Category Archives: expedited removal

Work Permit Fraud May Lead to Visa Revocation, Visa Denial and INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Inadmissibility

On June 26, Weiyun “Kelly” Huang, owner of the fictitious companies, Findream LLC and Sinocontech LLC, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Her companies provided false employment verification records to foreign nationals seeking F-1 or H-1B visa status.

The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) played a key role in the investigation, which created ripple effects on persons who received F-1 or H-1B work authorization by presenting a job offer letter, payroll records or other employment verification documents from Findream or Sinocontech.

F-1 and H-1B Work Authorization Requires Legitimate Employment

An F-1 visa allows an international student to study in the United States at a university or other academic institution.  F students may engage in practical training during their academic program or after it ends. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are the two types of training that provide work experience related to the field of study.

Eligible students may apply for up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). All periods of pre-completion OPT, however, are deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.

The OPT employment can be part time (at least 20 hours per week on post-completion OPT) or full time; involve multiple short-term employers, contract work, self-employment, or agency work; and be paid or unpaid (as a volunteer or intern, as long as labor laws are not violated). The student must report all employment to their Designated School Official (DSO) to maintain status.

While a job offer is not required to apply for OPT, the student may not have a cumulative total of 90 days of unemployment during the 12-month OPT period. Otherwise, they fall out of status and begin to accrue unlawful presence.

Students may apply for an additional 24 months of OPT if they have a degree and are employed in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) field. For the 24-month STEM OPT extension, the DSO requires the student to have an existing job offer from a U.S. employer and to submit a completed Form I-983 (training plan) that is signed by the student and employer.

Section 3 to Section 6 on the Form I-983 requests information on the company, the agreed-upon practical training schedule and compensation, and the formal training plan, respectively. Unlike regular OPT employment, STEM OPT employment must be paid.

An H-1B visa allows U.S.-based employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations. Foreign nationals with H-1B status may stay in the U.S. for three years, with the possibility of extending their stay for a total of six years. H-1B status may be extended beyond the six-year limit in certain situations, such as when 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an application for labor certification or immigrant petition (Form I-140) for the beneficiary.

F-1 students with a timely filed H-1B petition and change of status request, and whose F-1 employment authorization will expire before the change of status to H-1B occurs (typically October 1), may be eligible for a cap-gap extension in the United States. In many cases, the OPT employment or STEM OPT employment is what allows the F-1 student to change to H-1B status without departing for visa processing at the U.S. Consulate.

ICE Investigations of Work Permit Fraud Schemes Continue

ICE’s crackdown on F-1 and H-1B visa fraud schemes spell trouble for international students and foreign national workers who use fake job offers to obtain F-1 OPT, F-1 STEM OPT, F-1 CPT, or H-1B status.

ICE may conduct on-site visits to confirm the visa holder is actually working for the employer and performing the appropriate duties. When little-known companies like Findream and Sinocontech show a high number of F-1 OPT and STEM OPT workers, this can prompt further investigation.

In March 2019, the United States filed a criminal complaint against the owner of Findream, with an affidavit from an FBI Special Agent stating it was a company on paper only, with no actual physical presence, and was created for the purpose of providing false verifications of employment to F-1 visa holders seeking to extend their stay in the U.S. via the OPT program.

The indictment stated that Huang advertised Findream as a “startup company in technology services and consulting,” with clients in China and the U.S.  She used a China-based website, “Chinese Looking for Job,” and a China-based WeChat platform, “Job Hunters of North America,” to advertise Findream and Sinocontech to F-1 visa holders in the U.S. seeking employment and H-1B visas.

The companies did not deliver any technology or consulting services, or employ any of the individuals who responded to the ads, the indictment stated. In exchange for a fee, Huang and the companies provided job offer letters and employment verification letters as proof of employment, the charges alleged. Falsified payroll records and tax forms were also said to be provided.

According to the indictment, the fraud scheme allowed at least 2,685 customers to list Findream or Sinocontech as their employer to extend their F-1 status. Subsequently, many F-1 and H-1B visa holders, particularly from China, had their visas revoked or denied or were refused entry to the United States (following travel abroad) because they had listed Findream or Sinocontech to receive work authorization.

These types of ICE investigations are ongoing. Recent reports indicate that F-1 students, most from India, have received notifications from U.S. Consulates that their visas have been revoked because they used job offer letters from Integra Technologies LLC and AZTech Technologies LLC to obtain OPT, STEM OPT and, in some cases, CPT work permits.

Through direct contact and consultations with applicants, we have also learned that F-1 and H-1B visa holders are being refused admission at the U.S. port of entry if they previously held work authorization by claiming they were employed by these companies. Expedited removal orders and lifetime inadmissibility charges of fraud or misrepresentation are being made by CBP for this reason.

Data from ICE shows that Integra Technologies and AZTech Technologies were 2nd and 6th, respectively, on the list of Top 200 Employers for OPT and STEM OPT Students, which includes well-known companies like Amazon, Intel, Google, Microsoft, Deloite, Facebook and Apple. (NOTE: At least two other companies, Wireclass and Aandwill LLC, have been linked with Integra and AzTech.)

Fraud or Willful Misrepresentation of Material Fact to Obtain U.S. Immigration Benefits is a Permanent Inadmissibility Ground

Federal agencies including ICE and USCIS have made it a priority to deter and detect immigration fraud and have increased site visits, interviews, and investigations of petitioners who use the F-1 OPT and H-1B visa programs. One reason is to protect the “many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged,” according to the agencies.

Submitting a bogus job offer letter, employment verification letter, payroll records or other documents to maintain or obtain F-1 or H-1B status creates the risk of a visa revocation or visa refusal. It may also lead to the denial of admission and an expedited removal order at the U.S. port of entry.

Whether the F-1 or H-1B visa holder knowingly pays a company for false employment verification is sometimes unclear. The pattern involves the company initiating contact with the beneficiary and requesting payment of a “training fee” at the outset. The job offer or training program might seem real in the beginning. But at some point, it becomes obvious there is no real job.

Persons who claim to have a legitimate job offer to gain an F-1 extension or H-1B status — when there is actually no job — are subject to being found permanently inadmissible. When you present false employment verification records to show you performed job duties and got paid for such duties (in order to receive a visa or lawful status in the United States) you risk being charged with a lifetime inadmissibility ban under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)(fraud or willful misrepresentation of material facts to gain U.S. immigration benefits).

In unique situations, the person may challenge a section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar by filing a formal motion to reconsider with the appropriate agency, such as CBP or the U.S. Consulate. In most cases, the person will need a 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver or Form I-601/INA 212(i) immigrant waiver.

The 212(d)(3) waiver has relatively flexible eligibility standards, which includes addressing the risk of harm to society if the person is admitted to the United States, the magnitude of the U.S. immigration violation that caused the inadmissibility, and the importance of seeking the visa. The Form I-601 waiver has stricter requirements because the person must have a qualifying relative (U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent) who will suffer extreme hardship if the person is not admitted to the United States.

If you are caught up in or benefited from an F-1 or H-1B visa fraud scheme, consult a qualified U.S. immigration attorney to discuss possible remedies. Ongoing and willful participation in the scheme might seem like a victimless offense, but it carries serious and permanent U.S. immigration consequences.

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This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Birth Tourism, Frequent/Extended Trips, Immigration Status Change: 3 Things That Often Prevent Entry to the U.S. (even though they are not strictly prohibited)

If you had a baby in the United States, made frequent/extended trips to the country, or applied for a change in immigration status during a prior stay as a visitor, you may be stopped from entering the U.S., even though these activities are not strictly prohibited.

This problem arises especially when the U.S. Consulate or U.S. Customs & Border Protection determines you misrepresented the purpose of your visit when you applied for the B-1/B-2 visitor visa and used it or the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to enter the United States.

Section 214(b) of the Immigration & Nationality Act presumes that most nonimmigrant visa applicants intend to immigrate permanently to the United States. Only certain categories, such as the H-1B  (professional worker) and L-1A/L-1B (intracompany transferee), allow dual intent (i.e. intent to immigrate in the future while maintaining temporary status in the present). Otherwise, nonimmigrant visa applicants must show they have no intent to immigrate and simply seek a temporary stay in the U.S.

When you engage in any of the following 3 activities, you could have problems getting a new visa or gaining re-entry to the U.S. for a temporary stay, although each one, by itself, does not violate U.S. immigration law or make you inadmissible to the United States:

1. Traveling to the United States to have a baby (“Birth Tourism”)

Traveling to the United States on a visitor visa for the purpose of giving birth to a child is commonly known as Birth Tourism.  Under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, birth in the United States gives the child automatic citizenship with all its rights and privileges.

Furthermore, birth citizenship provides the  foreign national parent with potential immigration relief. For example, upon turning age 21, a U.S. citizen son or daughter may file an immigrant petition for a parent in the immediate relatives category, which has no numerical limits on immigrant visas available.  A parent who overstays in the United States and is placed in removal proceedings may qualify for Cancellation of Removal and Adjustment of Status (to permanent residence) if she has been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years, has not been convicted of certain offenses, has good moral character, and her removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to her U.S. citizen child.

There is no specific law, regulation or policy prohibiting birth tourism per se or preventing a pregnant woman from entering the United States. Nonetheless, U.S. consular officers and customs officers often view it as a misuse of the visitor visa status and a gaming of the immigration system to give the child automatic citizenship.

[UPDATE: On January 24, 2020, U.S. federal regulations were updated to restrict travel on a B visitor visa primarily to give birth in the United States. The updated U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual states, “Visiting temporarily for pleasure does not include travel for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States.  Any B nonimmigrant visa applicant who you have reason to believe will give birth during their stay in the United States is presumed to be traveling for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child.  The applicant can overcome this presumption if you find that the primary purpose of travel is not obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child.”

Examples are: (1) applicant’s primary purpose for travel is to visit a dying family member, and during the visit the applicant may give birth in the United States because the pregnancy due date overlaps with the family member’s last expected months of life; (2) medically complicated pregnancy and arrangement for specialized medical care in the United States, because such specialized care is not available in or near the country where the applicant resides.]

If the officer sees you are pregnant at the time of applying for a tourist visa or requesting admission as a visitor, he may refuse the visa or deny your entry. This is why birth tourists who hail from various countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Brazil and Mexico, typically come to the United States when their pregnancy is not so obvious.

Even if you succeed in gaining a visitor visa or entering the United States as a visitor to give birth, you might still encounter problems in the future when you apply for a new visa or admission as a nonimmigrant.

The U.S. Consulate has sole discretion to make a factual determination on whether you have strong ties to your country to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent under INA 214(b).

A consular officer may deny your request for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa or other non-dual intent visa under INA 214(b) by finding you intend to immigrate due to your having a U.S. citizen son or daughter, or based on mere suspicion that you will use a new visa to give birth in the U.S. again. Some consular officers also consider giving birth as inconsistent with the true purpose of a B-1/B-2 visit, which is primarily for business travel and recreation.

A non-resident parent who travels with a U.S. citizen child may face tougher scrutiny at the U.S. port of entry. A customs officer who discovers you had a child during a prior visit in the U.S.  may deny your request for admission on a temporary visa and even issue an expedited removal order under INA 212(a)(7)(lack of proper visa or other travel documents), which carries a five-year bar. To be excused from this five-year bar to being admitted to the United States, you need an approved Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal.

In some cases, a consular officer or customs officer may issue a more serious charge under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)(fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to gain a visa or entry to the United States), which is a lifetime bar. When such an inadmissibility finding is made by the U.S. Consulate or CBP, you may appeal directly to the agency to reconsider and rescind the decision on the basis that giving birth in the U.S., by itself, does not make you inadmissible. But as long as the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar holds, you will need a 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver or a Form I-601/212(i) immigrant waiver to be admitted to the United States.

Because a visitor visa may be used for medical treatment, your showing that giving birth in the United States served or serves a health purpose an be a positive factor. An example is if the pregnancy comes with high risks or serious complications. When you are upfront and declare you are coming to the U.S. to give birth, the officer decides, on a case-by-case basis, whether to grant the visa or admission based on proof of strong ties to your country, nonimmigrant intent, sufficient funds to cover all medical costs, and legitimate purpose of travel.

Paying all medical bills or having your own medical insurance to cover the expenses related to childbirth can help prevent a visa refusal or denial of admission. Ultimately, however, the consular officer or customs officer has discretion to determine whether having a baby in the U.S. is consistent with the purpose of a visitor visa, regardless of whether you cover the medical expenses and do not become a public charge by receiving government assistance to pay the medical bills.

2. Making frequent, extended visits to the United States

U.S. immigration law allows visitor visa holders to conduct legitimate B-1/B-2 activities for a temporary period, minimum of six months. Using ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) if you are an eligible applicant from a Visa Waiver Program-eligible country allows you visit the United States for 90 days or less.

The U.S. consular officers and customs officers expect you to use the visitor visa or ESTA/Visa Waiver program to engage in tourism and recreational activities, visit family and friends, and conduct other temporary visit activities. Remaining in the U.S. for the maximum or close to the maximum time allowed and then quickly returning to the U.S. (e.g. within a month) for another extended stay do not reflect the travel patterns of a real visitor.

Frequent, extended trips to the United States will likely cause the customs officer to suspect you are really living, studying or working in the country without authorization. You may end up with a shorter authorized stay or a warning from the officer. You could also be placed in secondary inspection and questioned extensively so the officer can find legitimate grounds to deny your entry.

You may be asked to withdraw your application for admission or be issued an expedited removal order due to lack of proper travel documents and even due to willful misrepresentation to enter the U.S.  A visa revocation will likely affect your eligibility for a new visa. An inadmissibility finding will stop you from using the ESTA/Visa Waiver program.

There is no minimum time you must stay in your country before returning to the U.S. for another visit. But if you are constantly traveling to the U.S. and staying for long periods, you can expect to run into problems later, even if you were previously lawfully admitted as a visitor without any complications.

3. Applying for a change of status after entering the United States in another status

U.S. immigration law allows nonimmigrants to change from one status to another (such as B-1/B-2 visitor to F-1 student, H-1B professional worker, or H-2B nonagricultural seasonal worker) or file for asylum within the U.S. if they meet the eligibility criteria.

A request for change of status through the filing of a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, or Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services is often met with several obstacles. One is that USCIS will not approve the status change request unless you are maintaining lawful B-1/B-2 status or other nonimmigrant status.

Questions regarding whether a willful misrepresentation of material fact to gain an immigration benefit might arise when you file for a change of status within the U.S., instead of apply for the appropriate visa at the U.S. Consulate.

B-1/B-2 visitor visa holders, for instance, may be found to have misrepresented the purpose of their stay if they applied to schools or sought employment after arriving in the United States. The mere filing for an extension of status may even cause the U.S. Consulate to question your true intent if you initially informed them the trip would be relatively brief and for a limited purpose before they issued the visitor visa.

Even if you did not attend school or work without authorization in the U.S., your taking steps toward a change in status that permits school attendance or employment in the U.S. could signal to the consular officer that you were not a genuine visitor.

Immigration problems can also occur when you apply for adjustment to permanent resident status instead of file for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate. One of the most common ways for a B-1/B-2 visa holder to adjust to permanent resident (green card) status is to enter into a bona fide marriage to a U.S. citizen and have the citizen file an immigrant petition on his or her behalf. While an overstay, by itself, does not prevent adjustment of status based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, providing false information to a consular officer or customs officer about the purpose of the visit creates immigration problems.

In general, the U.S. Consulate applies a 30/60 day rule in determining whether a misrepresentation was made if you conduct yourself in a manner inconsistent with representations made to the consular officers concerning your intentions at the time of visa application or to customs officers when you requested admission.

If a B-1/B-2 visitor, for example, marries a U.S. citizen and applies for a green card within 30 days of arrival, the consular officer may presume the applicant misrepresented his intentions in seeking a visa or admission to the U.S. There is no presumption of misrepresentation if the request for change of status is made more than 30 days but less than 60 days after arrival. But depending on the facts of the case, the officer may still have a reasonable belief that misrepresentation occurred, in which case the applicant receives an opportunity to present countervailing evidence. While USCIS is not required to follow the Consulate’s 30/60 day policy, it sometimes uses it as guidance. 

[UPDATE: On August 1, 2017, the DOS replaced the 30/60 day rule with the 90-day rule, which establishes a presumption of willful misrepresentation “if an alien violates or engages in conduct inconsistent with his or her nonimmigrant status within 90 days of entry.” If such actions occur within 90 days of entry, a consular officer “may presume that the applicant’s representations about engaging in only status-compliant activity were willful misrepresentations of his or her intention in seeking a visa or entry.”]

Seeking asylum in the United States, through a credible fear interview process at the U.S port of entry or through the filing of a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, after being admitted to the U.S., also signals immigrant intent. If asylum is not granted, it will be very difficult (if not impossible) for you to be re-admitted as a visitor or in another status that requires nonimmigrant intent, at least in the near future.

Conclusion

Having a baby in the U.S., making frequent, extended trips to the country, and applying for a change in status following arrival in another status are not prohibited by U.S. immigration law. Still, if you engage in any of these three things, a U.S. consular officer or customs officer may find that you gamed the immigration system or took unfair advantage of immigration loopholes.

Use proper caution and be aware of the immigration risks and consequences associated with these activities. If you are refused a visa, denied admission or issued an expedited removal order for any of these reasons, consult an experienced immigration attorney to discuss possible remedies.

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This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Approval of Form I-212 + Grant of Immigrant Visa= A True Success Story

A U.S. citizen and his permanent resident sister consulted me about their mother’s immigrant visa case, after the U.S. Consulate found her inadmissible under INA 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I), i.e. illegal reentry following accrual of more than one year of unlawful presence in the United States.  With my counsel, their mother (my client) filed a Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission Into the United States, which the USCIS Field Office in Salt Lake City, Utah approved on February 17, 2017.

The I-212 approval led the U.S. Consulate to schedule the mother for a follow-up interview and issue the immigrant visa. This was her second immigrant visa application based on an approved I-130 immigrant petition her U.S. citizen son filed for her.

Ten years ago, the U.S. Consulate denied her first immigrant visa application upon finding her inadmissible under INA 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II), i.e. accrual of unlawful presence of one year or more in the United States prior to departing the country. Because she had no qualifying relative (U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent) to be eligible for the Form I-601 [INA § 212 (a)(9)(B)(v)] unlawful presence waiver, she had to wait 10 years for that bar to expire. After waiting a decade to file her second immigrant visa application, she was shocked to hear she was still permanently barred under INA 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I).

The mother’s description of her re-entry into the United States — following accrual of unlawful presence of more than one year — indicated she was “waved through” at a U.S. border checkpoint, even though she lacked proper travel documents. In general, this means the person entered the United States as a passenger in a car after an immigration officer waved the car through the port of entry.

I counseled the family on two different paths the mother could take to obtain the immigrant visa: (a) file a motion to reconsider with the U.S. Consulate, requesting it find that the wave through counted as a lawful admission and was not an illegal entry to trigger the permanent bar under INA 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I); OR (b) file a Form I-212 application to be excused from the permanent bar.

Because the mother lacked objective evidence of a wave through, the family chose to file a Form I-212 application with USCIS instead of a motion to reconsider with the U.S. Consulate.

The applicant must be outside the U.S. for 10 years before she may file a Form I-212 to be excused from a section 212(a)(9)(C)(i)((I) bar. Luckily, my client had already completed the 10 years while she was waiting for the unlawful presence bar to run. After several discussions with the family, I determined there were sufficient favorable factors to get an I-212 approval.

I worked extensively with the family to prepare their written testimonies and gather supporting documentary evidence to prove their mother regretted her past immigration violations, has good moral character, and did not pose a threat to the American community. I also counseled them on how to establish that her denial of admission would cause unusual hardships to her as well as to her family in the United States. In addition, I prepared a legal memorandum outlining the facts and procedural history, citing to the evidence, and discussing why the mother deserved the waiver based on case precedents, statutory law, and existing policies.

While the Form I-212 application remained pending, I sent a follow-up letter to the USCIS Field Office,  requesting approval and including additional evidence of the hardships the U.S. citizen son, in particular, was suffering due to his mother’s absence from the United States.

After several months had passed, the sister called to ask me whether there were any additional steps to take to get the USCIS Field Office to issue a decision.  I began to explain the various ways  (including seeking Congressional assistance) until she stopped me mid-sentence and started screaming with joy. She had just received a message from her brother stating he received the I-212 approval notice!

The mother’s follow-up interview with the U.S. Consulate occurred in April 2017, and shortly after she was issued the immigrant visa. After 13 long years of separation, she may now finally reunite with her family in the United States.

The brother and sister live in different U.S. states,  and their mother lives in a South American country. Although we communicated by telephone and email and never met in person during the course of representation, we developed a strong, trust-based relationship, which contributed to a favorable outcome. This is a true success story for Dyan Williams Law PLLC and for my client and her family.

Preparing approvable Form I-212 applications are among our main areas of expertise. Clients benefit from the advice we give in filing Form I-212 requests to lawfully re-enter the United States following a removal order or other immigration violation.

Cheers,

Dyan Williams

Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
(612) 225-9900
info@dyanwilliamslaw.com

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This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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B-1 Visitor Visa: Traveling to the U.S. for Work as a Personal or Domestic Employee

B-1 visas are issued to personal or domestic employees to accompany or follow to join their employers to the U.S. and provide household services for them. These include cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housemaids, valets, footmen, nannies, au pairs, mothers’ helpers, gardeners, and paid companions. The employer must be a U.S. citizen living abroad, a U.S. citizen on temporary assignment in the U.S., a person in nonimmigrant status, or a lawful permanent resident.

WHEN MAY A PERSONAL OR DOMESTIC EMPLOYEE COME TO THE UNITED STATES TO WORK? 

You may work in the U.S. as a personal or domestic employee if you receive the B-1 visa for this purpose and then apply for and receive work authorization after you arrive in the country.

Personal or domestic employees may receive the B-1 visa to perform their job duties if the following special circumstances exist:

Personal or Domestic Employees of U.S. Citizens Living Abroad or U.S. Citizens on Temporary Assignment in U.S. 

B-1 visas are issued to personal or domestic employees whose employer is a U.S. citizen with a permanent home abroad or is stationed abroad and is visiting or assigned to the U.S. temporarily.

In addition, the conditions below must be met:

  • The employee has a residence abroad which he or she has no intent to abandon;
  • The employee has been employed abroad by the employer as a personal or domestic servant for at least six months prior to the date the employer is admitted to the U.S; or the employer shows that, while abroad, the employer has regularly employed a domestic servant in the same role as that intended for the visa applicant;
  • The employee demonstrates at least one year experience as a personal or domestic servant by providing reference letters from prior employers; and
  • The employee has an original contract or a copy of the contract, to be presented at the U.S. port of entry, which is signed by both the employer and the employee, and contains specific terms, such as payment of minimum or prevailing wages, whichever is greater for an eight hour work-day.

The U.S. citizen employer who is returning to the U.S. for a temporary assignment must be subject to frequent international transfers of two years or more as a job condition and the return to the U.S. should last no more than six years.

Personal or Domestic Employees of Foreign Nationals in Nonimmigrant Status

B-1 visas are issued to personal or domestic employees whose employer is seeking entry into, or is already in, the U.S. in B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, or Q nonimmigrant status.

In addition, the conditions below must be met:

  • The employee has a residence abroad which he or she has no intent to abandon (even if the employer is in a nonimmigrant status that does not require a residence abroad);
  • The employee has been employed abroad by the employer as a personal or domestic employee for at least one year prior to the date the employer is admitted to the U.S., or if the employee-employer relationship existed immediately prior to the time of visa application, the employer shows that he or she has regularly employed (either year-round or seasonally) personal or domestic employees over several years preceding the domestic employee’s B-1 visa application;
  • The employee demonstrates at least one year experience as a personal or domestic servant; and
  • The employee has an original contract or a copy of the contract, to be presented at the U.S. port of entry, which is signed by both the employer and the employee, and contains specific terms, such as payment of minimum or prevailing wages, whichever is greater for an eight hour work-day.

Personal or Domestic Employees of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)

B-1 visas are issued to personal or domestic employees of lawful permanent residents (LPRs), including conditional permanent residents and LPRs who have filed a Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.

Employment Authorization is Required

Before you begin working as a personal or domestic employee, you must file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS following entry into the U.S. as a B-1 visitor. You need to wait for USCIS to approve the Form I-765 and issue the Employment Authorization Document (work card) to start your employment.

Source of Payment to Personal or Domestic Employees

The source of payment to a B-1 personal or domestic employee or the place where the payment is made or the location of the bank is irrelevant.

Consular Officer Responsibilities in Processing B-1 Visa Applications for Personal or Domestic Employees

The 2008 William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (WWTVPRA) requires consular officers to inform personal or domestic employees applying for a B-1 visa of their legal rights under U.S. immigration, labor, and employment laws.  This includes information on the illegality of slavery, peonage, trafficking in persons, sexual assault, extortion, blackmail, and worker exploitation in the U.S.

Consular officers are instructed, at the time of the interview, to confirm the applicant has received, read and understood the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE B-1 VISA?

Temporary visitors must meet the following eligibility requirements:

1. Maintain a residence in a foreign country, which you do not intend to abandon

Under U.S. immigration law, the term “residence” is defined as the place of general abode, i.e. your principal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent. You must show strong ties to your country, including family connections, property ownership, investments, and steady employment. If the U.S. Consulate has doubts about your intent, you may offer to leave a child, spouse, or other dependent abroad.

2. Intend to stay in the U.S. for a specific, limited period

The period of stay must be limited and not indefinite in nature. The expected length of stay must match the stated purpose of the trip. You must show with reasonable certainty that you will leave the U.S. upon completing your visit, prior to expiration of the authorized stay.

3. Seek entry solely to engage in legitimate activities permitted by the visa

You must be coming to the U.S. only to complete activities that are allowed by your visa classification. U.S. consular officers will deny the visa and U.S. customs officers will deny your entry if they have reason to believe or know that, while in the U.S. as a visitor, you will engage in unlawful or criminal activities.

You must have the funds or an employer-employee contract to cover the cost of the trip and your stay in the U.S. Otherwise, the U.S. consular officer or customs officer could find that you will work in the U.S. without authorization to defray expenses. You may even be issued an expedited removal order at the U.S. port of entry if the customs officer determines you have previously violated your B-visa status or intend to do so.

4. Have no immigration violations or criminal offenses that make you inadmissible, or otherwise qualify for an inadmissibility waiver

You will not receive the visa or be admitted if you are barred from entering the U.S. due to immigration violations or criminal offenses that make you inadmissible under U.S. immigration law. These include the 3/10 year bar due to accrual of unlawful presence of more than 180 days during a prior stay; conviction for a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (e.g. theft or fraud) that does not qualify for the petty offense or youthful offender exception; and willful misrepresentation of material facts to gain entry into the U.S.

When you are inadmissible, but are otherwise visa eligible, you may file a 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver to be excused from almost all inadmissibility grounds. A separate I-212 waiver (Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal) is needed if you are barred due to a prior removal order or illegal (or attempted illegal) reentry into the U.S.

B-2 IS DIFFERENT FROM B-1

The B-1 is under the same B-visa classification as the B-2 visa (for tourism and temporary visits), but is less restrictive. You may participate in tourist activities on a B-1 visa or a combined B-1/B-2 visa, but may not engage in temporary business activities while on a B-2 visa only.

WORK WITH AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY

Failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent and show strong ties abroad is one of the top reasons for a visa refusal or denial. Inadmissibility grounds can also prevent a visa grant or your entry into the U.S.

Consult an experienced immigration attorney to assess your visa eligibility, advise you on the forms and documents to submit, and assist you with the application process to get the B-1 visa to accompany or follow to join your employer as a personal or domestic employee.

For more information, read our related articles, B-1 Visitor Visa: Traveling to the U.S. for Business and B-2 Visitor Visa: Traveling to the U.S. for Tourism or a Temporary Visit.

This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Photo by: pfly

B-1 Visitor Visa: Traveling to the U.S. for Business

The B-1 visa or combined B-1/B-2 visa is for nonimmigrants who seek to enter the U.S. temporarily for business reasons and tourism. To get the visa or gain entry to the U.S. on this visa, you need to show you will participate in only permitted activities.

WHICH ACTIVITIES ARE ALLOWED ON THE B-1 VISA? 

Examples of temporary business-related activities you may conduct are described below. This list is not exhaustive, but is specified in the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual and other official guidance as appropriate reasons for a B-1 visa issuance.

Visitors Traveling to the U.S. to  Participate in Business Activities of a Commercial Nature

You may use the B-1 visitor visa to:

Consult with business associates and attend business meetings. Except – You may not work for or receive income from a U.S. based company.

Engage in commercial transactions/sales, such as providing exhibitions, taking orders, negotiating, and signing contracts for products that are made outside the U.S. Except – The activities must not involve gainful employment in the U.S. and must not result in pay from a U.S. based company.

Seek business investment, including to survey potential sites for a business and/or to lease a premises in the U.S. Except – You may not remain in the U.S. to actively manage the business or perform work for the business.

Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention, conference, meeting, trade show or event on specific dates. Except – You may not work for or receive income from a U.S. based company.

Litigate, including to participate in a lawsuit, take a claim to a court of law, or settle an estate. Except – You may not work or receive income from a U.S. based company, although you may receive monetary awards based on a court order.

Serve as an exposition or trade show (non-government) employee of a foreign exhibitor at an international fair. Except – You may not work for or receive income from a U.S. based company.

Install, service or repair commercial or industrial equipment or machinery sold and manufactured by a non-U.S. company to a U.S. buyer, when required by the purchase contract. Except – Installation cannot include construction work, except for training or supervision of U.S. workers to do construction, and you may not receive compensation from a U.S. source.

Complete short-term training. Except – The training program should not be designed primarily to provide employment. You may not receive payment or income from a U.S. based company, other than an expense allowance or expense reimbursement related to your temporary stay.

Do independent research. Except – You may not receive any salary or income from a U.S. based source or provide benefit to a U.S. institution.

Visitors Traveling to the U.S. to Pursue Employment Incidental to their Professional Activities

You may also use the B-1 visa in the following situations:

Ministers of Religion and Missionaries

Ministers of religion may receive B-1 visas to participate in an evangelical tour, so long as they do not accept appointment with any one church and will be supported by contributions at each evangelical meeting.  B-1 visas are also granted to ministers of religion temporarily exchanging pulpits with U.S. counterparts, provided they are reimbursed by the foreign church and will receive no pay from the host church in the U.S.

B-1 visas are issued to members of religious denominations, whether ordained or not, entering the U.S. solely to temporarily perform missionary work for a denomination, as long as they do not sell articles or solicit or accept donations and will receive no pay from U.S. sources other than an allowance or reimbursement for incidental expenses. “Missionary work” includes religious instruction, aid to the elderly or needy, and proselytizing, but not ordinary administrative work or ordinary labor for hire.

Participants in Voluntary Service Programs

The B-1 is an option if you want to provide voluntary services for a religious or non-profit charitable organization, such as attend meetings, speak at a conference, or assist with an event. But you may not use the B-1 to circumvent the R-1 (nonimmigrant religious worker) visa process and live in the U.S. or work for a religious or non-profit charitable organization.

No pay must be received from a U.S. source, other than an allowance or reimbursement for incidental expenses. Certain types of volunteer services, such as construction, are also not permitted on a B-1 visa.

Members of Board of Directors of U.S. Corporation

Foreign national directors of a U.S. corporation may travel to the U.S. on a B-1 visa to attend Board of Directors meetings or perform other duties related to board membership. They may be compensated for their time and travel expenses.

Professional Athletes

Professional athletes, such as golfers and auto racers, may use the B-1 visa to participate in a tournament or sporting event and receive prize money, but cannot receive salary or income from a U.S. based company.

The B-1 visa is also issued to athletes or team members who seek to enter the U.S. as members of a foreign-based team to compete with another sports team, provided the foreign athlete and the foreign sports team have their principal place of business or activity in a foreign country; the income of the foreign-based team and the salary of its players are mainly earned in a foreign country; and the foreign-based team is a member of an international sports league or the sporting activities involved have an international dimension.

Amateur hockey players who seek to enter the U.S. for brief try-outs to join a professional team during the regular professional season or playoffs may also receive a B-1 visa. There must be an agreement with a National Hockey League (NHL)-parent team to provide only for incidental expenses such as round-trip fare, hotel room, meals, and transportation.  They cannot use the B-1 to stay and play on the U.S. team.

Horse Races

You may travel to the U.S. on a B-1 visa to perform services for a foreign-based employer as a jockey, sulky driver, trainer, or groomer. But you may not work for a U.S. employer or another employer while in the country.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE B-1 VISA?

Temporary visitors must meet the following eligibility requirements:

1. Maintain a residence in a foreign country, which you do not intend to abandon

Under U.S. immigration law, the term “residence” is defined as the place of general abode, i.e. your principal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent. You must show strong ties to your country, including family connections, property ownership, investments, and steady employment. If the U.S. Consulate has doubts about your intent, you may offer to leave a child, spouse, or other dependent abroad.

2. Intend to stay in the U.S. for a specific, limited period

The period of stay must be limited and not indefinite in nature. The expected length of stay must match the stated purpose of the trip. You must show with reasonable certainty that you will leave the U.S. upon completing your visit, prior to expiration of the authorized stay.

3. Seek entry solely to engage in legitimate activities permitted by the visa

You must be coming to the U.S. only to complete activities that are allowed by your visa classification. U.S. consular officers will deny the visa and U.S. customs officers will deny your entry if they have reason to believe or know that, while in the U.S. as a visitor, you will engage in unlawful or criminal activities.

You must have the funds and make arrangements to cover the cost of the trip and your stay in the U.S. Otherwise, the U.S. consular officer or customs officer could find that you will work in the U.S. without authorization to defray expenses. You may even be issued an expedited removal order at the U.S. port of entry if the customs officer determines you have previously violated your B-visa status or intend to do so.

4. Have no immigration violations or criminal offenses that make you inadmissible, or otherwise qualify for an inadmissibility waiver 

You will not receive the visa or be admitted if you are barred from entering the U.S. due to immigration violations or criminal offenses that make you inadmissible under U.S. immigration law. These include the 3/10 year bar due to accrual of unlawful presence of more than 180 days during a prior stay; conviction for a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (e.g. theft or fraud) that does not qualify for the petty offense or youthful offender exception; and willful misrepresentation of material facts to gain entry into the U.S.

When you are inadmissible, but are otherwise visa eligible, you may file a 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver to be excused from almost all inadmissibility grounds. A separate I-212 waiver (Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal) is needed if you are barred due to a prior removal order or illegal (or attempted illegal) reentry into the U.S.

B-2 IS DIFFERENT FROM B-1

The B-1 is under the same B-visa classification as the B-2 visa (for tourism and temporary visits), but is less restrictive. You may participate in tourist activities on a B-1 visa or a combined B-1/B-2 visa, but may not engage in temporary business activities, such as attend business meetings or negotiate contracts, while on a B-2 visa only.

B-1 DOES NOT AUTHORIZE EMPLOYMENT IN THE U.S.

The B-1 visa allows you to engage in business activities other than perform skilled or unskilled labor.  A B-1 issuance does not permit you to obtain and engage in employment while in the U.S.

Exception: Personal/domestic employees of U.S. citizens living abroad, U.S. citizens on temporary assignment in the U.S., foreign nationals in nonimmigrant status, and lawful permanent residents may receive the B-1 visa to enter the U.S. and perform work as a personal/domestic employee in the employer’s household. Special circumstances must exist for them to actually get the B-1 visa for this purpose. In addition, they need to apply for and receive an employment authorization card after entering the U.S. on a B-1 visa.

WORK WITH AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY

Failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent and show strong ties abroad is one of the top reasons for a visa refusal or denial. Inadmissibility grounds can also prevent a visa grant or your entry into the U.S.

Consult an experienced immigration attorney to assess your visa eligibility, advise you on the forms and documents to submit, and assist you with the application process to get the B-1 or combined B-1/B-2 visa.

For more information, read our related articles,  B-1 Visitor Visa: Traveling to the U.S. for Work as a Personal/Domestic Employee and B-2 Visitor Visa: Traveling to the U.S. for Tourism or a Temporary Visit.

Keep in mind that entering the U.S. too frequently for extended visits on a B-1 or combined B-1/B-2 visitor visa may lead to problems at the U.S. port of entry. See Birth Tourism, Frequent/Extended Trips, Immigration Status Change: 3 Things That Often Prevent Entry to the U.S. (even though they are not strictly prohibited).

This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

SUBSCRIBE           CONTACT

Photo by: Laura Hoffman