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Cletus Martin Weber

Cletus Weber’s Answers

18 total

  • Green card through investment requirement

    Hi, I am on work permit (intra company tranfer) status in US.I am planning to invest in the range of $ 500,000 to $800,000 by purchasing Motel/Hotel. Please let me know if I am eligible to apply green card through investment law and how much time...

    Cletus’s Answer

    This is a good question, but it is more complex than it seems.

    I devote a substantial amount of time to EB-5 cases (and to intracompany transferee cases), and based on my experience, I would not assume that EB-5 is even a good approach for you. (It may be, but I would not assume so.)

    I would recommend first looking very carefully at all other cheaper, easier, and less restrictive options first. I would look at EB-5 only if you can't find something else better. For example, if you are already here as an L-1 intracompany transferee, you may be able to obtain your green card more quickly through that path. To take advantage of that path, though, you would have to qualify for EB-1C, which is essentially the "green card" version of L-1A (i.e., executives or managers).

    If you are instead only in L-1B (i.e., "specialized knowledge"), you may be able to qualify for a green card through the PERM labor certification process instead, which might ultimately lead you to a permanent green card faster than EB-5, anyway, depending on where you were born, what type of job you do, and what the job requirements are.

    (EB-5 might be a faster path to a "temporary" green card, but then you would have to wait about two years before you could file for a "permanent" green card. Also, many bad things could happen in the meantime that might prevent you from ever converting your temporary EB-5-based green card into a permanent one.)

    If you ultimately find that EB-5 is your best option, then you are looking at preparation time of anywhere from about a month to about a year or more, depending on how clear your plan of action is, how fast any related transaction closes, how organized you are, how much experience your immigration lawyer has in EB-5 cases, etc.

    As for the government, USCIS normally takes 5-8 months to adjudicate the initial EB-5 petition--although currently USCIS seems to be moving slower and slower on these cases these days. You would then have to apply for your temporary green card, which you should plan on taking another several months to more than a year, depending on whether you file for "adjustment of status" in the United States (instead of doing "consular processing" at a U.S. consulate overseas). (If doing consular processing, the country in which you do that also matters quite a bit.) And as mentioned, you would still have to file for a "permanent" green card a couple years after obtaining your "temporary" green card. That process can take around 5-8 months as well, but can also take years and years if your case is denied and you choose to try to keep your case alive in immigration court. . . .

    Anyway, best of luck with your case. If you would like more information about EB-5, you can find more through the link below.

    (By the way, this answer is intented to provide only general information. You should not rely on it to take action or refrain from taking action in your particular case. Thanks.)

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  • Can I start a business in the USA if I'm an international student on F-1 visa?

    I'm a senior student graduating this coming May. I already have a business, but it is not registered in the States yet. I know that international students are not supposed to work off-campus, but my business has nothing to do with work. I buy elec...

    Cletus’s Answer


    I love working with entrepreneurs, because America needs people who have the brains and guts to make businesses from scratch--and entrepreneurs create desperately needed jobs for U.S. workers, which helps our country grow and prosper. If you want to stay here and do this, I hope you succeed.

    The answer to your question, though, really depends on the EXACT details (including size/type of business, ownership, investment, where you were born, where you are currently a citizen if different from your country of birth, and so on). I have obtained many green cards (and temporary visas) for entrepreneurs, and there are a number of ways to make this work, but there are also some potential traps, too, so you need to be careful.

    First, you have to be safe and not do something that gets you in trouble. Maybe what you are doing now is allowed, but maybe the government could argue that it actually constitutes "work" even though you are simply exporting. You need to look at this very carefully, because if you get it wrong, you could end up going backward instead of forward.

    Second, you need to try to figure out if and how you can make this business into a temporary work status (either on its own or as a side job while you work primarily for some other company) or into a green card. You need to know what the options are, how to bridge across from where you are now to where you want to be in the future, and how to do that without hurting yourself.

    Peng & Weber, PLLC, where I am a co-founder, provides free evaluations for such cases through a link on our website. I have included the link below. Although our office is across the bridge from Seattle, Washington, we represent clients around the country and around the world. I shake hands with most of my clients virtually, but am always happy to see in person those who make it to Seattle.

    Please note:

    * Normally, I try to respond to evaluation requests within 24 hours, but I will be in Washington, DC on Sunday through Wednesday for an EB-5 "stakeholder" meeting with USCIS as well as to attend our membership meeting of The Association to Invest In USA (IIUSA).

    EB-5 immigrant investor visas are the green card version of entreprenuer visas. You can find a link below for more details about EB-5 visas. EB-5 might work in your case, but that really depends on some factors that might not fit your case--at least not yet. . . .

    * The free evaluation is only to see if something jumps out at me as a good possible path for you. If it becomes too complex to figure out (or to explain) quickly, I may respond that for further help, you will need to schedule a paid consulation instead (also discussed on our website).

    Best of luck!


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  • What is the difference between business immigration lawyer and immigration lawyer?

    What is the difference?

    Cletus’s Answer

    This is a superb question.

    With apologies for a somewhat long response, this question is one that U.S. businesses and immigrants alike could save themselves HUGE headaches by paying closer attention to--along with selecting immigration attorneys more carefully, instead of just relying on scores, ads, perceived reputation, etc. (Those indicators can be helpful, too, but it is more important to ask clear and direct questions--some examples discussed below.)

    Because immigration law itself is a highly specialized area of law, one might think that all immigration lawyers are specialized in all areas of immigration law. In reality, immigration law has many sub-specialties that have hardly anything to do with each other, and many immigration lawyers practice for years and can be truly extraordinary immigration lawyers yet know little or nothing about areas of immigration in which they do not practice.

    Because of this, it is critical that you find an immigration lawyer that has experience in YOUR specific immigration needs, not just immigration in general.

    Perhaps the best way to understand the difference among various immigration lawyers is to think of immigration law falling primarily into 3 large groups of immigration cases:

    * "Business" immigration. This focuses primarily on obtaining temporary or permanent permission for employees (or investors) to live and work in the USA. (Below, I have provided links to books on some key "business" immigration topics.)

    * "Removal defense" is primarily court work aimed at trying to prevent someone from being deported.

    * "Family" immigration is primarily obtaining visas, etc. for spouses, children, parents, and siblings.

    (Of course, there are also aslyum, visa lottery, naturalization, etc., but the categories above are the 3 main types of cases.)

    Because U.S. immigration law is so complex and rapidly changing and because the stakes are so high in many cases, most (but not all) immigration lawyers prefer to focus on EITHER "business" immigration OR "removal defense". Of course, virtually all immigration lawyers also do "family" immigration, because lots of clients are or want to be married.

    Perhaps, there are a number of lawyers nationally who are well versed in BOTH business immigration and removal defense, but based on my 20 years of experience, I believe the best outcomes come from lawyers who specialize in one area or the other. (Of course, there are exceptions. I am just saying "generally" that is what I have seen.)

    So when you are trying to figure out whether you need an "immigration" lawyer or a "business immigration" lawyer, you need to keep in mind that the many "business immigration" lawyers (which is what I am) sometimes call themselves "immigration" lawyers or "business immigration" lawyers.

    The question you need to ask to get an appropriate attorney to help you (in any case) is not what they call themselves, but what they actually do.

    Here are some suggestions for questions to ask before you hire ANY lawyer, not just immigration lawyers):

    1. How many cases have you done like mine and what results have you achieved?
    2. Do you feel my case is easy or difficult, and why do you feel that way?
    3. Who is going to work on my case? If it is not you, what experience does that person have in cases like mine?
    4. What could go wrong in my case, what can you do to try to prevent that, and what can you do to protect me if that (or something else bad) happens?

    Listen carefully to the answers and ask more questions if you are unclear about what the lawyer is telling you. If you cannot get clear answers or feel uncomfortable with the answers, find someone else.

    The reason I encourage you to ask these questions is that in the times I have been asked to review the work of other immigration lawyers and have found serious problems, I feel many of these problems could have been prevented by the client by simply asking these questions in advance. . . .

    Best of luck!

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  • Is I-140 receipt number sufficient for H1-B visa extension by another employer?

    Recently, I got my I-140 approved by my current employer (employer A). I have the receipt number for the I-140. I have a job offer from employer B and I am planning to join employer B. Employer B will extend my H1-B visa for three years (as I a...

    Cletus’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Although one would normally send the I-140 approval notice, it is not required. In cases like this, we just enter the receipt number in the online case status checking link on the USCIS website and print out the page showing that the I-140 petition's current status is approved. That has been enough for us to obtain the 3-year extension in cases similar to yours.

    Although there is some risk that USCIS may ask for a copy of the Company A's I-140 approval notice, I would think it is a small risk, because the whole point of the law is the status of the petition, not the actual document that describes the status. That is, with the receipt number, the USCIS officer can presumably look up the status in the USCIS database.

    If you are worried, though, ask Company B file the new H-1B for you based on the online print out showing the approval of Company A's I-140 petition. If the H-1B is approved, as I would expect it to be (assuming it is otherwise approvable), then you can change to Company B. If it is denied for some reason, stay with Company A.

    (I would not worry about Company A trying to withdraw or revoke its approved I-140 on your behalf. I have not researched it again carefully, but my recollection is that employer's cannot withdraw or revoke I-140 petitions after approval. They can do so only BEFORE approval.)

    Good luck with your case.

    (This is just general information, so don't rely on it by itself. Thanks.)

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  • Need visa advice: H1B expiring, but I may come back as a student...

    Hi, I'm a Canadian citizen, but have been a US resident for 10 years, first on a string of TN visas and then on an H1B. The H1B expires in a couple of days, and tomorrrow I'm going to file a CoS to a B-2 in order to stay in SF for about six ...

    Cletus’s Answer

    If you are planning to return to Canada anyway after your six weeks of relaxing in SF, there should be no problem in applying for schools during that time period.

    There is a question of whether you need to disclose that you will be applying for U.S. graduate schools while you are hanging out in SF, though. It may be okay to apply for schools while you are here in your particular circumstances, because you intend to leave anyway and apply to return in F-1 student status later, but if the USCIS officer somehow misunderstands your request to relax and apply for schools, the officer may think you want to go to school either in B-2 status or later on in F-1 as soon as you get into school, and then may deny your change of status from H-1B to B-2, saying something like, "You are applying for B-2 status, but are saying you are going to go to school, which is not permitted in B-2 status."

    Any decision is likely to arrive after you have already left the country, and when you come back in, the CBP officer in the airport or border may see that denial and then ask you a million questions about it and then search your laptop to read all your emails to find out your "true" intentions about attending school.

    If I were you and intended to hang out for a while and look for schools in the meantime and planned to visit the folks in Canada for a while before coming back to the United States for studies, I would make it VERY clear (super clear) on your application for B-2 status that you do NOT intend to go to school on your B-2 status, but that if you do get into a graduate school, you will apply for F-1 status and re-enter later on in F-1 status. That way, when you go to the border (either after an approved COS or after a denied COS), you will be able to show the CBP officer exactly what you said you were going to do/not going to do and that you did/didn't do those things exactly as you said you were going to/not going to.

    (This is my approach. Others may advise you differently about whether to disclose/not disclose the graduate application process, but being honest AND clear is the best policy. If you are honest, but not clear, you risk someone misinterpreting what you said and then accusing of having done something other than what you said you were going to do.)

    A separate question that may come up later on is whether you will be returning to Canada after working in the United States for 10 years. In general, I would expect you to be admitted back to graduate school in F-1 student status after this 10-year period of employment, but you need to be prepared to answer that question, because if the CBP officer feels that you intend to stay in the United States permanently after your graduate program is over, the officer may not let you in in the first place.

    I don't expect this to be a problem for you, because it seems natural to return to Canada after your graduate program, but you just need to prepare to answer those questions, because they are going to come up. Also expect questions about significant others as evidence of your intent.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. Best of luck with your immigration matters, with the graduate school application process, and the graduate program.

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  • How much my little child(he is few months now)will help to change my status here in US

    I came in US 6 years ago with B-1 visa,entered legally In US,but I overstayed the 'time frame" I-94 because i did'nt want to go back to my country due to the economical situation existing there.I've paid my taxes every year since i'm here.never ha...

    Cletus’s Answer

    I do not have detailed answers to your questions, because advising someone in your circumstances requires very careful consideration of your specific circumstances.

    I can tell you one thing, though: Consult a competent immigration lawyer in your area BEFORE you do anything else. I know a lot of excellent immigration lawyers in Portland, so if you don't know of someone, please email me, and I will forward you some names. Otherwise, look on this website or Google for someone on your own.

    Going to the immigration service for assistance before talking with an immigration lawyer would be a terrible mistake. You need to know your rights first BEFORE you ask for benefits from the immigration service (which is now called USCIS, not INS). Your attorney can tell you your rights.

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  • Change of status

    I have an approve H1B petition from the Philippines. When I entered US the immigration officer note on my I-94 that NO COS and AOS. My lawyer is planning to file for change of status. Is it still possible or I should go back to my country and do c...

    Cletus’s Answer

    The NO COS/AOS language is a notation that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) puts on your I-94 to make it more difficult for you to file for nonimmigrant Change of Status (COS) or file for immigrant Adjustment of Status (AOS). I am not positive USCIS will honor it, but the reason CBP gave it to you is that they probably asked you a question, such as, "Do you want to study or work while you are here?" and you answered, "No."

    In any event, it is what it is.

    It is not clear when you say you have an approved H1B but have an I-94 already AND your lawyer is planning to file for change of status, because when you have an H1B approval notice, it should say on it that your status has ALREADY been changed or that you have to go overseas to obtain your H1B visa. But in any event, you have a choice of trying to COS in the United States or simply going back to the Philippines to obtain your H1B visa stamp.

    The advantage of COS, if it is approved, is that you do not have to leave the country. The disadvantage is that if you do COS and then travel later on, you will have to obtain an H1B visa to return, and when you do, the consular officer overseas will be question you seriously about having said you were going to visit friends or business associates on your visitor visa, but then you changed and went to work instead. In general, it is legal to COS, but if you do it too soon after your arrival in visitor visa status, the government may try to penalize you because they feel that your changing so quickly means that you had already planned to change, but then lied about it at the border.

    You have to face the consular officer eventually if you ever travel. Most of the time, our clients just go home instead of COSing from visitor visa. COSing from F1 student visa (or from some other visas) is not such a big deal most of the time, but COSing from B1/B2 visitor status can be problematic when you return to the U.S. consulate abroad to obtain your H1B visa.

    I don't have all of your details, so can't advise exactly what I would recommend in your particular case, but I do strongly recommend that your discuss the issue with your current attorney and ask your attorney to let you know the advantages and disadvantages and then make your best decision.

    Best of luck with your immigration case and with your new job in the United States. If you have other questions, you can read our website at the link below.

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  • Minimum Qualification required for applying L1A visa

    am a Three year diploma holder in IT and as well as i have done Bachelors and master degree in IT through distance education scheme in india. At present i am working for MNC it client and i was asked to apply for L1A visa.Could you please let me k...

    Cletus’s Answer

    There is no direct minimum educational requirement for L-1A. You just need to meet the general L-1A requirements, which are as follows:
    1. The company you worked for overseas and the company you will work for in the United States have to have a "qualifying relationship," which generally means parent-subsidiary or affiliate relationship.
    2. You generally have to have worked for the overseas company in an executive or managerial capacity for at least one year of the last three years before you entered the United States.
    3. You have to be coming to the United States to work for the U.S. company in an executive or managerial capacity.

    Educational background is not required, but it helps to show you qualifications for being an executive or manager.

    If you plan to work in L-1B capacity instead of L-1A, then the relationship requirements are similar, but instead of working in an executive or managerial capacity, you have to be coming to the United States to work in a position that requires "specialized knowledge."

    You can find more information on our website, Please see links below.

    Best of luck with your job and your immigration efforts.

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  • Hi I am a L1a visa holder and my visa is until May 15th this year, I have applied for my green card (1 140) and waiting for it

    to be processed. And the current moment there are a lot of job opportunities for me here. But everything so far has be rejected due to know valid documents. All i know now is that i will be receiving my approval of the (1 140 )soon what do i do ne...

    Cletus’s Answer

    Mostly it depends on what type of I-140 your company has filed for you and how close it is to being approved (and potentially your country of birth).

    If your I-140 is approved under EB-1C Multinational Executives or Managers, then you can file for your green card immediately after the I-140 is approved. (If you lose your job before the I-140 is approved OR even if you think that is a possibility, you should consult competent immigration counsel ASAP to help you plan for alternatives.)

    (If you happen to be overseas when the I-140 is approved, then you have to file for your green card through consular processing or wait until you return to the United States and then file for your green card through an I-485 application.)

    If you are in the United States when your I-140 is approved, then when you file your I-485 green card application, you can also file a form I-765 for work authorization (i.e., EAD). That work authorization typically arrives in 2-4 months after you file for it.

    Normally, you will need to continue working for the same employer until you get your green card before changing jobs, though. There are some exceptions that allow you to leave your current employer after the I-485 application has been pending for 180 days or more. (I strongly recommend that you do NOT use that so-called "portability" provision to transfer jobs until you have an immigration attorney review your case and guide you in how to do it properly.)

    If your I-140 was filed on some other standard basis, such as PERM, AND you were born in mainland China or in India, then you will first have to wait for many years before you can file your green card application and before you can work for someone else. If these circumstances apply to you (i.e., you were born in China or India and your I-140 is not for EB-1C), then you need to start planning your immigration status ASAP, because your current path appears to be ending soon if you have no alternatives lined up.

    You can find out which category your I-140 was filed under by looking at a copy of your I-140 petition, which your employer or you should have.

    Please see links below for more information.

    Good luck with your ongoing job and immigration efforts.

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  • OcFGossb19 Hi, I have H1 visa valid till june 2010 with a indian company. In april my project got over and I had to stay

    ocFGossb19 Hi, I have H1 visa valid till june 2010 with a indian company. In april my project got over and I had to stay back in US due to some personal constraints so I converted my visa to H4. I was arrested for class 5 felony and on pro...

    Cletus’s Answer

    Your question has an easy part and and a difficult part. I will answer the easy part and explain what to do with the hard part.

    The easy part to explain is the H-1B. If you have already had one in the recent past, and if you timely filed your previous change of status from H-1B to H-4, and if your new employer properly files the new H-1B petition, then the petition should be approved. No guarantee, but it should be--at least as far as H-1B qualifications go.

    Whether you need to get a new visa (in addition to just changing your "status" from H-4 to H-1B) depends on whether everything else has been properly done and whether you need to travel. I hesitate to give you a more detailed answer on this in part because there may be a piece missing or miscommunicated that would change the result for you.

    Another reason for the hesitation is that I am going to recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney ASAP on the impact of the "probation." And I would strongly recommend that you do that BEFORE you file your H-1B. You may need to try to get that cleared up before you file.

    The type of immigration lawyer you need for this type of case is not a newbie or "all around" lawyer who practices family law, tax, real estate law, and immigration at the same time. You need someone who knows the area of immigration law commonly referred to as "immigration consequences of criminal convictions." Google that phrase, contact one of those firms and ask for a recommendation for someone in your local area who knows the criminal statutes there. (Immigration law is uniform throughout the United States, but criminal law is typically localized.)

    If you email me your specific location, I would be happy to see if I could refer you to someone in your local area to help. You definitely need a good lawyer here. I wouldn't play games with it.

    Best of luck with getting this favorably resolved.

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