Q: I overstayed my visa. Will President Bush’s guest worker program help me legalize my status in the U.S.?

A: The President’s immigration proposal is just that, a proposal. In order for it to help you or anyone else, it must be enacted into law. We will continue to update you as the President’s plan is introduced in Congress in our free e-mail newsletter. See shusterman.com/siu.html We link to the text and a video of the President’s Jan. 7 speech on immigration at http://shusterman.com under “U.S. Immigration News.”

Q: How long does it take to get a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen?

A: That depends on which city you live in. Waiting times vary from a few months to almost three years. We link to the official Immigration Service processing times at http://shusterman.com/toc-sc.html

Q: Can I get immigration forms without having to wait in line at an Immigration Service office?

A: Yes. All immigration forms may be down-loaded for free from the Internet. This is not like downloading music from the Internet. It is both free and legal. See http://shusterman.com/toc-forms.html

Q: My employer sponsored me for a green card in 2002. My application for adjustment of status is still pending. Can I change my job?

A: If your application for adjustment of status has been pending for over 180 days, you may change jobs as long as you remain in the same or a similar occupation.

Q: When do you expect the H-1B cap to be reached?

A: Probably the last day to submit a qualify-ing H-1B petition will be in mid-February. This year, the numerical cap is 65,000. As of the end of 2003, 43,500 H-1B petitions subject to the cap had either been approved or were pending at the service centers. At this rate, we are only a few weeks away from reaching the cap. If you do submit a petition, pay an extra $1,000 to have it expedited using the Premium Processing Program.

Q: How can I be sure that I choose a competent immigration attorney to handle my case?

A In certain states (California, Texas, Florida and North Carolina), the State Bar certifies qualifying immigration attorneys as specialists. Any qualifying specialist will list this designation on his business card and on his biography on his website. Another good source of information about attorneys iswww.lawyers.com

Carl Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney and a specialist in immigration and naturalization law. You can reach him at (213) 623-4592 orwww.shusterman.com

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