Immigration lawyer discusses visas

Kim Kerremans

[media-credit id=2199 align=”alignright” width=”197″][/media-credit]“There are five ways to immigrate to this country,” Immigration Lawyer Dana Bucin said. “First, you can be sponsored by a company. Second a family member that is a U.S. citizen can sponsor you. Third, you declare asylum. Fourth, you can put yourself in the Diversity Visa Lottery and lastly you can receive a visa based on special deals with special countries.”

Bucin came to Quinnipiac University on Wednesday, Oct. 25 to talk about Visa opportunities and Green cards for non-U.S. citizens. Bucin is a partner at Murtha Cullina, a New England law firm. Bucin represents businesses and individual clients for wide range of immigration matters.

The majority of the students who went to this lecture were graduate students, seniors and a couple juniors. There were a couple from Saudi Arabia, England, Romania and there were individuals who came from Germany and Brazil.

“Even though all international students need visas to get into the country, many don’t know what their visas entail,” Bucin said. “This talk is to help you all understand how visas work and why they need to be looked at in great detail, some visas may apply to you but they might not be the best visa to get.”

All non-U.S. citizens at Quinnipiac have either an F-1 or a J-1 visa, which are student visas.

An F-1 status means that the student is funded by personal funds, while a J-1 visa status means the student is being funded by an outside source such as the government or university, according to Bucin.

Senior computer science major JiSeok Hyun is on an F-1 student visa, and that allows her to stay in the U.S. for four years of  higher-education.

“I feel that I know enough about my visa status now but not about the potential opportunities after graduation.” Hyun said.

Bucin mentioned if a student wants to have an off-campus job, they must receive a Curricular Practical Training visa (CPT). A CPT visa is only applicable prior to graduation. After graduation, students receive an Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa. An OPT visa is a temporary working visa directly related to the student’s area of study, according to Bucin.

“If you have a non-STEM major the OPT is valid for one year only,” Bucin said. “While if you’re a STEM major you’re OPT is valid for three years.” Being a STEM major means you are majoring within the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

After students are no longer eligible for the OPT visa, individuals may receive a H-1B work visa if the workplace sponsors the student.

“Having a H-1B visa status means you are employed by a U.S. company,” Bucin said.

[media-credit name=”Graphic by Christina Popik” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Work visas are for people with at least a bachelor’s degree.

“The problem with a work visa is that by legislation there 85,000 total individuals who may receive a visa,” Bucin said. “However, 65,000 slots are for bachelor degree graduates and 20,000 slots are reserved for advanced degree individuals.”

The deadline for the H1B visa is April 1.

Entrepreneurs face another set of challenges, according to Bucin.

“If you categorize yourself as an entrepreneur, you are seen as being in competition with American workers,” Bucin said.

“Individuals can receive an E2 investor visa to work and enter the U.S. based on the investment he or she are controlling within a business,” Bucin said.

The E2 visa is typically issued for two or five-year period and can also be renewed indefinitely.

The Green Card is a permanent residence card. The same five ways to immigrate into the country apply to the green card as well. There are five different employment based green cards.

The five different employment-based green cards are for different situations. The most common green card international students receive are the EB2 and the EB3 visas, according to Bucin.

[media-credit id=2199 align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]EB2 is for individuals with advanced degrees or people who are working with the national interest of the United States such as individuals who work for NASA, the Navy or Genome research.

“EB3 is for the individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree but are so needed they are minimally qualified to be hired. It is when no other Americans are qualified to do that job,” Bucin said.

To receive these green cards the employer needs to sponsor you. For an employer to sponsor the student, the students need to have the talent and work ethic they are looking for. The student also needs to be loyal to them because the employer will spend nearly $7,500 on retrieving the green card for them.

Once the student have received their green card he or she are free to go anywhere. The next step after receiving a green card is U.S. citizenship. To become a U.S. citizen the individual needs to have had their employment based green card for five years or they have to be married to an American citizen for three years.

Bucin concluded the lecture by answering the question, “How do you get a visa?” Her response: “With a lawyer, a good one, do your research.”

“I would definitely consult with a lawyer if QU opens up another session in the future,” Hyun said.