NOTEArticle written in January, 2010. The below information is for your reference only, it does not apply to current year visa conditions. You may read the comments section and Check out POE Tracker for current situation
One of the shocking news that I heard recently from my friends and also highlighted in news websites like Rediff News is few of the H1B visa holders were sent back to India at the port of entry. This article is about the incident and caution to avoid travel.
Real incident : H1B holders sent back to India at Port of entry
This incident happened in the first week of January at the port of entry at Newark, NJ. At least five of the H1B holders who came in a plane from India were sent back home. I do not know info about all the victims, but one of them was working for a mid size Desi consulting company in US. As usual the person had a very good consulting job and was working in US for a client. The person went to India, got H1B visa extension stamped and came to US with all the proper documentation to Newark. At the port of entry, the H1B holder was questioned by Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBP Officer) and was sent back making the H1B holder sign I-275 form. There was no proper reason explained. It does not make any sense logically, but imagine in the person’s shoes and think of you answering to CBP officer. It is a very tough situation. Well, the reality is, you can never question the Visa officer or anyone who deals with immigration. It is exactly same as we going to visa stamping in India, the Visa officer just denies F1 visa without giving any proper reason to us. That’s Visa Officer discretion. Bottom-line, all the people travelling to India especially as a H1B holders need to be cautious and should NOT travel.
H1B visa holders, Please avoid travel to home country or other country if you can.
Well, there are only two options:
- Take the big risk, go to home country or any other country , and take a big chance at Port of entry.
- Do NOT take risk and NOT go to home country and avoid the situation.
The wisest thing, provided if your situations permit, to do is to avoid travel to your Home country could be India, Sri lanka or any other country on H1B visa. You never know, may be 98 percent of the people come through the port of entry, still there is 2% people taking the hit and thats the risk…why take the risk ? Especially with the new rules of H1B visa for 2011 multiplied with all the macro economic factors like recession, it is a very risky bet. But, you will have to remember it happens may be only very few, one in 500 or 1000, I do not know the statistics. But, people only talk about negative things and make a big deal about everything. People do not talk about how many of them came through the port of entry successfully. I will try to post some information on few success at Port of entry as my friends recently came back.
If you have to travel, what can you do to make your case stronger at port of entry ?
Well, the main reason for all the fuss around is the new H1B guidelines and the implications to existing H1B cases. This is what USCIS says about extensions and logically thinking, they expecet the H1B holder to have valid documents as listed below based on the regulations memorandum released. This is for the extension only.
- Copies of the beneficiary’s pay records (leave and earnings statements, and pay stubs, etc.) for the period of the previously approved H-1 B status;
- Copies of the beneficiary’s payroll summaries and/or Form W-2s, evidencing wages paid to the beneficiary during’ the period of previously approved H-1B status;
- Copy of Time Sheets during the period of previously approved H-1 B status;
- Copy of prior years’ work schedules;
- Documentary examples of work product created or produced by the beneficiary for the past H-1B validity period, (i.e., copies of: business plans, reports, presentations, evaluations, recommendations, critical reviews, promotional materials, designs, blueprints, newspaper articles, web-site text, news copy, photographs of prototypes, etc.). Note: The materials must clearly substantiate the author and date created;
- Copy of dated performance review(s); and/or
- Copy of any employment history records, including but not limited to, documentation showing date of hire, dates of job changes, i.e. promotions, demotions, transfers, layoffs, and pay changes with effective dates.
Also,talk to your employer and get to know the details of your H1B filing and details like how the H1B was filed and How was the client company presented and How your skills were presented in the original petition. Your explanation should be congruent with the filing of your original and extension of H1B visa. Any discrepancies between your employers and your statements will create unnecessary troubles. Just take time to study your history of H1B petition and work with employer and get to know all the details. Your employer is your best resource and can help you in this situation.
Article written in January, 2010. The below information is for your reference only, it does not apply to current year visa conditions.
This post is just a word of advice and caution intended in good spirit to help H1B holders in US to take a wise decision about travel. It is not intended to mislead or scare you if you travelling. It does not happen to everyone, but just good information to know and be prepared with better documentation that can help you be prepared with enough documentation complying all the new H1B guidelines and answer questions at Port of entry correctly.
Do you know any other instances where anyone on H1B visa you know were sent back ? Please share your experiences, it helps others …add a comment.
Image credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/erussell1984/2490601749/