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Immigration History

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It is very important to provide documentation to show that the beneficiary is in legal immigration status if he or she wants an extension, change of status, etc. and is currently in the U.S. All H petitions, even those for extensions, must include documentation of the beneficiary's entire immigration history. Even if you have submitted such documentation previously, you need to submit it again for all subsequent petitions.

Beneficiaries/employees in the U.S. will provide

  • Passport photo/biographical information page (color copies).
  • Passport pages bearing US visa and all US entry visas.
  • All "Notices of Action" (form I-797). This includes all previous H approval notices, even those from previous periods of H status, and even if those periods of H status were not at Stanford.
  • Anything else that bears upon immigration status. This includes all DS-2019s if beneficiary was ever in J visa status (don't leave some out because "they all look the same"; copy of the waiver approval if J beneficiary was ever subject to 212.e; all I-20s if beneficiary was ever in F status along with copy of EAD if OPT was granted; approved I-140 immigrant petition, etc.
  • For changes of status from F1 OPT to H1B, USCIS is now sometimes requiring evidence of continuous full-time employment in a field relevant to the PhD in order to approve the H1B petition. This evidence can consist of
    1) All pay statements from the start of the OPT until the present, rather than just 3 months of pay statements.
    2) Letters from the employers that have employed the prospective H1B beneficiary during the period(s) of OPT, verifying the period of employment, that it was full time, and that the job was in the relevant field of study.
    3) Any other evidence that confirms that the prospective beneficiary was employed full-time during the period of OPT and that the job was relevant to the field of study.

    It appears that USCIS may be starting to ask for this information as evidence that the person maintained valid F1 status throughout the OPT period. Depending on the amount of post completion OPT they were granted, in order to maintain valid F1 status, they cannot have accrued more than a certain number of days of unemployment: If they were granted the 24 month extension the cannot have accrued more than 150 days of unemployment; If they were granted the 17 month extension, they cannot have accrued more than 120 days of unemployment. If they were just granted the initial period of OPT, they cannot exceed 90 days of unemployment. They are also required to be employed at least 20 hours per week, and all employment must be in a job related to their field of study.

    So far, this policy doesn’t seem to be applied consistently. Some petitions sent without this additional evidence have been approved but in some cases USCIS will send an RFE requesting this evidence. If you can provide the above additional documentation confirming that this prospective H1B beneficiary maintained valid F1 OPT status, we can include it in the petition and possibly reduce the possibility of receiving an RFE later, or even a denial of the petition.

Beneficiaries who are not in the US do not need to provide a copy of the I-94 card but should provide copies of passport pages. If such a beneficiary was ever in the US in F, J, or H status, the visa documents (H-1 approval notices, DS-2019s, I-20s and, if OPT was granted, the EAD card copy) relevant to those periods of visa status should be submitted.