Categories News & Updates USCIS

USCIS Announces Mail Option for I-551 Stamps

Green card holders now have a mail-in option for receiving proof of lawful permanent residency. Previously, those who had their green card lost, damaged or stolen, or otherwise needed proof of permanent residency, had to schedule an in-person appointment to receive an ADIT stamp, sometimes called an I-551 stamp. Now they can call the USCIS Contact Center to have an officer verify identity and mailing address, and potentially receive the ADIT stamp by courier service.

When lawful permanent residents call the USCIS Contact Center to request temporary evidence of status, an immigration services officer will verify their identity, their physical mailing address, and whether that address can receive UPS or FedEx express mail. They will then either schedule an in-person appointment for the lawful permanent resident, if needed, or submit a request to the USCIS field office to issue the ADIT stamp. If an in-person appointment is not needed, the USCIS field office will review the request for temporary evidence and mail the applicant a Form I-94 with ADIT stamp, DHS seal, and a printed photo of the lawful permanent resident obtained from USCIS systems.


This doesn’t mean that all those who request mail service will receive it. Some green card holders will still need to appear in person at a USCIS field office to receive evidence of their status, including those who have urgent needs, do not have a useable photo in USCIS systems, or whose address or identity cannot be confirmed.


The new process will give USCIS the option of issuing evidence of lawful permanent resident status in a timely manner without requiring a scheduled appointment at the field office. The goal is to reduce the burden on applicants and increase availability of USCIS services for other efforts.

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Avoiding Court The #1 Reason to Follow Immigration Law
Categories News & Updates

Avoiding Loss of Status: The #1 Reason to Follow Immigration Law

There are plenty of valid reasons to follow immigration law to the letter. Likewise, there are just as many reasons to hire a business immigration attorney to help ensure that your foreign-born workers maintain compliance for as long as they are in the U.S. But by far the number one reason is avoiding the loss of status, which could result in the accrual of unauthorized stay and eventually a 3-year or 10-year bar from the United States.

Criminal and civil court are what most people think of when the U.S. court system is the topic of discussion. If you know anything about American law, you know how different criminal and civil court can be. Guess what? Immigration court is a separate entity altogether. A lot of what happens in immigration court is nothing like criminal and civil court.

While most employment-based foreign nationals will never end up in immigration court, it is interesting to know how it works.

Right to an Attorney

Right off the top, there is no legal right to an attorney in immigration court. The law allows defendants to hire immigration attorneys as they see fit. But there is neither a legal requirement nor access to free representation if a defendant cannot afford an attorney. That’s why, in so many cases, defendants find themselves in court without legal representation.

For the record, very few business immigration cases involving things like H-1B visas end up in court. Most court cases are the result of people entering the country illegally or entering legally but overstaying their welcome. If foreign-born workers follow the law, the chances of ending up in court are slim to none. This is why close coordination with a qualified immigration attorney is so important. 

No Discovery, Either

Not only do defendants not have a right to counsel in immigration court, but there is also no discovery process. That is completely foreign to both civil and criminal court, where both sides are required to present evidence that they plan to use at trial. The discovery process gives both prosecution and defense ample time to prepare.

No such deal in immigration court. Defendants can arrive to their hearings without any advance knowledge of the evidence that will be used against them. Imagine being an immigrant with no legal representation and no knowledge of the evidence to be presented in court. How can you possibly defend yourself properly?

Cases Can Drag on For Years

There is one thing immigration court has in common with civil and criminal court: the potential for cases to drag on for years. Our legal system is set up in such a way as to allow all sorts of legal wrangling on both sides, legal wrangling that can tie up a case indefinitely. Unfortunately, immigration court is at a decided disadvantage in terms of resources.

At least in criminal and civil court, judges are required to maintain a fairly reasonable timeline. Not so an immigration court. For example, a recent story published by MetroWest Daily News briefly discussed a simple green card case that took seven years to resolve. Why so long?

Immigration judges are suffering under an extremely heavy case load. So much so that a single motion can lead to a hearing delay of up to two years. All the while, the defendant is left in limbo. There is no way to plan for the future because there is no way to know what the future holds.

In closing, we want to emphasize the fact that the vast majority of business immigration cases never end up in court. But that is because the law is followed to the letter. If you are looking to bring foreign-born workers to the U.S., know that the system is time consuming and complicated. Your best bet is to work with an experienced immigration law from like Graham Adair. We can help you maintain compliance throughout the process.



Are Some Laid Off L-1 Workers Trying to Go H-1B Instead
Categories News & Updates

Are Some Laid Off L-1 Workers Trying to Go H-1B Instead?

Foreign nationals from other countries working in the U.S. tech sector have taken a hard hit in recent months. Multiple rounds of layoffs have affected primarily L-1 and H-1B visa holders in IT. Thousands of workers have been left scrambling to find new jobs that would allow them to stay in the U.S. Is it possible some laid off L-1 workers are trying to go H-1B instead?

Anything is possible. In fact, we have seen numerous online articles encouraging laid off L-1 workers to look for employment that would make them H-1B eligible. There is just one problem: the H-1B visa program has annual caps.

L-1 Visas for Managers and Executives

As immigration attorneys, we believe it is fair to say that laid off L-1 workers are worse off than their H-1B counterparts. We say this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is the fact that the L-1 visa is reserved for managers and executives transferring to the U.S. from within the same company.

This automatically puts laid off L-1 workers in a defensive position. They cannot simply go to work for another American company on an L-1 visa. They would have to leave the country, get hired by a new company, then transfer back to the U.S. on a new visa.

The other problem is potentially more serious: L-1 spouses working on L-2 visas are required to stop working when the original L-1 worker is laid off. Now you have two people living in the U.S. with no income and a requirement to leave the country within a given amount of time.

Converting to the H-1B Visa

The plight of thousands of laid off L-1 workers has led to some immigration law experts encouraging they convert to H-1B visas. But again, most H-1B visas are subject to an annual cap. That being the case, there are six options if you miss this year’s H-1B lottery:

  • Try to find a position that can get the employee into the next H-1B lottery and hope for the best.
  • Try to find an H-1B job that is exempt from the annual cap.
  • Apply for a B2 visitor visa to buy some time to figure out what to do next.
  • Enroll in a higher level academic degree to qualify for additional OPT time.
  • Find another work authorized status, such as citizenship-based work visas.
  • Return to your home country.

The benefit of the fourth option is being able to continue living and working in the U.S. for a couple of years following the completion of your course of study. This is possible due to a policy created by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS rule implemented a few years ago.

F-1 For Study Purposes Only

Under the original law enacted by Congress, the F-1 visa was intended for study purposes only. A foreign student could come to U.S. solely for the purposes of studying. At graduation, the student was expected to return home.

DHS changed that with a rule that allowed two things. First, students could begin working here even as they conducted their studies. Second, they could continue working here for up to an additional three years after their studies were complete. On a typical four-year degree program, a student could legally live and work here for up to seven years. However, caution should be taken for work performed prior to graduation since fulltime pre-completion OPT can count against post-completion OPT time. Part-time work typically does not count against post-completion OPT time. 

At any rate, L-1 and H-1B visa holders recently laid off due to tech sector downsizing are struggling to figure out what to do next. Here at Graham Adair, we are immigration law experts who navigate these situations regularly. If we can help, we would be more than happy to discuss your case.


h 1b visa for spouses
Categories USCIS

Settlement Makes Life Easier For H-1B Spouses

As H-1B visa attorneys, we are happy to report that a recent settlement between the USCIS and a pair of immigrants (and their attorneys) should make life easier on the spouses of legal H-1B workers who are looking to work themselves. The settlement represents a complete turnaround from a policy previously in place.

Immigration Law Is in Flux

Immigration law in the U.S. can be complicated for this very reason. Our system allows federal bureaucratic agencies – like the USCIS – to change the rules without having to go through Congress. For all intents and purposes, this means our immigration rules are always in flux.

This is part of the reason so many foreign workers wanting to come to this country to work have such a difficult time navigating a system. Likewise for their employers. Employers are aware of the H-1B visa, as well as the other options for that matter, but don’t know how to facilitate the approval process.

If you have not guessed by now, this is why immigration attorneys can be so valuable. It takes a lot to keep up with immigration law and its frequent changes. But attorneys who specialize in immigration law make it their business to stay on top of things.

Both foreign-born workers and their employers be aware of the potential pitfalls of navigating the visa application process on their own. For starters, there is more than one type of work visa. The United States offers multiple types of visas depending on what a foreign-born worker does, the demand for their services, the length of time they will be working in the United States, and more.

The other thing is all the paperwork involved. As you know, the government loves paperwork. They also tend to slow down processing it if all the details are not just right. An experienced immigration attorney knows how to complete the paperwork and submit it in a timely manner to avoid delays and potential denials. For that alone, hiring an attorney to help with business immigration is very advisable.

Do Not Be Afraid to Ask

With the recent USCIS settlement now on the books, the rules regarding adjudicating work applications for the spouses of valid H-1B visa holders have changed yet again, and rest assured though that the rules are more than likely to change again in the future.

As a Graham Adair client, we hope you are never afraid to ask about things you do not understand. We don’t expect you to know and fully grasp all the rules. We do not expect you to be an expert on immigration law. That’s our job.

We are here to answer your questions. We are here to help you navigate the visa process as efficiently and quickly as possible. We are here to help you understand your rights and represent you as needed.

The spouses of current H-1B visa holders will no longer have to wait so long to be approved to work in this country. Thanks to the recent USCIS settlement, all the paperwork can now be bundled and adjudicated together.

You can easily contact us in Austin, San Jose or Utah.