HOUSTON IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION ATTORNEYS

Serving Clients in Houston, West Houston, Southwest Houston, Sugar Land, Katy, Copperfield, Memorial, Spring, Northwest Houston, Northchase, Spring Cypress, Champion Forest, The Woodlands, Kingwood, Humble, Lake Houston, Midtown, Memorial, West Oaks, Royal Oaks, Clear Lake, League City, Westchase Business District, Harris County, and Galveston County.

 

 

 

 

 



HOUSTON K-1 FIANCE VISAS AND K-3 MARRIAGE VISA LAWYERS

Assisting Clients In The U.S. Reuniting With Families Abroad

 


K-1 Nonimmigrant Visas (K-1 Fiancé Visas)

K-1 is a non-immigrant visa in which a U.S. citizen may sponsor a foreign national fiancé to come to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married.  The U.S. citizen applicant must demonstrate that there is a bona-fide relationship and that the applicant must have met the beneficiary at least once.  That is, the relationships must be based on the desire of the U.S. Citizen to marry the foreign national fiancé.  Any arranged-marriage will be scrutinized, especially those that are based on an intermediary “referral agencies.”   The reasons are obvious.  The USCIS and the U.S. Consular abroad is very suspicious of relationships based on online-bride websites. 

If the K-1 fiancé visa is approved, the K-1 fiancé visa holder will be issued a non-immigrant visa to come to the U.S.  Upon arrival, a U.S. Border Patrol and Custom officer would issue an I-94 to the foreign national, limiting the stay to usually 90 days.  Within 90 days from the date of arrival, the U.S. citizen must get married with the foreign national fiancé.  Failure to get marry within the 90 days period, or marrying someone else other than the K-1 sponsor, is a violation of the visa requirement and the person will NOT be able to adjust status in the U.S. There may be some exceptions for those that are victims of crime or are victims of trafficking. Certain nationals who are victims of crimes, including domestic violence and/or mental and emotional abuse, may be qualified under other provisions to obtain either U Visa or a self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, See below).  Dependents, minor children under the age of 21 that are not married, may also come to the U.S. with the K-1 fiancé as K-2 visa holders.  Please contact the Houston K-1 Visa Attorneys and the Houston K-1 Fiancé Visa Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham for more information.

 



K-3 Marriage Nonimmigrant Visas

K-3 Marriage Visas are not required for a U.S. Citizen to sponsor a foreign national spouse.  However, there are many advantages why U.S. citizens should file the K-3 visa subsequent to filing an I-130 family-based petition for a foreign spouse.  A K-3 spouse visa allows the foreign national spouse of a U.S. Citizen to come to the U.S. and file for adjustment of status with the USCIS, rather than filing an immigrant visa petition abroad with the U.S. Consular Office.  Note that K-3 visas are only available to spouses of U.S. citizens but are not available to spouse of U.S. permanent residents. 



The advantage is that the K-3 visa holder can come to the U.S. in a relatively short amount of time, compared to the immigrant visa application.  In an I-130 immigrant petition for an alien relative, the foreign national beneficiary must remain in the home  country while applying for an immigrant visa.  Depending on the charge-ability country, the country in which the foreign national was born, the waiting period may take up to 2 years or more.  With the K-3 marriage visa, the foreign national employee can come to the U.S. and wait while the USCIS is adjudicating the adjustment of status application and granting the alien spouse U.S. Legal Permanency Residence (LPR).  Further, the beneficiary alien spouse can obtain employment authorization while waiting for the green card.  Most importantly, the visa holder can unite with his or her spouse much quicker than filing an immigrant visa petition with the U.S. Consular Office.

Requirements For K-1 & K-3 Visas



As stated previously, the first requirement in which the U.S. citizen spouse must demonstrate to the USCIS, and the foreign national spouse must prove to the U.S. Consular Officer, is that there is a legitimate relationship, a bona-fide relationship.  Again, the USCIS and the Consular Officer will scrutinize this requirement because of the number of fraudulent application.  For this same reason, it is not unusual that the U.S. consular initially rejects the application and the applicant may have to supplement evidence or re-file with the USCIS in the U.S.



The second requirement for K-1 fiance and K-3 marriage nonimmigrant visas is that the applicant, the U.S. sponsoring spouse, must demonstrate that he or she can financially support the alien spouse and his or her dependents, if any.  The U.S. citizen spouse must demonstrate that he or she makes at least 125% above the poverty rate, based on the number of people in the household, including the alien spouse and dependents.  By showing that the sponsoring spouse can financially support the household, it would less likely that the alien spouse would become a public charge.  In fact, the financial support application is a contract between the sponsor and the U.S. government in which the U.S. sponsor agrees to provide necessities and financial support for the alien spouse and his or her dependents. 

To calculate the minimum income requirement, 125% above the poverty line, the U.S. sponsor must use the poverty guideline issued by the USCIS, Form I-864P.  The following example best illustrate how the calculation works.



Example 1:



Mr. A is a U.S. citizen who wishes to sponsor for his spouse from Vietnam.  Mr. A. was previously married and is currently has 1 dependent living with him.  Mrs. A is a Vietnamese national, who was born in China but later immigrate to Vietnam.  Mrs. A. was also previously married and has one 10 year old child that is currently living with her.  The couple met when Mr. A went to Vietnam on a vacation.  Since the couple met the first time, Mr. A. had traveled to Vietnam on 2 other occasions, once to be engaged and the second time to get marry.  Mr. A., filed an I-130 petition to sponsor Mrs. A and her dependent child.  Subsequently, the Houston K-3 Marriage Visa Attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham assisted Mr. A to file a K-3 Marriage Visa on behalf of Mrs. A. 



Mr. A., is a mechanic and annual income is $25,000 per year.  In addition to his annual salary, Mr. A. also has a checking account with a balance of $5,000 and a saving account of $10,000.  Mr. A. also owns a house in which he has $50,000 in equity (the value of the property is $50,000 higher than the outstanding principle balance). 



The question is, does Mr. A. meet all requirements to sponsor Mrs. A. under a K-3 visa?  The short answer is, YES!  Mr. A. met Mrs. A. in Vietnam as a tourist, and not through a “bridal-agency.”  Further, since they met the first time, Mr. A. had went to Vietnam on 2 other occasions, evidencing that it is more likely that he has established a bona-fide relationship.  Because the couple is married, the K-3 is the appropriate visa, not the K-1 Fiancé Visa.



With respect to income, Mr. A. needs to show that his income is 125% above the poverty line, which is $26,500 for a household of 4 (Mr. A and his child and Mrs. A and her child), according to the poverty guideline by the USCIS.  Because Mr. A. makes $25,000 per year, his salary alone is insufficient.  However, because Mr. A has property and other liquids, his annual income will more likely than not be calculated as follows:



$5000/5 = $1,000



$10,000/5 = $2,000

$50,000/5 = $10,000



Adding together, Mr. A. has $13,000 in “other assets” and $25,000 in his annual salary.  Therefore, adding all assets and salary, Mr. A has an annual income of $38,000, well qualified under the USCIS poverty guideline. 

One final note, because Mrs. A was born in China, her charge-ability is “China” and not Vietnam, even though she is a Vietnamese national.  In this case, because an immigrant petition for an immediate relative, a spouse, is always available.  If Mr. A were not a U.S. citizen, the K-3 visa would not be available and the waiting period for an immigrant application for a Chinese national whose spouse is a permanent resident would have been approximately 6 and ½ year from the date of application.  That is, if Mr. A were not a U.S. citizen, it would be 6 ½ years from the date of applying until an immigrant visa is issued for Mrs. A.  Because of this reason, the Houston Immigration Attorney and the Houston Green Card Application Lawyer at Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham always urges U.S. permanent residents to file their naturalization application as soon as they are eligible.

 


DISCLAIMER

Immigration Law is a vast area of law and requires an immigration attorney with years of experience to understand the intricacies of the Immigration & Nationality Law. Please contact the Houston K-1 Fiancé Visa Attorneys and the Houston K-3 Marriage Visa Lawyers to ensure proper documentations to show that the foreign national does not have the presumed “immigrant intent.”  Please call the one of our Houston K-1 Fiancé Sponsorship Attorneys and the Spring Texas K-1 Visa or K-3 Visa Immigration Lawyers at Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham today at 713-517-6645 or complete our Contact Form. At Veritas, you will have the opportunity to work directly with a Houston Immigration Attorney or a Houston H-1B Visa Lawyer.  Our attorneys are accessible and will always return your calls within 24 hours.



HOUSTON IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION ATTORNEYS

Serving Clients in Houston, West Houston, Southwest Houston, Sugar Land, Katy, Copperfield, Memorial, Spring, Northwest Houston, Northchase, Spring Cypress, Champion Forest, The Woodlands, Kingwood, Humble, Lake Houston, Midtown, Memorial, West Oaks, Royal Oaks, Clear Lake, League City, Westchase Business District, Harris County, and Galveston County.

 

 

 

 

 



HOUSTON H-1B TEMPORARY PROFESSIONAL SPECIALTY WORKER VISAS
Assisting Employers Effectively Employ And Sponsor Foreign National Professionals


General Background



Houston H-1B Temporary Professional Specialty Worker Visas
experience, or the financial capability to come to the U.S. immigration policy favors those that have skills, U.S. As such, the H-1B Specialty Worker Visas was designed to attract professional to come and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis.  Under H-1B, the employer, the petitioner, will file the visa application on the behalf of the foreign national who is the beneficiary. Currently, there are only 65,000 visas available for specialty workers to come to the U.S. and work in a professional capacity.  In addition to the 65,000 H-1B visas, and an additional 20,000 visas are available for applicants who obtained Master’s Degrees or higher from U.S. Institutions.  Even more favorably, qualified teachers and educators are exempt from the numerical limitation and may apply for H-1B throughout the year.

 



How Do I Qualify For An H-1B Visa?

To qualify under H-1B, the employer must offer the foreign employee a fulltime or part-time professional position.  The offer must contain the proposed salary that is within the prevailing wage, issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, based on the geographical region.  Further, the employment must be one that is qualified as a “specialty occupation.”  A "specialty occupation” means an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of an area of specialized knowledge, such as an accountant, teacher, software developer, information technology analyst, an engineer, or a scientist.  In addition, the person must also have a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent of a U.S. degree.  In some limited circumstances, The USCIS will accept experience in place of a bachelor degree.  The USCIS will replace every three years of experience for one year of education.  Therefore, if the IT professional, a network administrator, only has an associate degree in information technology, but has 6 or more years of experience, the person may qualify for an H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa. 



Please contact the Houston H-1B Visa Attorneys or the Sugar Land H-1B Specialty Worker Lawyers for information to determine if your degree is an equivalent to a U.S. bachelor degree. 

 



What Is The Application Process For H-1B Visas?

The employer must first offer a position to the potential employee.  Subsequently, the employer must prepares and file a petition on behalf of the foreign employee.  Because the USCIS often receives three times the number of applications over the number of visa available each year, the USCIS has created an electronic lottery system in which a computer randomly picks the applications. The employer can only file 1 H-1B application for each prospective employee.  The USCIS will reject and fine any employer who attempted to file multiple applications for the same employee.  However, the employee may have different applicants filed on their behalf by multiple employers. 



In October of 2000, the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) was signed into law. AC21 includes a portability provision that allowed previous H-1B holders to start with a new employer upon filing and receiving a receipt from the USCIS for the new H-1B petition. This is sometimes refers to as an “H-1B Transfer.”  However, it is not a transfer at all but that the new application will use the existing H-1B visa that previously awarded to the beneficiary.  The law drastically changed the way the H-1B visa holders are regulated.  Before the enactments of AC21, individuals could not start the new position H-1B employer until the new H-1B petition was approved. For more information on H-1B Transfer, please contact the Houston H-1B Transfer Lawyers and the Spring H-1B Visa Attorneys at Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham



Unlike before, F-1 students who are graduating after April 1 of each year (the date in which the USCIS will start accepting H-1B applications for following fiscal year with the October 1 start date) may now file for a change of status application when filing for H-1B.  The student must indicate that the start date of the change of status is October 1 of that year.  As such, international students under F-1 visa status may remain in the U.S. while waiting for the decisions of USCIS.  If the person was not selected under the lottery system, or if the application is denied, then their status ends on the date of the notification and they must leave the U.S. to avoid overstaying their visas.  Those that were selected may remain in the U.S. and begin work on October 1. 

 



Advantages and Drawbacks For H-1B Visas?

One drawback of the H-1B Specialty Worker Visa is that the applicant’s spouse, H-4, cannot work.  On the other hand, unlike other non-immigrant visas, H-1B is considered a dual-purpose visa and does not have to show that the foreign national has the intent to depart the U.S.  In addition, because of the limited number of H-1B visa available annually, applicants are placed in a lottery system in which the computer will randomly select the application for review.  Although the number of applications is expected to be lower than previous years, the USCIS still expect that the number of H-1B applications to be higher than the number of visas available.  The USCIS will continue this lottery system until further notice.  Employers should be aware that the USCIS will reject the application, as well as issuing fines, if the employer files more than one application for any one potential employee.  The employee, however, may be sponsored by many employers on his own behalf; and thus, can have various applications by different employers. 



An initial H-1B has authorization to stay in the U.S. for 3 years and can be renewed once for a three-year period, totaling 6 years.  Within this period, the employer may file an I-140 immigrant petition for the employee. If the I-140 immigrant petition is approved and there employee has a pending adjustment of status application, the H-1B visa holder may file an annual extension to continue to work and remain in the U.S. 

Please see above.

Employers who wish to employ their H-1B on a permanent basis should file an immigrant petition for the employee as soon as applicable. It could take 3 to 4 years before the employer’s immigrant petition (I-140) is approved.  Once approved, the employees and their spouses may file for adjustment of status and obtain employment authorizations.

 



DISCLAIMER

Immigration Law is a vast area of law and requires an immigration attorney with years of experience to understand the intricacies of the Immigration & Nationality Law. Please contact the Houston H-1B Visa Attorneys and the Houston H1-B Specialty Worker Visa Lawyers to ensure proper documentations to show that the foreign national does not have the presumed “immigrant intent.”  Please call the one of our Houston Immigration Attorneys and the Spring Texas H-1B and H-2B Visa Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham today at 713-517-6645 or complete our Contact Form. At Veritas, you will have the opportunity to work directly with a Houston Immigration Attorney or a Houston H-1B Visa Lawyer.  Our attorneys are accessible and will always return your calls within 24 hours.