Several clients working for large bona fide corporations in Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio had to appear for H-1B visa stamping in India recently. After submitting the customary documentation that we as immigration lawyers had been used to giving our clients to submit, these clients were given a pink letter issued pursuant to INA section 212(g). I have also had a client though our Washington, DC offices, who also works for a large Information Technology firm, face the same dilemma as well. This 212(g) letter asks the alien to e-mail back to the US Consulate a file in text format providing documentation and description regarding the following points:
- An invitation letter from the sponsoring organization in the US
- An itinerary of all locations the alien will visit in the US including contact names, organizations, addresses and telephone numbers
- A complete description of any equipment the alien plans to purchase or examine
- Export license
- A complete and detailed description of the alien’s current and past research
- A detailed purpose statement of the visit
- Information on who is funding the visit
- A list of all travelers
- The alien’s current position.
The document further advises the alien that it could take up to 8 weeks to review such material and to make a decision on the visa stamping application. The scariest thing about this experience is that once the applicant does a quick internet research on section 212(g) of the Immigration Nationality Act he finds that it applies to “Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive a Visa.” What were they thinking?? How can a simple case of an H-1B visa stamping result in a Pandora’s Box? What has recently happened? This situation occurred several times during the last couple of months were applicants appearing for a simple H-1B visa stamping interview are faced with “everything but the kitchen sink” approach of visa examination.
The only answer that I can give is that US Consulates are faced with a high unemployment in the US and pressures from some lawmakers in Washington who believe that H-1B visa workers are taking jobs away from US Citizens. This is one way to “weed out” some foreign workers and open their jobs to US Citizens. I cannot fathom any other reason for this recent shift. As you can see from the list above, there is nothing in it that truly touches on whether the applicant occupies a truly Specialty Occupation or whether the employer has the financial means to pay the alien’s wages, which are normally examined when an H-1B visa is submitted to the USCIS.
In both of the cases that I described, our firm was able to assist the client in obtaining the visa stamping through meticulous presentation of the essence of the original petition and by showcasing the “specialty qualities” of the client’s application. Without adequate legal representation, a simple H-1B visa stamping application could have resulted in a disaster.