When Immigration Matters

How Can You Sponsor an Employee for a Work Visa?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Jun 09, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Find The Right People written on road sign-763974-edited.jpegFind The Right People written on road sign-763974-edited.jpegWhen a U.S. citizen is not available to fill a position, many employers across the country want or need to sponsor an employee for a work visa. While the process is detailed and complex, here are some fundamental things to keep in mind if this scenario applies (or might soon apply) in your organization:

  • Permanent or Temporary? 

The first thing to determine is whether the employee that you wish to sponsor for a work visa would fill a permanent or a temporary position.

  • Sponsoring Permanent Workers

If the position is permanent, then the foreign employee may apply for permanent residence (a.k.a. “a green card”), provided they have unique skills that fit into one of the five preference categories (noted below). As the prospective employer, you will also need to demonstrate to the Department of Labor’s satisfaction that hiring them will not displace a U.S. worker, or have a negative impact on wages or working conditions for U.S. workers.    

  • Permanent Worker Visa Preference Categories 

There are five permanent worker visa preference categories: First Preference EB-1, Second Preference EB-2, Third Preference EB-3, Fourth Preference EB-4, and Fifth Preference EB-5 (note that EB-5 is for investors, and so typically will not apply to employers who wish to sponsor foreign employees). For a description of each preference category, click here.

  • Sponsoring Temporary Workers

The USCIC has several nonimmigrant categories of temporary workers (noted below). As part of the sponsorship application, you will have to attest to certain commitment and conditions, including that: you will pay a wage that is no less than that paid to similarly qualified workers in the geographic area; you will provide working conditions that will not negatively impact other similarly employed workers; there is no strike or lockout where the sponsored employee would be working. 

  • Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Worker Categories

As noted, USCIS offers several non-immigrant categories of temporary workers, including (but not limited to): H1B Visa - Specialty Occupation; O1 Visa - Extraordinary Ability; L1 - Intracompany Transferee; TN Visa - Nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional. For a description of each category, click here.

  • Working with an Experienced Team

To learn more about how to sponsor an employee for a work visa, contact the experienced Pollak team today. We will help you clearly understand the rules and process — including those that have recently changed and may shift in the near future — and ensure that your application to the USCIS is complete, accurate and timely. Contact us to learn more.

We are passionate about helping people realize the American Dream, reuniting families, and bringing the best and brightest minds to the U.S. so they can pursue their goals and make a positive, meaningful contribution to the community.


Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at karenlp@pollakimmigration or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

Karen-Lee Pollak Recognized in Chambers USA 2017 For Immigration

Posted by Michael Pollak on Tue, May 30, 2017 @ 12:49 PM

Immigration Attorney, Karen-Lee PollakKaren-Lee Pollak, Managing Attorney of Pollak PLLC has been recognized for the second consecutive year as one of the top immigration attorneys in the United States by Chambers USA 2017 legal directory by Chambers and Partners as “Leaders in their Field”.

According to Chambers USA 2017, Karen-Lee Pollak provides clients with a wide range of immigration expertise, including in relation to nonimmigrant and immigrant visas, compliance and contentious mandamus actions against the government.  Clients praise her as a "patient, helpful and very responsive" attorney, adding that "she has done an exmplary job assisting with all of our immigration needs."

Since 1990, Chambers and Partners has been identifying and ranking the most outstanding law firms and lawyers on the qualities of their associated attorneys and exclusively lists attorneys who are strongly recommended from in-depth interviews with peers and clients. Rankings are assessed on specific criteria, including legal knowledge and experience, technical legal ability, effectiveness, and client-service.

Pollak PLLC specializes in providing comprehensive immigration solutions to corporations, small businesses, investors and families interested in obtaining immigrant and non-immigrant visas to live and work in the United States. 

The mission of Pollak is to provide its clients nationally, internationally and locally with superb immigration counsel.  Pollak strives to build long-term, valued relationships by creating experiences that are effective, insightful and personalized.  Pollak achieves this by listening to client needs, providing timely communications, delivering on its promises and most importantly, getting stellar results.

Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues.  She can be reached at karenlp@pollakimmigration or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

What’s the Difference Between a Green Card and an Immigrant Visa?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, May 18, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Portrait of a student peeking behind flag of USA-230779-edited.jpeggreen card vs immigrant visaWhile outside of the legal world and government sector the terms Green Card and non-immigrant visa are sometimes used interchangeably, they are categorically separate types of permits. Here are the key distinctions: 

  • Residence 

A Green Card – which is officially known as a “permanent residence card” – is permanent, and entitles the holder to remain in the U.S. for the unconditional amount of time. Non-immigrant visas (of which there are several types) are temporary, and allow the holder the right to enter and remain in the U.S. for a specified period of time (typically up to a maximum of 6 years in two 3-year terms). 

  • Legal Right to Work

Green Card holders are legally entitled to work in any industry, sector or field, anywhere in the U.S. or its territories. Non-immigrant visa holders may be allowed to work under certain conditions and for a specific employer, depending on the type of visa they hold. 

  • Mobility

Green Card holders may leave and return to the U.S. as often as they wish, provided that their card and passport are valid. Non-immigrant visa holders face restrictions and limitations on travel, such as travel dates, number of re-entries, and so on. Again, the type of non-immigrant visa determines these rules.

  • Citizenship

Provided they have no serious criminal convictions, Green card holders may apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years (or 3 years if they are married to a U.S. citizen). Non-immigrant visa holders cannot apply for U.S. citizenship. They must first obtain a Green Card and apply accordingly. 

  • Criminal Behavior 

Generally, Green Card holders are granted somewhat more flexibility and tolerance for committing certain non-severe criminal acts. However, non-immigrant visa holders must ensure that they comply with all laws at all times. A transgression that many people (including the courts) might view as relatively minor or non-serious, such as a DUI that does not result in an injury or accident, can result in a non-immigrant visa being revoked by USCIS

  • Voting

This is not a distinction between the two types of permits, but it is worth noting because there is some confusion and misunderstanding around this aspect; especially in light of the prevailing political discourse. Here are the facts: neither Green Card holders nor non-immigrant visa holders have the right to vote. Only U.S. citizens have this right. While it’s true that Green Card holders enjoy many of the rights afforded to U.S. citizens, such as serving in the military, this does not extend to voting in any election (local, state or federal). 

Learn More 

To learn more about the differences between a Green Card and non-immigrant visa, including specific details about various non-immigrant visa types such as (but not limited to): EB-1, EB2, EB-3, H-1B, F-1, R-1, L-1 and more, contact the team at Pollak PLLC today.

We are passionate about helping people realize the American Dream, reuniting families, and bringing the best and brightest minds to the U.S. so they can pursue their goals and make a positive, meaningful contribution to the community.


Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues. She can be reached at karenlp@pollakimmigration or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

Karen-Lee Pollak Recognized on D Magazine's "Best Lawyers in Dallas 2017" List

Posted by Michael Pollak on Sun, Apr 23, 2017 @ 3:49 PM

Managing Partner Page image (1).jpgManaging Partner Page image (1).jpgManaging Partner Page image (1).jpgKaren-Lee Pollak, Managing Attorney of Pollak PLLC has been recognized by her peers for the fourth consecutive year as one of the top lawyers in the Dallas by D Magazine.

The “Best Lawyers in Dallas 2017” list features attorneys across more than 34 practice areas chosen by fellow Texas attorneys based on their “diligence and expertise in representation.”  In order to compile the list, D Magazine asked lawyers with a valid Texas Bar number to nominate two lawyers outside their firm and one within their firm across all voting categories, keeping the following question in mind: “Which Dallas lawyers, of those whose work you have witnessed firsthand, would you rank among the current best? Answers may include co-counsel, lawyers you have observed in court, and opposing counsel.” After the votes are tallied, a panel of eminent lawyers met with the editors to evaluate the Best Lawyers in Dallas 2017 list. Self-nominations were not counted. The panel’s anonymity was assured to allow the lawyers to speak freely about issues regarding their peers that would be known only to the legal community. Voting was conducted exclusively at dmagazine.com. client-service.

Pollak PLLC specializes in providing comprehensive immigration solutions to corporations, small businesses, investors and families interested in obtaining immigrant and non-immigrant visas to live and work in the United States. 

The mission of Pollak is to provide its clients nationally, internationally and locally with superb immigration counsel.  Pollak strives to build long-term, valued relationships by creating experiences that are effective, insightful and personalized.  Pollak achieves this by listening to client needs, providing timely communications, delivering on its promises and most importantly, getting stellar results.

Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues.  She can be reached at karenlp@pollakimmigration or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

Karen-Lee Pollak Interviewed on KLIF to Discuss Trump Executive Order on Immigration

Posted by Michael Pollak on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 @ 8:58 PM


KLIF.pngThank you Dave Williams and Amy Chodroff of the Dave & Amy show on www.klif.com for having me on the radio to discuss President Trump"s executive order. Right after me was Glenn Beck's show. We live in interesting times.

Karen-Lee Pollak Offering U.S. Immigration Consultations in South Africa from April 13th - 23rd

Posted by Michael Pollak on Sun, Mar 19, 2017 @ 10:29 PM

E--Documents_and_Settings-mpollak-My_Documents-My_PowerPoints-World_Map__Statue_of_Liberty-resiz.jpgWant To Live and Work in the USA? 

ImmigrationWe all hear scary stories of attempting to emigrate to the United States. From what one hears and reads, immigration to the United States is not for the faint hearted. However, a lot of misconceptions exist about this process. The secret to success in a smooth transition to moving to the United States, whether permanently or temporarily, is often just a mixture of understanding how the immigration process works and gaining knowledge on the best type of visa for you and your family.

Pollak PLLC will be in South Africa providing immigration consultations in Johannesburg from April 13-19th and Cape Town from April 20-23rd. Complete the form below or mail us at info@pollakimmigration.com to schedule.

She will be providing consulting services at the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg located at 91 Oxford Road, 2132, Johannesburg. Location in Cape Town to be determined shortly. 

Argument That Trump's Executive is the Same As Obama's Travel Ban is Flawed

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 @ 10:37 PM

Trump_Obama.jpgTrump_Obama.jpgThe world has closely been watching the chaos that has ensued in implementing and staying President Trump's January Executive Order (the “Executive Order”) announced on January 27, 2017. As everyone knows, the Executive Order bars citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya from entering the United States for 90 days, suspends admission of refugees for 120 days and puts Syrian refugee admissions on hold indefinitely. In 2011, Obama’s State Department stopped processing Iraqi refugee requests for six months. I am constantly asked why is there outrage over President’s Trump’s Order but not President Obama’s Order?

Before we look at the merits of the Orders, the first glaring distinction between these Orders is that one was passed by Congress in 2011 with bipartisan support after discussion, revision and tremendous input from White House counsel. The other was drafted by Steve Miller with in-put by Steve Bannon and Trump himself--nobody else. It was not discussed with White House counsel, the Department of State or the Department of Homeland Security. Customs and Border Protection who was charged with implementing the order were only notified a few hours before implementation. 

As to the merits, Trump claims "My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror."  Well are these Orders the same? On a very basic level, I must say yes. They both limit immigration into the United States in the interests of national security. But when you dig a little deeper and read the actual text there is nothing similar about them. 

President Obama’s suspension was in response to a failed attempt by two Iraqi citizens to send money and weapons to Al-Qaida. The Iraqi citizens lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky and entered the USA after lying about their past terrorist activities. The FBI arrested the two men for actions committed in Iraq and trying to assist foreign terrorist groups. Thankfully nobody was injured even though certain individuals in the Trump Administration have recently described this incident as the Bowling Green Massacre. 

President Trump’s ban is preemptive. While I agree, it is far better to be preemptive than to deal with the aftermaths of a terrorist attack, there must be a rational, constitutional basis for the Executive Order that does not discriminate based on religion. None of the refugees or immigrants from the seven countries targeted by the ban have been implicated in any fatal terrorist attack in the United States (although 2 non-deadly attacks implicate citizens of Somalia and Iran). In fact, the perpetrators of 911 came from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. None of these countries are mentioned in the current President’s executive ban, which makes the argument that it is in the interest of national security very weak.  

While President Obama’s ban simply paused the processing of refugee visas for 6 months, President Trump’s Executive Order is a blanket ban. It denies entry to lawful permanent residents who have already been granted the right to live permanently in the USA. It also denies entry to dual citizens and those already issued visas to enter the USA. Further, it bars Syrian refugees indefinitely until President Trump (and nobody else) thinks it’s safe for them to be admitted to the United States. President Obama did not issue a blanket ban on visitors from the seven countries. He also did not retroactively prohibit admission to lawful permanent residents without due process. President Obama’s suspension was also limited to refugees. 

I also get told that the seven countries on the list were countries picked by the Obama administration not the Trump administration. What people are referring is the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 signed into law by President Obama revising the visa waiver program. The visa waiver program allows citizens of certain countries entry to the USA without a visa for up to 90 days. Under the 2015 legislation, citizens of those 38 countries who had traveled to Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Sudan after March 2011 were no longer eligible for the visa waiver. Libya, Yemen, and Somalia were later added to the list. The 2015 Act also complicated the visa application process for citizens of those countries but did not prohibit them from entering the USA. 

President Trump’s order certainly differs from the December 2015 law in its scale. It violates commitments the USA has made under international law and quite frankly is imprudent policy which only bolsters the claims of Jihadist groups that the U.S. is waging a war on Islam. 

A quick fix for the Trump Administration is to withdraw the order and issue a new one that addresses its current pitfalls. If not, the United States Supreme Court will opine on the stay (spoiler alert-the Supreme Court does not like to hear cases where there is no final order in place) and then send the case back to the District Court for trial on its merits. That decision will again most likely be appealed to the Court of Appeals and then ultimately it will go back to the Supreme Court for review of the final order. That is a lot of time our President will be focusing on litigation instead of governing our country. 

Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues.  She can be reached at karenlp@pollakimmigration or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

What You Need to Know About Expedited Removal & Trump's New Executive Order

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 @ 10:25 PM

executive_order_immigration.jpgexecutive_order_immigration.jpgexecutive_order_immigration.jpgexecutive_order_immigration.jpgOn February 21, 2017, DHS Secretary John Kelly released a pair of memos implementing President Trump's January 25, 2017, Executive Orders (EOs) on border and interior enforcement. What do these memoranda mean and what can you do if you or a relative are confronted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Expedited Removal?

Expedited removal is a procedure that allows the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to remove a noncitizen from the United States without a hearing before an immigration judge or the Board of immigration Appeals. Where a noncitizen arrives at a port of entry and is inadmissible due to misrepresentations or false claims to U.S. Citizenship or does not possess valid documents for entry they are subject to expedited removal. 

To date, DHS has limited its application of expedited removal to noncitizens inadmissible for one of the above-stated grounds who either arrive at a port of entry or are apprehended within 14 days of their arrival and within 100 miles of an international land border.

Expedited removal may also occur if a person is apprehended at a place other than a port of entry and is admissible due to one of the two above grounds, has not been admitted or paroled into the USA and cannot show that they have been present in the USA for at least two years. 

Expedited removal, as applied by DHS, does not have any of the procedural protections of a hearing before an Immigration Judge. The DHS officer who is authorized to issue an order of expedited removal operates as prosecutor and judge and often arrests an individual and orders him or her deported on the same day. With limited exceptions, the government takes the position that noncitizens subject to expedited removal have no right to an appeal. At least one court has even held that certain immigrants in expedited removal proceedings have no right to counsel. United States v. PeraltaSanchez, Nos. 14-50393, 14-50394, _ F.3d_, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2165 (9th Cir. Feb. 7, 2017). 

Application for Asylum and/or Fear of Returning to Your Home Country

If at any time during the expedited removal, an individual expresses intent to apply for asylum or fear of returning to their home country, the DHS Officer must refer them to an asylum officer for an interview. Upon referral, the asylum officer will conduct a “credible fear interview,” which is designed “to elicit all relevant and useful information bearing on whether the applicant has a credible fear of persecution or torture.

If the asylum officer determines that the individual satisfies the credible fear standard, the applicant is taken out of the expedited removal process, is served with a Notice to Appear, and is placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

If the asylum officer makes a negative credible fear determination, the officer must provide a written record of the determination. Upon request, the individual must be provided with prompt review of the determination by an immigration judge. If the immigration judge determines that the individual has a credible fear of persecution, the expedited removal order will be vacated and DHS will institute removal proceedings. If the immigration judge determines that the individual does not have a credible fear, the case will be remanded to DHS to execute the expedited removal order.

Does the New Executive Order Expand Expedited Removal?

The new Executive Order instructs the Secretary of Homeland Security to apply expedited removal to the fullest extent of the law. It has not been implemented yet and Secretary Kelly has advised that he will publish in the Federal Register who will be subject to Expedited Removal and such notice may state the extent to which Expedited Removal is expanded from its current application. It is possible that immigration officers will use expedited removal against any noncitizen apprehended anywhere in the USA and who entered the USA without inspection less than 2 years prior to the date of expedited removal.

It is too early to know how DHS will implement an expansion of expedited removal. DHS has discretion to elect between issuing an expedited removal order, allowing withdrawal of an application for admission or issuing a Notice to Appear and placing the individual in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Requesting that DHS exercise its prosecutorial discretion to either allow withdrawal of an application for admission or issue a Notice to Appear is advisable. Furthermore, the INA provides that an individual may be subject to expedited removal only if she or he “has not affirmatively shown, to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that [she or he] has been physically present in the United States continuously for the 2-year period immediately prior to the date of the determination of inadmissibility.  DHS officers are obligated to put an individual into immigration court proceedings, rather than expedited removal, if that person provides proof that she or he has been present in the United States for two years (or a lesser amount of time depending upon the scope of any expansion of expedited removal).

It is extremely important that if you have been here for two or more years you weigh up the pros and cons of carrying evidence that you have resided in the USA for two years.  DHS may incorrectly ignore it, see it as an admission of alienage and use it as proof against the individual either of unlawful status or working without work authorization.  If you do decide to carry such evidence, evidence may include any applications you have filed with immigration and/or documents that evidence you are eligible for an immigration benefit such as marriage to a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. It can also include tax returns, school, work, medical and bank records. 

Finally, have a back-up plan for small children or elderly family members if you are placed in expedited removal. Who will pick up your children from school? Who will care for them if you are placed in expedited removal? Perhaps consult with attorneys about guardianship and power of attorney documents for medical and other important decisions if you are suddenly removed from your family with little or no notice.   And for all the permanent residents and citizens reading this—call your representatives daily and let them know that we are a nation of immigrants. It is unamerican to tear families apart. This is not who we are as a nation. 

Karen-Lee Pollak is the Managing Attorney at Pollak PLLC located in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent speaker, author and blogger on immigration issues.  She can be reached at karenlp@pollakimmigration or under her twitter handle law_immigration.

September Visa Bulletin and What Lies Ahead for Fiscal Year 2017

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 3:47 PM


E--Documents_and_Settings-mpollak-My_Documents-My_PowerPoints-Statue_of_Liberty__US_Flag-resized.jpgThe U.S. Department of State (DOS) issues a monthly visa bulletin summarizing the availability of immigrant visa numbers.  The DOS has now issued the September 2016 Visa Bulletin.  This is the final visa bulletin for fiscal year 2016, and the new FY will begin October 1st.   



First Preference, EB1.  Cutoff date of 1/1/2010 for India and China remain the same. 

Second Preference, EB2.  India has advanced by a few months but continues to be retrogressed.   Cutoff date of 2/1/2014 remain in place for the all chargeability areas plus El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.  The cutoff date of 01/01/2010 for China remains unchanged.

Third Preference, EB3.  China remains the same. The rest of the cutoff dates have moved forward. 

Other Workers, Third Preference, EB3.  China remains the same.  The rest of the cutoff dates have moved forward.

Fourth Preference, EB4.  All have remained the same. 

Fifth Preference, EB5.  All have remained the same. 



F1.  Cutoff dates have moved forward by a few months. Mexico only moved forward by a couple of weeks. 

F2A.  Have remained unchanged for all categories.

F2B.  Cut off dates for China, India and worldwide have jumped to 2/1/2010 .   

F3.  China, India and all chargeability areas remain unchanged. Mexico jumped ahead by a few weeks and the Philippines by a few months. 

F4.  China and India remained unchanged.  All chargeability areas jumped ahead by a few weeks, while the Philippines jumped ahead by a month. Mexico also jumped ahead, but by a few days.




Please note these are only short-term predictions.  “Charlie must make assumptions regarding upcoming demand based on the available data and his prior experience in an effort to stabilize Final Action Date movements. Charlie prefers to advance the Final Action Dates conservatively in the hope of avoiding a retrogression later in the fiscal year, especially in categories that are subject to upgrades and downgrades. Unfortunately the need to generate sufficient demand to use all numbers available under the annual limits often requires aggressive forward movement of the dates.” 


As noted in AILA’s DOS Liaison Committee’s monthly report, the following is a summary of a check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim (AILA Doc. No. 14071401 | Dated July 26, 2016):


  • “Charlie projected possible Final Action Date movement for September.
  • EB4. Though EB-4 Mexico and EB-4 India will become current again in October, the prospects for a full recovery for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are much less likely. A 2015 cut-off date will likely be established in these categories for October, with date(s) moving forward slowly through the next fiscal year. However, uncertainty surrounding the movement of the EB-4 Final Action dates for these Central American countries remains, given the lack of visibility into the number of adjustment of status filings that were received in April 2015, prior to the establishment of the cut-off date in May.
  • Family-Based Projections. Charlie expects a full recovery from retrogressions in all of the family-based categories in October, with the exception of F-4 China and F-4 India which will take some time. Beginning in November 2016, beneficiaries of F-4 China and F-4 India started responding to NVC Agent of Choice letters in larger numbers, which has given Charlie better visibility into the demand in these categories, but ultimately resulted in the retrogression of these cut-off dates.
  • F-4 China, which previously shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until retrogressing in June (AILA Doc. No. 16050607) to January 1, 2003, while this category will not advance in September, there should be a full recovery to the prior Final Action date of July 22, 2003 by November.
  • Similarly, F-4 India also shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until it retrogressed in June. Charlie continues to predict that the Final Action date for F-4 India will remain at January 1, 2001 through September. A full recovery of this category to the Worldwide level will not happen in October. Given the high level of demand, the Final Action date should advance to around November 2002 in October, with a full recovery unlikely to happen prior to June 2017.
  • Charlie will be watching the F-2A and F-3 preference categories very carefully. Both categories are likely to retrogress temporarily in September, and then return to their respective August 2015 Final Action dates in October.
  • EB Preference Categories. EB-2 India will continue to track one week ahead of the EB-3 India Final Action date in September.  EB-3 Worldwide has been hovering close to “current” for some time, and is expected to do so through at least October.
  • October Final Action dates for the EB-5 Regional Center categories remain uncertain as that category will sunset unless Congress acts prior to the end of the fiscal year.
  • In setting cut-off dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India, Charlie hoped to avoid having to establish a cut-off date for EB-1 Worldwide. Charlie expects that EB-1 China and EB-1 India will become current again in October, or November at the latest.”

NEW 24 Month STEM Employment Authorization (OPT) for F-1 Students

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 4:29 PM


Effective May 10, 2016, eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM degrees from Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified and accredited U.S. colleges and universities may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension from their school and employment authorization from United States Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS). This extension effectively replaces the previous 17-month OPT Extension.

Can I obtain an additional 7 months of work authorization if I am on a 17-month OPT

Students currently participating in a 17-month STEM OPT extension may be eligible to benefit from the additional seven months of training and must apply for updated employment authorization from USCIS by August 8, 2016. Any 17-month STEM OPT EAD that USCIS issued on or before May 9, 2016, will remain valid until the EAD expires is terminated or revoked. DHS will not automatically convert 17-month extensions into 24-month extensions.

From May 10, 2016, through August 8, 2016, certain students with such EADs will have a limited window in which to apply for an additional seven months of OPT, effectively enabling them to benefit from a 24-month period of STEM OPT. To qualify for the additional seven-month extension, the student must satisfy the requirements below and pay all applicable fees. For students who choose to seek an additional seven-month extension, the new enhancements apply upon the proper filing of the Form I-765 requesting the seven-month extension. 

DHS recommends that students who choose to request the additional seven-month extension obtain the necessary DSO recommendation and file their application as early as possible in advance of the August 8, 2016, application deadline. 

To qualify for the seven-month extension, such students must have at least 150 calendar days remaining before the end of the student’s 17-month OPT period at the time the Application for Employment Authorization is filed and they must meet all requirements of the OPT 24-month extension. 

If an application for a seven-month extension is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD with a validity period that starts on the day after the expiration date stated in the 17-month STEM OPT EAD.

 How Do I Qualify for the 24- Month OPT Extension

 To qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student participating in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT must: 

  • Have a degree in an eligible STEM field from a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school that is accredited when the student submits their STEM OPT extension application to USCIS.
  • Pursue their STEM OPT extension through an employer that is enrolled in USCIS's E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
  • Select a STEM OPT employer that provides the student with formal training and learning objectives.
  • Work a minimum of 20 hours per week per employer.
  • Complete a FORM 983 Training Plan
  • WHAT IS FORM 983 or Training Plan
  • Before applying to USCIS for a STEM OPT extension, a STEM OPT student must complete, sign and submit the Form I-983 to their DSO.  You can download the Form and Instructions at https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/i983Instructions.pdf and https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/I-983.pdf
  • The STEM OPT student and their prospective employer must work together to complete this form. STEM OPT students and their employers are subject to the terms of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations and Form I-983 instructions, effective as of the start date requested for STEM OPT, as indicated on the form.
  • Students are responsible for facilitating the completion of this form, submitting it with their STEM OPT application and returning it to their DSO, who will keep it in the student’s record. DHS maintains the discretion to request and review all documentation for eligibility concerns.
  • The STEM OPT student must complete Section 1 of the Form I-983 and work with their prospective employer to complete Sections 2-6. In Section 5 of the Form 983 the Employer should describe what tasks and assignments the student will carry out during the 
  •    training and how these relate to the student’s STEM degree. The plan must cover a specific span of time, and detail specific goals and objectives.
  • For students currently on the 17-month STEM OPT extension and requesting conversion to the terms and conditions of the new 24-month STEM OPT extension, the student and employer will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Form I-983 as of the date of receipt at USCIS. Thus, the requested period should identify a start date on or around the date that the student files their seven-month STEM OPT extension with USCIS The USCIS offers useful tips to complete this form on their website at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/employers-and-the-form-i-983Reporting
  • Requirements
  • There are reporting requirements associated with STEM OPT extensions.
  • The student must work with their potential STEM OPT extension employer to complete the Form I-983, which must include how the training opportunity has a direct relationship to the student’s qualifying STEM degree.
  • Employers must report to the relevant DSO (indicated on the Form I-983) when an F-1 student on a STEM OPT extension terminates or otherwise leaves their employment before the end of the authorized period of OPT. The employer must report this change to the appropriate DSO no later than five business days after the student leaves employment.
  • STEM OPT students must report to their DSOs every six months. As part of such reporting, STEM OPT students must confirm the validity of their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System information, including:
      • Legal name.
      • Address.
      • Employer name and address.
      • Status of current employment/practical training experience.
  1. STEM OPT students must do an annual self-evaluation on Form 983 and must report to their DSO about the progress of the training experience. Students must sign the self-evaluation prior to submitting it to the DSO, who will include it in the student's record.
  2. Both the student and employer are obligated to report to the student's DSO any material changes to, or material deviations from, the student's formal training plan.UnemploymentDepartment of Homeland Security allows STEM OPT Students an additional 60 days of unemployment during the OPT Stem Extension Period. The 150-day unemployment limit that is applicable to students who are granted the 24-month STEM OPT extension is also applicable to students whose seven-month extension is approved under the transitional plan. These students are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment, for a total of 150 days of allowable unemployment (90 days during the initial period of post-completion OPT plus an additional 60 days during the extension period). This 150-day unemployment limit will apply to a student seeking a seven-month extension only upon approval of that extension (and not during the filing of such extension).   

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