Sunday, March 09, 2008

H-1B FAQ - Dependents

Special documentation instructions for those on a dependent visa (H-4, L-2, etc) for initial H-1 application

One of the requirements if to show that you have been maintaining valid status. However, your status is contingent on the primary visa holder. So, we need documents to prove the primary visa holder is maintaining status. This requires the following documents of primary visa holder:

  • 4 - 6 most recent paystubs
  • H-1 approval - I-797
  • I-94
  • If the primary visa holder just arrived and doesn't have any paystubs, we need copy of visa/passport.

Travel restrictions for H-1 processing
Once you apply for H-1, with change of status, don't go out of the country until H-1 is approved. If you go out of the country, your I-94 would change and the old one with which we applied would no longer be valid. Your change of status would be denied. Sometimes, approval doesn't come through until November/December and travel plans would have to be postponed.

However, you can still come back on the old visa (H-4, etc) and apply for change of status once you are here. A better option is to opt for consular processing.

Consular processing is strongly recommended for dependent visa holders
  • Don't have to worry about travel issues. Quite a large number of depends travel back to home country before their H-1 starts and consular processing wouldn't interfere with that.
  • Often, it turns out by the time the H-1 approval comes through, dependents are in an expectant state, and can't join the workforce for about 6 months to 1 year. The best option is to be in H-4 (or related dependent) status at that time. Our lawyer has noticed a very high volume of such pregnancy cases recently, where people switched back to H-4 as soon as it is approved.
  • By the time approval comes through, the market may not be in terrific shape, there is almost no hiring in Nov/Dec and sometimes skills need upgrading. Besides, no one can predict the vagaries of a particular skillset or a market or demand for a skillset in a particular location (dependents would have strict geographic restrictions). Again, the best option is consular processing, which would give flexibility until things are favorable.

Consular processing - change of status
  • We can file for change of status being in US. This is done using form I-539. USCIS fee for this is $320. It should be fairly easy to do the documentation ourselves. Attorney said his fee would be same for filing I-539, which would be $830, but I think we can probably persuade him to go with $500 or so or maybe even lesser. Most of the work for filing is done already anyways!
  • Get it stamped in Mexico, Canada or India

For $48000 pay, $4000/month

  • Employer taxes 12.5% ==> 500

  • Withholdings from your paycheck - Total: $951
  • Federal Withholding - $506.17
  • Social Security - $248.00
  • Medicare - $58.00
  • New Jersey - $106.92
  • SUI/SDI - $37.00

  • Total money stolen by Govt per paycheck = $1441

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