Hi, this is my first post on the forum. Did a search but didn't find anyone in a similar situation so here it goes. Any insight would be appreciated (and sorry for the long post).
In 2000 I was offered an inter-company transfer and had my first visa (an L1-B) issued on Dec 7, 2000. I entered the US the day after and began my work history.
In 2001 my employer was financially troubled and the risk of major layoffs was eminent. For that reason they offered to transfer me to an H1-B as this type of visa would be transferable to another employer in case of a layoff. I accepted, and in Nov 9, 2001 I had my first H1-B issued.
I was never laid off though and in 2004 my employer was acquired and the new employer's immigration lawyer made a new H1-B petition in the name of the new employer. The lawyer asked me to compile an itemized list of stays and duration outside the US since the issuance of my L1-B visa which amounted to about 27 weeks. The lawyer submitted the petition with an expiration date of May 27, 2007. This was approved and I had the visa issued April 21, 2005. When I saw the expiration date issued on my visa I noticed that it was beyond the 6 year limit but didn't consider it cause for concern.
My employer has now changed lawyers and the new lawyer has reviewed my case and have stated that this expiration date must be due to a "clerical" error and that I will need to return back to my native country no later than Dec 7, 2006. The new lawyer has not been able to reach to previous lawyer to ask if the expiration date in the petition was a typo or it was intentionally entered due to the 27 weeks outside the US.
No LC has been filed, as my intention has been to return to my native country at the time of the expiration date May 27, 2007. Logistically it would cause big issues (newborn baby etc.) if we (spouse and 3 US born children) had to return before Dec 7, 2006 and my questions are these:
#1. The 6 year combined limitation on L1 and H1, is that based on presence in the US, i.e. would my 27 weeks outside the US extend the 6 year limit or is it a hard stop based on exactly 6 years from date of first visa issuance.
#2. Since the previous lawyer specified the (extended) expiration date in the petition and it was approved can it still be considered a "clerical" error, i.e. it's not because USCIS by mistake issued the visa with an arbitrary incorrect date?
Much appreciated thx!