Tag Archives: employment-based

DHS Expands STEM OPT Fields to Attract Global Talent

In order to maintain global competitiveness, the Department of Homeland Security has announced several policy guidance shifts to encourage those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields to contribute to the U.S. economy. DHS announced 22 additional fields of study that now qualify for the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program going forward, which allows students to work in a field that is directly related to his or her degree. Related to that announcement, DHS also issued new guidance for how USCIS evaluates O-1A petitions for individuals of “extraordinary ability” in STEM fields, as well as how certain individuals may qualify for a National Interest Waiver (NIW) for employment-based permanent residence. This would allow certain noncitizens with advanced degrees or exceptional ability to petition for an employment-based category without obtaining certification from the Department of Labor. USCIS claims this will make it easier for individuals such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs to obtain lawful permanent residence status.

From USCIS, 1/21/2022

DHS Expands Opportunities in U.S. for STEM Professionals: Department adds Twenty-Two New Fields of Study and Takes Additional Steps to Attract Critical STEM Talent

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced 22 new fields of study have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to enhance the contributions of nonimmigrant students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and support the growth of the U.S. economy and innovation.

“STEM innovation allows us to solve the complex challenges we face today and make a difference in how we secure and protect our country,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is expanding the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the U.S. economy.”

The STEM OPT program permits F-1 students earning bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in certain STEM fields to remain in the United States for up to 36 months to work in their field of study.  Adding 22 fields of study will ensure the U.S. economy benefits from students earning degrees in the United States in competitive STEM fields.  Information on the new fields of study will be communicated to schools and students through a Federal Register notice.

DHS is also updating and issuing new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy manual guidance.  USCIS is updating guidance to clarify how certain STEM graduates and entrepreneurs can use the national interest waiver for employment-based immigrant visa classification as an advanced degree professional noncitizen or noncitizen of exceptional ability.

Certain noncitizens with an advanced degree or exceptional ability can self-petition for employment-based immigrant visa classification, without testing the labor market and obtaining certification from the Department of Labor, if USCIS determines the waiver of the labor market test to be in the national interest.  The updated guidance clarifies how to use the program, making it easier for noncitizens with needed skills, such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs, to embark on a pathway to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

USCIS is also issuing a policy manual update related to O-1A nonimmigrant status for noncitizens of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, arts, education, business, or athletics.  This update explains how USCIS determines eligibility for O-1A petitioners and, for the first time, provides examples of evidence that might satisfy the criteria, including for individuals working in STEM fields.

The 22 new fields of study are bioenergy, general forestry, forest resources production and management, human-centered technology design, cloud computing, anthrozoology, climate science, earth systems science, economics and computer science, environmental geosciences, geobiology, geography and environmental studies, mathematical economics, mathematics and atmospheric and oceanic science, general data science, general data analytics, business analytics, data visualization, financial analytics, other data analytics, industrial and organizational psychology, and social sciences, research methodology, and quantitative methods.

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Send your resume to info@challalaw.com to determine whether you may be a good candidate for a waiver of the labor market test!

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USCIS Announces Green Card Goals and Interfiling Guidelines

USCIS Announces Green Card Goals and Interfiling Guidelines

USCIS updated the Green Card for Employment-Based Immigrants page with an alert about green card processing, noting the “exceptionally high number” of visas available and the Department’s goal for using all visa numbers prior to the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2022. On the same page, USCIS also noted updated guidelines for requesting a transfer of underlying basis, also commonly known as “interfiling” for Form I-485. USCIS notes the requirements for requesting a transfer of basis and establishes an address to where the requests should be directed.

From USCIS:

ALERT: There are an exceptionally high number of employment-based visas available this fiscal year (October 2021 through September 2022).

There are an exceptionally high number of employment-based visas available this fiscal year (October 2021 through September 2022). In partnership with the U.S. Department of State, we are committed to attempting to use all these visa numbers. There are many more visas available in the first (priority workers) and second (workers with advanced degrees or of exceptional ability) employment-based categories than pending adjustment of status applications pending with USCIS.

If you are eligible, please consider applying in the first or second employment-based preference categories. If you have a pending adjustment of status application based in the third employment-based preference category but also have a pending or approved petition and an available visa in the second employment-based preference category, we strongly encourage you to request that USCIS “transfer the underlying basis” of your pending application to the second employment-based preference category.

For more information, please see the section called “Transfer of Underlying Basis” below.

Transfer of Underlying Basis

You may be eligible to request to transfer the underlying basis of your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to a different employment-based immigrant category based on another Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. USCIS may, in its discretion, grant a transfer request, if:

  • You have continuously maintained eligibility for adjustment of status;
  • Your adjustment of status application based on the original Form I-140 is still pending;
  • You are eligible for the new immigrant category; and
  • You have a visa immediately available in the new immigrant category.

You must request in writing that USCIS transfer your pending Form I-485 from one basis to another category. For Fiscal Year 2022, USCIS has created a new point of contact that should be used to request a transfer of the underlying basis of employment-based Form I-485s. Through September 30, 2022, you may submit your written request, with a completed I-485 Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability Under INA Section 204(j)(if required), to the following address:

U. S. Department of Homeland Security
USCIS Western Forms Center
10 Application Way
Montclair, CA 91763-1350

USCIS strongly encourages applicants to send their transfer requests to the above address.  If you have already submitted a transfer of underlying basis request to a USCIS office, you should not submit a new request to this address. All requests to transfer the underlying basis already received or that will be received this fiscal year at a USCIS office will be processed as usual by the USCIS office with jurisdiction over your pending Form I-485.

The purpose of the Supplement J is to confirm the validity of the job offered to you in the petition you want to use as the basis for your transfer request.

  • If you are requesting to transfer your underlying basis to a previously filed and approved Form I-140, you must submit I-485 Supplement J with your transfer request.
  • If you are requesting to transfer your underlying basis to a Form I-140 that remains pending, you do not need to submit I-485 Supplement J.

USCIS does not provide a written response to transfer requests.  However, USCIS will issue receipt notices for the Supplement J.

You do not have to submit a new adjustment of status application or filing fee with a request to transfer the underlying basis of your Form I-485 from one petition to another. For more information on transferring the underlying basis of your Form I-485, see theUSCIS Policy Manual.

NOTE: If you are requesting a transfer of underlying basis that is not a transfer from one employment-based petition to another employment-based petition, you should continue to submit your transfer request, in writing, to the USCIS office with jurisdiction over your pending application.

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Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at info@challalaw.com or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.