Change of Status

Q I understand that the INS now allows persons to file applications on their computers. Is this true?

A The INS, now called the Bureau of Citizen-ship & Immigration Services (BCIS), started their “E-Filing” program on May 29. So far, it allows persons to submit form I-90 (Application for a Replacement/Renewal Green Card) and form I-765 (Application for an Employment Authorization Guide) via e-mail.

Q I am residing illegally in the U.S. If I marry a U.S. citizen, will I be able to get a green card? Same result if I marry a permanent resident?

A As long as you entered the U.S. legally, a bona fide marriage to a U.S. citizen may allow you to obtain permanent residence. Even if you overstayed your visa or worked illegally, you can adjust your status in the U.S. On the other hand, if you marry a permanent resident, the waiting time for permanent residence exceeds five years, and overstaying your visa and working illegally are not forgiven. See

Q I understand that the number of H-1B visas is going to fall drastically later this year? Is this true?

A Unless Congress acts before Oct. 1, the H-1B cap will fall from 195,000 to 65,000 on that date. Since it presently takes over six months to have an application for a change of status to H-1B processed, I recommend that you use the “Premium Processing” program to obtain an approval of your H-1B petition in 15 days or less. See

Q Is there a special temporary visa for registered nurses?

A Good question. Since most nurses do not qualify for H-1B visas, a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to create a special visa solely for foreign-born RNs. Our sources tell us that a bill will be introduced in the Senate this summer, with bipartisan support, which will restore the ability of RNs to enter the U.S. on temporary visas.

Q Is it still possible for a software engineer to obtain labor certification?

A It is extremely difficult, given the contrac-tion in the job market. Certain locations are still experiencing a shortage of job applicants, and certain software engineers have specialized skills which cannot be easily be duplicated. In general, software engineers should examine their alternatives before having their employers submit applications for labor certification on their behalf.

Q Is there any remedy for extremely long processing times?

A That depends on what you mean by “extremely long!” If the BCIS has exceeded the normal processing times listed at, you can ask a Federal Court to issue a “Writ of Mandamus” to compel the BCIS to act on your application.

Carl Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney and a specialist in immigration and naturalization law. You can reach him at (213)

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