Help the Swede
November 3, 2010 1:43 PM   Subscribe

How can someone from Sweden in the U.S. on an expiring H-1B visa stay here longer, preferably permanently?

I'm posting this for a friend of mine. He would really like to stay in the U.S. and is looking to see if you have any creative ideas or experience with immigration to the U.S. from Sweden. I will add that he has a girlfriend here and has at least considered the possibility of marriage, though that is not an ideal solution. He says:

My story , the short version...

I am from Sweden, and have been in the US, back and forth, for about 12 years.
The last five years have been on a H-1B Visa.
First 3 years, then a two year extension for a Marketing position at a FBO Company in Washington State (aircraft rental, pilot training, aviation fuel services, maintenance, parts sale, and a small store).

I have a Bachelors Degree from WSU in Business Administration, with a minor in Marketing.
I also have both a Aircraft Maintenance Technician Certificate and Pilot's license (FAA).
My Work Visa expired Oct. 1, 2010.
I applied for a change of status until Nov, 7, 2010 (have got a verification mail that they got my request and are processing it)
So I probably have to head back to Sweden here shortly :-(

I actively play both Ultimate Frisbee and Hockey for recreational purposes.
I feel like i better "fit in" here in the US, but as we all know, it is not that easy to get your Visa if you want to to it right. I am running out of options, but I hope there might be someone out there that has the knowledge, an idea, a suggestion, anything on how I could be able to have my future here in the United States.
Thank You for your time and assistance!
posted by huckit to Law & Government (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you consulted with an immigration lawyer? You really need to talk with an expert in this area about your options and about the repercussions of any action you might take.
posted by decathecting at 1:47 PM on November 3, 2010

Have your friend speak with an immigration attorney. No one here will be able to provide more info than that.
posted by dfriedman at 1:54 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

His employer may be able to file an immigrant petition, Form I-140, for him, depending on (among other things) how long he's spent in H-1B status. Consult an immigration attorney as quickly as possible.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:57 PM on November 3, 2010

Best answer: As others have said, your friend needs to talk to an immigration lawyer. Perhaps someone else can recommend a good one in Washington.

What has he applied for a change of status to? Tourist?
He could also apply for a change of status to student.

My employer filed for my I-140 when my H-1 was almost done. We almost left it too late, but fortunately the immigration attorney was able to claim extra H-1 time for me. I'm not sure how it works, but based on the documentation he requested I think it was due to large chunks of time I'd spent working outside of the US, for my employer, during my visa.

Marriage is probably his best route to staying permanently, but of course, it's not something that should be entered into only for immigration purposes. Because he is out of status on his H-1, even after the marriage, there will be a long processing period (4 months at the Yakima, WA field office) during which he will not be able to work, until his EAD comes through. He would however be free to work at any job at that point, not just the one on his H1.
posted by IanMorr at 2:28 PM on November 3, 2010

Best answer: To stay here permanently, you need to get legal permanent residence. There are two ways to do this: through an I-140 petition from your employer, or an I-130 petition from a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident immediate relative. There are waiting times that depend on what country you're from which can vary up to over a decade.

An employer-based petition is your best option if you don't have an immediate relative to petition for you. (This would include a wife, FYI.)

Send me a personal message, and I'll see if I can help you. I am an immigration lawyer in Washington state. I can't take you on as a client, but I can give you some free advice over the phone, to get you headed in the right direction.
posted by Capri at 2:28 PM on November 3, 2010 [6 favorites]

If your friend chooses the marriage route, he should also talk to an immigration attorney before getting married. If he gets married under his new status and didn't disclose that he was going to do so at the time of application, it may cause problems for him.
posted by Emanuel at 2:38 PM on November 3, 2010

Response by poster: With advice from Capri, my friend is newly married! This is with his long-term girlfriend and he's very happy about it. He should have work authorization in ~90 days and will not have to leave the country.

P.S. I'm relatively new here, but I knew one of you could help. Thanks for being the one, Capri.
posted by huckit at 12:42 PM on November 22, 2010

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