Thursday, February 26, 2015

Religious worker R-1 site visits could be effective for as long as six years

A non-US person who seeks to work in the United States as a minister, or in a religious occupation or vocation, might qualify for R-1 religious worker status. Like H-1B, this status is a temporary, nonimmigrant one. However, unlike H-1B, the filing fees are less and the employer has far less paperwork to contend with. Most importantly, R-1 status has no cap and therefore people who seek it need not worry about a lottery, nor about any fixed filing or start-of-work dates.

One potential issue with R-1 petitions, however, is the site visit. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that a valid site visit to the would-be employer occur before an R-1 petition can be reviewed for decision. Such a visit is intended to ensure that the organization is a legitimate one. Even if the petition is filed with premium processing, by which USCIS could render a decision within 15 calendar days, such 15-day clock starts only after a valid site visit.
Fortunately, a given site visit need not apply to only a single petition. That is, a site visit might be good even for petitions filed several years later.

I recently discovered that, assuming correct information from the client and lack of USCIS error, that site visit could be effective for as long as six years.
On January 13, 2015, I filed a premium processing R-1 petition, and it was approved by the end of the month—that is, within the 15-day period.

According to the person’s boss at that organization, the last time they had an R-1 site visit was for a worker who was approved in November 2008. Therefore, assuming the boss is correct, this latest R-1 approval did not require its own site visit, but rather was based on the 2008 visit. Assuming also no error by USCIS, a site visit therefore apparently can be effective for as long as six years.

Will such a six year effective period necessarily apply to everyone else? Of course not. As the car advertisements say, “Your mileage may vary.” However, in at least one case, an organization benefitted from a six year old site visit.

[The above information does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship]
Calvin Sun, Attorney at Law
610-296-3947, cell 215-983-3723
We Chat: calvin_t_sun

Sunday, February 1, 2015

“Understanding the H-1B Process” – Ustream web broadcast Sunday, February 8 at 4:30 pm ET

This web broadcast will help you understand key aspects of the H-1B process. Topics will include

• General immigration concepts
• H-1B legal standard
• The “cap”
• Important H-1B dates
• Lottery
• “Cap gap” extension
• U.S. master’s cap exemption
• When submitting documents as evidence
• Questions and answers

This web broadcast will occur on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 4:30 pm Eastern Time, and will last for about 90 minutes. The URL for the broadcast is

I will answer as many questions as I can, time permitting. Unfortunately, however, I am unable to analyze specific job situations as to their eligibility for H-1B status. You may send questions to me beforehand. Text me at 215-983-3723, or email me at If you do the latter, please be aware that I have a spam blocker, and if I do not see your email beforehand, you will need to respond to a CAPTCHA challenge message before I will see your email. My We Chat ID is calvin_t_sun.

This broadcast does not and will not constitute legal advice, nor will it create an attorney-client relationship.

If you wish, you may tune in at about 4:00 PM ET for a musical prelude of songs by George Strait.