EXTENSION OF POST-COMPLETION OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING PROGRAM AND F-1 STATUS FOR ELIGIBLE STUDENTS UNDER H-1B CAP-GAP REGS

According to a USCIS Alert:  “Effective May 10, 2016, DHS is amending its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. institutions of higher education. Such F-1 students who have elected to pursue 12 months of post-completion OPT in the United States may extend their STEM OPT period by 24 months (STEM OPT extension). Current practice involving Cap-Gap will remain the same. Any F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and request for change of status will be allowed to extend the duration of F-1 status and any current employment authorization until the first day of the new fiscal year.”

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com.

H-1B CAP SUBJECT PETITIONS FOR FY 2017 MAY BE FILED STARTING APRIL 2, 2016

The time is now for employers who wish to hire foreign professionals to work for their companies in H-1B status to start the process.  For the past several years,  both the annual H-1B cap of 65,000 petitions and US Masters Cap of an additional 20,000 petitions were exhausted during the first week of filing.

Cap H-1B petitions may be filed with the USCIS beginning on 4/1/2016 for employment to begin on 10/1/2016.  During the first week of filing, if the USCIS receives more than the allotted number of petitions, the agency will conduct a random lottery to decide which petitions will be accepted for adjudication.  In the past few years, the number of petitions received by the USCIS far exceeded the cap limitations.

There are preliminary steps that need to be taken, strategies considered, and documents that must be collected in the weeks leading up to the H-1B filing.  It is therefore a good idea for employers to get the process rolling by mid-February.

Please visit our firm’’s websites at www.immigrantconnect.com and www.americaninvestorvisa.com.