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Q1. How difficult is it to obtain a Visa Stamp for an F-1 student?
A1. It depends on the case. If you have been in the U.S. for five (5) years studying English and your visa stamp is expiring, even if you return to your home country to obtain a new visa stamp it is highly unlikely that you will be approved for another five (5) years. If, on the other hand, you are entering college and have specific plans to engage in studies with the intent to return home after your studies, your chances of obtaining an F-1 visa stamp will increase.
Q2. I entered the United States without a visa, under the visa waiver program. I have been illegal for five (5) years in the United States. I now have a sponsor. Can I get a green card?
A2. Unfortunately, the law does not allow someone who has been illegal for more than 6 months or a year to adjust status in the United States. If the person leaves the U.S., s/he will be subject to the 3 or 10-year bar to re-entry. Therefore, under the current law, even if the person has a sponsor, there is no way to obtain a green card for that person. The exceptions to this rule are if the person applied for PERM Labor Certification or an immigrant petition prior to April 30, 2001. Also, the person can adjust status in the U.S. if the application is based on a marriage to a US citizen.
Q3. I am an artist. Can I get an artist’s visa?
A3. There is no such thing as an artist's visa. However, there is a visa called an O-1 visa. This visa is for foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities, meaning those who have won international awards, have books written about them, who have received high acclaim, and in other words those who are at the very top of their field. Artists who qualify for an O-1 visa can initially obtain an O-1 visa for a maximum period of three (3) years, and can then extend their O-1 visa in one-year increments.
Q4. I have an H-1B visa and I lost my job. How long do I have to leave the United States?
A4. There is no grace period for an H-1B visa, meaning the day after you lose your job, you are technically out of status in the United States. This does not mean that the government will come knocking on your door the next day, but it does mean that you should depart the U.S. as soon as possible.
Q5. I found a new job. How can I change my H-1B visa to the new employer?
A5. There is no such thing as a "transfer" of an H-1B. One can change jobs, apply for a new H-1B with a new employer, and thus, extend an H-1B based on the new job with the new employer. However, the concept of transferring an existing visa to a new position doesn't exist. You still have to go through the same initial process of applying for the visa.
#6. I have obtained PEM Labor Certification. Does this mean I can work?
Answer: No. Labor Certification merely allows you to take the next step in order to obtain your green card. Once you obtain Labor Certification, you can file an I-140 and then finally, an adjustment of status, and only then can you apply for work authorization. A Labor Certification is merely a stepping stone to the next step of the process. It is not an authorization to work in the United States.
#7. I have had a green card for many years. I am thinking about obtaining US citizenship, but I am afraid of losing my home country citizenship. Will this happen?
Answer: The United States allows for dual citizenship. Under U.S. law, holding two passports is not a problem. Some countries, like Japan, however, do not allow dual citizenship. Therefore, technically, you cannot hold both nationalities if your home country does not allow it. Inquiries on this subject should be directed to the Consulates or a specialist in your own country.
#8. I changed my name recently since I was recently divorced. My green card still has my married name on it. How can I change it?
Answer: Form I-90 allows you to make a change. There is a filing fee and the form can be sent by mail or filed on the internet. You can find form I-90 and instructions at www.uscis.gov.