Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Extension Ending

August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

 OPT STEM ending

On August 12, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, impacting employees working pursuant to Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) and their employers.

According to the decision, the 2008 immigration rule, which allowed OPT individuals to request a 17-month extension of their OPT status based on having a degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (“STEM”) field, was procedurally invalid. The court held that the passage of the rule did not follow mandatory federal administrative rulemaking procedures. Therefore, the court vacated the rule.

Due to the tremendous impact this stands to have on OPT workers and employers, the court stayed the vacatur until February 12, 2016, which means the current rule will remain in effect until that date.

During the next 6 months, the situation is expected to be remedied by the passing of a new administrative rule allowing for continued OPT STEM Extensions. However, if a new rule is not passed prior to February 12, 2016, those currently in the U.S. pursuant to a STEM Extension may be ineligible to continue working. Additionally, those in 12-month OPT status will be ineligible to apply for a 17-month STEM Extension. As of now, individuals are permitted to continue working in OPT status.

Stay tuned for updates on the decision and its impact, as well as the new rule, if and when promulgated. Questions on the decision or interested in moving from OPT to another immigration status? GoffWilson can assist you! Contact our office today.

Form I-9 2015 Seminar: Register Today

June 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

2015 I-9 Workshop

Only a few good seats remaining for this informative must-do seminar! Be on top of your game. Register Today!

The half-day seminar is Thursday, June 11th at Two Delta Dental in Concord, NH (breakfast included).

Here are some reasons you should register right now:

  1. You want to be current on the latest trends in I-9s.
  2. You need a refresher. Review new questions, choices, and solutions made in completing I-9s, plus how to correct flawed forms and how to avoid them.
  3. You have some nagging questions about completing I-9s that you really want answered by the pros.
  4. Your remote hires, recent merger, potential merger or federal contracts present challenges that can be met following this informative seminar.
  5. HRCI credit and a certificate are provided to you so you maintain your HR accreditation.
  6. Knowledgeable speakers and assistants will walk you through real examples and an up-to-date workbook to use as a future reference.

Visit our website for more information or click here to register now.

Changing H-1B Work Locations? This New Rule Impacts You!

April 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

changing-H1B-locations

On April 9, 2015, the Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”) issued a precedent-setting decision, Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, impacting H-1B workers and their employers.  According to the decision, a change in the work location of an H-1B worker now requires the filing of an amended H-1B petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).  Previously, H-1B employers were permitted to simply file a new Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) for a change in H-1B work location.  Under Simeio, this practice is no longer allowed.

Each amended H-1B filing requires a $325.00 filing fee to the USCIS.  Additionally, amended H-1B petitions are subject to the same rigorous scrutiny as any new H-1B petition submission and require the same extensive documentation, such as proof of client contracts for H-1B workers stationed offsite.  Furthermore, if the amended petition is approved, the H-1B expiry date will remain the same as the original H-1B.  Thus, employers could end up filing multiple H-1B petitions for the same authorized work period.  For businesses that require H-1B employees to frequently change work locations, this new rule could mean processing changes and advanced planning for the employers.

It is important to note, however, that a work location change within a normal commuting distance from the location listed in the existing H-1B petition remains unaffected by Simeio.  There is no specific measure of distance defining a normal commuting distance—it depends on the circumstances in the individual work location area.  Not sure whether you require an amended H-1B petition or other possible ways around this new requirement? The GoffWilson team is here to help. Contact our office today for assistance. Immigration is what we do!

FY 2016 H-1B Petitions Top Last Year’s Record

April 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

H1-B Visa Cap

On April 13, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions were received for fiscal year 2016 which begins on October 1, 2015.  The number tops last year’s record by more than 60,000 petitions. This is an indication of the number of positions in the US that are a specialty occupation where the US Employer seeks to fill with a foreign worker. As a result of the high number of filings, USCIS conducted a computer-generated random selection process (i.e. lottery) to choose which of the petitions would be considered for an H-1B visa.  Given that there are only 85,000 H-1B visas available under the statutory cap, including 20,000 specifically reserved for U.S. Master’s degree recipients, thousands of talented foreign workers will be denied the opportunity to live, work in the U.S. and contribute to our society.  All non-selected H-1B petitions will be returned to the petitioners, along with the filing fees later in May or June.

USCIS also issued an update to its earlier projection of premium processing timelines for those chosen in the lottery on April 14, 2015, stating that the 15-day processing period for premium processing cap-subject H-1B petitions will begin on April 27, 2015.  This start date will apply regardless of the receipt date listed on the H-1B petition receipt notice.

USCIS will continue to accept and process cap-exempt H-1B petitions, including petitions to extend or amend existing H-1B status, change employers, or concurrently work for a second employer.

Interested in filing a cap-exempt H-1B petition? Contact GoffWilson today for assistance. We are the immigration pros.

Advance Your I-9 Skills — 2015 I-9 Workshop

April 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

2015 I-9 Workshop

GoffWilson will conduct the popular training seminar for employers and human resource professionals, Advance Your I-9 Skills — 2015 I-9 Workshop on June 11, 2015 in Concord.

Always sold out, the training workshop will take place on the first Thursday in June from 8 a.m. to noon at the Delta Dental Auditorium in Concord, NH. Participants earn three Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) continuing education credit hours for completing the training.

Details

The registration fee for the seminar is $115, which includes intensive Form I-9 training, the updated 2015 version of the GoffWilson proprietary I-9 manual, breakfast, and three hours of HRCI credit. Early registration is recommended as space is limited.

To purchase tickets, head to the Eventbrite listing.

Agenda

8 AM: Registration and breakfast

8:30 AM: Seminar begins—Introduction

8:45 AM: Intensive Training Part I: Completing the I-9 Form

  • Overview
  • Lists of Acceptable Documents
  • Receipt Rule Samples and Establishing Office Procedures

10 AM: Break

10:15 AM: Intensive Training Part II: Retention and Maintenance

  • Issue Spotting, Retention Requirements, Social Security
  • No-Match Letters, E-Verify requirement
  • Federal Contractor, I-9 Compliance Resource Guide

11:45 AM: Questions and Answers

12 PM: End of seminar

Reminder! H-1B Visa Filing Still an Option for April 2015

March 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

How To Get H1-B Visa

If you are looking to sponsor an H-1B employee this year, you still have a chance. But don’t delay! The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that it will accept H-1B visa petitions filed during the first 5 business days of April.

Therefore, as long as your H-1B petition filing is received by April 7, 2015, you still have a chance at being selected in the lottery (i.e. the computerized random selection process used by USCIS to fill the H-1B CAP).

As discussed in our February 17th bLAWg post, the H-1B CAP is the available quota of new H-1B visas for each fiscal year.  USCIS will accept 85,000 H-1B petitions in the CAP, with 20,000 being reserved for U.S. Master’s degree recipients.  Premium processing (i.e. expedited processing, which results in a quicker case decision in 15 days) is available on the petitions for an extra $1,225.00 fee.

Should you decide to file your H-1B petition using premium processing, you will not necessarily have a better chance in the lottery; however, you will know whether your petition has been selected much sooner.  USCIS announced on March 12, 2015 that it will begin processing selected premium petitions no later than May 11, 2015.

Willing to try your luck in the H-1B lottery? Contact GoffWilson today for assistance. We are here for you.

H-4 Work Authorization: Finally a Reality

February 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

H-4 Work AuthorizationIn our recent bLAWg post on December 10, 2014, we mentioned the possibility of work authorization being extended to certain H-4 dependents in the near future.

As we predicted, H-4 work authorization has been enacted and, beginning May 26, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be accepting Applications for Employment Authorization for eligible individuals.

To qualify, applicants must:
  1. Be in valid H-4 status; and
  2. Have a spouse in valid H-1B status, who has either an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, or an approved Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, granting H-1B status past the six-year limitation.

It is important to note that applicants will not be permitted to commence employment until the Application for Employment Authorization is approved and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) is issued.

Processing times are expected to range from 3–5 months. Need assistance with filing for H-4 work authorization?

GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information.

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