Should I apply for two immigration benefits at once? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, an immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our offices in San Diego, California and St. Louis, Missouri. Today’s video comes from a question that I received recently during one of our live shows. A young man was reaching out. He is applying for a green card based on marriage and he’s also on optional practical training and his employer wants to sponsor him for an H-1B. Of course, there’s a question whether or not he’ll get the green card before the H-1B comes, but it highlighted a question that we get a lot around here, which is: If I can take advantage of two different immigration benefits, and usually, it’s I have one path through employment and one path through marriage or through family, should I take it now?
In this situation, the employer was going to pay for the H-1B, so it wasn’t going to cost our client anything. With processing times and everything being so freaking weird at USCIS, I had a good discussion with him and I told him I would go ahead and have the employer do that if that’s what they want to do. There’s no downside to it. You might get your work authorization based off the pending green card application, you might even get your green card application before the H-1B, but as long as your employer knows that you’re going that route, you’re not hiding that from the employer, and they are spending that money on their own free will, then I think everybody’s good and you should take advantage of that. There’s no legal requirement that you tell them that.
But what you don’t want to do is have the employer spend a bunch of money on your H-1B and then find out that, oh, you have this other path and you have a green card, you didn’t really need to spend that three or four or $5,000. As long as the employer is going through it eyes wide open, I would encourage you to go ahead and do that, so whenever you can get a benefit, so if you can get a work card through OBT and a work card through a marriage-based green card application, you should always do it. I used to be sort of hung up on confusing USCIS, but I’ve really gotten over that. When I was a younger immigration lawyer, I would tell people, “Ah, don’t do that. You’re just going to confuse them.” But the fact is that these cases go along different tracks and they usually don’t even know what each other are doing, so I haven’t really seen it.
Now, you might not want to file two different family-based green card applications, but of course, you can, so that would probably be a different discussion. I’d be a little bit more concerned there about potentially confusing them. Also, if you already have one application on file and you’re filing a second identical application with the same petitioner and beneficiary, that’s another way that you can get people screwed up, but if you’re getting this benefit on two different theories, I’m all for it, especially if you don’t have to pay for it.
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