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J1 sponsor rule on USCIS petition

Published Jun 5,2022 By Jay

Hi Team,

I’m a postdoc working in STEM at a national lab, currently on a J-1 visa. While discussing filing I-140 self petition, my lawyer suggested that there’s no need to disclose any details of the plan to obtain a green card, unless I really need to extend my J-1 status, (which will be difficult anyway after filing I-140. )

They said, “Since you have not yet filed the I-140, it should not be necessary to mention this to your immigration office now. … please note that the filing of your I-140 alone does not affect your J-1 visa status and your J-1 will remain valid until it expires.

That said, you may have issues extending your J-1 visa after filing I-140. As noted earlier, if you are in a situation that you may have to extend J-1 status after filing I-140, please be sure to check the relevant policy of your J-1 program sponsor in advance. Some J-1 institutions have related information on their websites. If you wish to talk to J-1 RO directly, you don’t necessarily need to discuss your specific plans of applying for a green card but just inquire their general policy.”

However, I noticed that when I first signed my postdoc offer, there’s a specific rule in their J1 responsibility appendix that I had to sign that says: “I understand that I must notify the immigration office _prior_ to filing any application or petition with Department of State and/or USCIS. … (Failing to do so) may lead to serious immigration consequences.”

I wonder if that’s just a bluffing internal rule of the lab to discourage J1 visitors from petitioning to maintain a good reputation at USCIS — according to this page, one of the three hurdles for J1’s to petition is that some institutes would even go so far as to terminate the sponsored J1 program if they found out that the J1 holder petitioned to USCIS just to keep a good J1 program track record — or I will actually run into trouble legally. I wonder if anyone was in a similar situation and your strategy to such a rule.

Thanks!

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BlogSupport
BlogSupport
2 years ago

Extending J-1 status (without renewing J-1 visa stamp) while I-140 is pending is a gray area. While it should not be possible due to conflict of intents, it is done routinely (perhaps because non-immigrant visas and I-140 are handled by different govt departments). We do not give legal advice in this forum, so you need to make your own decisions. The common sequence of actions is J-1 extension first and then filing I-140. This way you avoid conflict of intents. Compliance with the employer’s policy is up to you. I can imagine that they want to know about your plans in order to avoid surprises when preparing your immigration documents.

Jay
Jay
1 year ago

Thanks a lot for the reply! I understand that extending DS2019 while I-140 is pending is tricky. However, even before handling that part, I’m a bit worried about the internal regulations imposed by the employer. In other words, the part that I’m evaluating is the risk of not complying with the employer’s policy. Basically,

– What happens if I do notify them before filing I-140? Will they stop sponsoring my J1 immediately?
– What happens if I file I-140 without letting them know and they find it out themselves at a later time? How likely will they let me go based on that?
– What are the ways they can find out that I have a pending I-140 petition or later a pending 485? (e.g. if they try to extend my DS2019 and fail then they will most likely know that I have a pending petition. Any other ways to know even earlier?)

I wonder if anyone on this forum or anyone you know who’s been through a similar situation and how they navigated through it. Thanks a lot!

BlogSupport
BlogSupport
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay

I doubt your employer would fire you for filing I-140 or that they will find this out until you decide to extend J-1, however, as the lawyer already told you, it makes sense to discuss the internal policy with your employer without mentioning your plans. We do not offer legal advise, especially concerning institutional policies we are not familiar with.

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