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

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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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Latest News about OPT STEM Litigation

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United States District Court Judge Ellen Huevelle has granted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extension of STEM OPT until May 10 of this year.

This is certainly good news for all F-1 international students who are currently studying and residing in the United States.

Under Rule 60 (B), the district court is given discretion to relieve parties from conclusive orders due to particular reasons or cause that validates relief. These include the following: None of the cited arguments for relief are appropriate; the motion was put into effect within a realistic time-frame; and, the requested reprieve is substantiated by exceptional circumstances beyond the petitioner’s control.

The Notice of Appeal is within the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction while the district court relinquishes its control over portions of the case implicated in said petition. The court should determine if consideration of this “stay extension” will lead to turmoil and inefficiency. Changed conditions prove assumptions essential to the stay’s duration are impractical. Thus, ending the deferment after six months is not reasonable. Unnecessary hardship for STEM OPT members as well as employers is the same.

There are around 23, 000 participants in STEM OPT with 8, 000 applications awaiting approval and another 434, 000 international students qualified for authorization. Many will be affected if this stay is not extended. On the other hand, the technology sector can lose workers while educational institutions in the US will lose their appeal to foreign students.

The fact that the Department failed to implement corrective measures in the past to anticipate the court ruling last year prohibits it from respite. The court ruled there is no merit in the argument that changes suggested by DHS or ambiguity changes have caused disqualify the Agency from the relief it was seeking.

Petitioner pointed out both parties will go back to court even if the motion of DHS was granted because of the replacement rule. The court does not have many reasons to doubt said claim but this rule can only be disputed in future proceedings. The district court has to protect decisiveness of its judgments but it presumed the limited amendment was necessary.

Some of the queries of students include an initial OPT that was about to expire before May 10. Will the student be allowed to file for an extension of 17 months? The answer is yes. If the OPT expires between today and May 10, it is possible to file the extension as soon as possible under the 2008 rule.

Another is an OPT expiring on or right after May 11. Is a 17-month extension applicable? The answer is most probably yes. There are two options. Foreign students can file for extension and probably be given the 17-month term covered by the new ruling. Once this is in place, the students concerned can apply for the other seven months to earn the full 24 months. This will also reveal how the Department of Homeland Safety will cope with the in-between situation.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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An International Student’s List of Things to Prepare For

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When you study abroad as an international student, you bring with you a different and unique perspective based on education and culture in your country. Surely, there would be policies in your new school that would seem confusing to you. Other people may also feel awkward about some of the mannerisms you’re used to. Though these would all be good memories in the future, you need to ensure that you keep constant communication with your friends and relatives at home. This would allow you to cope from the inevitable culture shock you would experience in the new environment. 

Before you arrive at the country of the international college you’re going to study at, you need to accomplish your paperwork and you must consider and use some tips so you can have a good start.

International Students Office

When it comes to travel arrangement plans, you can get help from the international student’s office in your school. The office can help you arrange travels specifically in the immediate areas within the school. In particular, you can get help for concerns such as financial aid, applications, and others. You should grab the opportunity of contacting the school to ask for professor recommendation. This is particularly helpful if you are going to take any degree related to public administration. Asking for recommendations would give you an idea about how you would feel when already getting the degree.

Travel Visa

It is important that you know the three basic types of visa. These are M1, J1, and F1 Visa. Each type will have a different effect on the kind of work or job you can get when abroad. The M1 Visa won’t allow you to work. It will only allow you to stay in the U.S. for vocational or non-academic school. The J1 Visa has some restrictions when it comes to work. The restrictions depend on your sponsor’s visitor program. It will allow you to have access to practical trainings that are not available in your own country. Lastly, the F1 Visa will allow you to work for one year in the U.S. but only after you have graduated in your chosen degree. So, this type will allow you to enter the U.S. for academic studies and then work later after graduation.

Travel Expenses

Generally, traveling abroad particularly to the U.S. is expensive. However, you may be able to cut on travel expenses depending on the type of transportation you use. You can greatly cut on your cost when you book weeks or months before your flight schedule. It would also help you to get the best deal when you look for bus and train rates online. The Southwest Airlines, for example, can give you the best rate when you book directly with them.

The Means Test

You won’t be allowed to study in the U.S. if you haven’t proved you can support yourself. Savings is the only way to prove it. Potential income and work in the U.S. while you study won’t help you.

With these, it is really crucial that you have clear plans and that you have talked with the department in the school you are interested to study in.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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