FAQ: AC21 Portability:

AC21 Portability is The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000.

Key provisions of AC21 are:
  • AC21 exempts applicants that are employed by institutions of higher education, affiliated non-profit entities, and non-profit research organization or governmental research organization, from being counted against the H1B Cap.
  • AC21 allows H1B workers to begin working for a new employer upon filing the petition, rather than waiting for approval. Employment authorization shall continue for H1B workers until the new petition is adjudicated. If the new petition is denied, such authorization shall cease.
  • AC21 allows ability to extend H1B visa beyond 6 years if the employment-based Green Card process began at least 365 days or more before the end of 6th year and is currently ongoing.
  • AC21 allows an individual whose application for adjustment of status remained unadjudicated for 180 days or more to remain valid if the individual changes jobs to the same or a similar occupational classifications as the job for which the petition was filed.
Full Text: http://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/PUBLAW/HTML/PUBLAW/0-0-0-22204.html

I. Q & A ON PROCESSING OF I-140 PETITIONS AND I-485 APPLICATIONS UNDER THE I-
140 PORTABILITY PROVISIONS OF §106(C) OF AC21 


Question 1. How should service centers or district offices process unapproved I-140 petitions that were concurrently filed with I-485 applications that have been pending 180 days in relation to the I-140 portability provisions under §106(c) of AC21? 
Answer: If it is discovered that a beneficiary has ported off of an unapproved I-140 and I-485 that has been pending for 180 days or more, the following procedures should be applied:

A. Review the pending I-140 petition to determine if the preponderance of the evidence establishes that the case is approvable or would have been approvable had it been adjudicated within 180 days. If the petition is approvable but for an ability to pay issue or any other issue relating to a time after the filing of the petition, approve the petition on it’s merits. Then adjudicate the adjustment of status application to determine if the new position is the same or similar occupational classification for I-140 portability purposes.

B. If a request for additional evidence (RFE) is necessary to resolve a material issue, other than post-filing issues such as ability to pay, an RFE can be issued to try to resolve the issue. When a response is received, and if the petition is approvable, follow the procedures in part A above.

Question 2. How should service centers or district offices process unapproved I-140 petitions that were concurrently filed with I-485 applications that have been pending 180 days and a Request for Evidence (RFE) has been issued? 
Answer: If a response to an RFE is received, and the response does not adequately address the issues, or the response is simply that the beneficiary no longer works for the petitioner, or a response is not received at all, and the petition still cannot be approved: A. Deny the petition on the merits of the case; and B. Deny the I-485 and the portability request since there was never an approved petition from which to port.

Question 3. What is “same or similar” occupational classification for purposes of I-140 portability? 
Answer: When making a determination if the new employment is the “same or similar” occupational classification in comparison to the employment in the initial I-140, adjudicators should consider the following factors: A. Description of the job duties contained in the ETA 750A or the initial I-140 and the job duties of the new employment to determine if they are the “same or similar” occupational classification. B. The DOT code and/or SOC code assigned to the initial I-140 employment for petitions that have a certified ETA 750A or consider what DOT and/or SOC code is appropriate for the position for an initial I-140 that did not require a certified ETA 750A. Then consider the DOT code and/or SOC code, whichever is appropriate for the new position to make a determination of “same or similar” occupational classification. C. A substantial discrepancy between the previous and the new wage. (See Question 5 of this section for further clarification).

Question 4. Should service centers or district offices use a difference in geographic location of the employment in the approved labor certification and initial I-140, and the new employment as basis for denial in I-140 portability cases? 
Answer: No. The relevant inquiry is if the new position is the same or similar occupational classification to the alien’s I-140 employment when considering the alien’s new position and job duties and not the geographic location of the new employment.

Question 5. Should service centers or district officers use a difference in the wage offered on the approved labor certification and initial I-140, and the new employment as basis for denial in adjustment portability cases? 
Answer: No. As noted above the relevant inquiry is if the new position is the same or similar occupational classification to the alien’s I-140 employment. A difference in the wage offered on the approved labor certification, initial I-140 and the new employment cannot be used as a basis of a denial. However, a substantial discrepancy between the previous and the new wage may be taken into consideration as a factor in determining if the new employment is “same or similar.”

Question 6. Can multinational managers or executives classifiable under 8 USC 203(b)(1)(C) avail themselves of AC21 §106(c) (8 USC §204(j)) portability benefits even where the alien changes to a new job as a manager for an unrelated company? Can “same or similar” for multinational employees mean employment with an unrelated company? 
Answer: Yes, multinational managers or executives can avail themselves of portability benefits where the alien changes to a new job as a manager or executive even for an unrelated company. However, there may be factual circumstances where such aliens cannot benefit from porting (i.e. where the job duties are vastly different, so that that the new position is not in the same or similar occupational classification as the I-140 employment).

Question 7. Should service centers or district offices request proof of “ability to pay” from successor employers in I-140 portability cases, in other words, from the new company/employer to which someone has ported? 
Answer: No. The relevant inquiry is whether the new position is in the same or similar occupational classification as the alien’s I-140 employment. It may be appropriate to confirm the legitimacy of a new employer and the job offer through an RFE to the adjustment applicant for relevant information about these issues. In an adjustment setting, public charge is also a relevant inquiry.

Question 8. Can an alien port to self-employment under INA §204(j)? 
Answer: Yes, as long as the requirements are met. First, the key is whether the employment is in a "same or similar" occupational classification as the job for which the original I-140 petition was filed. Second, it may be appropriate to confirm that the new employer and the job offer are legitimate through an RFE to the adjustment applicant for relevant information about these issues. Third, as with any portability case, USCIS will focus on whether the I-140 petition represented the truly intended employment at the time of the filing of both the I-140 and the I-485. This means that, as of the time of the filing of the I-140 and at the time of filing the I-485 if not filed concurrently, the I- 140 petitioner must have had the intent to employ the beneficiary, and the alien must have intended to undertake the employment, upon adjustment. Adjudicators should not presume absence of such intent and may take the I-140 and supporting documents themselves as prima facie evidence of such intent, but in appropriate cases additional evidence or investigation may be appropriate.

Question 9. Must a successor employer in an I-140 portability case provide a new labor certification? 
Answer: No. There is no requirement that successor employers in adjustment portability cases obtain a new labor certification for those occupations traditionally requiring one. AC21 also provides that any underlying labor certification also remains valid if the conditions of §106(c) are satisfied. The beneficiary of an approved labor certification may benefit from it although the alien seeks to adjust on the basis of different employment.

Question 10. Should service centers or district offices deny portability cases on the sole basis that the alien has left his or her employment with the I-140 petitioner prior to the I-485 application pending for 180 days? 
Answer: No. The basis for adjustment is not actual (current) employment but prospective employment. Since there is no requirement that the alien have ever been employed by the petitioner while the I-140 and/or I-485 was pending, the fact that an alien left the I-140 petitioner before the I- 485 has been pending 180 days will not necessarily render the alien ineligible to port. However, in all cases an offer of employment must have been bona fide. This means that, as of the time the I-140 was filed and at the time of filing the I-485 if not filed concurrently, the I-140 petitioner must have had the intent to employ the beneficiary, and the alien must have intended to undertake the employment, upon adjustment. Adjudicators should not presume absence of such intent and may take the I-140 and supporting documents themselves as prima facie evidence of such intent, but in appropriate cases additional evidence or investigation may be appropriate.

Question 11. When is an I-140 no longer valid for porting purposes? 
Answer: An I-140 is no longer valid for porting purposes when: A. an I-140 is withdrawn before the alien’s I-485 has been pending 180 days, or B. an I-140 is denied or revoked at any time except when it is revoked based on a withdrawal that was submitted after an I-485 has been pending for 180 days.

Question 12. Can the 180 days that an I-485 application must be pending for I-140 portability eligibility accrue during a period when visa numbers are unavailable? 
Answer: Yes. The fact that a visa number becomes unavailable after the filing of the I-485 application does not stop the number of days required for I-140 portability eligibility from accruing. Question 13. Does the alien’s priority date change as a result of porting under §106(c) of AC21? Answer: No. The priority date continues to be determined at the time of the initial labor certification filing with the Department of Labor or at the time the initial I-140 immigrant petition is filed with USCIS (in cases where no labor certification is required). Question 14. Must the alien have a new offer of employment at the time the I-485 is being adjudicated under the I-140 portability provisions? Answer: Yes. The alien cannot still be looking for “same or similar” employment at the time the I-485 is being adjudicated under the adjustment portability provisions. The alien must be able to show there is a new valid offer of employment at the time the I-485 is adjudicated.


Continue Reading: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/02/faq-ac-portability-part-2.html

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