USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions in April 2016

April 20, 2016 Leave a comment

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2016, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.

May 2016 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

April 20, 2016 Leave a comment
Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01JUN13 01JUL09 C C
3rd C 01MAY15 01JUL05 C 01JAN10
Other Workers C 01APR08 01JUL05 C 01JAN10
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C
5th
Non-Regional
Center
(C5 and T5)
C 01MAY15 C C C
5th
Regional
Center
(I5 and R5)
C 01MAY15 C C C

21 charged with fraudulently enabling hundreds of foreign nationals to remain in US through fake “pay-to-stay” New Jersey college

April 7, 2016 Leave a comment

NEWARK, N.J. (from ice.gov) — Twenty-one brokers, recruiters, and employers were arrested Tuesday from across the United States, who allegedly conspired with more than a thousand foreign nationals to fraudulently maintain student and foreign worker visas through a “pay-to-stay” New Jersey college. The arrests resulted from an extensive probe led by U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

“While the United States fully supports international education, we will vigorously investigate those who seek to exploit the U.S. immigration system,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “As a result of this operation, HSI special agents have successfully identified and shut down multiple operations which have abused the student visa program.”

“Individuals engaged in schemes that would undermine the remarkable educational opportunities afforded to international students represent an affront to those who play by the rules. These unscrupulous individuals undermine the integrity of the immigration system,” said Terence S. Opiola, special agent in charge of HSI Newark. “Our special agents are committed to identifying and addressing fraud in order to better protect the system as a whole.”

“Pay-to-Stay schemes not only damage our perception of legitimate student and foreign worker visa programs, they also pose a very real threat to national security,” said Paul J. Fishman, New Jersey United States Attorney. “Today’s arrests, which were made possible by the great undercover work of our law enforcement partners, stopped 21 brokers, recruiters and employers across multiple states who recklessly exploited our immigration system for financial gain.”

According to court documents, the defendants, many of whom operated recruiting companies for purported international students, were arrested for their involvement in an alleged scheme to enroll foreign nationals as students in the University of Northern New Jersey, a purported for-profit college located in Cranford, New Jersey (UNNJ). Unbeknownst to the defendants and the foreign nationals they conspired with, however, the UNNJ was created in September 2013 by HSI special agents.

Through the UNNJ, undercover HSI agents investigated criminal activities associated with ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), including, but not limited to, student visa fraud and the harboring of aliens for profit. The UNNJ was not staffed with instructors or educators, had no curriculum, and conducted no actual classes or education activities. The UNNJ operated solely as a storefront location with small offices staffed by special agents posing as school administrators.

UNNJ represented itself as a school that, among other things, was authorized to issue a document known as a “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students,” commonly referred to as a Form I-20. This document, which certifies that a foreign national has been accepted to a school and would be a full-time student, typically enables legitimate foreign students to obtain an F-1 student visa. The F-1 student visa allows a foreign student to enter and/or remain in the United States while the student makes normal progress toward the completion of a full course of study in an SEVP accredited institution.

During the investigation, HSI special agents identified hundreds of foreign nationals, primarily from China and India, who previously entered the U.S. on F-1 non-immigrant student visas to attend other SEVP-authorized schools. Through various recruiting companies and business entities located in New Jersey, California, Illinois, New York, and Virginia, the defendants then enabled approximately 1,076 of these foreign individuals – all of whom were willing participants in the scheme – to fraudulently maintain their nonimmigrant status in the U.S. on the false pretense that they continued to participate in full courses of study at the UNNJ.

Acting as recruiters, the defendants solicited the involvement of UNNJ administrators to participate in the scheme. During the course of their dealings with undercover agents, the defendants fully acknowledged that none of their foreign national clients would attend any actual courses, earn actual credits, or make academic progress toward an actual degree in a particular field of study. Rather, the defendants facilitated the enrollment of their foreign national clients in UNNJ to fraudulently maintain student visa status, in exchange for kickbacks, or “commissions.” The defendants also facilitated the creation of hundreds of false student records, including transcripts, attendance records, and diplomas, which were purchased by their foreign national conspirators for the purpose of deceiving immigration authorities.

In other instances, the defendants used UNNJ to fraudulently obtain work authorization and work visas for hundreds of their clients. By obtaining this authorization, a number of defendants were able to outsource their foreign national clients as full-time employees with numerous U.S.-based corporations, also in exchange for commission fees. Other defendants devised phony IT projects that were purportedly to occur at the school. These defendants then created and caused to be created false contracts, employment verification letters, transcripts, and other documents. The defendants then paid the undercover agents thousands of dollars to put the school’s letterhead on the sham documents, to sign the documents as school administrators, and to otherwise go along with the scheme.

All of these bogus documents created the illusion that prospective foreign workers would be working at the school in some IT capacity or project. The defendants then used these fictitious documents fraudulently to obtain labor certifications issued by the U.S. Secretary of Labor and then ultimately to petition the U.S. government to obtain H1-B visas for nonimmigrants. These fictitious documents were then submitted to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). In the vast majority of circumstances, the foreign worker visas were not issued because USCIS was advised of the ongoing undercover operation.

In addition, starting Tuesday, HSI Newark is coordinating with the ICE Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) and the SEVP to terminate the nonimmigrant student status for the 1,076 foreign nationals associated with UNNJ, and if applicable, administratively arrest and place them into removal proceedings.

The chart below outlines the charges for each defendant. The charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and making a false statement each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges of conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit and H1-B Visa fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.

Critical assistance in the investigation was provided by: ICE’s CTCEU, SEVP; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Fraud Detection and National Security Section and Security Fraud Division and Vermont Service Center; and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and Office of Fraud Prevention Programs; The Accredited Commission of Career Schools and Colleges; and The State of New Jersey’s Office of Higher Education.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendant Name Age Residence Charges
Jun Shen
a/k/a “Jeanette Shen”
32 Levittown, New York
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Jiaming Wang,
a/k/a “Celine Wang”
34 Los Angeles, California
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Philip Junlin Li 33 Los Angeles, California
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Zitong Wen
a/k/a “Kate Wen”
27 Rowland Heights, California
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Chaun Kit Yuen
a/k/a “Alvin Yuen”
24 Rowland Heights, California
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Ting Zue
a/k/a “Tiffany Xue”
28 Flushing, New York
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Yanjun Lin
a/k/a “Aimee Lin”
25 Flushing, New York
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Zheng Zhang
a/k/a “Vicky Zhang”
26 New York, New York
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Xue Yong Liu
a/k/a “Jack Liu”
29 New York, New York
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Minglu Li
a/k/a “Vivian Lee”
36 Los Angeles, California
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Jason Li
a/k/a “Jason Liu” and “Fen Lee”
43 Flushing, New York
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Tajesh Kodali 44 Edison, New Jersey
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Jyoti Patel 34 Franklin Park, New Jersey
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Shahjadi M. Parvin,
a/k/a “Sarah Patel”
54 Hackensack, New Jersey
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Narendra Singh Plaha 44 Hillsborough, New Jersey
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Sanjeev Sukhija 35 North Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Harpreet Sachdeva 26 Somerset, New Jersey
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Avinash Shankar 35 Bloomington, Illinois
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Karthik Nimmala 32 Smyrna, Georgia
  • Conspiracy to commit visa fraud
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Govardhan Dyavarashetty
a/k/a “Vardhan Shetty”
35 Avenel, New Jersey
  • H1-B Visa fraud
  • False statements
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Syed Qasim Abbas
a/k/a “Qasim Reza” and “Nayyer”
41 Brooklyn, New York
  • H1-B Visa fraud
  • False statements
  • Conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit
Categories: ICE, Uncategorized Tags:

24-Month STEM OPT Rule

March 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Final rule pertaining to STEM OPT has been published in Federal Register.  As per the rule, beginning May 10, 2016, students will be able to apply for STEM OPT for a period of 24 months.  The 17-month STEM OPT rule will remain in effect until May 9, 2016.

Few Points:

-If a 12-month OPT is expiring before May 10, 2016, students will be eligible to apply for STEM extension requesting no more than 17 months.

-If a 12-month OPT is expiring on or after May 10, 2016, students will be eligible to apply for STEM extension requesting 24 months.

-If a student has 17-month STEM approval, he or she may apply for the remaining 7 months of additional STEM extension.  There are three specific requirements surrounding this:

1) Properly file a Form I-765 on or after May 10, 2016 and on or before August 8, 2016, and within 60 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for the 24- month OPT extension into the student’s SEVIS record, with  fees and documents, including a new Form I-20 endorsed on or after May 10, 2016, indicating that the DSO recommends the student for a 24-month OPT extension, a completed and signed Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan.
2) Have at least 150 calendar days remaining prior to the end of his or her 17-month OPT extension at the time the Form I-765, is properly filed.
3) Meet all the requirements for the 24-month OPT extension, except the requirement that the student must be in a valid period of standard 12-month post-completion OPT at the time of filing.

More information will be posted as the USCIS releases guidance, instructions, and/or FAQs.

April 2016 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

March 12, 2016 Leave a comment
Employment-
Based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01JUN13 01JUL09 C C
3rd C 01MAY15 01JUL05 C 01JAN10
Other Workers C 01AUG07 01JUL05 C 01JAN10
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious
Workers
C C C C C
5th Non-Regional
Center (C5 and T5)
C 01MAY15 C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 01MAY15 C C C

March 2016 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

February 16, 2016 Leave a comment
Employment- Based All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA – mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01AUG12 15OCT08 C C
3rd 01JAN16 01JUN13 15JUL04 01JAN16 15MAR08
Other Workers 01JAN16 01FEB07 15JUL04 01JAN16 15MAR08
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C
5th
Targeted
Employment
Areas/
Regional Centers
and Pilot Programs
C 22JAN14 C C C
5th
Pilot
Programs
C 22JAN14 C C C

H-1B Cap Filings Begin Friday, April 1, 2016

February 1, 2016 Leave a comment

April 1 is nearing.  Even though H-1B filings begin the first business day, which is Friday, April 1, 2016, the H-1B individuals will not be able to arrive in the United States until late 2016 (Oct/Nov) or early 2017 to work for employers (given the delays at Consulates).  Here are some thoughts:

Thursday, March 31, 2016 is when we could begin shipping H-1B cases to USCIS with an employment start date of October 1, 2016.

Just as last year, the Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) which is required as part of filing of an H-1B petition, is actually taking up to 7 days to be certified. Thus, if you would like to file an H-1B petition on or shortly after April 1, 2016, consider leaving several weeks of buffer time between document transmittal to our office, preparation, LCA processing delays, etc.  Moreover, things that are beyond our control such as US government shutdown or such similar event, which resulted in LCA website being down for about a month in 2013 could happen again.

It is imperative to note that the regular H-1B quota is 58,200, not 65,000.  This is because 6,800 out of 65,000 are allotted for Chile and Singapore. In addition, there will be 20,000 H-1B available for potential employees who have earned a U.S. masters or a higher degree.

We strongly advise that employers discuss with us at the earliest convenience about the upcoming H-1B cap filings.  

Categories: H-1B Posts Tags: , ,
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