Monthly Archives: February 2012

Don’t Be Scammed By Immigration Practitioners Saying You Can Apply for 3/10 Year Bar Waivers Now!

If you read my earlier blog, called “Hopeful News for Immigrating Spouses of U.S. Citizens Stalled by the 3- and 10 Year Time Bars for Unlawful Presence,” you hopefully learned two things:

  1. I sometimes give up on presenting complex immigration law matters in a short, catchy headline, and
  2. the hopeful news discussed, namely the opportunity to apply for a time-bar waiver BEFORE, not after leaving the U.S., had NOT happened yet.

And it still hasn’t happened, though USCIS is working on figuring out the exact procedures. Which is particularly important to know given that, according to suggestions by USCIS, scammers are already out there taking people’s money to file this supposed new waiver. A USCIS press release issued on February 22 explains:

These procedures are not in effect and will not be available to potential applicants until USCIS publishes a final rule in the Federal Register specifying the effective date. USCIS plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the coming months and will consider all comments received as part of that process before publishing a final rule.

·         Do not send an application requesting a provisional waiver at this time. USCIS will reject any application requesting this new process and we will return the application package and any related fees to the applicant. USCIS cannot accept applications until a final rule is issued and the process change becomes effective. 

·         Be aware that some unauthorized practitioners of immigration law may wrongly claim they can currently file a provisional waiver application (Form I-601) for you. These same individuals may ask you to pay them to file such forms although the process is not yet in place. Please avoid such scams. USCIS wants you to learn the facts about protecting yourself and your family against scammers by visiting

If you already have an immigrant visa interview with the U.S. Department of State, we strongly encourage you to attend. The Department of State may cancel your immigrant visa registration if you fail to appear at this interview.

Keep your eyes on this blog and the headlines for news of when the new waiver is actually available — and the form to go with it. Scammers who attempt to file for this waiver on your behalf will most likely use the standard waiver Form I-601; but USCIS has indicated that it will likely create a new form just for this waiver.

And before you believe a supposed attorney or other practitioner, check out his or her bar membership (it might be in another state than your — that’s okay) and interview more than one lawyer before choosing one.

Baseball Pitcher Fausto Carmona Brings Strict U.S. Immigration Laws Into Headlines

If anyone needed a reminder that:

  1. the U.S. immigration authorities REALLY hate being lied to, and
  2. crimes that seem relatively non-threatening to most observers can have drastic immigration consequences

. . . then look no farther than the case of Fausto Carmona, the Cleveland Indians pitcher recently arrested for lying about his name and age in order to get the opportunity to play in the United States. Attorney Cesar Garcia Hernandez provides an excellent analysis in the Columbus Dispatch, reprinted on his February 9, 2012 blog.

Great News for F-1 and H-1B Visa Holders

A January 31 press release from Homeland Security (DHS) contains some positive changes for students and H-1B workers — all with the headlined goal of attracting and retaining highly skilled immigrants.

With the caveat that nothing is final until the immigration folks work out regulations and policies (which can take months), here is what we have to look forward to:

  • Eligibility for a 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 international students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). At the moment, F-1 students are limited to 12 months of OPT.  DHS also plans to continually review emerging fields for possible inclusion in the list of eligible STEM degree programs.
  • Allow spouses of F-1 students to enroll in part-time study academic classes (currently, they are limited to taking recreational or vocational courses).
  • Allow spouses of H-1B holders (H-4 visa holders) who are waiting for USCIS action on an adjustment of status (green card) application to apply for work authorization after meeting a minimum period of H-1B status in the U.S.
  • Broaden the scope of types of evidence that outstanding professors and researchers can present in order to prove their academic achievement in support of their employment-based immigrant visa applications.
  • Treat E-3 visa holders from Australia and H-1B1 visa holders from Singapore and Chile the same as related work visa holders by allowing them to continue working with their current employer for up to 240 days while their petitions for extension of status are pending, assuming these petitions were filed in a timely manner.
  • Launch an initiative called “Entrepreneurs in Residence” at the end of February  2012, which will bring together high-level representatives from the entrepreneurial community, academia, and various federal government agencies to discuss how to maximize current immigration laws’ potential to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent.

All very sensible reforms — why didn’t someone think of them sooner?