Q: I was driving at 4 a.m. with the headlights off and was pulled over. I was given a breath test and blood test. Later I was handcuffed and taken to a police station. I have a court date in a month. Will this incident affect my H-1 B status? I am about to apply for a green card. What are the implications? Is it a good idea to hire a lawyer for the court hearing?
A: A DUI conviction is not considered to be criminal by many jurisdictions. If you have only one DUI conviction, there is generally no reason to be concerned—it should not have an adverse impact on your permanent residence application. However, U.S. immigration authorities will want certified court depositions detailing the court proceedings since such proceedings typically arise out of an arrest, and all arrests are revealed in the applicant’s pre-interview fingerprint check. You should consult a criminal attorney who is also aware of the immigration consequences.
Q: I am a physical therapist in Chennai with six years of experience. I have a job offer in California. What kind of visa is available to physical therapists? Can I apply directly or does my employer have to file for it? How long does it take?
A: Physical therapists are generally eligible for H-1B status since a bachelor’s degree is a standard requirement for that occupation in the United States. You must submit your education credentials to a U.S. state therapy board for a temporary license or permit. A list of state therapy boards is available on the Internet. You will also need a visa screen. Currently there are two sources for the visa screen for physical therapists, Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (www.fccpt.org) and Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (www.fccpt.org). You do need a U.S. employer to file for your H-1B visa. For 2007-08, the H-1B quota will open up on April 1, 2007 and the earliest you can start working is Oct. 1, 2007. You can also apply for a green card as physical therapists have been designated as a shortage occupation by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Q: I am planning to go to Mumbai to get engaged. I’d like my fiancée to be able to return to the U.S. with me. Where should I apply for a K-1 visa for her? How long does it take to process?
A: The K-1 visa enables U.S. citizens to bring their foreign fiancé(e)s to the United States in order to get married. Certain conditions must be met. Assuming that you meet the requirements, the petition is filed with the USCIS in the United States. Such petitions cannot be adjudicated abroad. Approval timelines vary, with the processing times ranging from one to six months.
Q: I am a U.S. citizen currently in Bangalore for a three-year work assignment. I plan to marry an Indian citizen here. Can I apply for a U.S. green card for my wife while we continue to live in Bangalore?
A: The first step is to file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) for your wife. Since you are currently living abroad, you can file the immigrant visa petition at a U.S. embassy or consulate (post). In order to find out whether you can file a petition at a specific post abroad, you must inquire with that post. Please keep in mind that you must have a “domicile” in the U.S. before you can sign the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), which is required for an immigrant visa for spouses.
Immigration and business attorney Indu Liladhar-Hathi has an office in San Jose. (408) 453-5335.