CSC on H1B and Family-Based Green Card Cases22 Aug 2008
The California Service Center (CSC) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) held a liaison meeting with representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on August 6, 2008. During the meeting, the CSC addressed several questions of general importance submitted by AILA members. The issues discussed included adjudication of H1B petitions after the U.S. Department of State (DOS) recommends a waiver of the two-year home residency requirement for J-1 physicians, adjudication of H1B petitions subject to professional licensing requirements, and various questions relating to adjudication of family-based adjustment of status cases.
Service Centers to Coordinate J-1 Waivers for H1B Adjudications
Long-time readers of MurthyDotCom and the MurthyBulletin may recall our series of articles, available in our Physician Section, on how physicians in J-1 status may apply for waivers of the two-year home residency requirement in limited circumstances. The most common of these waivers is based upon a request made by an interested state or federal agency, based upon employment that is found to be in the public interest. A physician’s J-1 waiver request must be approved by the USCIS before his or her status may be changed to H1B. It is often not possible or practical to wait for the approval notice from the USCIS prior to filing the H1B petition. Thus, H1B petitions are often filed after the DOS recommends the waiver, but before the USCIS has acted on that recommendation and issued the approval notice on the waiver application.
The problem, in this situation, arises as J-1 waivers of this type are adjudicated by the Vermont Service Center (VSC), based on the DOS’s favorable recommendation on the waiver. For that reason, the DOS communicates the waiver recommendations exclusively to the VSC. However, H1B petitions are processed by both the VSC and the CSC. The CSC does not receive waiver-related information from the DOS, as is needed to go forward with adjudicating the H1B petition and the change-of-status application.
The CSC explained that, if the recommendation letter is submitted with the H1B petition, the CSC routinely checks with the VSC to confirm that it has granted the waiver. The VSC indicates that these waivers are acted upon within a few weeks of receipt. If needed, the CSC can send a request to VSC to adjudicate a waiver. This is done particularly in premium processing cases.
H1B Approvals Based on Duration of State Licensing Requirements
Some H1B petitions involve positions with professional licensing requirements. In situations where there is a temporary license, the H1B approval cannot extend beyond the validity of the license. Some problems have arisen, however, in instances involving licenses that do not have expiration dates, since they are permanent licenses. Reportedly, the CSC has only issued H1B petition approvals in one-year increments in such cases. To avoid this situation, and the need to file annual H1B extensions, the CSC recommends including proof that the license is permanent when filing the H1B petition. Suggested as acceptable evidence is a letter from the licensing entity, verifying that the license is permanent.
Types of Family-Based Green Card Cases Processed at CSC
The CSC indicated that it handles all family-based cases that allow for approval without an interview. These cases include sponsorship of any U.S. citizen’s unmarried children, parent/s, fiancé/e and the fiancé/e’s children, and the unmarried children of a lawful permanent resident (LPR). These cases are transferred to the CSC from the National Benefits Center (NBC).
The CSC seems to routinely ask for a new medical exam in many instances when a family-based adjustment of status is filed by an applicant in K status, even though the individual already should have submitted these medical exams at the consulate in connection with his or her K visa application. The CSC indicates that the applicant should still comply with the Request for Evidence in this situation, submitting the new medical exam. Although this may not make sense, the CSC wants to ensure prompt processing of the individual’s I-485, based on the submission of all requested information.
It is helpful for the CSC to provide clarification and guidance regarding its internal procedures. This information will prove helpful to many MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers, as they attempt to resolve delays in their cases pending at CSC. We at the Murthy Law Firm appreciate the CSC’s having provided this information.