GENERAL: Where should I start if I have questions about my immigration or visa status?
H-1B VISA: What Are the Requirements for an H-1B Visa?
H1-B VISA: What Happens When I Reach Six Years of Eligibility in H-1B Status?
VISA LOTTERY: What is the "visa lottery," and how do I enter it?
First, please review Administrative Guide Memo 28.1, http://adminguide.stanford.edu/28_1.pdf and if your questions are not answered contact the the Bechtel International Center at http://www.stanford.edu/dept/icenter.Back to top
In order to qualify for H-1B visa status, an individual must have a bachelor's degree, or the equivalent, in a field directly related to and required for the position which he or she is being offered. The company or employer files the petition, which must be accompanied by evidence of the individual's qualifications, as well as an explanation of why the bachelor's degree is required. For individuals who received their education outside the US, there are many services which will evaluate their credentials to determine equivalence. In some circumstances, an individual with less than a four-year bachelor's degree may be determined to have the equivalent of a bachelor's degree, based on a combination of education and experience. The INS considers three years of progressively responsible experience in the person's filed to be equivalent to one year of college in that field, but requires a determination by an expert on this issue.Back to top
H-1B status is designed for temporary workers: those who are in the US for a time, but expect and plan to return to their home countries at the end of this employment. If an individual has filed for permanent residence status, and has passed a certain point in the procedure, it may be possible to extend his or her H-1B stay beyond the six year point. Otherwise, an individual is expected to leave the US at the end of the six year period. After remaining abroad for a full year, the individual would be eligible for a new 6 year period. (Brief trips into the US, such as in B-1 or B-2 status do not require a new start to the one year abroad, but are added to it. Thus, an individual who remained out of the US for a year, but spent one month of that year in the US on a B-1 visa, would be required to wait 13 months from the time he departed the US, before he would be granted a new H-1B visa.)Back to top
If you are interested in remaining in the US longer than six years, you should begin to explore the possibilities for permanent residence early, keeping in mind that, for employment-based permanent residence status, it's up to the employer whether and when to initiate this process.
Every year, the US Department of State, in conjunction with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, administers a program to make a specific number of permanent residence visa available, through a mail in program. Applicants are chosen by a random drawing, but visas are distributed among six geographic regions based on recent immigration levels, in order to achieve diversity among those who are granted permanent residence. Citizens of countries who have not sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the US in the past 5 years are eligible for the "visa lottery." To enter, each eligible person can send one entry to the address established by the DOS, during a one month period. Successful entrants are notified by mail, and must then follow up by applying for an immigrant visa. Selection in the visa lottery does not guarantee issuance of a visa.Back to top
Entering the visa lottery is easy and inexpensive, and does not conflict with other permanent residence activities the person is pursuing. If multiple family members qualify for the lottery, each should submit a separate entry form. You do not need an attorney to help you submit the entry. Requirements, instructions, and related information are all available at the Department of State's website,
For DV-2003, the current program, entries must be received between October 1 and October 31, 2001. Citizens of the following countries are NOT eligible:Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. (Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.)
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