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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Not Selected in the H-1B Lottery? Explore Your Other Global Options

With H-1B cap season winding down, employers will soon begin to receive returned petitions that were not selected in the lottery. Employees who have other valid status, such as F-1 OPT or L-1, can remain in the United States and keep working so that their employer may try again for the lottery next year. However, for other employees whose only option was the H-1B lottery, their employers may need to make other plans. One of the following global options may be a good fit:  Return home & work remotely: The employee could return to their home country and work from home remotely. This may have labor law, digital security, and tax implications for U.S. employers, but an employee who is living in their country of citizenship can work for any employer, anywhere in the world.  While using the employee’s services remotely might be not be ideal, it can be a good temporary solution while trying to figure out other ways of bringing this employee to join the company in the U.S.  Work in other countries: The employee may be eligible to work in other countries such as Canada, the UK or Mexico. A US company with a Canadian branch can use Intra-Company […]
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New Zealand Nationals Now Eligible for E-1 & E-2 Treaty Trader & Investor Visas

Beginning June 10, 2019, eligible New Zealand companies and nationals are now able to apply for E-1 treaty trader and E-2 treaty investor temporary visa status. The U.S. Embassy in New Zealand announced the availability last week, following the enactment of the Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors (KIWI) Act, which was signed by President Trump on August 1, 2018. E-1/E-2 visa eligibility generally requires: A treaty between the U.S. and a foreign country or Congressional act; That majority ownership or control of the trading/investing company is held by treaty country nationals; and That each employee or principal of the company seeking E status is a treaty country national. Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) can join the E-1 or E-2 visa applicant in the United states for the duration of his/her stay. In this case, the dependent must apply for a derivative E-visa. To learn more about the E-1 and E-2 visa, please visit the E Visa Center page of our website. If you are interested in learning more about the E-1 or E-2 visa, be sure to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
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The ‘Buy American and Hire American’ Executive Order Two Years Later

On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Buy American and Hire American.” The President insisted that the Executive Order would favor American workers more so than the policies already in place. He also intended, among other things, for the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order to address his concerns with the H-1B visa program. The President thought that the H-1B lottery system should be modified so that H-1B visas would only go to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants. He also insisted that the H-1B system should not be allowed to replace American workers with foreign workers. The new Executive Order was meant to address these flaws in the H-1B program. Technically, the executive order did not create any laws or modify any that already existed. Instead, the Order set in place a policy for the maximization of the production, and sale of goods, products and materials produced in the United States. With an eye toward fulfilling the mandate of the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has applied new rules, directives and adjustments to safeguard the jobs of American workers and to avert abuses of […]
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The Modernization of the InfoPass System

In 2004, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented InfoPass, a free online service providing applicants with the option to schedule an appointment with a USCIS immigration officer through the USCIS website. Since then, InfoPass has been modified, updated and refreshed many times. More recently, USCIS developed a pilot program to replace InfoPass entirely.  The pilot program, titled the Information Services Modernization Program, was introduced for testing in the Spring of 2018. USCIS was pleased with the results of the program and it became implemented nationwide in November of 2018. The Information Services Modernization Program will ultimately replace the traditional InfoPass system entirely by September of 2019. Based on surveys and other data, USCIS determined that most people who made in-person information service appointments through InfoPass could have received the same information by calling the USCIS Contact Center or checking the USCIS website. The new system is intended to streamline information services by centralizing case status inquiries and information resources in the USCIS Contact Center. There, applicants can receive immediate assistance through online messaging and live phone-based support. By ending InfoPass and redirecting applicants to the Contact Center, USCIS hopes to focus more support on those applicants facing emergency […]
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Israel Signs an Investor Treaty with the United States

The E-2 visa category offers foreign entrepreneurs who wish to invest in an American business the opportunity to come to the United States. The E-2 visa carries with it many distinct advantages. Unlike other visa categories, the E-2 visa allows the applicant to be self-employed, which makes it a better option for entrepreneurs than other employment-based visas, such as the H-1B or O-1 visa. Additionally, the E-2 visa is good for up to five years, a longer term than some of the other available categories. E-2 investors may also be able to obtain E-2 status for certain employees that are needed to help establish and run a business in the U.S. Of course, there are restrictions for those interested in applying for an E-2 visa. First, at the most basic level, there are two qualifications for an E-2 visa that must be met: (1) an investment of a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. enterprise and (2) development and direction of the enterprise as the sole purpose of arrival in the United States. Second, only investors from countries with which the United States has a treaty investor agreement are eligible. Very recently, the United States has signed a long-awaited […]
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Breaking News: Certain Ports of Entry No Longer Allowing L-1 Renewal Applications for Canadian Citizens

Berardi Immigration Law has recently learned that certain ports of entry along the Canadian border are now refusing to process petitions for renewal L-1 applications that are presented by Canadians pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This new policy affects both individual and blanket L petitions.  Initial reports indicated that this was a problem only at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) locations near Calgary. However, it has since expanded throughout several ports of entry and preclearance locations including Toronto Pearson International Airport (preclearance), Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (preclearance), Edmonton, Seattle, Pembina, Warroad, Pt. Roberts, Sumas, and more. Over the weekend, we have been informed that the Peace Bridge located in Buffalo, New York is now also enforcing this policy. This impacts all ports of entry under the Buffalo jurisdiction, including the Rainbow Bridge, Queenston/Lewiston Bridge, and Thousand Islands Bridge and all ports of entry on the northern New York/Canadian border. All L-1 renewal petitions for Canadians must now be submitted directly to USCIS for adjudication. The ports of entry that are refusing to process these petitions are relying on a section of the regulations (8 CFR §214.2(l)(15)(i)), which state that petition extensions […]
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