $99,200 for 2014 and $100,800 for 2015). In addition, you can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts."


Are you sure about your noncompliance status?

IANAL, but aren't there treaties between the US and all EU countries that avoid any double taxation? You have to pay income tax wherever you live most of the time and conduct your business. You never have to pay income tax twice, in two countries. Unless you obtain your income mainly in the US, you should be exempt from paying US taxes. This is independent of citizenship.

Sorry if I'm missing something, I thought (and have been told) that this is how it works, so I'd be happy if someone else with more knowledge could clarify this.


The noncompliance is not about taxation, its about not reporting income. Every year carries a penalty of 10k. All of this can be reset to 0 by bringing myself into compliance and then it will be pardoned, but from that point on i must comply every year. For now i have a "void all your debt card" which i'd rather keep in my sleeve until i really need it.


I believe you're right about tax treaties.

However I suspect that in the case of a US citizen, that doesn't mean you don't have to officially declare your tax status/income to the IRS each year. Hence the parents worry that he's going to have to trawl back over his entire working life to 'prove' that he doesn't owe any back taxes.

IANAL, but am from the UK, lived in the US for a few years and have had to deal with moving back and forth.


If you are making 100k+ a year, why aren't you willing to cough up 2k to get some sound tax advice and realize your "dream?" You may be covered by a tax treaty and owe nothing. It's just paperwork.


A lifetime of paperwork. Thanks, but no thanks.


Is there any possibility that the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/392/...) would see the light of day anytime soon? This act would eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based green card petitions.

Also, what would be the implications if this bill does become law?


There is a chance although any major overhaul of immigration laws almost always requires the support of both parties so I think the chance is still low. It would have a profound impact, I think, both repressing and encouraging immigration to the U.S. but the exact parameters of this are hard to say.


Although this bill has large number of co-sponsors from both sides (D-163, R-139), I'm not very hopeful. The same bill (HR 3012) passed house in 2011 (Y-389, N-15) but died quietly in the Senate subcommittee. Despite all the rhetoric and name-calling, neither party seems genuinely interested in immigration reform.


I am going to sign off now but I'll be back on again this weekend to respond to any final questions and comments. As always, it's been a pleasure conversing with everyone. I always learn something. Thanks.


I'm curious what you think about remote work and whether it's overall a net positive for companies that are struggling to find talent in their own country.

There seem to be some obvious benefits: no need to worry about getting people visas, expanding your talent pool to beyond your geographic region, and so on. There's also legal tradeoffs: dealing with complicated laws with taxes, benefits, and so on.

In your experience, is opting for remote a net benefit? Or perhaps more fittingly, in what situations do you think it's appropriate for a company to consider building a remote workforce, wholly or partially?


I'm not aware of the costs of remote employment, which will vary from country to country, so it's hard to say but as immigration policies get more restrictive, I suspect that more companies will go this route. That being said, we still get a lot of requests from companies to bring their remote employees and contractors to the U.S. so that they're working as part of the main team even though the cost of employing them is probably higher.


Thank you so much for doing this!

As someone on H1 and I 140 approved and in the long wait for green card, is it ok to release a free iOS app under one’s own name and if it takes off, show that as evidence for extraordinary accomplishment?

Does membership of exclusive well known invite only Silicon Valley network for tech founders count as membership of reputed organization?

What if the app is for a non profit, should it be released under the non profits name?

Is it legal to be a minority owner of a company and not draw salary from it?

Is your firm available for direct hire for one person or you only help YC and startups?


These are all excellent questions and yes we help individuals as well as companies and accelerators. My answers to your questions, in order, are as follows: possibly but this can't be considered work, that is, receiving a financial benefit for performing a service or providing a product; possibly; the analysis is the same as your first question; yes, if you provide no service to the company.


Can someone on a H1B visa (as a software engineer) be engaged in setting up a small business that is completely unrelated to the work that they do professionally? Eg. Selling of fine art or digital prints?

Preliminary research suggests that this isn't allowed but if I am allowed to take photographs in my free time, and I am allowed to sell belongings on eBay, then it seems that by transitivity, I should be allowed to sell works that I do in my free time.


Unfortunately, the answer to your first question is no and further you're not necessarily allowed to sell anything on eBay, particularly if it's something that you created or if the sale of things on eBay is your business.


Hi Peter, thanks for doing this.

We're a small consulting company based in Germany and we have a couple of customers in the US. We'd love to work on-site but so far haven't done so because we couldn't sort out the visa issues.

Customers in the US would pay our German company which would then pay us (the founders/employees). Our contracts are usually short (1-2 weeks max).

We've actually talked to two different lawyers (US & German based) and have received two different answers.

- One told us L1 would be the best option but that'd mean investing in the US which we can't meaningful do (for our consulting we really only need a laptop and no office) - Another one told us a normal ESTA/B1 visa would work as well.

We always worked under the assumption that a B1 visa is not for paid work. So we're confused. Customers also don't want to go through the hassle of sponsoring a H1 visa for a two week contract.

Can you give us any hint which visa category would be most appropriate for this kind of work and whether the B1 statement is correct or not. Thank you!

We'd also be more than happy to pay for someone to help us with this but our trust has eroded a bit because of the different answers we've received in the past.


Unless the onsite work is pursuant to a contract for the purchase of equipment that provides for onsite installation and support, a work visa, such as an L-1, would be required.


Thank you, that confirms our suspicions.

No, we do software consulting which should not fall under the terms you laid out.

If you happen to know someone whom you trust who can help us with this we'd love some contact information. You can find my mail address in my profile.


I'm currently holding an H1B visa and my friend started a business where he currently owns 100% of the company. Before moving forward with any additional share issuances (to myself and potential investors), we wanted to fully understand my eligibility and any complications that could arise as a result.

Given my current visa status, am I permitted to receive shares without any legal implications?

I'm also really close to getting the EAD, should I wait for it? And once I have it, how can I proceed to issue the shares from a legal perspective? Can I only issue the shares once I have the green card without any legal implication?


There is no issue with your receiving shares as long as you are not providing services to this entity.


If all I'm doing for this business is coding and I have less than 50% of the share, I'm not an employee and I'm not getting paid.

Is this considered like providing services?


Yes.


Wait, I'm confused... not the OP but if this guy is coding for this business (the one he doesn't have an H1B for), I thought it didn't matter if he was getting paid or not. This is "productive work" right? As in, it has value so is problematic. Or do I misunderstand the rules?


In the spirit of the law/regulation that's even worse: as an immigrant without permit to do that, he'd provide unpaid labor undermining ability of other people compete for this job.

Edit: of course IANAL. And in other words, as I understand it, work permits limit strictly to what extent can you affect competition in the country (H1b - only one FT job position). And by filling in vacuum of required labour somewhere else you definitely affect it negatively.


How about when I get the EAD? Can I issue shares and provide services?


As a general rule, yes.


Whether the plan for revoking EAD for H4 Spouse of an H1 I-140 holder can be blocked by court ? Also will there be any economic implications on 100,000 plus going out of workforce ?


I can't answer the latter question but I think there will be a major battle that will cross party lines if the administrations attempts to do away with this benefit.


Is there an immigration path for people who incorporate in the US (LegalZoom Delaware LLC / Stripe Atlas C Corp) and do reasonably well, pay taxes, etc? If yes, what would be the route and what would be a reasonable bar?


Oftentimes founders/entrepreneurs qualify for green cards through the extraordinary ability or national interest waiver route.


Did anyone go this path? With success, or not.

Is there any other path for an immigrant with a company incorporated in the US - paying taxes, books are right, etc.


Have you observed any change in practices with respect both visa application processes and admission at the border processes since the Trump administration came into office (e.g. longer delays, higher rate of refusals, extra scrutiny, etc)? I'm thinking about "field practices" rather than material changes to existing regulations. Thanks!


Not really other than applications for admission in TN status seem to have become more difficult and irrational.


As someone on a TN, can you expound a bit on that?


Yeah, as someone also on a TN, I'd love to hear more. I'd also love to know what the renewal process has been like for people that have been in the USA for a while (I've been here for 4 years and am looking to renew next October).


CBP (and USCIS) is just getting tougher on TNs, sometimes applying standards/requirements that don't exist, and really gives no deference anymore to the issuance of a previous TN when the TN is being "renewed."


Is this strictly for founders/owners or for ordinary employees too?

Does the category (e.g. Engineer vs Computer Systems Analyst) matter?


Hi Peter,

Graduating STEM master's student going into tech firm.

You mentioned in another comment how the H1B lottery leads to ~30% chance of getting selected each year. Do you have an estimate for candidates with advanced degrees (master's, specifically)?

Also, there seem to be a lot of potential changes to the whole OPT -> H1B -> ... path. Some comments, like this one [1] from an immigration attorney, suggest the STEM extension might disappear (so fewer shots at the lottery), but also suggest petitions for highly paid workers might be given priority. Do you feel positive about the chances of highly paid workers to obtain H1Bs in the coming years?

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/potential-changes-high-skille...


For those with advanced degrees from U.S. schools, the odds could be 80% or higher. And the trend is definitely favoring higher skilled, higher paid workers.


What are things I could do to improve my resume for EB1 category Greencard in the next year or so? I am currently on H1B working as a SWE at a top Silicon valley company (think Google/FB). I have a Master's degree in CS from a top US university and have a couple of years work experience. According to the company attorney, I qualify only for the EB2 category. Unfortunately, the EB2 queue is extremely long since I am from India. I am asking this since you mentioned in your past AMAs that it is possible for strong EB2 candidates to move to EB1.


I would need to explore your background further but some options are to do journal/conference review work (this is more available than many people realize) or try to obtain a higher level of membership at IEEE, for example, or other similar organizations.


Would participation in company-internal conferences/technical summits also count, other than the usual internationally reputed journals/conferences? Could you please elaborate on "this is more available than many people realize"? Thank you for doing this AMA.


Internal company stuff doesn't really help other than possibly to bolster that you're playing an "essential role" for your company. If you want me to drill down deeper and get into the specifics, send me your CV.


Hi Peter, Thanks a lot for this initiative :)

I am a 28 yr old Software Engineer working in India (Citizenship - India, unmarried). Have around 3 years of experience in IT. My father is a GC holder & he has filed a family based petition for me. My priority date is Nov 7, 2017. Actually, my father was going to wait till he was a naturalized US citizen & then file for my petition, but Trump's activities (cutting off legal legislation by 50%) alarmed him and he got in touch with his attorney over my case the very next day.

So, my question here is -

1) Should I go for Masters from USA? Will it help me in getting GC early? If yes, how early? (I am really keen on completing my Masters from USA, since I would like to be exposed to US way of education - mostly in Artifical Intelligence)

2) Will Trump do something that may deter the petition my father has filed for me? What are the chances, in your opinion?

3) I am going to initiate Canada PR process next year. Would Canada PR brighten my US immigration chances in any way imaginable?

4) I fared quite dismally (7 yrs for a 4 yr course) in my bachelor of engineering course, but final year marks are good and gradually got a job and am doing well now. Would Bachelor of Engineer academic grades hamper my US GCpetition in any way imaginable?

I really appreciate you answering so many questions here. Would be much obliged if you answer mine too.

Sincerely,


Canada PR doesn't further yor chances for US Immigration. US Immigration depends on your country of birth and not your country of citizenship.


Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'm born & brought up in India. What do you opine about the rest of the points?


Correction - (cutting off legal immigration by 50%) - in the above question


As a Canadian citizen who is working in California under a TN visa, I am interested in starting my own Canadian company and working on contracting / consulting work via said company.

All the money I make through said company would be paid to me in CAD and stay in my Canadian accounts, which I doubt really matters. I do not see why there would be legal issues with this, but this seems like a good opportunity to ask someone who might have a better picture.


That could be viewed as self-employment which is prohibited and regarding how you get paid, you should contact a U.S. tax accountant because my understanding is that you still would be subject to the payment of U.S. taxes.


Thanks for your time. That's interesting. I guess this might be a little more nuanced than I thought.

So, despite the fact that the company would be a Canadian entity, I would be considered self-employed. Would a simple workaround be enough to thwart this, such as having a friend own the business, and proceed to hire me as a remote employee?


Not OP, but there's two concepts you're confusing: Residency and Tax Residency. Tax residency, for mortals, is normally where you live and work, so for you, even with the Canadian company, it'll probably be the US.


If I pay American taxes and not Canadian taxes, that's fine. A bit unfortunate because the bracket I'll be in is higher as is the tax rate, but not the end of the world.

The only real obstruction I'm worried about is the legality of doing that work for money. I have some friends who I could employ too, and lots of cash could just sit with the company, but if I can't work for that entity (legally) there's no point in starting it.


Hi Peter! I hold an H1B visa and am currently employed at a startup, but got an RFE. 1) Does the increased scrutiny in h1b applications bias towards approving applications only for well known companies? 2) Unrelated question, what are the requirements if I want to open my own startup as an H1b holder? Would I need to move to another visa, does my company need to have a US citizen as a cofounder etc.


All things being equal, H-1B RFEs are triggered more by the offered wage now (Level 1 or not) than by the size or prestige of the company. The key requirement for an H-1B through a company you found is that there be an employer/employee relationship between the company and you, meaning that there's a board of directors that can fire you.


Thanks!

For starting a company, is H1b the best visa to be on, or are there other alternatives. If it is easier, how do YC founders navigate visa (assuming they don't have a green card)? Please feel free to add constraints regarding funding, board etc.

Ultimately, this is the thing that scares me the most in even dreaming to start my company, so even links that help would be amazing.


Do you have any insight on the recent change to the TN Economist class? https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-issues-clarif...

It looks like a hanging threat of deportation for maybe 10,000 people +


Hi Peter,

My co-founder is a Canadian PhD on a J-1 visa. he has been in the country on the J-1 for 8 years. We incorporated as a C-Corp in June. He plans on switching to a TN eventually. I assume I cannot issue an RSPA (with vesting) or Consulting agreement without violating his J-1, but the TN I think I can. Will this work? What other issues should I be worried about?

Thanks.


You should send me his CV but I would probably switch him to O-1 instead because founders/owners can have problems getting TNs now.


Can do. What is a good email for you?

Thanks


The HN administrator can provide this to you.


I can connect you too if you'd like.


Yes please


See my profile for contact info


Hi Peter, thanks for doing this AMA. Is it true that your place of birth affects how long it takes to get a Green Card?

I am a naturalized Canadian (on a TN Visa in the US), born in India, and entertaining thoughts of applying for a GC here. Since TN Visas have a limit of 3 years, I would want to get my GC before then, but the queue for India is gargantuan.


That's correct, what governs the wait times is country of nationality (which typically means country of birth), not citizenship so in your case your Indian nationality will govern.


Sorry to hear that, but thanks for the quick response!


Doesn’t seem to match what’s written here: https://www.uscis.gov/tools/glossary/country


Recent permanent resident (since September, green card holder).

I stayed in the USA until December to get the actual green card (virtual mailboxes work despite what people say online), open a resident bank account, get a state ID, renew my social security card, get a credit card, basically take care of bureaucracy.

I've since returned to the EU with one objective: to sell my house.

My question is: If I stay more than 6 months abroad but less than one year, will I face issues going back for good?

I'll be able to show that I sold the house with intent to live in the USA permanently. I also plan on filling taxes for 2017 even though I barely have income. I'll also keep my bank account, state id card and plan on trying to get a remote work arrangement.

I take it anything under 6 months will by default not be problematic, right?

Thank you again for this service you regularly provide.


I'm currently working for a large U.S. company, on their offshore global services subsidiary, as software developer. I've been working for a year and a half (fully employed).

First question is, do I qualify for a L1B Visa? (I have both a bachelor's and Master's)

Second question is, do you consider that a good route to a Green Card? I wouldn't want to go to the U.S. unless I'm confident I can go the Green Card route.

If I chose to go with an L1, I have to stay with the same employer until the Green Card goes through right? (and they must not fire me, which is an unfortunate possibility with any company).

Thank you very much for the answers in this thread.


The answers to your questions, in order: you might qualify for an L-1B but this would depend in part on the nature of your specialized knowledge of the company's proprietary products, systems, etc.; underlying status has nothing to do with green card options, the green card requirements are separate and apart but on the face of it, it looks like you would have a solid PERM-based green card application; not necessarily but you would need to stay with this employer for a while, while your green card application is pending, before you could "port" your application to another employer.


Thank you. Very grateful for you sharing your knowledge.


Hi Peter, thanks for answering these questions! My question is related to the H1B1 (for Chile and Singapore). Is this still a visa that's relatively easy to get, even for startups? When I moved to the US it was only a couple of weeks (on my end, as an employee), no window and (virtually) no caps. How is it now for startups compared to the regular H1B? My understanding is that they only need to get the LCA for that position and the candidate can get the visa with that. Is there anything else the startup needs to do that would prevent hiring someone from Chile or Singapore?


Yes, it is still a relatively easy visa to get. As you know, the requirements are similar to the H-1B but the application can be filed directly with a Consulate, which is a significant advantage.


On paper, E2 visas look fairly easy, as many active businesses can demonstrate $100k+ in investment/expenses and a decent business plan. What are the potential issues there? Why are those visas not more popular?


They oftentimes are easy and a great solution we handle a lot of them. The key, and sometimes the stumbling block, is that "investment" here doesn't just mean transferring money to the U.S. company but it also means the actual expenditure of a substantial portion of this investment by the U.S. company on legitimate business expenses.


I was granted an E2 visa (after showing $100k in actual expenses towards my company). Process is straight-forward and not too paper-intensive. Note that you cannot, however, apply for a green-card while on an E2.

ps: Peter - thank you for doing this. Really kind of you.


Of course. But to correct, one can apply for a green card while in E-2 status.


I am on an E-2 right now and was under the impression it wasn't dual intent. What path can I take to apply for a green card? Thanks so much!


Is it okay to enter the US on a B1/B2 visa in order to work on a personal project (that's funded by myself only) for a couple of months, and look for partners/investors?

Thanks for the AMA!


Unfortunately, as a general rule, no.


If you are setting up a business for operations, meeting potential partners, attending events or doing market research, you should be fine. As long as you are not employed by your own company. That's the whole point of the B1 visa. Am I right, Peter? :P


To the person who downvoted this. Why?


You're replying as if you are Peter, but you are not. And to make matters worse, I'm pretty sure you are wrong. This is not the point of a B1 visa. A B1 visa is about temporarily doing business in the US such as negotiating contracts, not using the visa to set up a business.


There's an exception of sorts: if a B-1 visitor is coming to the U.S.to set up a business in anticipation of applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa, then this is permissible.


No I'm not. I'm replying as myself who is actually on a B1 visa setting up a business to get in order to get an E-2 later on. That is perfectly legal.

FYI, you can set up a US business without setting foot in the country.


No, technically you can’t even check your email.


I thought the B1/B2 was a business/tourist visa. You can't check email if you enter on a business visa? Business does seem to be the purpose of GP's trip.


The issue is who is the primary beneficiary of your activities in the U.S. so if you are in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign employer and remain an employee of this company while in the U.S., you can check your email and perform other activities that benefit your foreign employer.


Hi Peter, thanks for arranging Ask-Me-Anything.

I am working for a company A (which is owned by company B) on H1b while my Green Card process is at a stage where:

a. I have my EAD card in hand and I am waiting for interview and approval of I-485. b. I-140 is approved some weeks ago. c. Priority date is current due to small pools for my country.

Problem: --------- On my H1b and Green Card documents "employer" is mentioned as Company A but on Jan 1 our company is going through a re-organization where Company A (my current employer) will merge into Company B.

I expect call for interview for Green Card in January and then hopefully a Green Card in 3-4 weeks. In such a case:

1) What would you recommend to avoid issues with Green Card process as the interviewer may complain that my employer is now Company B whereas on my documents its mentioned as Company A. 2) Will I have to file for amendment to the already approved I-140? 3) Will there be any problem if I have to file the amendment before or after my interview or does it not matter?

Our company lawyers are claiming there will be no issue in any case but because of their misinformed information I had my Advance Parole denied (because I travelled to my country while the application was in process). Therefore, wanted to confirm from a better source. :)

Thanks.


I am the sole director of a company based in the UK. Through this company I am doing some work for a company in San Francisco. All the work is done remotely but once in a while I need to go to the office. I am currently just entering in the US with a visitor/tourist visa. Theoretically, which visa should I be applying or is there a visa for that sort of temporary (less than month) work in American soil?


This is complicated. In short, while in the U.S., you shouldn't get paid by your U.S. clients and the "work" you do should be along the lines of status meetings, not "productive" employment. Otherwise, you will need a work visa.


Really appreciate your help on this.


Hi there! I'm living in a third world country, and I need to move to a good English-speaking country that respects human rights, where I can have unrestricted internet access, and can safely build my startup without being fucked with.

I'm a good programmer, but I'm self-taught, my degree is unrelated to CS, so that makes things more difficult. I probably need a startup or self-employed visa.

What are my best options?


It's hard to say in the abstract. Please send me your resume.


Hi Peter,

Thanks for the AMA!

For a Dutch citizen, is it possible for me to work in tech for a YC startup? How difficult is it to get an H1 and what is the best route to go about this?


Yes, as a general rule, it's possible and the likely options would be the H-1B, O-1, or E-2. The problem with the H-1B route is that H-1B petitions are placed in an annual lottery with a 30% chance or so of being selected.


If a non-US citizen works with a US LLC remotely, with changing responsibilities (basically as an informal partner in the firm), is there any immigration path to bring this person into the US?

[Side note: thank you for doing these repeated AMA's, Peter. You address a vital, often deeply emotional problem for countless people. Hats off to you for taking the time to de-mystify so much of this.]


Thanks for your kind words. This will depend on the individual's background/accomplishments, country of nationality, and funding and nationality of the U.S. entity but, putting aside country-specific visas, the options would be the O-1 or E-2 or possibly even a green card if his or her background is strong enough.


Hi, thanks so much for doing this!

Does the recent policy guidance in https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-updates-polic... markedly increase the risk that an H-1B sponsored skilled technologist might (a) be unable to change jobs/sponsors, or (b) lose their visa altogether if they even try to do so?

If either is true, we're worried from the hiring perspective that we could find an amazing candidate but lose them immediately due to the policy, even if we did everything perfectly in starting the H-1B transfer process; it makes it difficult to offer to sponsor H-1B folks looking to change jobs. And certainly from the employee's perspective, if there's any chance of (b) being true, there's a new chilling effect that would trap them at their current employers. Is this the correct read of the situation?


This just means that no deference is given to an employee's current/previous H-1B approval but this doesn't mean that solid H-1B petitions are not getting approved.


Thanks! If you don't mind me asking a followup: when you say "solid," is there randomness in the this re-approval/transfer process (as there is with the lottery for initial H-1B applications), or is it really just the office ensuring that all requirements are met?


There is no question that the decision-making can be arbitrary and unfair and this seems to have increased under the current administration but still, even in this environment, if the job is clearly a professional job and the pay is above Level 1, then such petitions are getting approved.


Hi Peter, Thank you so much for taking the time and helping us out.

I am on H1B with I-140 approved under the EB2 category. My priority date is in the year 2013 which means it will be current by the year 2025.

Is there a way to move from Eb2 to Eb1 category? You mentioned a couple of options regarding journal/conference work. I want to learn more about it and explore these options.

Thanks again.


Hi Peter, Thank you so much for doing this! I am on the H1 visa and my wife is relying on her H4 EAD for work. What are the options after H4 EAD is revoked (guessing sometime later next year for good)? Considering my green card is at least 6 years away, is moving out of the country the only choice for her to work?

Thanks in advance and happy holidays, Srini


The only other options would be for her to get an H-1B or for you to apply for an EB1A green card. Do you think that you might qualify? Send me your CV if you'd like me to evaluate.


Thank you Peter!


Hi, I'm a founder from a Brazilian startup (based in São Paulo) and we've been developing our product for 2 years now and are about to launch. We have another local round next year but then (1.5 to 2 years from now) we plan to raise money in the US - at that point I'm even willing to move there if it's advantageous or if the investors require so. At that point we'll probably open a company there and have it own all the equity from the Brazilian company. Now, if I needed to move, which visa should I apply (for an expected 5 year stay)? What's the likelihood of me getting it. Also, separately if (for example) I wanted to have 5 employees move with me, will they apply for the same visa and (also) how likely were they to get it. Finally, how can I reach you if we were to hire your service to help us at that instance? =) Thanks and sorry for the long question.


You could have multiple options which will depend on a variety of factors, such as your background and the backgrounds of your employees success of the company in Brazil and the US, including, most likely, the L-1 and the O-1 visas.


In general, how safe is it to travel (to Canada) once I've received my EAD for a green card through marriage (to an American citizen). I entered the US on a TN visa. Do you know of cases where parolees have been rejected at the border upon return (assuming a short 2-3 week trip)?


Very safe.


I'm on a H1b and I've already applied for a green card on the extraordinary track. My application is pending, but I have an EAD + AP. Does this mean I'm allowed to take on contract work as long as I maintain my primary employment with my H1b employer?


As a general rule yes but the answer really depends on the basis of your green card application and where you are in the green card process.


My basis is as an extraordinary research scientist in a specific basic science field that has strong overlap with data science. My I-140 is still pending (filed on June 1, I have a concurrent filing for a 485). The contract work that I would be doing would also leverage the skills that form the basis for my EB1 petition (so not work that would be totally outside of my stated expertise)


You should contact me so that I can get the specifics but it sounds like you should be able to do contract work without this affecting your green card application. To be clear, the issue is not being able to do contract work, the EAD allows you to do this; the issue is whether this could impact your green card application.


Having just gone through this process for a green card by marriage, you can work for anyone once you have EAD. EAD + (multiple-entry) AP is practically a green card, albeit, without the official decision and could be revoked much more easily.


Hi Peter, wondering if you have worked with many Aussies with the E3 while working with startups, and the general perception of hiring those eligible for E3 visas? Just wondering about your thoughts on that, or any general advice when going for an E3. Thanks


We've done a lot of work with Australian companies and Australian citizens and the E-3 is generally a very smooth process, whether the sponsoring company is a startup or a large company.


Not OP, but I've gone through the E3 process a couple times. First as a change of status, second as a new applicant. You have to prove two things: 1) the job is a specialty occupation, and 2) that you possess the necessary skills and qualifications for the position. The rest of the application is a walk in the park.

Regarding the general perception of E3, I've found that very few people in the U.S. know about the E3 visa class. You may need to educate your employer a little.


Don't know if this is the forum to ask or you have the knowledge but i'll ask anyway. Is there a reason why India alone receives more than 70% of all H1b visa (more than twice every other country combined)? Is this by design or accident? (Also I find most immigration question forums tend to be dominated/overwhelmed by Indians and their specific immigration questions) *update with relevant link: https://www.recode.net/2017/4/13/15281170/china-india-tech-h...


Statistics.

Imagine 70% of all applicants being Indian nationals. Randomly sample all the applicants and with a big enough sample size, the distribution will be the same, i.e. ~70% of your samples will be Indian nationals.

Countries that have the most people in the world have the most people in the H-1B application process as well. China and India are my guesses, without looking at the publicly available data on H-1B applications. You don't see as many Chinese people speaking about it online because they, on average, don't speak English as well as people from India.


I'm surprised to see a large gap between Indian and Chinese (6:1). Sampling SoMa rush hour traffic, I would expected something like 3:2 to or even 1:1 ratio.


Sf and the bay area has a large Chinese population that has been here for a long time (from before the times of the Gold Rush). A good chunk of the people you see are probably Chinese americans, not H1b/Green card holders


You also have to account for the fact that many indian IT shops are actively gaming the system. There's a lot of visa fraud wrt H-1B primarily from india.


Here's the PDF if you want to crunch the numbers:

https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Re...

This is FY 2011-2012, not sure if there are more recent PDFs.


We can go for the raw data.

https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/performancedata.cfm#...

170+ MB .xlsx. Tried doing some stuff with it on a 12 core 64 GB RAM workstation. Took way too long and LibreOffice crashed a few times.

Google Sheets doesn't want to touch it even.


pandas is your friend


Hi, Peter! Thanks for doing this.

I live in the US (green card) and I founded a US company with someone who lives in the UK. Currently, I take care of development in the US and he takes care of sales, which are mostly in the UK at the moment. We are also both directors of a UK subsidiary.

What would be good options for enabling him (and his dependents) to move to the US once we expand our customer base? We have been looking into the L visa for intra-company transfer. Does that seem reasonable? Are there other options for a young company with relatively small revenue and no outside investment?


Bit off topic but, Canada is about to legalize marijuana.

Do you see US border patrol trying to "sniff out" Canadians trying to enter the US with specific marijuana related questions?

Are there an specific questions that Canadians who smoke weed and cross into the US for work, should or shouldn't answer?

I'm not worried about blatantly stupid things like trying to bring in weed to the US, but more concerned about the estimated 50% of Canadian adults who say that they have tried, or will try once it legal but who also have to go to the US at some point in their life time.

Asking for a friend....


I haven't seen an increase in questions related to this but I wouldn't be surprised if there is. Unfortunately, my only advice is to answer honestly to whatever is asked. Most people encounter immigration problems not for what they have done but for lying about it.


Hi Peter,

Thanks for doing this.

I'm on an H-1B visa and my employment with my current employer ends on the 31st of December. I'm interviewing with other companies and am close to offer from one, but most of my interviews are scheduled for after the holidays. I was wondering if I could:

1. accept the outstanding offer, get my visa transferred, but then accept another offer should I get a better one? 2. How long can I be unemployed for, and still be considered as "maintaining status?" 3. Is it possible to have multiple companies apply for an H-1B transfer at around the same time?

Thanks.


There is now a 60-day grace period after the end of H-1B employment so you would be considered in valid status and "portable" to a new company until the end of February, meaning that as long as the new employer files the H-1B petition before the end of February, you can remain in the U.S. while the petition is pending and even commence employment upon the receipt of the petition. And yes, different companies can file H-1B petitions at the same time but this might cause USCIS to question - if it is made aware of this - the bona fides of the various job offers.


If the applicant does not have a filed H-1B petition within the 60 day grace period, can they continue to the stay within the US if their spouse is on a valid immigration status? Can the H-4 change of status be applied after this time while staying within the country?


The change to H-4 status must be filed during the 60-day grace period.


Thanks!


I work for a US-based startup from India. The company was started in January 2016 and I joined in June 2016. The company applied for my H1B and I got into the lottery and I gave my interview in September 2017. The CEO of the company I work for is same as the CEO of the previous company I worked for. He left and started a new company and I joined him. It's now 3 months since I gave the interview. USCIS gave me the 221g form. Do you think I have a chance of getting the visa or have you experienced a similar case? Thanks!


But you will still be coming to the U.S. to work for the sponsoring H-1B company? If so, then you should be fine even though your employment in India has changed.


Yes. I will be working for the sponsoring company. The USCIS has not got back to me after the h1b interview(3.5 months ago). Is the scrutiny on startup employees more than multinational companies? I am the first employee of my employer to sponsor an h1b.


That's odd. You might want your employer to reach out to a Congressman's office to follow up with the Consulate. Were you given any reason at the time of your interview?


Yes. We did that. The reply from USCIS had nothing other than the standard reply. They didn't tell me anything in the interview. Just took all my papers.


That makes no sense. I would have the Congressman's office reach out again. What's your area of expertise?


We have e-mailed another Congressman from our state. They launched a Congressional Inquiry. Hopefully, something positive will come out. My area of expertise is software development.


I'm a Canadian working for a tech company in US on TN Visa. I want to start my own endeavor and work in US. Can I start a company and sponsor my own TN visa? I've heard of friends who have sponsored themselves via their own startup, they usually put someone else as CEO and got that person to sign their employment letter. What are the liabilities of that person as CEO? I was considering making my friend a CEO and having him hire me for the company. Also, does the company need a minimum revenue or funding?


CBP and USCIS consistently deny TN applications by founders and owners now so this might be tough. Revenue or funding isn't required but the company must be able to pay the offered wage somehow although documentation of this usually isn't required/requested. An O-1 or an E-2 might be a better option.


Hello Peter,

USCIS released a memo 204(j) Job Portability (https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Memoran...). Does it make sense for a founder of an early stage startup to go through with it or wait for the approval? USCIS has been taking unusually long time to process I-485.

Thank you!


If I understand you correctly, we've had no issue with I-485s being approved for those who change jobs (but remain in the same field) and in fact the interview requirement seems top be speeding up the approval of I-485s.


Thanks for your answer. I've been waiting for approval with 330 days already elapsed. I've not got any RFE yet.

I agree that interview process has been speeding up approvals, I see a lot approvals post-March on various forums but my case is pre-March 6, 2017. I am in doubt if I should wait to get approved or to move on to my own startup given USCIS has really slowed and there seems to be no end in sight.

[edits: typos]


Hey Peter! Thanks for doing this! I'm currently working on OPT STEM extension (F1 has expired so no re-entry) and my company is trying to apply for my H1B - am I allowed to work towards an online masters? Do I need to be on a new F1 to do this or can I just do it? Is this different depending on how many credit hours I take and whether I do this degree seeking or not? Also, can I take random classes at a University or Community College in person during these visas or is that not allowed? Thanks!!


You can just do this but if and when you are in H-1B status, the majority of your time should be spent on your job, not on your master's degree education.


Sounds good. Would I need any approvals or paperwork to be legit at the University while working towards my degree?


Also, just to clarify, do I need to wait until H1B to take classes or can I do it while on OPT too?


You can do this while on OPT but again the primary focus of your time should be on employment, not education.


Thank you for clarifying!


In your opinion, what is the outlook for foreigners wanting to participate in YC?

This question is in relation to 2 types of foreigners:

1) Regular foreigners (eg. from Western Europe, etc.)

2) Marginalized foreigners (eg. Muslims, Russians, etc.)

To further expand on what I mean by "outlook": Are foreigners welcome in the US in this political climate? Can foreigners expect extra/excessive bureaucracy (especially type 2) foreigners) from authorities? Does YC play a role in assisting type 2) foreigners who may experience 'issues'?


All I can say is that despite all the craziness and hostility surrounding immigration, the procedures haven't really changed that much, regardless of the country of origin, and we're still able to get visas for highly talented individuals.


Hi Peter, I've just started my GC process with my employer and been told that my immigration attorney to choose between EB2 versus EB3.

I'm from a country that's counted "Rest of the World" and I've been told that even though EB2 is quicker, the risk with EB3 with RFE makes things may make life harder for us, especially a good part of my employment back in my country of origin was self-employment and kind of hard to prove employment (say versus working for a corporate).


The first step in the process should be to determine what in fact are the minimum requirements for the job because this could dictate whether this would be an EB2 or EB3 filing. Right now, for the "rest of the world," there's really no difference between EB2 and EB3.


Hi, I'm currently living in the US as an O3 (the dependent of an O1), meaning that I can't currently work. Because of this, I've had to reject multiple offers of software consultancy work. I'm trying to figure out if there's anyway for me to get into a position where I can accept this sort of work. Is it possible to do my own O1 application that isn't supported by a company? Are there any other paths that I should be investigating? Thanks!


The most obvious option to me would be for your spouse to apply for a green card as a person of extraordinary ability (since he or she is in O-1 status, there might be a basis for such an application) and you, as his or her spouse, also would apply for a green card and receive a temporary work card after about 3 months while your green card application is pending.


Hi Peter,

There's lots of talk about 'rethinking NAFTA'. As a TN visa holder (living in Canada and working in the USA), this certainly concerns me. But I just am not informed enough about the situation to know what to expect.

In your opinion, is there any risk that the TN visa program, used by many tech companies to get talent from Canada and Mexico, is at risk during these negotiations? Should I be worried that next time I head to work, I'll be turned away without warning?


I think that there is real risk that the TN could be impacted but I still think that this risk, though real, is low because this would not only hurt Canadians and Mexicans working/seeking to work in the U.S. but U.S. citizens working/seeking to work in Canada and Mexico.


Much appreciated!


I am on a TN1 visa and need to get a H1B as a next step: -two years in a row I have failed with my current employer, will I have better luck if I change employers ? Are their stats available ? -what happens if you are let go from your company and you are on a TN1, how long can I stay legally, but also practically speaking as well ? -will it be harder to get a re-stamped for a TN1 in the future ? NAFTA is being redrawn from what I hear.


The odds of getting selected in the lottery are not tied to the identity of the sponsoring company so a change won;t change these odds. You would have 60 days from the date your employment ends to do something - filing a new TN petition, for example - before you would need to leave.


My partner was recently (Q1 2017) a visiting scholar at Stanford on a J-1 visa, and I tagged along on a J-2. We intended a repeat sometime in the next couple of years, but staff at the Bechtel Center suggested that the J-visa program might be going away or substantially revised to stymie our plans. They weren't able to elaborate, however. Has there been a change of J visa rules, and/or is there such a change in the offing?


There hasn't been any change but there has been talk of tightening up the J-1 program.


What do you think of https://www.bridge.us (SaaS platform for immigration)? I haven't used them yet but I'm a fan of the team and the concept. We have sponsored a number of J and H visas for various people at Breezy, and I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the value of this platform and/or any competitors. Thanks in advance!


I haven't used this platform so I can't comment on it unfortunately although I think that there's a place for immigration-related automation. The challenge I think is making sure that those using such platforms are aware of all their options and all the issues because just because something works doesn't mean it was the best option.


Hey Jared, great idea and they do have competitors, SimpleCitizen (YC S16) https://www.simplecitizen.com/business/ is one and does a great job simplifying all/most of the business visas used to sponsor US employees.


Thanks for bringing us up, Jared! One thing I'd emphasize is that our approach is to use technology to empower lawyers to offer better advice and service, not to replace them. There's a lot in immigration that can be automated, but the difference between a good and a great lawyer is meaningful in many scenarios.


> Please remember that I can't provide legal advice on specific cases for obvious liability reasons

If you didn't say that what could happen to you and importantly what is the probability that it would happen?

Are there cases where someone has taken comments and/or nominal advice and actually brought legal action because they relied on it? Would an attorney even take that case? Does the bar care for de-minimis things like this?


Is lack of college degree an obstacle for getting a work visa? I’ve been working professionaly in web development area for 10 years but didn’t graduate.


Not necessarily because in the H-1B context, an individual can have the equivalent of a bachelor's degree based on professional experience and in the O-1 context, education in and of itself is largely irrelevant.


Hi Peter! Thanks for doing this.

So I travel a lot to the US because my gf is from there but we currently live in Spain, I've always been employed by spanish companies but I have flexibility on where I can work from. Would it be possible for me to work while in the states for a spanish company for a short period of time? say 3 days out of a 2 week vacation. Also, would I be able to be on call while vacationing there?


Im a EU citizen, who in the past have qualified for an 01 visa in the US. Im planing on starting a US based business based on my technology with a US partner, we are pre revenue so the company cant pay me yet. What would be the best way for me to be able to work in the US? If you have gained 01 status, do can you use that to gain it again with a new employer or do you have to start over from scratch?


Hi Peter, I recently received my green card after having held H1B for the maximum 6 years. That's great but what do I do if I want to work outside the US, perhaps remotely for a US company? I gather the Green Card expects me to have certain sorts of attachments or days/year in the US. Also of course I don't want to pay income tax twice. My long-term domestic partner is a US citizen.


There are certain presumptions, that is, being outside the U.S. for at least 6 months or 1 year, that can cause problems but if these presumptions aren't triggered, the analysis focuses on intent: is your stay outside the U.S. temporary and is your intent for the U.S. to continue to be your permanent place of abode. If it is likely that you will be outside the U.S. for more than 6 months, then you should get a reentry permit (which is applied for using USCIS Form I-131).


I have been working in the US with an O-1 visa for 8 months, but I want to switch jobs now. I got an offer from two different companies and both said the visa would not be an issue, but I'm not sure what the process is. Do I need to apply for the visa again? What happens if the new visa is rejected? When should I tell my current employer that I want to quit? Thanks!


Yes, your new employer would need to file a new O-1 petition with USCIS and if it were me, even though subsequent O-1 petitions are usually approved, I wouldn't give notice until the petition is approved. Note however that the O-1 visa in your passport remains valid even if you change employers as long as there is an underlying approved petition through the new employer.


Thank you, Peter!


Hi Peter, thanks for doing this.

I'm currently holding a J1 visa sponsored by University of California Berkeley ending in March. During several discussions for possible internships starting after the end of my J1 visa, I've been asked if I can enter an internship with my visa, through a renewal or whatever, or I need to get a new sponsorship and start the procedures again.

Thanks.


Is this an academic J-1 or a non-academic J-1?


I don't know where I can find the answer to this question but I guess it's academic since I am a visiting research scholar here at UC Berkeley.


Based on my experience in almost the exact scenario (different University), you'll have to get a new visa, as I did for my internship(s).

There are a few programs under the J-1 visa. You are most likely in a long-term scholar or a short-term scholar program, and want to switch to an internship program.


I am a holder of H1b visa in EB2, currently working for large tech firm in bay area. Do patents help in getting O1 or H1 EB1 visas ?


Yes, they definitely can help, supporting the criteria for original and significant contributions and essential roles, among others.


What is your opinion on Trump's new H1-B policy? Will this hurt innovation as a result of lack of access to talented engineers?


Not a lawyer and I am also interested in the answer. As a developer though I often wonder if there is a lack of talented engineers. It seems like companies want engineers for a big discount. The US immigration system, since it ties you to one employer, seems to be almost indentured servitude. If you get fired you lose your Visa. I am not anti-immigration. But I would like to see immigrant salaries the same as or very close to local worker salaries - that would be a true indication that you cannot find talent elsewhere. And I would like to see immigrants able to move from employer to employer. Good question, and I hope you don't mind me hopping on this with my $0.02.


I believe this is handled by the concept of the prevailing wage. I'm not suggesting it is well handled but in theory, you do have to earn at the level or higher dictated by the prevailing wage for your position.

If I'm not mistaken, there is an effort to push either this number higher or some other general salary requirement to around $100k/yr. I'm sorry I don't have precise information here.

Having prevailing wages of ~40k in areas where some people are paid >70k is probably a reason why some companies can hire below 'market' prices.


There is no question that USCIS is more inclined to approve H-1B petitions where the offered wage is above the so-called Level 1 wage, which is the lowest acceptable wage in the DOL wage database.


Not sure what USCIS stands for but I think DOL is Department of Labor.

I did a search here: http://www.flcdatacenter.com/OesQuickResults.aspx?code=15-11...

Which is the Level 1 wage of a computer programmer in Silicon Valley. $55,203... my jaw drops.

Clearly companies in the US are using immigrants for cheap labor. This hurts US workers, and the immigrants are being taken advantage of too. Although to someone from a developing country, that salary might look like a dream.

I'm still pro-immigrant, but we've got to get the base salaries in line with average salaries of local talent.


I think talented foreigner employees will always have higher salaries (on average) because 1. it is a true pain in the ass to move countries, and 2. in some countries that's actually a requirement (like the Netherlands, for example).


Not in the US. My experience is that immigrants, for example from India, are grossly underpaid. This would be for the software engineering area, and I've seen this over a two decade span.


Not disagreeing with what you say but there are people on both sides of the coin. For instance, myself and my peers (Indian graduates from a top 5 school in US) are extremely well compensated by our respective companies (well beyond the highest wage level defined by DOL). But due to the antiquated immigration system, everyone gets pooled into one bucket which results in decade+ long wait for a green card. I agree with you that the salary requirements need to be fixed and revised. Also, the allocation of the green cards can be done in descending order of the compensation of the employee instead of the country of birth/filing date system.


Thank you for your time. How hard is it to overcome the Labor Certification requirement these days?

For example.. if I have remote worker in Europe that worked in our custom built ERP/CMS system for a year... would my company be able to sponsor said employee on US soil, solely on the fact that they have this unique skills of knowing how to operate custom-built CMS?


Yes, a Labor Certification could work under such circumstances.


Thank you. Are there requirements on 1) how many years said contractor had to work in such system abroad prior to being eligible to apply for H1B, 2) What are Government requirements to proof a bona-fide partnership with this contractor? Will invoices from Europe suffice?


My husband is currently holding an H1B visa, and we are planning to start our green card application process, wondering how long does it usually take?

Also, I'm holding an H4 visa, hoping to work in the States legally, so on which stage of green card applying process, I could start my I765 Form application, and how long does it usually take?


The answer to your first question depends on the green card path he will be taking and his country of nationality. Regarding your section question, once the I-140 petition for your husband is approved, you can apply for a work card and the process right now is taking about 3 months.


Hi Peter,

Just wanted to say here that in my experience this is now taking much longer than 3 months. Mine is currently approaching 4 months, and I have colleagues that have been waiting for over 5 months.


I'm wondering how hard the O-1b is to qualify for. How frequently do they get granted, and are there any specific numeric targets (in number of views/followers/sales) that need to be met in order to qualify? I'm looking at applying for an o-1 as an author, and am wondering how feasible this is.


While the standard is high, it is oftentimes within reach for many people. I would need to evaluate your background/accomplishments to give you a solid assessment.


I am going to take a break now. I will be back in an hour. Again, thank you all for your questions and comments.


Hello Peter,

What would be the latest missive on EAD affect new EAD petitions? Assuming my spouse can't work, what are other options?

Thank you!


My current employer had agreed to participate in e-verify in order for me to be able to take advantage of the STEM post completion OPT extension. They have now backed away from that. What are my best options? I still have 2 months left of the original OPT period left.


Goodness. You need to find an e-verify employer very quickly or you need to get sponsored for some other visa category by your current employer such as O-1.


Hi, can a non-profit organization working in partnership with a University qualify to apply for cap-exempt H1b visa? What kind of a partnership should they have? Is there a minimum salary limit for cap-exempt H1b visa because non-profits do not pay high salaries?


As a general rule, this is possible and there needs to be a clear arrangement where the non-profit is serving the goals of the university but the same H-1B wage requirements apply.


I live outside us and when I apply for jobs in us interviewers back out (indirectly) once they come to know that I may not be able to join on a specified date due to the lottery based h1b. What are my other options? I do not have enough experience for an L1


That's a problem with our immigration system. Oftentimes, there are no solutions for talented individuals. Sometimes the O-1 visa is an option. While the standard is no doubt high, talented professionals oftentimes meet it.


I currently have DACA with no way to adjust status. I'm married to a US citizen (however no valid proof of entry), are there are ways to adjust status without leaving the US. Perhaps with a sizable investment/stake in a company in the US?


I recently discovered that there is a direct path to Green card from a TN visa although it does involve a little more restrictions.

In your experience, what are the pros and cons of pursuing this path compared to transferring to an H1-B first?


There's really not much difference between the two other than that for someone in TN status unlike someone in H-1B status (1) the intent to apply for a green card should occur after his or her most recent entry to the U.S. and (2) once a green card application is filed, he or she won't be able to travel internationally until he or she receives a temporary travel document called an advance parole.


If you have to choose a different country to move to, which do you pick and why?


Unfortunately, I'm not deeply familiar with the immigration landscape of other countries.


How many years will I need to wait for my green card? I'm from India on H1B - EB3 and my priority date is today.

P.S. I know it is hard to give exact number, but even a ballpark estimate would be highly appreciated. Thank you


Goodness, a very long time, 8-10 years.


Current priority date for EB-3 India is 2006. For it to clear all the 2007 priority date applications, it will take another 14 years [1].

Since my priority date is today, 12/19/2017, why do you think my wait time is only between 8-10 years?

Or, did you mean 810 years?

[1] https://www.cato.org/blog/no-one-knows-how-long-legal-immigr...


There is an ebb and flow in the progression of priority dates but yes, the process could take longer than 10 years.


I see. So, will the "ebb and flow", bring down my wait time from 800 years to 300 years?


Why ask a question if you don't want to hear the answer?


Because he is lying when he said the wait time is only 8-10 years. It is actually more than 100 years.

But, no immigration attorney will ever say that truth to the H1B visa holders from India. I had asked this exact same question to my company attorney 10 years ago and the answer was exact same, wait for 5-10 years.

There are around ~70k software engineer coming to US from India, and everyone of them is told the same lie by their attorneys.

While most of these folks from India wait for their green card for rest of their life, attorneys make a fortune renewing their H1B every year.


If someone changes their name, does the timing matter with regard to an H-1B application?

ie Does it matter much, beyond notifying them, and if so, is it better to perform that change before/during/after the processing?


It shouldn't matter and if there is a disconnect between documents, the name change documentation should alleviate any concerns.


If my ultimate goal is to live in the US for a while, would it be better to incorporate in my home country (The Netherlands) and open a branch office in the US at some point, or incorporate in the US from the beginning?

Thanks!


A few questions:

1) Have you or your firm ever submitted an O-1 application that did not get approved?

2) Have you worked with clients that after not getting picked in the H1-B lottery solved their need by increasing pay and hiring a citizen?


Unfortunately, yes to the first and I suspect yes to the second but this is not necessarily something that our clients would advise us of.


How realistic is it for a not quite 1yr old, 5ppl startup in the US (with funding) to sponsor a J-1 internship visa? Candidate is from Europe, will finish his MSc soon, and wants to do a 6mt internship.


It's possible but the requirements are a bit stricter.


stricter in what?


Regarding cryptocurrencies - if we were to create an ICO for purchase, what would we need to consider from the legal perspective (beyond the consideration of registering it as a security)?


What's your current status?


Hi Peter,

Related to greencard - is it possible to change jobs after receiving just I-140? if so what is the process/ documentation one needs to have.

And big thanks for doing this. We really appreciate your advice.


If the I-140 was not a self-petition, you will need to start the green card process all over again with your new employer. The only benefit that you will keep is the priority date from your first green card application.


Is the AC21 and the 6 year H1B extension going to be revoked? If so, that would mean that without elimination of per country cap, over subscribed categories cannot get a Green Card?


I hope not and I doubt it. From my perspective, that would be a disaster. Companies would lose talented employees from oversubscribed countries.


As long as stepping into a us border puts me at risk of „friendly“ immigration officers forcing me to hand out any cryprographic keys(ssh,gpg) and passwords to my harddisks and any online accounts, without any need to name me concrete reason, or worse, being detained and not being allowed legal defense of any kind, again without telling me any reason whatsoever, not even mentioning any kind of due process, well, as long as my fate is dependent solely on the goodwill of the friendly officers that such a thing won’t happen, i guess i dont need further advice on how to enter this otherwise beautiful country with a lot of grwat people i met in previous travels...


What is the requirement in practice for a PhD student(in STEM, specifically bioinformatics, on F-1 visa) to get a green card on extraordinary abilities after they finish?


This is very case-specific so it's impossible to say but as a general rule, many PhDs, because of what it takes to get a PhD, qualify for an extraordinary ability green card. Publications, journal/conference review work, original research, etc. can support a strong application.


Can you mention a citation number for publications on average it takes for the green card to be approved? I know it's difficult to get to a number, but I am just curious to know from your experience.


How would you recommend the government address HB1 fraud, where people on HB1s are hired by temp agencies, and thus have a much lower prevailing wage than US employees?


Probably the current approach, which is to conduct site visits.


As far as I can tell, that is not working because outsourcing companies are getting a significant percentage of the HB1 visas.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/06/us/outsourcin...


That doesn't change the analysis. The LCA/wage documentation must still be maintained at a central location and this documentation can be audited to ensure compliance even for remote workers.


What do you think of the current situation of (ex-)DACA recipients? Do you think the tech industry in general would benefit legalizing those "dreamers"?


I'm currently a DACA recipient. I got my DACA 4 1/2 years ago. In those four years I went from no job, to a full-time developer, to a CTO of a multi-million dollar company that oversees a team of 9 developers. Our company went from 9 employees to over 40 in that amount of time.

There are so many similar cases of DACA recipients flourishing. Many are devs or designers having a tremendous impact in tech, and many more are entrepreneurs.

We, Dreamers, have been waiting for 20+ years for an opportunity like DACA that allows us to show the US what we're made of and that we really are no different. We just need to be given a chance to be productive and help pay back for the marvelous opportunities we've been given.

I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to legally pay taxes. It's a weird feeling but it's fantastic!


That's my personal feeling. I know a lot of talented dreamers in science and technology and others fields.


F-1 visa, STEM major, graduated, currently on post-completion OPT, employed in the US by a big company.

Can I establish an LLC and work (earn money) in addition to my employment?


You should check with your school to confirm but if you are regular OPT, then this should be permissible.


Thank you very much Peter!

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