Visa Woes

Q I am in my sixth year on H-1B status in the U.S. My employer submitted an application for labor certification on my behalf almost 18 months ago. It is still pending. Am I eligible for an extension of my H-1B status?

A Be patient. Good news may be coming your way. As the law stands today, it is impossible to obtain a seventh year extension as an H-1B unless your labor certification is approved and an I-140 has been filed on your behalf. However, an amendment to this provision of law passed the House of Representatives during the last week of September. Under this amendment, as long as your application for labor certification is still pending after one year, you may apply for a seventh year H-1B extension. We expect the amendment to pass the Senate and be signed by the President very soon. Then you can apply for a seventh year extension.

Q I recently had my labor certification approved. How long will it take before I can apply for adjustment of status?

A You can do so immediately. All the employment-based numbers are current and the INS recently began accepting “concurrent” filings of I-140s and I-485s. Both you and your family members should qualify for work permits (EADs) within no more than 90 days.

Q I am a physical therapist who is present in the U.S. as a visitor. I would like to apply for H-1B status but I do not have a social security number so I cannot obtain a license. What should I do?

A Easy question. You do not need a license in order to apply for a green card. Submit I-140 and I-485 simultaneously, and in 90 days or less you will receive an employment authorization document (EAD). With an EAD in hand, you can work and apply for a social security card. With you social security number, you can apply for a license.

Q My application has been pending with INS California Service Center for many months. How can I find the status of my case?

A As long as you have a receipt number, you can check the status of your case by telephone or online. The new online system may be accessed at

Carl Shusterman is a former INS trial attorney and a specialist in immigration and naturalization law. You can reach him at (213) 623-4592.

Send your questions for our panel of law experts to[email protected]. Advice given is of a general nature, and is not intended as a substitute for a personal consultation. We cannot respond individually to each letter received.

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