March 11, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the final rule on STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) which pertains to work authorization for certain students with degrees in certain Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) fields of study. The new rule will take effect on May 10, 2016. This long-awaited rule makes sweeping changes to the current STEM OPT process.

I.                  The Significant Changes Included in the New Rule

  • Extension of the STEM OPT period from 17 months to 24 months;

  • Establishment of a required Training Plan (Form I-983: Training Plan for STEM OPT STUDENTS), which must be signed by the student and the OPT Employer and submitted to CIS with Form I-765;

  • Evaluations due every 12 months in regard to Student’s progress as per the Training Plan;

  • Confirmation of Student’s Physical Residence and Employment Status every six (6) months;

  • Employer must immediately notify DSO regarding termination of the student’s employment;

  • Employer must attest the student will not replace a full-or part time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker;

  • Employer Site Visits will be given 48 hour in advance, unless the site visit is to address complaint or evidence of noncompliance, in which case no notice will be provided;

  • Unemployment remains at 90 day limit on during initial post-completion OPT but extends the STEM OPT limit to 150 days of unemployment;

II.                  Provisions that Remain the Same

  • All employers of STEM OPT individuals must be enrolled in E-Verify and be in good standing;

  • Employers must report changes in a STEM OPT individual's employment within five (5) business days;

  • STEM OPT individuals must report name/address changes or changes in employment to their Designated School Official (DSO);

  • Cap-Gap extension remains if a timely H-1B petition is filed;


Employers or STEM-eligible applicants with questions or concerns regarding this new rule and its implementation should contact their Nair Law Group Representative for further information.

2016 Appropriations Bill Has Passed: H-1B/L-1 Fees Significantly Increased

December 18, 2015

President Obama signed the  Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, which has key immigration provisions attached to it. The immigration provisions impose stricter security requirements on Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers, have reauthorized the EB-5 Regional Center and E-Verify programs through September 30, 2016 with no substantive changes. Most importantly however, the Act has significantly increased the fees that high-volume H-1B and L-1 employers must pay.

H-1B and L-1 Fee Provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016

One of the more significant immigration-related provisions is the filing fee increase for H-1B and L-1 employers who have more than 50 employees of which 50% are on H-1B or L-1 status. The law includes an additional filing fee of $4,000 for H-1B petitions and $4,500 for L-1 petitions. It is important to note that this is separate from the regular H-1B filing fee of $1575/$2325.

Here are some important points to this provision:

  • The  Additional $4,000 for H-1B petitions and $4500 for  L-1 petition Applies to Initial AND Extension Petitions (Initial petitions include quota filings, transfers, and cap exempt change of status applications).
  • Effective Date of New Increased Filing Fees: According to the text of the bill, the new increase in the filing fees will become applicable from the “date of the enactment”; which is the date the bill was signed into law by the President (December 18, 2015). Our office is working on confirming the effective date of the new fees and will confirm as soon as we have confirmation from USCIS and other sources.
  • How to Count The Number of Employees? USCIS has not provided guidance with respect to how they will require employers to count employees for these new provisions.  In fact, USCIS has not provided any guidance yet on the implementation of these increased filing fees. We expect some guidance over the next few days and we will report on them immediately. However, we can look back at Public Law 111-230 (which had almost identical increased filing H-1B and L-1 fees) for guidance. Previously, in the context of Public Law 111-230 employee calculation, USCIS had confirmed that they will count all employees – whether part-time or full-time.   

District Court Denies TRO in October Visa Bulletin Suit

October 6, 2015

The court issued an order denying the motion for temporary restraining order, stating "While the Court appreciates the confusion caused by the two Visa Bulletins published in September and the potentially wasted expenses Plaintiffs incurred as a result, because Plaintiffs fail to meet the critical elements for a temporary restraining order at this time, the Court cannot issue injunctive relief."

All U.S. Embassies and Consulates Will be Closed on October 9, 2015

October 1, 2015

All U.S. embassies and consulates across the globe will be closed to the public on Friday, October 9, 2015. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) determined that this one-day closure is necessary in order to perform a system upgrade. Some overseas application service centers (ASCs), which are used to collect fingerprints and related services, may also need to be closed. Those who have appointments scheduled for October 9 will be contacted by the relevant embassy or consulate to reschedule.

FY 2017 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 1, 2015

October 01, 2015

The State Department will begin accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery starting Thursday, October 1, 2015 at noon EDT. Foreign nationals who wish to enter the lottery have until Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at noon EST to file online. 

The DV lottery program makes 50,000 green card numbers available each year through random selection. FY 2017 lottery results will be announced in May 2016. Foreign nationals selected in the FY 2017 lottery can submit their green card applications starting on October 1, 2016. 

To register and learn more about the DV lottery, please visit the official DV lottery website.

P.L. 111-230 Fee Has Sunset on September 30, 2015

October 01, 2015

On Aug. 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law Public Law 111-230, which contains provisions to increase certain H-1B and L-1 petition fees. Public Law 111-230 requires the submission of an additional fee of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2,250 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions postmarked on or after Aug. 14, 2010.  These additional fees apply to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the United States with more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States in H-1B or L (including L-1A and L-1B) nonimmigrant status.  Petitioners meeting these criteria must submit the fee with an H-1B or L-1 petition filed:

  • Initially to grant a foreign national H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status or 
  • For a change of employer petition. 

This law has sunset on September 30, 2015 and has yet to be extended by Congress. At this point we do not know when this provision will be reauthorized. 

USCIS Has Received Sufficient Cap-Subject H-1B Petition for FY 2012

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USCIS to Revise Filing Instructions for Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

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Extension Of Optional Training Program for Qualified Students

Regulations Relating to Practical Training:

What is optional practical training?
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USCIS Modifies Application For Employment Authorization

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