Immigration Reform 2013!

  • Increase H-1B base cap from 65,000 to 110,000, with an escalator that can increase the cap to 180,000 in increments of 10,000 in response to demand.

 

  • The new legislation raises or lowers the H-1B visa cap by up to 10,000 visas each year, so long as it never exceeds 180,000 or drops below 110,000.  The amendments add a provision that blocks escalator increases if occupational unemployment for the management, professional and related occupations is 4.5% or higher. This will almost certainly ensure that the H-1B Visa numbers reach the 180,000 limit with 3-4 years. If the President could sign the bill into law as it is before the end of fiscal year 2013(Sep 30, 2013), we will have 55,000-75,000 new H1B Visa available starting October 1, 2013.

 

  • Employers who count H1-B holders as more than 75 percent of their workforce would be banned from hiring more foreign workers starting in 2014. That percentage cutoff would drop to 65 percent in 2015 and 50 percent in 2016.

 

  • The 60 day grace period is an important improvement that essentially means an employer can’t kick a worker out of the country by firing them. This will help increase worker power. In addition, workers who wish to renew their visas will no longer have to leave the country which is another important improvement

 

  • Those employers with more than 15 percent of their employees working under H-1B visa category come under H-1B Dependent Firms. An H-1B dependent employer will be required to post their job posting on government sponsored website to offer job to an equally or better qualified U.S. citizen. Outplacement ban applies only to H-1B dependent employers. This can be overcome by applying an H-1B employee, green card simultaneously and reducing the total tally of H-1B and L-1 employees. If the H-1B candidates hired in a consulting firm have their green cards under processing, the employer may skip being an “H-1B Dependent Employer “.

 

  • In addition, spouses of H1B workers would be allowed to obtain work authorization, provided that the home country provides the same treatment for spouses of U.S. workers.

 

  • Introduction of W Visa: Under the "W-Visa" program, which would start in April 2015, foreigners with lesser skills would be able to apply for positions in the country. The program would be based upon a system of registered employers who, after applying and being accepted, are allowed to hire a certain number of W-Visa category individuals each year. Employers must first advertise the position for 30 days on a Secretary of Labor website before it becomes a position capable of being filled by a W-Visa holder. Employers couldn't advertise positions that require a bachelor's degree or higher.The visa would last three years and workers could renew it for additional three-year periods. Visa holders couldn't be unemployed for more than 60 consecutive days. They would be able to bring a spouse and minor children, who also would receive authorization to work in the US. The number of visas to be offered would be capped at 20,000 the first year and grow to 75,000 by the fourth year. In the years thereafter, the annual cap would be based on a formula that would consider the number of new job openings, the number of unemployed U.S. workers as well as the demand for W-Visa workers.

 

  • The bill would mandate employers use an improved version of E-Verify, an electronic system for determining the legal status of current and prospective employees, within five years.

International Student Community contributes $22.7 billion to 2011/2012 economy

International students contribute over $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Below are key highlights.

  • 60% of all international students receive the majority of their funds from personal and family sources
  • 70% of all international students' primary funding comes from sources outside of the United States.
  • More than 80% of all undergraduate international students receive the majority of their funding from person and family source

Reference: Open Doors Data

 

Co-op vs Internship difference!

Internships

Co-ops

Internships are usually, but not always, one term.

Co-ops are usually, but not always, multi-term; e.g. you might work fall semester, go to school in spring semester, work summer, go to school in fall, and work the next spring semester

Usually a one-time work (10-12 week) assignment, often in the summer

Co-ops are a joint venture between the university, a selected employer, and you

Can be full- or part-time, paid or unpaid, depending on the employer and the career field

Co-Ops are full-time, paid positions

Usually paid less than Co-ops

Students frequently start at higher salaries and higher levels of responsibility than interns

Some positions are paid, others are volunteer.

All positions are paid.

Startup 3.0 Bill Summary

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) on 02/14/2013 introduced Startup Act 3.0, an updated version of a bipartisan jobs and high-skilled immigration plan to strengthen the economic recovery through the creation and growth of new businesses

Startup Act 3.0 includes the following provisions:

  • Creates an Entrepreneur’s Visa for legal immigrants, so they can remain in the United States, launch businesses and create jobs;
  • Creates a new STEM visa so that U.S.-educated foreign students, who graduate with a master’s or Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, can receive a green card and stay in this country where their talent and ideas can fuel growth and create American jobs;
  • Eliminates the per-country caps for employment-based immigrant visas – which hinder U.S. employers from recruiting the top-tier talent they need to grow;
  • Makes permanent the exemption of capital gains taxes on the sale of startup stock held for at least five years – so investors can provide financial stability at a critical juncture of firm growth;
  • Creates a limited research and development tax credit for young startups less than five years old and with less than $5 million in annual receipts. This R&D credit is designed to allow startups to offset employee taxes – freeing up resources to help these young companies expand and create jobs;
  • Uses existing federal R&D funding to support university initiatives designed to bring cutting-edge research to the marketplace more quickly where it can propel economic growth;
  • Requires all government agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed “significant rules” with an economic impact of $100 million or more. This new requirement will help determine the efficacy of regulations and their potential impact on the formation and growth of new businesses; and
  • Directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to assess state and local policies that aid in the development of new businesses. Through the publication of reports on new business formation and the entrepreneurial environment, lawmakers will be better equipped to encourage entrepreneurship with the most successful policies.

H1B Document Checklist for OPT Students

 Are you an OPT student just getting started on H1-B process?  Below check list will help you stay organized.

  1. An original passport or a notarized copy of your passport.
  2. A current resume including your a detailed history of your employment for the last six years. This should specifically include the name of your employers, addresses, and dates of employment.
  3. Original I-94 Card or copy notarized on the front and back and copies of your current immigration status (OPT EAD Card)
  4. Original college degree and any certified transcripts from your school
  5. Original credentials evaluation (Your immigration lawyers usually can help with this)
  6. Any W-2 forms for the past five years, if any exist
  7. Most recent pay stubs  from your current employer (Last three months), if there are any!
  8. Your present address & Phone numbers
  9. Your previous foreign address
  10. Your social security number.
  11. Copies of any existing employment agreements or contracts or offers of employment. (Your employer and immigration lawyers can take care of this)
  12. A detailed employment description including job duties and job title.

Travel on OPT?

This is one of the most frequently asked question simplyOPT.com Team gets from Students.  We thought it is a good idea to summarize all options for OPT Students to travel outside of USA.

OPT Application is still pending

 If your application is still pending, not approved, EAD card still not yet issued by USCIS, and you do not have a job or a job offer, you may leave and then re-enter the U.S. to continue to look for employment.

 You should have be sure you have the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six months)
  • I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797)

 The visa stamp requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens.

OPT Application is Approved

If EAD card has been issued by USCIS and you have a job or a job offer, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. in order to begin or resume employment. If your post-completion OPT has been approved and you leave the U.S. before getting a job or a job offer, your OPT ends. You may not be able to re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 student.

After USCIS has issued an EAD card for post-completion OPT, in order to have the best chance of re-entering the U.S. without problems, you should be sure you have the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (with a valid travel signature no older than six months)
  • EAD card
  • Evidence that you already have a job in the U.S. or that you have a job offer.

CPT vs OPT for International Students

One of the frequently asked questions simplyOPT.com gets from students is "What is the difference between CPT & OPT".  Below is a summary of differences between CPT & OPT.

CPT

OPT

 

CPT requires a job offer

 

OPT does not require a job offer

 

CPT requires enrollment in a special class

in which on-the-job training is required

and for which course credit is received

during the time  the employment takes

place.

 

OPT does not require you to enroll in any

class

 

CPT is authorized for a specific employer

for work related to student’s field of studies

 

OPT allows work w/ ANY employer based on

student’s field of studies

 

CPT is issued by school

 

OPT is issued by the USCIS within 90 days

(after preliminary processing by School)

CPT work permit is granted on the I-20 (page 3)

OPT work permit is called the EAD (Employment Authorization Document)

CPT may only be issued for work before graduation.

OPT allows for employment both before and after graduation

CPT usually does not affect OPT as long as CPT is authorized for less than 12 months of full-time employment (more than 20 hours per week). Part-time CPT (20 hours per week or less) is never deducted from OPT.

NOTE: if you work total 4 months of full-time CPT, you will still have 12 months of OPT

OPT authorized part-time (20 hours or less per week) is deducted at half-time rate, but full-time OPT (more than 20 hours per week) is deducted at full-time rate from the 12 months of OPT.

NOTE: if you received 6 full-time months of OPT before graduating you will only have 6 months of OPT left after graduation

 

Thanks,

simplyOPT.com Team!

 

 

H-1B Debarred/Disqualified List of Employers

Department of Labor maintains a list of willful violators of H1-B program.  Please see the complete list below.  As the first step for any OPT Student from immigration perspective is to get a H1-B Sponsorship, it is critical that OPT Students work with well established and reputed companies.  simplyOPT.com recommends all OPT Students to refer to the below list whenever they are ready for H1-B Visa.

 

This list is effective as of September 30, 2012.      

 

Employer Name

Willful Violator

Debarment Period

Allied Solutions Group, Inc.
d/b/a Allied Solutions Group
4836 Brecksville Rd., Suite 3
Richfield, OH 44286

YES

10/31/2010
to
10/30/2012

Alrek Business Solutions, Inc
804 Woodfield Rd.,
Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173

NO

12/12/2011
to
12/11/2012

ATV, Inc.
16201 Commerce Way
Cerritos, CA 90703

YES

9/7/2011
to
9/6/2013

Computer Institute of Technology
11631 Victory Blvd.
Suite 205
North Hollywood, CA 916061

NO

8/24/2012
to
8/23/2013

E Methods, Inc.
7457 Harwin Drive
Suite 208
Houston, TX 77036

NO

7/16/2012
to
7/15/2013

Electronic Design
& Research, Inc.
and Vladimir Shvartsman,
an Individual
7311 Intermodal Drive
Louisville, KY 40258

YES

4/11/2011
to
4/10/2013

EnterSoft Solutions, Inc.
370 Convention Way
Suite 3023
Redwood City, CA 94063

YES

5/25/2012
to
5/24/2014

Global Professional Healthcare Providers, Inc.
10700 W. Higgins Rd.
Suite 120
Rosemont, IL 60018

NO

10/10/2011
to
10/9/2012

GTRAS, Inc.
4229 Lafayette
Center Dr., Suite 1750
Chantilly, VA 20151

YES

3/16/2012
to
3/15/2014

International Construction Group, Inc.
d/b/a ICG, Inc.
1200 Moraine Drive
Woodstock, IL 60098

YES

7/1/2011
to
6/30/2013

Invent Information Technology, Inc.
675 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Suite 107
Troy, MI 48083

NO

8/24/2012
to
8/23/2013

JCG Technologies, Inc.
50 S. Belcher Road
Suite #104
Clearwater, FL 33765

NO

9/21/2012
to
9/20/2013

Law Offices of Sergio
Villaverde
PLLC
3109 Sedgwick Avenue
Bronx, NY 10463

YES

2/21/2011
to
2/20/2013

Lungs Associates, P.A.
and Moonasar Rampertaap, M.D.,
as President and Individually
203 Third Avenue, East
Bradenton, FL 34208

YES

5/31/2011
to
5/30/2013

MQ Solutions LLC and its members
and controlling agents
Mrs. Ellen Esquerra Durman,
and Mr. Mark Durman
1400 Marcia Drive
La Habra, CA 90631-2477

NO

10/31/2010
to
10/30/2012

Multivision Inc.
1220 Iroquois Ave.
Suite 210
Naperville, IL 60563

NO

11/16/2011
to
11/15/2012

Nevada Beauty Supplies, Inc.
d/b/a Beauty Supply Warehouse
21515 Hawthorne Blvd., #585
Torrance, CA 90503

YES

1/3/2011
to
1/2/2013

PC Tech Learning Center
and Mana R. Somalingham,
An Individual
1 Hillside Avenue
Pelham, NY 10803

YES

5/2/2011
to
5/1/2013

Pegasus Consulting Group, Inc.
a/k/a Pegasus Systems, Inc.
100 Matawan Road
Matawan, NJ 07747

YES

5/31/2011
to
5/30/2013

Prince George’s County Public Schools
14201 School Lane
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772

YES

3/16/2012
to
3/15/2014

Software Developers of America, Inc.
and Sameer Suri,
Vice President
5557 York County Road
Columbus, OH 43221

YES

2/16/2012
to
2/15/2014

Software Technology International Corporation
400 Amherst St. Suite 403
Nashau, NH 03063

NO

4/27/2012
to
4/26/2013

SS IT Consulting Corporation
6345 Green Jay Road
Columbus, OH 43230

YES

3/11/2011
to
3/10/2013

The Lambents Group, Inc.
and Venkat Potini,
Individually and as President
1425 Jefferson Road, Suite 18
Rochester, NY 14623

YES

2/16/2012
to
2/15/2014

Triune Technologies, Inc.
5406 Thornwood Drive
Suite 190
San Jose, CA 95123

YES

5/23/2011
to
5/22/2013

Usnets Systems, Inc.
and Sayed Hussain
President, an individual
860 US Highway 1
Edison, NJ 08817

YES

5/25/2012
to
5/24/2014

Visionsoft Solutions
LLC
2140 Peralta Blvd.
Suite #205
Fremont, CA 94536

YES

2/21/2011
to
2/20/2013

Worldwide Software Services, Inc.
1001 2nd Avenue North
Clinton, IA 52732

YES

8/24/2012
to
8/23/2014

 

Reference: http://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/H1BDebarment.htm#.UN4A4nenEdo

 

Thanks,

simplyOPT Team!

OPT Student Tax benefits

International students, nonresident aliens for tax purposes, are not subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes also known as FICA taxes.

What is FICA Tax?

Payroll taxes for Social Security benefits are collected under the authority of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA. This tax had its origins back in 1935, when it was introduced as part of the Social Security program.  Both employees and employers are required to contribute to FICA taxes through regular payroll deductions and there is a limit, or maximum contribution employees are required to pay each year towards Social Security.

FICA Tax rate?

Generally, FICA taxes are collected at a rate of 7.65% on gross earnings, which are earnings before any deductions are taken. The breakdown of FICA is 6.2% for Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance or OASDI) and 1.45% for Medicare.

OPT Students are not subjected to FICA Taxes

If you are an international student on Optional Practical Training - OPT, nonresident alien for tax purposes, and your employer has deducted Social Security and Medicare taxes in error, you must first ask your employer for a refund. If you are unable to obtain a refund from your employer, you must file Form 843 and Form 8316 to obtain a refund from the IRS for the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld in error by your employer. International students present in United States for less than 5 calendar years are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes.

 

Thanks,

simplyOPT.com Team