The NEW H-1B Cap Registration Process

The H-1B classification provides temporary permission for employers to hire qualified foreign nationals in specialty occupations. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) typically accepts a limited number of H-1B cases during each of the federal government’s fiscal years due to the annual cap. There are 65,000 H-1B cap slots, with 20,000 additional H-1B slots that may be allocated...
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Temporary Block on Immigrant Health Insurance Requirement

President Trump’s October 4th Proclamation has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.  If allowed, it would require those seeking U.S. visas to obtain approved health insurance within 30 days of entry if they are not able to cover their own healthcare expenses. Judge Michael Simon, a Federal District Judge in Portland, Oregon, issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on Saturday, November 2, the day before the Proclamation was set to go into effect.  This order will prohibit the government from implementing the Proclamation for 28 days. During this time, the plaintiffs (seven U.S. citizens and a nonprofit group, Latino Network) and the defendants (various governmental agencies and officials)  will argue on whether the court should issue a preliminary injunction, which would block the Proclamation from becoming effective until the lawsuit has been completely resolved. In this suit, the plaintiffs are challenging the legality of the Proclamation, and if the judge issues a preliminary injunction, the Proclamation will be suspended until the judge makes the ultimate decision on whether the Proclamation is legal or illegal. This temporary restraining order comes weeks after a series of Federal Court decisions to temporarily block the Department of Homeland Security’s amended public charge rule from becoming effective. […]
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New Public Charge Rule Effective Soon

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the final public charge rule last month, and it will go into effect this coming Tuesday, October 15, 2019. With this new change, individuals who are likely to rely on public benefits while in the U.S. could be denied either admission to the country or an adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident...
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Back to School: Tips for International Students

As summer break comes to an end for many F-1 international students, it is important to keep in mind a few tips for a smooth entry into the U.S. for the upcoming school semester. When you re-enter at a U.S. Port of Entry, you should carry the following documents: your valid passport...
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Understanding OPT Cap-Gap

The H-1B visa allows employers to temporarily employ a foreign national, who possesses at least a bachelor’s degree, in a specialty occupation. The H-1B employment period generally begins on October 1, the start of the federal government’s fiscal year.  There are special rules that act to automatically extend the US employment eligibility of qualified F-1 foreign student visa holders beyond the period initially authorized. The rule that relates to F-1 visa holders seeking to change to H-1B work visa status is referred to as “cap-gap.” This is because it is intended to fill the gap between the date the optional practical training (OPT) period would otherwise expire and the date that the new H-1B employment authorization starts. The 60-day grace period may not be enough to cover the “cap-gap” period until H-1B status begins. However, USCIS offers an OPT cap-gap extension if three conditions are met: An employer timely files a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS requesting a change of the student’s status to H-1B. (Exception: Petitions requesting consular processing which do not qualify);  The H-1B petition asks for an October 1 start date; and  The student’s status, including any applicable grace period, ends between April and September 30. Situations […]
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DHS Publishes Final Rule Adjusting Student and Exchange Visitor Program Fees

On May 22, 2019, the DHS has reported that the fees charged by SEVP (the Student and Exchange Visitor Program) to international students, exchange visitors and SEVP- certified schools will be increased beginning June 24, 2019. SEVP does not receive any funding from Congress and solely relies on fees to continue operations; therefore, the increase is necessary to continue to provide oversight of international students and SEVP-certified schools. The increase will affect the following: The I-901 SEVIS Fee for F and M international students (from $200 to $350). The I-901 SEVIS Fee for J exchange visitors (from $180 to $220). Except: exchange visitors in the au pair, camp counselor, and summer work travel program participant categories. The SEVP school certification petition fee for initial certification (from $1,700 to $3,000). Also, SEVP will charge new fees for the following: A petition for recertification filed by SEVP-certified schools ($1,250). A form I-290B “Notice of Appeal of Motion” filed by schools ($675). A change of physical location or adding a new physical location or campus to Form I-17 “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student” by a SEVP-certified school ($655). If you are an international student or exchange visitor and […]
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Court Enjoins USCIS from Enforcement of Unlawful Presence Memo Impacting Students and Exchange Visitors

A Federal Judge has enjoined USCIS from enforcing a policy memorandum issued in August 2018 relative to the accrual of unlawful presence for nonimmigrant student or exchange visitors. The ruling found that the policy memorandum amounts to a “legislative rule” in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act because the government did not publish in the Federal Register or allow for a period of public comment on the rule.  A person can accumulate unlawful presence by (1) entering the U.S. without inspection; (2) overstaying their period of lawful status in the U.S.; or (3) violating their immigration status. Previously, for students and exchange visitors, accrual of unlawful presence began only when DHS or an immigration judge made an out-of-status determination and notified the individual of the same. Pursuant to the USCIS policy update, a determination of retroactive violation is made and can result in the denial of a green card application and bar the individual from entry for a period of three years (if the violation occurred before August 9, 2019) or 10 years (if after August 9, 2019). The Court’s decision in Guilford College v. USCIS prohibits the USCIS from enforcing the policy outlined in its August 2018 memorandum.  If […]
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