How to get schengen visa fast from US with expired H1b visa
October 30, 2013 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Hello All, I'm in a complicated situation and I need some serious help on this one: I'm a Chinese citizen with China passport. And I work in the US on H1b visa. My visa is expired. And my 1-797 is about to expire on 11/23/2013. My company is working on my extension which filed in premium but delayed by government shut down. And this should be all done before 11/23/2013. But I'm planning on an urgent trip to Finland for a couple of weeks to see a friend. And to apply for Schengen visa, I need valid H1b visa. I'm on a tight schedule here, I need the visa ASAP.

So here are my questions:
1) Government shut down has been resolved for a while, why is it taking so long to obtain my LCA. Long much longer do I have to wait for my I-797?

2) Once I get my I-797, I will have to stamp my h1b visa somewhere. Will Canada be the best choice? Which location in Canada is the best? Do I have to get a Canada visa first for that? How long is that gonna take? Can I mail in documents to Canada instead of going to Canada? How long will that take then?

3) Where should I get my Schengen Visa from? Which embassy is the fastest? It says 15 days on the website of embassy of Finland in NYC. If I go to NY personally how long will it take me to get the visa physically?

4) The other option to save time seems to be going back to China to stamp my Schengen Visa now. Get the Visa and go to Finland to stamp my H1b visa. Then go back to the US. Is this risky since I have not received my I-797?

4) Is there anything I can do to speed up this process in this mean time waiting on my extension approval? Any premium route I can take? Any other creative ideas?

Thank you all very very much!!
posted by lijiaxiaoniu to Law & Government (11 answers total)
 
I think you need to go to an immigration lawyer asap. When I needed one a few years back, a friend of my wife who's a lawyer herself recommended this website to find one: Martindale.com. It has lists of lawyers who are peer-reviewed. My wife and I were very happy with the person we found - he was very knowledgeable, responsive and pleasant to work with. Good luck!
posted by tecg at 12:04 PM on October 30, 2013


I'm afraid that you're really going to need a lawyer to answer those questions. Immigration law and procedure is extremely complicated, and often fact/individual-specific. I don't know where in the country you are located, but you might try calling a free immigration law hotline there for some quick questions or a referral (for example, here's a good one for New York City: legal aid). IANYL, but you might want to consider whether you are at all able to postpone that trip until you can get this figured out.

My sympathy for you, though; that's a tough spot to be in.
posted by likeatoaster at 12:04 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back before I was a US citizen I regularly needed to get Schengen visas for travel and I recall in-person applications at several EU consulates in NYC were issued the same afternoon if brought in in the morning. Best call to find out how the Finnish consulate handles this.
posted by Dragonness at 12:10 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Definitely ask a lawyer for this. You don't want to mess this up, because leaving the country with an expired visa means you wont get back in again unless you have the right paperwork - in my case I needed to get an Advance Parole since my H1B was expired and my green card was in process but not approved yet. But YMMV of course. So talk to a lawyer, about the schengen visa and also about leaving and re-entering the US.
posted by Joh at 1:07 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you get a visa to any if the Nordic countries? The Nordics have their own Schengen like agreement and you do not need to show a visa traveling from for example Sweden or Denmark to Finland. Not entitely kosher, but I have been able to re-enter Sweden via Iceland with an expired Swedish visa without trouble.
posted by three blind mice at 1:37 PM on October 30, 2013


Thank you guys so much! It definitely helps to realize I can never leave the country without valid visa stamping. I will have to postpone the trip I guess.
posted by lijiaxiaoniu at 1:55 PM on October 30, 2013


Don't mess around with your status for a fun trip. Get paperwork sorted out and just pay flight change fees. It's not worth it to risk running afoul of immigration laws.
posted by bquarters at 2:17 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah don't leave the USA until this mess is sorted out. Seek assistance from your lawyer or colleagues regarding getting H1b visa stamp in Canada. You can only get the stamp at a US consulate and depending on location it can take up to 10 weeks to secure an appointment, with this as the busy season as h1b start date is (usually) Oct 1. You really don't have a lot of choices regarding which US consulate is best in Canada as they are typically a very annoying plane ride away. (though I did know people who would fly to Calgary when Vancouver consulate was full)
posted by crazycanuck at 8:51 PM on October 30, 2013


You really need to talk this over with a lawyer as it's not a simple case of just getting a stamp someplace. The rules are convoluted and a simple error or confusion could result in a lot of trouble.

If you want to leave the US and return you need a visa stamp - in my situation for my H1 I have to go back to my country of origin, complete a questionnaire, with a photo and schedule an in-person interview at the US Embassy. I usually complete the questionnaire and schedule the apt (and pay the inevitable fee) while I'm here in the US and only then book my flight once I have my apt date fixed. Once approved at the interview, I surrender my passport and it's couriered back to me after a week with the visa stamp added in.

My H1 is renewing now, and after the shutdown it's going to take who knows how long to resolve the backlog, so I feel your pain.
posted by poissonrouge at 8:55 PM on October 30, 2013


... also just to say that the 'stamp' isn't like an entry/exit stamp - it's a big sticker, the size of your passport with your photo on and all your other visa details. Which is why it takes a week to produce it and put it in your passport.
posted by poissonrouge at 8:58 PM on October 30, 2013


Thank you all for your advice. I will get everything done before traveling.
posted by lijiaxiaoniu at 7:25 AM on November 1, 2013


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