U.S. Visa Snafu:
Guyanese teachers warned to return home
August 3, 2004
NEW YORK, N.Y. (Hardbeatnews.com) - Some 220 Caribbean teachers, caught up in a visa snafu in the U.S., were expected to be back in their homeland yesterday or face being unlawfully present in the U.S.
Lawyers for the New York City Department Of Education confirmed late Friday that the Guyanese and Jamaican teachers, still awaiting H-1B visas, must leave the country and then try to return.
H-1B visas are granted to highly skilled workers seeking temporary employment in the U.S. The teachers were recruited to work on J-1 visas, which are valid for three-years. They were advised to seek adjustment to their H-1B visas but between waivers and a 2004 visa cap, the time ran out.
In a memorandum obtained exclusively by Hardbeatnews, Helen Konrad, one of the legal representatives, wrote, “They are ALL required to depart the US, obtain the H-1B visa stamp and then they may re-enter up to 10 days prior to 10/1 (October 1), but start working only on 10/1.”
Konrad also advised that a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration ruling, allowing for F and J visa holders to remain in the U.S. while their H-1B visa application was pending, did not apply to the teachers.
Chris Bentley, a spokesperson for the U.S. CIS, had told HBN that the teachers could have benefited from the temporary immigration reprieve.
The teachers hold J-1 visas, which were only valid for three years and are now up.
J-1 visas are essentially exchange visitors’ visas that allow the holders to work and study here.
Married couples and children also are admitted under this category with J-2 visas.
But Konrad stated, “As of Friday, July 23, the Immigration Service posted a memo that did NOT allow a bridge for J-1 teachers to remain in the U.S. until October 1.”
Those teachers still awaiting a U.S. State Department no-waiver approval must also leave.
“As far as teachers with waivers pending, they would also have to depart the U.S. and await a J-1 Waiver approval, and eventually an H-1B approval, if their principals still want them back,” added Konrad.
NYCDOE spokespersons have yet to return a call to HBN to explain the department’s position.
And while Konrad stated in the memo that Congressman Major Owens’ office has advised them of some “breaking news” as regards those teachers without waiver approvals, Owens’ office has also failed to return several calls seeking clarification and comment.