Most entries below contain actual legal discussions of events directly related to Filipinos in or immigrating to the United States.
Remember- These writings are provided for general information only and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. Each person's needs and requirements are different and require a personal evaluation to determine the proper legal course of action.

Friday, October 21, 2016

USCIS Filing Fees Increase on 12/23/2016

Notice of USCIS Fee Increase:

The government filing fees for the most frequently used forms with go up for all cases received by USCIS on or after December 23, 2016.

However, there is no increase in the $85 fee for Biometrics.

The new fee for the most often used forms are indicated below:

I-90    Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card   $455
                        ($90 increase)

I-129  BASE fee for Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker       $460
                        ($135 increase)

I-129F Petition for Alien FiancĂ©(e)                                     $535
                        ($195 increase)

I-130  Petition for Alien Relative                                         $535
                        ($115 increase)

I-140  Petition for Alien Worker                                          $700
                        ($120 increase)

I-485  Application for Permanent Residence                      $1140
                        ($155 increase)($1225 total with biometrics)

I-765  Application for Employment Authorization                 $410
                        ($30 increase)
N-400 Application for Naturalization                                   $640
                        ($45 increase)

And if obtained your Immigrant Visa at the embassy, after you enter the United States as a Permanent Resident:

USCIS Immigrant fee                                                        $220
                        ($55 increase)

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Local Announcement- Ph Consular Service Visit to Kansas City

October Update:  
    Over 230 Filipinos received consular services at this event.

Representatives from the Philippine Consulate in Chicago will be in the Kansas City area on September 24, 2016.  

Services will be provided beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Filipino Cultural Center, 9810 W. 79th Street, Overland Park, Kansas.

Although most of the attendees will be receiving follow-up services based on applications already submitted to the Consul by mail, walk-in applications and requests for assistance will be provided as time permits.

The Chicago Consulate General has maintained a very active outreach program for several years, traveling to many different cities throughout their sixteen state jurisdiction.

Below is a list of their typical services.  However, one of the most valuable services they provided is making themselves available to discuss your questions and legal concerns.

Passport Services:  Renewal, Replacement, Amendments and Urgent Extensions

Dual Citizenship Applications

Legal and Notarial Services:  Power of Attorney and signature authentication on legal documents.

Visa Applications

Civil Registry Actions:  Reports of Marriage, Birth and Death.   

NOTE:  All payment of service fees must be in cash, or by money order or cashier’s check made payable to the “Phiippine Consulate General”.

Limited photocopying services, refreshments and assistance with forms will be provided through the Filipino Association of Greater Kansas City.

For additional information, contact Bing Sakach.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The “Hole” in the Filipino WWII Veteran Parole (FWVP) Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced a small program in May that allows a select few relatives of Filipino World War II veterans to enter the United States to assist their aging veteran parent or sibling.   My full analysis of the Filipino WWII Veteran Parole (FWVP) Program can be found here

Unfortunately, USCIS left a hole in this special humanitarian program.

Here is the background.  U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents are allowed to petition the government for certain of their relatives to be allowed to immigrate to the United States.  However, only certain relatives are allowed, and the waiting period before they can come to the U.S. can be very long.  For example, a U.S. Citizen who wishes to bring his married son to the U.S. can expect a wait of over twenty years before the son will be allowed to join his father in the United States. 

The FWVP Program provides a way for some of those long-waiting relatives to enter the U.S. now so they can be with their aging veteran relatives while waiting for their eventual immigrant visas.

Simply put, the relatives eligible to participate in the FWVP Program are certain named beneficiaries of approved immigrant petitions filed by the WWII veteran or the veteran’s “surviving spouse”.  The term “surviving spouse” is not defined in U.S. immigration laws, but in other federal law the term is used to describe the widow or widower of a marriage partner who died during the marriage.

And there lies the flaw in the FWVP.  Petitions filed by a veteran’s surviving spouse are covered, but not petitions filed by the spouse of a living WWII veteran.  Strangely, petitions filed by the spouse of a veteran are only valid if the veteran is dead.

USCIS takes special care to ensure a petition filed for the son or daughter of a veteran is eligible for the FWVP Program.  Consider the following scenarios that ARE eligible for FWVP:

-The son/daughter of a veteran, if the Petition is filed by a living veteran.

-The son/daughter of a deceased veteran, if the veteran’s spouse is living and the petition is reinstated.

-The son/daughter of a deceased veteran and the veteran’s spouse, if the Petition is filed by the surviving spouse.

So, why does the FWVP not cover a Petition filed by the spouse of a living veteran for their common son or daughter?

Most likely this omission was an oversight.  The target of the benefit is the same – the sons/daughters of a WWII veterans in the United States.  What USCIS failed to consider was the common past occurrence of the spouse, and not the veteran, to filed the petition for their common son or daughter. 

Consider this real life situation.  A Filipino WWII veteran and his wife, both U.S. Citizens, have an adult daughter.  In 1997, they decided to petition for their daughter, knowing that it would be decades before she would receive an immigrant visa.  Since every immigrant allows only one Petitioner, this elderly couple must decide who will be the Petitioner.  Should the petition be filed by the veteran, by the veteran’s wife, or should they each file separate petitions for the same daughter? 

This is a conversation that old immigration attorneys have had hundreds of times.  Even though the filing fee for the 1997 petition was only $110, people were still reluctant to file two petitions and pay two filing fees for a speculative future benefit that may or may not be used 20+ years later, so they had to decide which of them would file the petition.  Several factors were considered when making the decision, the most common being which of the couple was more likely to still be alive in 20 years!  Their comparative age and health was often the deciding factor, so it was common for the youngest and healthiest of the spouses to be the Petitioner.

This omission creates a bizarre paradox:  A petition filed by the spouse of a living veteran will not qualify their child for FWVP......until the veteran dies.  Once the veteran is deceased, the spouse is now a “surviving spouse” and their son or daughter can come to the United States.

The Poor Workaround

There is a way to avoid this omission, but it involves money, multiple steps and more time delays.

The still-living veteran can file a new petition for the same son or daughter that is already the beneficiary of the spouse’s approved petition.  When this new petition is approved, the relative qualifies for FWVP.  Of course, this means an upfront filing fee of $420 for this second petition.  Also, current USCIS processing time for this petition is somewhere between four and five years.  Even if you can have the petition expedited, this is not a pleasant option.

USCIS will be publishing more details of the FWVP Program on their website before the program begins June 8th.  Perhaps they will take that opportunity to modify this unfortunate omission.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Visit with Dr. Juan “Jim” Sanchez

Doctor Jim Sanchez is making a name for himself as an advocate for improving healthcare in the Philippines. 

Covering Luzon with a specially equiped mobile surgical van, equipped and supported by Rotarians from RC San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City (RI District 3780), Dr. Sanchez performs a variety of procedures using only local anesthetics. An overview of his current work is documented in this CNN video report.  

Dr. Juan "Jim" Sanchez & Attorney James "Jim" Austin 

 This month, Dr. Sanchez is in the United States visiting various Fil-Am societies, raising funds and creating partnerships for a most ambitious project - a prototype hospital on wheels. Labeled the “RP Healthcraft Carrier”, Dr. Sanchez envisions this multi-unit mobile medical facility as a valuable tool for disaster response and taking advanced medical services to underserved areas. Details of this project can be found at

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Program

Instructions and Requirements for the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Program 

Last updated 6/1/2016 407pCT.  Please return to this page for later updates.

Simple Description of the FWVP Program:

The government estimates that there are between 2,000 and 6,000 Filipino WWII veterans living in the United States. These veterans are either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents (“green cards”). Some of these veterans may have filed a family petition (I-130) with USCIS that placed one or more of their relatives on a waiting list to later immigrate to the United States. In some relative categories, that wait can be more twenty years.

The FWVP Program gives some of these long-waiting relatives, and maybe their dependents, an opportunity to be "paroled" into the United States where they can live while waiting for U.S. Permanent Resident status.

In some cases, the FWVP Program may be used even if the petitioning veteran is deceased, and also in cases where the actual petitioner was the spouse of the WWII veteran.

Example:  Mr. Lozada is a recognized WWII veteran of the Philippine Army.  He and his wife moved to the United States and later became U.S. Citizens.  In 2000, Mr. Lozada filed a petition (I-130) for his married son Peter.  Because of the long immigrant visa waiting lists, Peter expects to keep waiting in the Philippines for another 5 to 10 years.  However, under the FWVP Program, Peter and the wife of Peter may now live in the United States while waiting the many years to become U.S. Permanent Residents.

Parole Program Highlights:
-Petitioner must be a Filipino WWII Veteran, or the surviving spouse of the veteran.

-Petitioner can be a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. Permanent Resident.

-The Petitioner must be residing in the United States.

-The Petition must be approved.  

-The Petitioner must apply for the Beneficiary's “parole” into the United States.

-In some cases, the spouse and children will be given parole with the Petition Beneficiary.

-Applications will be accepted beginning June 8, 2016.

-Applicants must prove the WWII Veteran status of the petitioner.

-Applicants will file the I-131 (parole request) and I-134 (Affidavit of Support).

-The current fee is $360, probably increasing to $575 in Fall, 2016.

-All applicants for parole will be interviewed by USCIS or the Department of State.

-Parole is given on a case by case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or as a significant public benefit.

-The Program may be ended on June 7, 2021.

Parole Program Details:

The FWVP Program allows for the early entry of family member beneficiaries of Relative Petitions (I-130s) filed by Filipino WWII veterans or their surviving spouses.


Approved relatives under the FWVP Program will come and stay in the United States under “parole”.  Parole is an unusual concept that allows a person to be physically present in the United States without being legally “admitted”.  Parole is not a nonimmigrant status, such as a B (visitor), H (worker) or F (student), yet a person with parole may also apply for work authorization.

FWVP will be valid for three years, and will be renewable while in the United States.

 When Petitioner is the WWII Vet -- Qualifying Relative Petition Categories:

The relative petition filed by the veteran must be in one of these immigrant categories:
-1st Preference (FB-1)- Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
-2nd Preference (FB-2A)- Spouse or unmarried children under 21 of Permanent Residents.
-2nd Preference (FB-2B)- Unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents.
-3rd Preference (FB-3)- Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
-4th Preference (FB-4)- Brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens.

Most of the beneficiaries who may benefit from the FWVP Program are in the FB-3 and FB-4 categories, where the wait for an immigrant visa exceeds 20 years.  The petition beneficiary’s spouse will also be eligible for parole in these two categories.

When Petitioner is the “Surviving Spouse” of a WWII Veteran -- Qualifying Relative Petition Categories:

The term “surviving spouse” is not defined in U.S. immigration laws, but in other federal law the term addresses the widow or widower of a marriage partner who died during the marriage.

When the Relative Petition is filed by the surviving spouse of a deceased WWII Veteran, the principal petition beneficiary must be the son or daughter of both the veteran and the spouse.  Sons and daughters that were adopted or are step-children are included, as long as they meet U.S. immigration law's definition of "child".  This limits the qualifying petition filed by a surviving spouse to the following immigrant categories:

-1st Preference (FB-1)- Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
-2nd Preference (FB-2A)- Spouse or unmarried children under 21 of Permanent Residents.
-2nd Preference (FB-2B)- Unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents.
-3rd Preference (FB-3)- Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.

When the Petitioner is the current spouse of a living Filipino WWII Veteran:

The FWVP Program only gives benefits to the beneficiaries of petitions filed by the veteran and the veteran’s surviving spouse.  This is a flaw in this program that I discuss at length here.

The Petition Must be Approved Before Requesting Parole

The petitioner cannot request parole for the beneficiary under the FWVP Program until USCIS makes a final decision approving the relative petition. 

Most of these petitions were approved many years ago, with the beneficiary just on the waiting list for an immigrant visa.  However, more recently filed petition may still be pending with USCIS.  The current estimated processing time for USCIS to decide an FB-3 (married son/daughter of a U.S. Citizen) is four years.

The Relationship between the Petitioner and Beneficiary must have existed before May 10, 2016

There is no deadline for filing a petition that may qualify for treatment under the FWVP Program, but the relationship between the veteran and the beneficiary must have existed  on or before May 9, 2016.  This restriction has little meaning, and only bars getting parole for the new spouse of a Permanent Resident Filipino WWII veteran.

The Petitioner Need Not be Alive

Under normal U.S. immigration law, a relative petition is automatically cancelled when the Petitioner dies.  However, the law now allows for the Beneficiary to ask USCIS to reinstate the petition and allow the beneficiary to still immigrate to the United States.

The law allowing Petition reinstatement can be used for petitions under the FWVP Program, so it is still possible for the beneficiary to be paroled into the United States after the death of the petitioner.

Petitioner Must Reside in the United States

The veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse must be residing in the United States when the beneficiary/relative requests parole.  This conforms with the purpose of the program, allowing the relative to be with and assist the veteran or surviving spouse.

Program Effective Dates

USCIS will begin accepting applications for parole under the FWVP Program on June 8, 2016.  While there is no end date for this program, the program will be reviewed in 2020 for possible termination after five years.

Application Process

Remember, it is the Petitioner (or self-applicant/Beneficiary, if the Petitioner is deceased) that will submit the application for parole under the FWVP Program. 


Every applicant for parole will file both Forms I-131 (Application for Travel Document)  and I-134 (Affidavit of Support) .  Although an Affidavit of Support must be filed, there is no requirement that the form must be completed by the Petitioner.  It may be possible for some other relative to complete the affidavit.  In cases where the petition has been reinstated after the death of the veteran, it is expected that the affidavit would be completed by an appropriate "substitute" sponsor.  However, it will be at the discretion of USCIS to ensure that sufficient financial arrangements have been made for the relative being paroled into the United States.

The only fee for parole under the FWVP Program is the fee for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.  The current fee is $360.  USCIS has already announced their intention to raise the I-131 fee to $575 later in 2016.  The correct fee can always be found on the I-131 page at 

Where to File
USCIS will soon be updating the instructions and filing locations for Form I-131 to reflect the requirements of the FWVP Program.  Applications will be filed by mail to USCIS in the United States.

All applicants for parole will be required to appear for a personal interview at a USCIS office or consular post.  This includes FWVP applicants who are currently in the United States.

Other Required Evidence
Along with the request for parole, the applicant should also include evidence of the Filipino Veteran’s service in WWII was recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense.  There are three preferred methods of proving service:

1. Show the veteran is listed on the final roster prepared by the recovered Personnel Division of the U. S. Army for service with the Philippine Army during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines;

2. Show the veteran is listed on the final roster prepared by the Guerilla Affairs Division of the U. S. Army for service within a recognized guerilla unit during the World War II occupation and liberation of the Philippines; or

3. Show the veteran served honorably in the Philippine Scouts or in another component of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East (other than the groups shown above) at any time between September 1, 1939 and December 31, 1946.

“USCIS will review government records to verify that the Filipino veteran's World War II military service was recognized by the Department of Defense. When this documentation is not available, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence to allow the petitioner to submit evidence establishing the Filipino veteran's military service.”

Derivative Children

USCIS has decided that for the purpose of the FWVP Program, the only children of the direct petition beneficiary that will be allowed parole into the United States are those who are under 21 years of age on the date the parole request is received by USCIS.

Travel After Parole Entry

Being paroled into the United States under the FWVP Program do not have permission to travel and return.  Before departing the United States, it will be necessary to apply to USCIS for "advance parole" to allow reentry.

Parole is Discretionary – Each Case Reviewed Individually

Parole into the United States is granted for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit”.  USCIS considers, in general only, that allowing the relatives of these veterans to enter the US is a recognition of the contributions made by these veterans.  Further, if these relatives are able to provide support or care for the veterans would also be considered a “significant public benefit”. 

Meeting the requirements of the FWVP Program alone does not guarantee parole will be granted.  Each request for parole under the FWVP Program will be reviewed to determine if the applicant deserves a favorable decision.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Looking Ahead at the Remainder of 2016

Like any other profession, immigration attorneys must always be aware of potential future events that will necessitate additional staff training and workload adjustments.  Below are some 2016 immigration law developments that have already been incorporated into the advice given to current and potential clients.  All times are estimated.

STEM-OPT Transition Guidelines (Timing: Current)

Recent STEM-OPT rule changes have led to the government to establish special short term rules that allow limited recapturing of missed OPT time as well as extended filing deadlines for transition cases.

Filipino WWII Veteran Parole (FWVP) Program

This is a new program designed to benefit Filipino WWII veterans living in the United States.  If those veterans (or their spouses) have filed petitions for their relatives, and those relatives are still on a waiting list to immigrate to the United States, the FWVP Program may allow those relatives to come and wait in the U.S. for their Immigrant Visa.  A full discussion of the benefits and program requirements can be found here.

Final Rule Enhancing EB Portability and Worker Protections  (Timing: May-July)

Although most of the rule does no more than incorporate into the regulations what USCIS already practices, the rule will also will provide several new protections for H-1B workers who are beneficiaries of an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140).  More on these protections once the final rule is issued.

Final Rule Expanding Provisional Waiver Coverage  (Timing: May-July)

This will be a nice expansion in the coverage of the provisional unlawful presence waiver first instituted in 2013.  This provision will extend eligibility to certain relatives of Permanent Residents.

Supreme Court Ruling on Executive Actions  (Timing: June)

The Supreme Court will rule on the viability of several Administrative Immigration Initiatives.  The main proposed programs effected by the ruling include an expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Children) and the implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents).  The proposed DACA expansion will move up the “continuous residence” date to since January 1, 2010, and eliminate the age requirement as long as entry was prior to the applicant’s sixteenth birthday. 

            The DAPA program, of course, is the biggie.  DAPA will give millions of persons with U.S. citizen children and are not a threat to the our safety an opportunity to obtain temporary permission to remain in the United States. 

            If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the administration, the DACA expansion is expected to go into effect within sixty days.  For DAPA, the government will need more time to prepare for the potential large number of immediate applicants.  If DAPA does go into effect, applicants are going to have to consider carefully the pros and cons of immediately filing.  The outcome of the U.S. Presidential election will be a major factor to consider, and that question will not be answered until November.

Immigration Fee Increase (Timing – August-September)

USCIS has published for comment the planned increase in immigration user fees.  Yes, the fees will go up.  And yes, the increase is very substantial.  For example, a basic Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) goes up $115 to $535.  An employer’s Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) shoots up to a cool $700.  Naturalization (N-400), with the biometrics fee, will now cost you  $725.

Philippine Elections  (Timing: Just Happened)

This blog entry was written on the return flight from Manila, one day after the election of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte.  Excellent voter turnout with very interesting results.  While most people do not expected the election to effect immigration between the Philippines and the United States, one never knows what the future holds.  However, the U.S. election in November is where most are watching for possible major changes to the immigration landscape.
A typically busy year for U.S. immigration attorneys.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Visit with Philippine Consul General Calonge

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of sharing a light dinner with two distinguished gentlemen from the Philippine Consulate of Chicago; Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge and Vice Consul Ricarte B. Abujuella III. 

Being a successful foreign service officer requires special talents. dedication and special talents. serving in the Foreign Service requires work takes a special type of person. Intelligence, discretion and a desire to serve the best interests of their country are required. Consul General Calonge has certainly exhibited these traits, serving as the Ambassador to Israel prior to being posted to Chicago. 

Filipinos in the U.S. can take pride in the quality of their foreign service officers and the positive image they present to the world. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

H-4 EAD Update & Experiences

Yesterday I posted basic instructions for putting together a filing packet for an H-4 EAD based on an approved I-140.

Below are some additional observations on USCIS’ implementation of the H-4 EAD program, and answers to a few of the most common questions I have received.

H-4 EAD Update

1.  EAD Processing Times.  Like with all EADs, USCIS’ goal was to issue the EAD within 90 days.  During the summer they were meeting this goal.  However, USCIS encountered difficulty producing the documents this late summer and, combined with other workload issues, fell behind in EAD adjudication and issuance.  Most H-4 EADs are being now being received in the 3 to 4 month range, although some EAD adjudications are still up to five months.  We should start seeing H-4 EADs issued in the 2-3 month range by the end of January.2.  When to file.  A stand-alone H-4 EAD can be filed no more than four months before the start date of the EAD.  The only exception is when the EAD is filed in the same package as the H-1B and H-4 extension/change of status.

3.  Employment Gaps Between EADs.  Delayed EAD renewals create big problems.  Your EAD is your employment authorization.  Once your current EAD expires, you are no longer authorized to work until you physically receive your new card.  The approval notice or approval email are not sufficient to authorize work.  Also consider that the beginning date of your EAD is the date USCIS decided your case.  If USCIS approved your I-765 after your current EAD expired, there will be a gap between when the old EAD expired and the new EAD begins.  Although many employers might be lenient during such gaps, your working during that gap is still a status violation, and creates an issue that must be addressed when you later try to extend status, or when you file for permanent residence.  While this sounds like a harsh law, and it is, there are ways to get back into lawful status.  If you find that you have worked without authorization, trying to conceal the problem will just make matters work.  Discuss the issue with your attorney to work out a way to get back in valid status.

4.  Initial EADs under 106(a).  Remember, when applying for the first H-4 EAD under 106(a), it is sometimes possible for the first EAD to be for more than just one year (full discussion here ).  In the final H-4 EAD rule, USCIS quietly adopted the argument that the EAD can include both the 1-year under 106(a) PLUS the remainder of the initial 6 years.  While we have had no problem with this (we make a clear request in our cover letter), we have seen reports of some H-4s EADs only being limited to the 1-year under 106(a), with the EAD validity date not starting until many months after it was issued.  While this could show an inconsistency in USCIS adjudications, it may also be a result of poor documentation submitted with the EAD request.  Either way, it is unfortunate that the H-4 EAD applicants lost many months of potential employment while waiting for the 1-year EAD start date.

5.  Your Signature.  This is really stupid.  USCIS revised the I-765, allowing very little room for the signature, then penalizes you with a Request For Evidence asking for a new signature if your signature extended much below the line, or overlaps any of the form text directly above it.  When you sign the I-765, sign small!

6.  Premium Processing.  From the beginning of H-4 EADs, USCIS could not and still will not say that their policy is to process the H-4 EAD when adjudicating the Change/Extension of Status.  However, experience now shows that in most cases, they are adjudicating the EAD along with the change/extension petition.  Please remember that USCIS is not required to do this, but it is being done as a courtesy for which we should all be very thankful.

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USCIS Releases Proposed Employment-Based Rule

DHS has released the long-awaited proposed rule that mostly codifies the way USCIS already interprets many details of employment-based immigration law.  The proposed rule does, however, suggests a few new initiatives in the areas of petition revocation and employment authorization rules.

I have been silent on this rule as it wound its way through the rulemaking process.  There has been much speculation about its scope, but very few actually knew which immigration issues would even be covered in the proposal, and many of the guesses missed the mark.  For example, what many thought would be increased EAD availability for those with approved I-140 turned out to be essentially a hardship EAD that first requires an H-1B to abandon their nonimmigrant status.

I will not be outlining the whole rule in this blog.  It covers way too many separate immigration topics, and there will be general discussions of this rule all over the internet.  Later, however, I will discuss some of the specific details that I find particularly interesting. 

But remember, this is not a new law - just a proposed rule.  Public comments will be accepted until February 29, 2016. And this is going to be a big fight.  Many strong groups will oppose many of these proposals; employers won’t like the enhanced portability provisions, workers won’t like the very limited EAD availability, and anti-immigrants will hate it all.  Get out the popcorn, this is going to be a show.

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H-4 EAD Attorney Fees for §106(a) Cases

There are two ways to qualify for an H-4 EAD: 

    (1) Spouse with an approved I-140, Petition for Immigrant Worker, and

    (2) Spouse in an H-1B “period of stay” including time under AC21 §106(a), much more complicated.

I-140 Based H-4 EADs

 If you qualify under the first group, an H-4 EAD based on an approved I-140, requesting the EAD is fairly simple to do on your own.  I have posted basic H-4 EAD filing instructions here.   My office only prepares these I-140-based H-4 EADs as a courtesy for our current H-1B clients and their families since we already have their full H-1B and H-4 records.  However, we rarely offer to prepare I-140-based H-4 EADs for non-clients.  It is easy to do on your own, and unless there are special complications, the service is not worth the fee I would have to charge to cover our time and expenses.

H-4 EAD under AC21 §106(a)

My office WILL prepare and file §106(a) H-4 EADs for anyone, even if their H-1B spouses are not our clients.  We do this because proving H-4 EAD eligibility under §106(a) can be complicated and there are people who need assistance. 

During our consultations, we have seen many Requests for Evidence asking for documents that were not submitted, and even some cases where so much unnecessary evidence was sent that it created confusion.  Since most 106(a) EADs are only for a short duration, these mistakes can shorten the EAD’s validity period.  Additionally, some H-4s are unable to get assistance with their H-4 EAD from their spouse’s employer or attorney.  While many people request their H-4 EAD on their own, and I do not discourage this, some prefer to seek qualified assistance.

For first-time clients, the amount of time necessary for us to fully chart and document the H-1B’s and H-4’s immigration history is reflected by the higher fee.  We are very thorough, leaving little to chance.

Base Attorney Fees -- H-4 EAD based on §106(a)

If this is the 1st H-4 EAD prepared by Austin & Ferguson, LLC

$450    Current H-1B/H-4 clients
$700    New H-4 only clients

If the previous H-4 EAD was prepared by Austin & Ferguson, LLC

$200    Current H-1B/H-4 clients, EAD filed separately
$ -0-    Current H-1B/H-4 clients, EAD with H-4 Extension
$400    H-4 only client

As is required before accepting any new client, a consultation with an attorney is necessary to discuss the case and answer any questions about their immigration situation.  Information on scheduling an attorney consultation can be found here.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Filing H-4 EAD On Your Own with an Approved I-140

These instructions ONLY cover how to file your H-4 EAD on your own if your eligibility is based on an approved I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.   

A much more complicated packet of eligibility evidence is required for H-4 EADs based on a period of stay under §106(a).

I have included some comments that give answers to the basic questions I frequently receive about filing for H-4 EADs.

Sample H-4 EAD Application Packet based on Approved I-140 

1.  $380 Check,Payable to “Department of Homeland Security” 

2.  Two color passport photos 

3.  Form I-765
      “I am Applying for...”.  Only check ‘Renewal’ if your last EAD was an H-4 EAD.
     Q.9:     Social Security Number.  Enter your SSN, or 'None’,  not your ITIN.

     Q.10:   Alien Registration Number.  If you have an A Number, else 'None' 

     Q.11:   Yes, if you have requested an EAD before, in any category.  This does not include prior work visas, such as H-1B or L. 

     Q.14:   Status at last entry.  May be different from current immigration status. 

     Q.15:   Your immigration status on the day you signed the I-765.  For most, it will be ‘H-4’.  Not ‘H-4 Dependent”, there is no such status.

     Q.16:   ( c ) (26) (    ).

     Q.17:   Leave blank. 

     Q.18:   Case number for spouse’s last H-1B approval.  Do not enter the I-140 approval case number.

     Signature:  Sign your name within the limited space provided – do not let your signature flow into the form text above. 

4.  Eligibility Proof:  I-140 Approval Notice

5.  Itentity Document:  Front and back of last EAD, with your face recognizable;  OR, if no prior EAD, a Photo ID (usually passport bio page or US State ID) 

6.  Proof of Current H-4 status:  Your last H-4 Approval Notice, OR current H-4 I-94

7.  Marriage Certificate, with translation if necessary.
8.  Proof Spouse in valid H-1B Status*: 
            Spouse’s last H-1B approval notice or I-94 from last H-1B entry 
            Spouse’s last two paycheck stubs
            [* These three pieces of paper are not required, but recommended for now]

Filing Tips: 

-The above documents are in the order they are assembled for filing. 

-Using a personal check is recommended.  If your case is "lost", the receipt number is written on the back of the check.

-“Duplicate Approval Notices” can be used at all times to show H-4/H-1B status validity dates and for I-140 approvals. 

-All pages sized 8 1/2 x 11.

-Send no original evidence documents – only photocopies. 

-Black and white copies of EAD cards and photo IDs are acceptable.  Be sure your face can be recognized on the photo identification.  

-Before mailing, make a full and complete copy of every piece of the entire filing packet, including photos,check and envelope. Staple this packet and keep for your records.

-Mail the packet to the address designated by USCIS.  

-When it is time to apply for Permanent Residence, it will be necessary to show that all of your employment while holding H-4 status was lawful, so be sure to send a copy of your EAD approval notice to your attorney to keep in your file with your other immigration records.

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