Work Permits

Q: I’ve heard that the Immigration Service can now grant EAD work permits for more than one year. Is this true?

A: Yes, on July 30 the Immigration Service issued a regulation that enables the agency to issue multi-year EADs. The validity period of each depends on a number of factors. For example, for an asylee who applies for adjustment of status, the initial validity period will be five years. For more information on this subject, see the current issue of our free, e-mail newsletter at

Q: Have the Immigration Service’s photo requirements changed?

A: Yes. As of Sept. 1, the Immigration Service will only accept photos that are full frontal head shots.

Q: I submitted a visa petition for my relative over two years ago. When can I expect an approval?

A: The Immigration Service has recently an-nounced a new policy whereby the processing time for the approval of a relative visa petition will vary according to backlog in the particular preference category. For example, since the backlog for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens exceeds 12 years, expect such a petition to remain pending for many years.

Q: I want to work in H-1B status. When will the quota open up again?

A: The H-1B numerical cap, which was re-duced to 65,000 this year, was reached in February. However, since April 1, the Immigration Service has been accepting H-1B petitions for work starting on Oct. 1, 2004. Apply quickly since the coming year’s quota may be reached as early as November 2004.

Q: I understand that the J waiver program for physicians expired on June 1. I completed my residency on June 30. What are the propects for me to achieve a waiver?

A: All the J waiver programs for physicians are in place except for the Conrad State 30 program. However, physicians who were pursuing their residencies or fellowships on June 1, 2004 are still eligible to seek waivers under this program. Legislation is currently pending in Congress to cover physicians who began their residencies and fellowships as J visa holders after that date. For more information, see our “Physicians” page at “Immigration Legislation” page at

Q: Waiting times for petitions and applications for immigration benefits seem to be getting longer by the minute. I have been waiting for immigration benefits months longer than the time period printed on my receipt. What is your advice?

A: The time periods printed on receipt no-tices issued by the Immigration Service are notoriously inaccurate. Fortunately, the Immigration Service’s website lists processing times which are fairly accurate. We link to the processing times at the Immigration Service’s five service centers and 83 district and sub-offices at

Carl Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney and a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law. He manages a five-attorney practice based in Los Angeles. (213) 623-4592.

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