LATEST NEWS

NEW STEM OPT EXTENSION RULE TO BE EFFECTIVE MAY 10th 2016 

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.

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/diversity-visa/instructions.html

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

As of November 23, 2011, USCIS has received a sufficient number of cap-subject H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for FY2012. November 22, 2011, was the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date of FY2012. USCIS also has received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. ... Read More

DOL is current on Prevailing Wage Determinations

The DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification announced that it is now current on PERM and H-1B prevailing wage determinations and anticipates becoming current on H-2B determinations the week of 11/27/11. ... Read More

Countries with limited or no US visa services

The Department of State provides a list of U.S. embassies and consulates that currently provide limited visa services, locations where visa services are suspended, and countries that do not have U.S. embassies or consulates. ... Read More

USCIS Reminder to file TPS for nationals of Haiti

USCIS alert reminding eligible nationals of Haiti, both first time and late re-registration applicants, to file for TPS prior to 11/15/11. ... Read More

USCIS redesigns EAD card and Certificate of Citizenship

USCIS has unveiled a redesigned Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Certificate of Citizenship, containing enhanced security features. Foreign nationals who are issued a new EAD on or after October 25 will receive the redesigned card. Previously issued EADs will remain valid until the expiration date printed on the card. Previously issued Certificates of Citizenship remain valid indefinitely. ... Read More

USCIS updates on L-1 Adjudication and H-1B Employer Pre-Registration

USCIS Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the agency will review its L-1 adjudication standards and allow batch filing of L-1 petitions. On the H-1B front, USCIS has rescinded a plan that would have required employers to pre-register before submitting H-1B cap cases for employment in FY 2013. ... Read More

USCIS - USCIS to Mail Receipt and Approval Notices Directly to Applicants and Petitioners

USCIS to Mail Receipt and Approval Notices Directly to Applicants and Petitioners. USCIS would like to inform stakeholders that, effective Sept. 12, 2011, we began mailing out receipt and approval notices directly to Applicants and Petitioners. ... Read More

USCIS Increases Periods of Stay for Trade NAFTA Professional Workers from Canada and Mexico

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)has increased the maximum period of time a Trade-NAFTA (TN) professional worker from Canada or Mexico may remain in the United States before seeking readmission or obtaining an extension of stay. This final rule changes theinitial period of admission for TN workers from one to three years, making itequal to the initial period of admission given to H-1B professional workers.Eligible TN nonimmigrants may now be allowed to receive extensions of stay in increments of up to three years instead of the prior maximum period of stay of one year... Read More

USCIS Reminds Customers - Use Correct Edition of Form I-765 to Request Employment Authorization

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds its customers touse the correct version of the Application for Employment Authorization (FormI-765) dated 05/27/08. The edition date appears in the lower right hand cornerof the form as "Form I-765 (Rev. 05/27/08)... Read More

USCIS to Offer Premium Processing For Certain Form I-140 Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that on June 16, 2008, it will begin accepting Premium Processing Service requests for Forms I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) filed on behalf of certain alien workers who are nearing the end of their sixth year in H-1B nonimmigrant status... Read More

USCIS to Issue Two-Year Employment Authorization Documents

New EADs Limited to Certain Individuals Who Have Applied for LPR Status U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that beginning on June 30, 2008 it will issue Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) valid for two years... Read More

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

Form I-751 to be filed with the California or Vermont Service Centers U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will soon be revising the filing instructions for the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence ( Form I-751) to require filing at the California or Vermont Service Centers, where all Forms I-751 are currently adjudicated. The adjudication functions for these petitions have already been assigned to these locations in anticipation of this change... Read More

USCIS Issues Revised Guidance on The Applicability of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) amended the Immigration Nationality Act by changing how an alien is determined to be a child for purposes of immigrant classification. The Act permits an applicant for certain benefits to retain classification as a "child", even if he or she has reached the age of 21... Read More

USCIS Runs Random Selection Process For H-1B Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today conducted the computer-generated random selection processes on H-1B petitions, to select which H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2009 (FY 2009) would continue to full adjudication. If approved these H-1B petitions will be eligible to receive an H-1B visa number... Read More

Extension Of Optional Training Program for Qualified Students

Regulations Relating to Practical Training:

What is optional practical training?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student's major area of study. Under the prior rules, an -1 student could be authorized to receive up to a total of 12 months of practical training either before (pre-) and/or after (post-) completion of studies... Read More

USCIS TO ALLOW F-1 STUDENTS OPPORTUNITY TO REQUEST CHANGE OF STATUS

Short-term, Immediate Measure for Beneficiaries of Selected H-1B Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it would allow F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of selected H-1B petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2009 to request a change of status in lieu of consular notification... Read More

USCIS Announces A Proposal To Increase Periods of Stay For TN Professional Workers From Canada Or Mexico

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it is publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to increase the maximum amount of time a Trade-NAFTA (TN) professional worker from Canada or Mexico can remain in the United States before seeking readmission or obtaining an extension of stay. The proposal will extend the maximum period of admission for TN workers from one year to three years, the same term that USCIS currently may grant to H-1B specialty occupation workers... Read More

USCIS Modifies Application For Employment Authorization

Previous Versions of Form I-765 Accepted until July 8, 2008

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has revised Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The form now includes additional eligibility codes. These changes have been made in accordance with the Department of Homeland Security's recent interim final rule regarding... Read More

E-VERIFY Strengthening the Employment Eligibility Document Review Process for the Nation's Employers

E-Verify (formerly known as the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program) is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees... Read More