Category Archives: Greenhandshake Blog

The Need for Turning Up In the Host Country Well Ahead

Greenhandshake_welcome-new-studentsIf anyone is going to study in the U.S, he/she needs to know just when the classes are due to commence, and plan the journey accordingly. Anyway, for an overseas student in the new country, there are plenty of reasons to arrive there early enough. Under the circumstances, one should keep in mind certain things before buying that airline ticket that lets one arrive in the host country, well ahead of the commencement of classes.

Compensate for the Jet lag

While flying across the globe, jet-lag is inevitable. This will be cause for much trouble, but it can be minimized by going swimming, or go without sleep till it is time to go to bed, in the new surroundings. In spite of all these efforts, jet lag do happen, and so it is essential to have a few days, to come to terms with the change in time, before one can attend one’s classes, without any undue hardship.

Attend Orientation Events

Students from overseas usually arrive in their campus early enough, as they have to attend a whole series of events that will fill their time to the brink, such as team building exercises, local excursions, and informative meetings. These events are an introduction to one’s life abroad, and help one facilitate the sudden transition and also help in meeting new friends. The international student advisor of the college or university will inform one of all these events well in advance, before one could book one’s flight; or else, be sure to contact them, to ask them.

Familiarizing with the Changed Surroundings

Simple things such as unpacking, going around the campus, buying textbooks and groceries, can be a challenge when one turns up in a strange country, especially when one doesn’t speak English well. Studying in the U.S can be fun, if there is sufficient time to settle down, so that one begin one’s new life pleasantly enough, instead of having a stressful time. So if arrive early enough, there will be to explore the surroundings and also to enjoy it.

Taking Care of One’s Business

To manage important business between class-breaks can be very stressful, and in case the campus is spread over a large area or across the town, it becomes almost impossible. So it is better to reach the campus early, as it will enable one to handle matters such as the signing of the required documents, enrolling in the various classes, buying a cell phone and health insurance, opening a bank account, getting the student ID made, and such other important details.

Making Friends

Besides taking care of a lot of things, one will also have much free time to mix with the other students who are already arrived. The majority of the students arriving early tend to be international students. One can also find many student athletes, and campus student workers who come to the campus early. Although it is a fine thing to become acquainted with international students as one arrives, taking the trouble to look for other social groups also is necessary, early on.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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USCIS Guidance for Payment of Extra H-1B and L-1 Filing Fees

Greenhandshake_h1b_new_feeThese new filing fees are applicable to petitions submitted on or after December 18, 2015. The USCIS will reject all applications without the fee for Public Law 114-113 starting February 11, 2016.

The following is the guidance from the USCIS:

US President Barack Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 or Public Law 114-113 on December 18, 2015. The Act increases the fees for both H-1B and L-1 petitioners. They are required to submit extra fees of $4, 000 for H-1B and $4, 500 for L-1A petitions stamped officially on or after December 18, 2015.

Additional fees are intended for those who use the services of 50 employees or more than this number in the USA. More than 50% of these workers must be in H-1B non-immigrant status. This includes L-1A as well as L-1B. Petitioners are required to pay these extra fees for the following purposes:

* To confer status to any non-immigrant described in the sub-paragraph (H), (I), (B) or (L) of Section 10 (A) (15) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act.

* To secure the proper authorization for any non-immigrant in said status for the purpose of changing employers.

This is aside from the base processing, premium processing, Fraud Prevention and Detection, American Competitiveness and Work Improvement Act fees (if required). On the other hand, fees for Public Law 114-113 will remain in effect until September 30, 2025.

The USCIS is still making revisions for Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker as well as Form I-129S, and Non-Immigrant Petition based on the Blanket L petition to indicate stipulations of Public Law 114-113. Petitioners must continue to fill up the Items 1.D and 1.D.1 of the H-1B and H-1B-1 Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement. This consists of (Page 19/Form I-129) and Item Numbers 4.a. and 4.b of the L-Classification Supplement (Page 22/Form I-129).

The USCIS will start to refuse petitions which are submitted on or following February 11, 2016 if these do not complete the Item Numbers 1.d.1 and 1.D.2. These are part of the H-1B and H1B1 Data Collection and Filing Fee (Exemption Supplement) along with Item Numbers 4.a and 4.b of L Classification Supplement. This also includes additional payment for Public Law 114-113 only if appropriate.

At the same time, the USCIS may send out a Request for Evidence during the 30-day duration right after the Internet notification. This is intended to find out if the additional payment applies to this petition. Petitioners are asked to complete questions found in the Form I-129, noted in the above-mentioned paragraph, and pay the fee if required to avoid this RFE. The RFE will be issued in exchange for this fee instead of a refusal for omission. The USCIS will adhere to the original date of filing as the date of receipt. Petitioners must wait and answer the RFE before making the additional payment or provide an explanation why this fee is not relevant.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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H-1B Visa – Cap, Lottery Predictions, Required Fees and News for 2017

maxresdefault1The following is a comprehensive guide for H-1B Visa applicants (FY 2017).

Application forms are available April 1, 2016 and onwards. USCIS will accept petitions for the next fiscal year. Henceforth, any forms filed after April 1, 2016 is for H1-B starting October 1, 2016. All rejected application forms filed in 2015 get the chance to apply after April 1 for 2017.

The H-1B quota is the maximum number of applications that USCIS will accept for the year. This is authorized by Congress.

For regular visas – 65, 000

For holders of master degrees – 20, 000

6, 800 applications are reserved for citizens of Chile and Singapore.

For FY 2016, some 233, 000 applications were submitted for this particular Visa.

There is a big demand for H-1B Visas in 2017 due to the improved job market. Applicants not chosen in 2016 can apply again this 2017. Companies prefer to file H-1B petitions because of restrictions for B1 and L1 visas.

Foreigners who plan to work in the US during the following fiscal year must plan ahead to avoid problems. F1 students should also try to get internship or temporary jobs in these companies sponsoring H-1B visas. Check out possible sponsors and get in touch with them for CPT or OPT after graduation. For skilled professionals planning to relocate to the US, it is advisable to look for multi-national firms. The best time to apply internally for this Visa is next fiscal year.

Students can find sponsors for H-1B Visas and go through several internship programs. However, this may be quite complicated for working professionals. Conglomerates can help in this case to facilitate the process. These international companies can choose employees as Visa sponsors. Another option is to find consulting firms. However, applicants must be cautious since there are many fraudulent individuals and groups. Refrain from giving money to these people or you may end up being victims of scams.

Breakdown of Fees:

Base Filing Fee – $325

USCIS Anti-Fraud fee – $500

ACWIA Education and Training fee –

$750 for companies with less than 25 employees

$1, 500 for companies with more than 25 employees

Public Law 111-320 Fee – $4, 000

Optional Premium Processing Fee- $1, 225


What is the H1-B premium visa processing process?

This is a different approach because the applicant needs to wait for a minimum of three months or 90 days to find out if the petition has been approved or rejected. This is the regular process. Under the H1-B premium visa processing process, the applicant will know if his or her application has been approved or rejected within two weeks. However, there is an additional payment of $1, 225. Premium processing is available anytime the applicant wants it.

This is a guide and reminder for H-1B Visa application FY 2017. There is no time to waste since time is gold. Move fast so there is an opportunity to be chosen in lottery for FY 2017.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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Fundamentals of Filing H-1B in FY 2017 Lottery


Here are some basic points for those who are not familiar with the H-1B lottery process.

New visa petitions (non-immigrant workers) may be filed with the USCIS or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services starting April 1, 2016. The yearly cap for H1-B may be reached by the 1st week of April. It is anticipated that demand will exceed the quota. In this connection, USCIS will implement a lottery system to select petitions for processing. The April 1 filing date is not an assurance that Visas will be issued. Petitions not selected will be returned with filing fees.

This visa is an attractive option for employers not depending on short-term employment of foreign professionals. The category offers authorization for foreigners in specialty occupations. It is generally defined as a position calling for a minimum bachelor’s degree in specific academic fields.

US Congress set a new quota of 65, 000 visas for each fiscal year – October 1st to September 30. An extra 20, 000 (visas) are reserved for every fiscal year. This is for applicants with advanced degrees from US universities/colleges. The limitation does not include international degrees. Likewise, not all degrees obtained in the US are qualified. Section 101 (A), Higher Education Act (1965) states the school issuing the degree must meet the definition of institution of higher education.

The institution should be a public, non-profit institution. It must be legitimate, accredited or given pre-accreditation status by an accrediting association recognized nationwide or the education secretary. A private and unaccredited school is not regarded as an institution of higher education based on this law. The USCIS will conduct the lottery initially for petitions of advanced degree exemptions. Those not selected will also be included in the 65, 000 limit lottery. Last year (2015), petitions filed for the master’s quota began receiving notifications via email during the middle of April.

Each year, some petitions are filed promptly but are not included in the lottery due to incorrect filing. Bear in mind that being chosen is only the first step. It does not mean that the visa will be given approval right away. The USCIS officer will forward a request for additional requirements/documents once an application is chosen. This is called a Request for Evidence or RFE.

It is important to prepare early and be familiar with all the aspects of this H1-B procedure. This is meant to maximize the person’s chances that their H-1B petition. All Labor Condition Applications (LCA) must be submitted to the Labor Department by the start of March. Petitions must be filed on or prior to April 1, 2016. In other words, this is the right time to get ready for this application process. The whole procedure consists of putting together education credentials and relevant documents; writing and signing letters and forms; submitting the LCAs to the Department of labor. Said tasks will certainly entail a lot of time son see to it that you work on this right away.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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