By: Sameer Khedekar
The flurry of H-1B and green card backlog drama today is enough to make all of our heads spin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all very important and relevant dialog. However, I worry that this is distracting employees from the simple but critical steps you should be taking before figuring out how to get that green card. What use is a grand plan if you make an avoidable mistake that gets you thrown out of the country? Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Let’s work on setting up your immigration health plan with these four simple steps:
- I-94: Check it after every international trip. Newsflash: The immigration officer at the airport can (and will) cut your approval period short if your passport expires earlier, and probably won’t even tell you. This is not something you want to discover down the line when it’s too late. Bookmark this site and build in a reminder to check it no more than a day after you arrive. Then, email the I-94 to your employer’s law firm so that they can compare it to the expirations they have on file and re-calendar when to start your extension. This simple step can help you avoid waking up one morning and realizing that you and your family have been out of status for the last year and a half. No one else is watching over this but you!
- AR-11: Notify USCIS within 10 days of moving. Did you know that failure to notify USCIS of your change of address within 10 days of moving can lead to fines, jail, or even deportation? Sure, this is rarely enforced, but let’s not be a test case, right? When you change your address with the post office, remember to do the same with USCIS. Remember, if you have a green card, you are still subject to this rule. If you haven’t done so yet, fill out the form now with your latest address and repeat after every move. This will show the government you are trying to follow their rules and will reflect favorably on you.
- Job changes (same company): Your visa is predicated on the nature of the work you are doing. If your job changes, you might need to get the visa amended. Things like promotions, location changes, lateral moves, department shifts, and new managerial responsibilities may trigger a notification obligation. Ask your company’s lawyer when (ideally, before) it happens. This is what they are there for.
- Moving to a different company: H-1B’s, think about when to give notice. H-1B denials are up sharply, dwarfed only by the rate of increased Requests for Evidence. Wait for the H-1B approval from the new employerl before you give notice to your current employer. This should only take 4-8 weeks with premium processing. Most companies will be fine with this – they understand the stakes!
Got a specific question or want more tips? Ask Sameer, who is available for video chat consultations via Google Hangouts or WhatsApp. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sameer Khedekar has been named one of the Top 20 Immigration Attorneys in the Nation by HR Executive Magazine. He has managed corporate client relationships since 2003 and is now focusing his efforts on serving the nation’s high-skilled immigrant population as the Founder and CEO of Banyan. Learn more at www.banyan.law.