Visa Revocations and OPT
The consequences of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation of the US companies Findream, Sinocontech, AzTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass, and Aandwill are now becoming evident. Thousands of students and young professionals, primarily Chinese and Indian, have had their visas revoked because of their past association with these companies. Worse, it appears that the US Government has presumed that these individuals were aware of the fraudulent nature of the offers of training to comply with the Optional Practical Training program requirements and is entering decisions to permanently bar them from the United States under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“6C”). For many of these individuals, it does not have to be this way.
A US government official can only make this determination based on an individualized review. Everyone’s circumstances were different. What was his or her specific intent at the time of accepting the training offer? Was he or she aware that the offer was a sham? When work or training did not materialize, what steps did the individual take to disassociate from the company? How quickly was that done?
For those who have already left the United States, the problem with challenging these 6C decisions may be that the consular officer will reflexively defer to the determination of ICE. For those who tried to use their visas to re-enter the US before revocation, they may have been subject to expedited removal and 6C decision by Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). While a decision by one of these agencies can be challenged, it is much more difficult to do so from outside the United States.
For those who are in the US either engaged in F-1 Optional Practical Training, in H-1B status, or some other status, this problem sooner or later will rear its ugly head. It is possible ICE will initiate deportation proceedings or USCIS may take adverse action on a benefit request (e.g., H-1B petition, change of status application, immigration marriage petition). Even if nothing happens in the short-term, it most likely will down the road when the “hit” in the government’s database “detonates”. There is no statute of limitations in immigration law.
Fortunately, there are options. It is necessary to think through those options now – to act instead of react. Hoping and praying that this will go away is not a strategy; it is only a plan to fail. Future employment, future marriage, the future of one’s children can all be impacted by a 6C decision. It is no exaggeration to say that whether one will spend the rest of days in the home country or the US may depend on actions taken now. How to deal with a current employer who is unaware of this potential problem? Should you leave the United States or stay? What does ICE know about your specific situation? What are the chances of challenging the decisions? How likely is a waiver to be approved? How will it impact a current STEM OPT? These are all questions that we have addressed for individuals impacted. Please sign up for a consultation to discuss your options.