Maintaining Your Status


By Margarita E. Hernandez

HOUSTON: Most of the time, people misunderstand the difference between obtaining a visa and maintaining status. It does not matter if you are a Nonimmigrant or Immigrant, you must maintain your status.

If you are a Legal Permanente Resident you may lose your Residence by committing an act that makes you removable. Some Crimes are grounds of deportability, including misdemeanors. Abandoning your Residence is another reason you may lose status. Often, a lot of people take long trips and do not realize that they may lose their status. There are some exceptions, but this article does not discuss the exceptions. If you have been out of the country for more than one or two years, you may need a re-entry authorization.  However, USCIS when determining if you have abandoned your Residence, any length of absence may be considered. Other reasons are:

i) failing to file Income Taxes while you are outside the United State, and

 ii) declare yourself  as a Nonimmigrant in your tax returns.

 If you think that these circumstances apply to you, please look for professional help as soon as possible, especially if you are going to apply for Citizenship or renew your residence.

If you are a Nonimmigrant you may not been able to Change or Extend your status if you are not maintaining your current status.  If you believe you are not maintaining or have questions regarding this issue, please contact an experienced Immigration Attorney promptly.

 In general, maintaining status (F-1, M-1, L-1, O-1, E-1, E-2, etc.) is to engage only in activities consistent with your visa. For instance, if you apply for a Tourist Visa (B-2), you won’t be able work, or negotiate a contract, or start trading for a company. Regardless you have been approved, once you get your visa, you must maintain your status as F-1 or M-1 Student, E-2 Investor or E-2 Employee, etc.

There are conditions and specific limitations in each category.  For example, an H-4 spouse (of H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C, H2A/B or H3) cannot work in the United States, but an E-2 Spouse can work by filing for Employment Authorization and work for any Employer.

For further information, please contact Margarita Hernandez at (832) 464-4852.