STEM graduates Alert: US restricts job options under OPT extensions - II

by Administrator 21. April 2018 11:57

In my previous blog, I had mentioned how Immigrants and immigration have become some of the hot topics in the US right now and several international students who are hoping to work in the US for a longer duration will not find harder time owing to many changes being made. US immigration agencies are seeing a wave change in the policies and there are many employer obligations that are getting changed with each passing day. Let me continue from where I last left.

 

The USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has recently given a huge set of guidelines seeking extensive explanations on the website that what will be constituting a bonafide employer and employee relationship and on the obligations of an employer. The opt training program that they undertake now can only be at the employer's own site thus denting opportunities to work in consultancies.

 

Immigration practitioners are yet to see an application of this policy to the students who are already in client sites. The US DHS has recently developed a portal in the SEVIS where the STEM OPT students to directly input information regarding their OPT employment and training progress. We can also expect that the information can also be used to monitor it for compliance. There is expected to be more scrutiny on the STEM OPT time as well during the H-1B adjudications for those students who are willing to apply for that change in status from F-1 to H-1B. SEVIS is a web-based system that can be used for maintaining information about all international non-immigrant students in the US.

 

As per the employer training obligations, the training must take place on-site at the employer’s place of business or worksites to which the US immigration and customs enforcement must have the authority to conduct the site visit to ensure that the OPT requirements are being met. In addition to it, the OPT training must not take place at the lace of business or worksite of the employer’s clients or customers because ICE would lack authority to visit such sites

 

When the ICE have these site visits it monitors employer’s compliance with all the STEM OPT rules and requirements intact. The DHS has the ability to deny STEM OPT extensions with the employers who have failed to comply with the regulations. In addition, to comply with the regulatory requirements that are related to STEM OPT extensions, it may result in a loss of status of the student.

 

Further, the employers also will not be permitted to those under an OPT program to work remotely too. The employer may not be able to fulfill their training obligations to provide a structured and a guided work-based learning experience by having the student to make periodic visits to the employer’s place of business to get the training. The student meanwhile may be actually working at the place of business to get the training at the place of business or worksite of a client or customer of the employer. For the same reason, online or distance learning arrangements may not be used to fulfill the employer’s training obligation to the student.



The United States is already seeing a drop in the number of international students with fewer student visa applications. Only 47,302 student visas were issued to Indian students during the twelve-month period ending September 30, 2017 period as compared to 65,257 visas in the earlier twelve month period. There is a steady drop of 27% that signifies a lower interest in an education from US universities. Among international students, engineering, maths, and computer science degrees are always extremely popular. If OPT opportunities narrow down, the incentive to study in the US may drop further.

 

STEM graduates Alert: US restricts job options under OPT extensions - I

by Administrator 21. April 2018 11:45

Immigrants and immigration have become some of the hot topics in the US right now and several international students who are hoping to work in the US for a longer duration will not find harder time owing to many changes being made. US immigration agencies are seeing a wave change in the policies and there are many employer obligations that are getting changed with each passing day.

 

The USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has recently given a huge set of guidelines seeking extensive explanations on the website as to what will be constituting a bonafide employer and employee relationship and on the obligations of an employer. The training that they undertake now can only be at the employer's own site thus denting opportunities to work in consultancies.

 

An international student is presently eligible for a 12 month of optional practical training in short OPT under which they can work in the US. This, in turn, will lead them to get H-1B’s. Those who are into STEM which means science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are further eligible to apply for an OPT extension which is for 24 months. The STEM students under OPT can be recruited further into consulting companies in Technology as well as business management sectors.

 

The recent explanations by the USCIS are going to apply for those who are opting for STEM OPT extensions. USCIS has spelled out that such student will not be able to work at the client sites of the employers. This is a huge blow to the students making it further difficult for students to find the suitable employer. Going a step further, many students who are already in the US on their OPT under the F01 visa can obtain h1b sponsorship jobs. Only if they get an approved US H-1B visa can they continue working in the US? Now their future prospects too can be hampered.

 

The STEM program is like a formal opt training program and both the student as well as the employer are required to sign the Form I-982 affirming that their commitment to the training. The rules that were issued last year did not debar them from working at client sites and the recent USCIS interpretation has come as a rude shock to many.

 

Nidhi, a student who is working in the US on OPT extension says,”I did not get my H-1B this year. I do not know what will be my status as I am working at client site only for the past 2 years. I am confused and do not know what to do now. I am thinking to shift back to India once the OPT ends.”. Even Social media sites are in full force with heated discussions by anxious students who have already obtained an OPT extension and are working at client sites like Nidhi. They seem to have no clarity on the present situation and whether the new interpretation would also apply to them.

 

Read more in my next blog here.

Indian IT firms may benefit from new H-1B process

by Administrator 14. December 2017 11:27

The US after a considerable amount of time will be resuming the premium processing of the US H-1B visa  petitions, six months after it is suspended in the month of March to clear its existing backlogs. This will be helping the Indian IT companies who are said to be the biggest users of the visas as they plan better projects and deal with any exigencies of any sort. Companies were making use of the premium processing to expedite their petitions by paying out an amount of $1,225 to process them over in addition to paying a regular filing fee of over $4,000. The USCIS too will guarantee that the processing of these petitions will take place under 15 working days or calendar days.

 

The latest move will be helpful on bringing the latest move back on the track of the H-1B program thus allowing the Indian IT firms to fast-track the applications to meet the urgent client deliverables. There are many H-1B sponsoring jobs that require fast deployment and companies used this way to gain easy and fast access. Now many companies are very glad that premium processing has resumed. Normal processing for the petitions usually takes many months to fully get processes and by paying the premium amount for processing companies and the employees can get an answer in about 15 days. This will be helping the companies as well as the employees to plan better and that, especially for time-sensitive projects. More than half of the applications are extensively using the premium processing.

 

Generally the employment date of start for the applicants generally for a fiscal US October 1st as this by expediting the case under the processing the employee can make sure that he begins work on October 1 itself. In the month of March, USCIS has begun to suspend the premium processing in order to process the long-standing petitions which are unable to be processed due to the large volume of incoming petitions and due to the surge in premium processing requests over the past few years.

 

 

In the statement that was issued a few days back, USCIS has clearly mentioned that the resumption of the premium processing is only being done or said to be carried out only for pending petitions and not for new subscriptions. Since it has received more than enough petitions in the month of April to meet the fiscal year 2018 cap of 65,000 visas. H-1B renewal cases or amendments too which may also be based on the change in job sites with the same employers can still not be filed under premium processing. Premium processing now remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions such as extensions of stay.

 

USCIS also said that in a statement that it plans to resume premium processing of all the remaining H-1B petitions which are not subject to the FY 2018 cap. The remaining petitioners have to submit a request to expedite their applications if they meet the specific criteria The USCIS may expedite the case only under certain criteria which includes several financial losses to both the company or the person, or whether in an emergency situation and for humanitarian conditions. You can now get latest OPT and H-1B job alerts on www.simplyopt.com.

H-1B Visa Alert: What is the RAISE Act all about

by Administrator 17. October 2017 07:07

 

Last week the reforming American immigration for strong employment which was nothing but RAISE act has  aimed to cut immigration by almost half from the current level of more than a million green cards which have been granted a year. The evaluation of visa applications at the h1b database are now based upon merit giving more preference to people who have higher job skills or education. It has not yet become the law and similar such ACT’s and bills get introduced every year in the Congress  and what is important now is that Trump has singled out not only the bill but has also hand-picked the authors and have timed it to put the American needs first and America first.

The move will not be affecting other skilled worker programs like US H-1B visaor H2-B as the latter are employed all over the US in huge capacities. And the rival parties are floundering, Trump is now doubling down on sealing the emotional investment that the people have given him and voted him. The president along with Mr. Cotton turned the 2016 elections with one single thing which was immigration. The two competing candidates for elections have divergent views on this and this is the first time that Trump, as a politician made mincemeat of the other challengers over grueling months of the campaign and also beating the low-grade immigration, was his aim. Mr. Cotton who had humble beginnings has made it mainstream now in American political scenario and has become quite a rage.

Low-skilled migration and its effects on the working class families and wages which has nothing to do with business class travelers who are unscathed by immigration. The president is characterizing the immigrants who are coming to the US as low-skilled and dependent on aid saw figures and more than 40% of the immigrants who have arrived in the US for the past few in the past few years have a college degree which is much higher than the 30% if the immigrants in the US. At least 20% of them held an advanced degree and which is much higher than the US average. It is not the facts nor the data but the emotional core that has been tapped into and white identity when the immigration wave began in the 1960’s changing the country’s demography completely.

The RAISE Act is actually going to replace the current employment visa framework with skills based system that rewards the applicants based on their individual merit. The system rewards education, past achievements, sponsorship jobs offers, English language ability, entrepreneurial initiatives,  and the system are somewhat similar to the ones that are used in Australia and Canada. The Act will be reducing the overall immigration numbers to limit the low-skilled and unskilled from entering the US and the Act also prioritizes the immediate family members of the US residents which includes the spouse or minor children but will end the preference for extended family members and adult kids. US citizens who need to take care of elderly parents will be receiving a renewable and temporary visa for them. It also eliminates the visa lottery system and also limits the number of permanent resident status for refugees at 50,000 a year. 

 

 

How Compromised Colleges In The Us Are Turning Out To Be Visa Mills

by Administrator 13. October 2017 15:16

There were many colleges in the US who lost their accreditation last year and they are dubious colleges who have questionable records of educational quality. They continue to attract foreign students as they are relying heavily on them as students are now seeking a legal way to come into the US. Once they step on US soil these students will be remaining there legally for three years after they graduate through OPT which is Optional Practical Training for STEM graduates. Eventually other turn out to become illegal immigrants.

These colleges have a high percentage of foreign students sometimes who may be more than 95% according to reports. The business model that these colleges are those of the visa mills who attract foreign candidates who can spend in unique way. So many of them are designed this way and it is all done on purpose.

These colleges who are in the list are placed in California, Virginia, and Florida and they have been accredited by the Council of Independent colleges before the DOE yanked up the recognition of the agency and it must have shut long ago. OPT students who are enrolled at these schools must have borrowed on higher rates for the fees and are more likely to be normal on their student loans.

These colleges often tend to lax the requirements and the oversight of the students and the presidents of the colleges are owners or part time owners of the organizations which generally exist in just office buildings rather than in campuses that are associated with higher education. There are some colleges who have just classes on weekends so as to accommodate those who have work schedules. The loss of accreditation is proven to be a death sentence for a lot of colleges in the US because it cut off the federal loads for the students and that is not the issue for these schools who primarily serve foreign candidates as they are not permitted for federal mortgages anyway. The key here is that not having proper accreditation did not affect the flow of incoming students and they continued attracting more candidates.

The colleges also offered a viable pathway to the US for students who do not have any relatives and employers in the US who can sponsor them on behalf of legal residency. Many candidates attend the schools and not many return home or turn out to be illegal residents as the federal government isn't going to monitor such information. Data has also shown that they are the students from compromised colleges and are users of the OPT training program. Students from one of the obscure school have got so many OPT extensions from 2009 onwards that the candidates who are from the 8 ivy league schools combined.

Hiring the workers with OPT status is said to be more attractive to the companies is because they are said to consider students even if they do not attend classes anymore and the firms are excused from paying for public security and healthcare taxes on them. The universities which lack accreditation too can release I-20 forms to the foreign students who use them to submit an application for student visas at the US consulates in their respective countries. There is a fraud too that is associated with these applications and the rejection rates have doubled in the past few years. Reforming of the entire OPT IN USA  is the need of the hour and the US administration has to take stringent measures and root out the existing problems and pave way for better student life. 

US Acting Tough On Entry Level Engineers

by Administrator 5. October 2017 11:49

There are a huge chunk of Indian IT employees who are working in the US on H-1B visas as the new government is backing the immigration of highly skilled workers and programmers, the US H-1B visa applications that are put up by entry level workers are facing innumerable requests for RFE which is further evidence that will help in taking up complex jobs at higher salaries in the US. Many law firms to have seen a surge in the number of queries from the USCIS for entry level petitions or entry level jobs.

 

 

An RFE from the USCIS is not something that is new. But this time it has received innumerable RFE’s for almost all the petitions filed for entry level h-1B sponsorship jobs with the US. There has been a policy change for computer programmers who are in Level-1 jobs and hence the RFE’s for these petitions are said to be understandable. However, number of RFE has been filed for all types of jobs in the entry level category which includes technical analysts, content matter experts, and other jobs.

 

Since the President has been implementing his election promise of restricting immigrants entry to the US, many laws have been enacted in the US to increase the minimum wages for H-1B visa holders in order to protect the jobs of the Americans. In January a lawmaker from California had introduced a bill in the US congress to force the companies who are employing workers on H-1B visa sponsorship jobs to double the pay to $130,000 a year but the bill came under a lot of fire and was eventually not passed. Later the US Administration names services firms such as TCS, US bases CTS, Infosys accusing them of paying lower wages than what was set by the Department of Labor. The US claimed that only a mere 5% of the visa holders are earning higher wages that are deemed to be set by the DOL and three out of four workers are said to be paid lesser than the median wage and the firms, however, denied the claims.

 

Indian IT firms are most likely to find the new regime tough and challenging as they still send entry level engineers to the US to work on projects and the latest news is just so disturbing for them, This time the circumstances are found to be unusual. In the past, a large number of petitions that received RFE were approved by the USCIS but this time we need to wait and watch as to what happens. Also, earlier the entry level applications were not that stringently verifies unlike this time and in the year 2015 41% of the approved H-1B applications were Level 1 wages.

 

Such an approach by the US will mean that the ongoing efforts that are taken by the entry of highly paid and highly skilled professionals. Experts also say that highly skilled professional is the person who is working on machine learning projects and not just on Java. So updating ourselves is the key here. Entry level engineers need to buck up and master new technologies to stay in the game. 

Increase seen in wages of High-skilled foreign workers in the US

by Administrator 26. September 2017 13:54

We all know recent reports of how the rules are being changed in the US regarding US H-1B visaand there was a bill that was to be passed too in favor of increasing the wages of the existing immigrant workers. The bill was however shot down and the good news for all is that presently High-skilled foreign workers are now receiving good salaries by their employers. Many tech firms all over the US are now giving more lucrative job offers to all says a study.

The median salary that was given to the workers of h1b visa sponsorship jobswas at $60,000 a year until recently and now it has increased to $80,000 a year when compared to the old figures. The pay rise for highly skilled personnel was coupled to which lead to an increase in demand according to USCIS statistics.

One of the most generous pay that was offered by US technology companies for foreign workers on h1b visa sponsorship were Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple who were leading the way with an average salary of $125K as per the study. CTS which is an IT firm based in New Jersey also had more than 20,000 applications approved for the fiscal last year when compared to other US firms.

The H-1B is a non-immigration visa that is granted to foreign workers who are highly skilled and employers who wish to hire them to apply for this visa on their behalf from the US Govt which are currently being granted through a lottery like a process and the white house is now drawing multiple plans to reform the program. Indians are said to be the top H-1B visa aspirants in the current fiscal year with more than 2.45 lakh applications. The total number works out to be at least 75% of the total applications until June 30th as the US fiscal year begins on October 1 and usually ends on September 30.

With Indians topping the list, China and Canada come close to it with respect to the number of applications. The US has received 3 lakh and above applications alone till June 30 of which only 1.90 lakh were approved. The USCIS which released the info said that there are many which are under pending approval. Most of the Indians are the ones who are flooding the portal as they get to benefit in terms of the numbers when it comes to visa approvals.

The technology sector continues to be the top contender for securing the visas and dominating the applications. This trend is set to continue owing to the current changes in the rules and the increase in wages is going to only increase the interest among people who wish to come to the US. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the USCIS has also begun different approaches to expand interviews so that it can focus on the benefits and allow the individuals to come into the country. When they conduct these in-person interviews then they can detect any frauds and for the sake of national security, they can make sure that only genuine people are granted a visa.

 

 

Indians: Top recipients for H-1B in 2017

by Administrator 15. September 2017 14:43

With over some 2.5 lakh applications being sent to the h1b visa database, Indians are topping the lists as the highest number of H-1B aspirants and recipients till July this year. The number that is working out right now is standing at 75% of the total applications till June this year. The US fiscal year will begin on October 1 and end on September 30.

Indians continue to be one of the largest group of aspirants for the current fiscal year and the number of filings is more than 3 lakh this year.  The number of Chinese US H-1B visa aspirants are much lower in comparison to their number of applications are only at 36,362 which is their highest ever till June 30th over the past 10 years. A total of only 35,700 number of applications were only filed by the Chinese during the last years. Canada has come to slowly one-third with 3,550 number of applications till June 30 this year.

The US has also received some record 3.7 lakh applications for the visas till June end out of which 2 lakh visas have been approved and the USCIS has released this data and there are many applications that are still pending approval. While you look at the breakup of the applications for this year the data has not been released based on the country of birth but the old records show that for last year out of the 3.45 lakh applications that were approved last year 74% of them or let us say 2.56 lakh of them were from India. China was trailing next as the second with 9% which meant 31,995 approvals. A huge section of the senators has pointed out that Indians were seen flooding the application pool and yes, they do stand at getting more benefits when it comes to getting a huge number of visa approvals too.

From the year 2006 to present time the number of Indian Applications stands at 22 lakhs and the Chinese at 3 lakhs and those from the Philippines at 85K. There has been a decline of 70% applications for the Philippines and Canada comes at a close 5th in the list. Th number of people from India applying for H-1B has increased by 80% since 2006 to stand out at a close 3 lakhs in 2016.

The technology sector continues to be the number one sector for attracting scores of h1b sponsorshipand for dominating the H-1B visa applications. The top 5 firms like all of us know were granted to CTS, TCS, Wipro, Accenture, and Infosys. The average salaries of all the firms were also noted to be well below the minimum salary of the visa holders which presently stands at 130K as proposed in the reform bill. There are various arguments to saying that these firms are taking away a major chunk of visas directly and through their contractors and outsources fish for more candidates which are quoted to be disturbing and not beneficial to the people of US, though critics say otherwise. We are only hoping that in the coming years more opportunities open and people get a fair chance to immigrate and work in the US. Get job alerts now from simplyopt.com.

Startup visas to come down in the US after H-1B visa clampdown

by Administrator 7. September 2017 10:16

After the recent US H-1B visaclampdown, the new administration is planning to clamp visas and tighten the immigration flows to the country. The US president is also making all the efforts to tighten immigration at all levels and is planning to rescind the Obama-era program that will allow foreign entrepreneurs to launch startup companies in the US which was known as the Startup Visas before.

After having constricted the existing H-1B visa immigration policies that are allowing the US companies to temporarily employ foreign nationals on h1b sponsorship, they are now working extra strict to restrict the visas that were given as startup visas. Many people have been benefitted by this as they could get easy passage to the US and able to follow their dreams. The program was also called as the International Entrepreneur Rule which allowed non-US nationals to launch companies that can also win $100K in government grants or could receive $250K worth in venture capital investment to support their stay in the US. The term of the stay was for a renewable 30-month term or an additional 3 years if the company continues to show growth and benefit the American public like an increase in capital investment, job creation, and revenue.

There is no clear-cut path to stay in the US for entrepreneurs as many first come into the country through h1b visa sponsorship jobs which the new administration is currently curtailing. To qualify for the visa, they must own at least 15% of the US startup and show the company’s growth potential and must be able to draw investments from other qualified American investors thus benefitting the significant public.

The hold to the existing rule was to come into effect in July this year after meeting with top American leaders and the administration announced that the program will be delayed until next March saying that the Department of Homeland Security must give an additional review of the program. Many CEO erupted and called that the cancellation of the program is a big mistake as the immigrant entrepreneurs are job makers only and not job takers. There are many who are unhappy with the new decisions and where there are many countries all over the world are going all the way to attract and to retain talented individuals by inviting them to come to their shores and build innovative ventures, here the administration is doing the exact opposite.

 

 

With the ban on the travel from the 6 Muslim majority countries already had drawn criticism from a huge swatch of companies like Amazon, Facebook etc. who lost many valuable employees in the process. The next one in line was the restrictive order passed for high skilled workers on H-1B visas. The nail in the coffin was the next ones restricting the possibility of new entrepreneurs from joining the industry. The economy and the job growth will only be grown and there will be fewer benefits as the US will keep losing more ground by the negative efforts in attracting entrepreneurs and their investments. All fingers are crossed for this one and we are only hoping something best must happen for all in the future. For all OPT and H-1B related jobs you can now check simplyopt.com

H-1B visa more benefiting for US and India

by Administrator 31. August 2017 13:40

 

The controversial US H-1B visa program which was widely criticized all over for taking away American jobs have provided a lot of economic benefits for both the US and India says popular reports and a study. The most controversial H1B visa program which has been widely criticized for costing the local workers who are Americans, is said to provide more economic benefits for both the countries says a study from the researchers at the University of Michigan and at the Centre for Global Development.

The incomes of both the countries combined because of the US Visa program has risen to billions and the total IT output too has risen steadily in few years. Coming to recognizing the negative repercussions for the workers the study also said that overall many US born employees are wealthier by many millions because of this program. Sponsorship jobs have risen and come down too in these years.

An average worker who belongs to any country is better off because of immigration and the US native workers have big gains only because of the visa program. The impact that the US has made on the economy of India is huge since the early 2000’s as the GDP rose, h1b visa database was full, jobs were created, a number of people continued to go to the US on lucrative jobs and settle there permanently. Back home they invested in all sectors and the economy boomed.

The visa program allows h1b sponsoring companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations and many Indian outsourcing firms such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro have always been the leading recipients of H1B visas which were used by the employees to work on the client sites in the US and the program was very much instrumental in the rise and rise of billion-dollar IT services industry. You can now get OPT and H-1B opportunities on www.simplyopt.com.

The approach has come under the fire in the recent years and the arrival of the new president saw a sea change in the approach as the new administration announced many measures to curtail the program’s use and to eliminate the abuse of the visa which was going on for long. The program has also been widely criticized in India too as it was causing too much of brain drain.

There are many who have taken up the issue with an assertion that the Indian workers too who are migrating to the US have led to a dramatic expansion of India’s technology industry and has widely contributed to the wide expansion of the skilled workforce throughout the country. Plenty of students have also switched to Computer Science and IT related engineering fields because of better prospects and those who did not migrate stayed back to help and boost the Indian IT services industry. 

There are some H-1B visa holders who have returned with additional knowledge to improve the sector and the increase in the productivity eventually allowed India to surpass the US in software and hardware exports. Immigration can lead to better technology being built and the overall productivity of other sectors too will improve and the consumers of IT and computer related goods will benefit from better software and hardware prices. 

Blog Author

simplyOPT.com Team!

Month List