OPT Client Placements - is it a Problem??

We are all losing our collective minds since the USCIS has updated its STEM OPT webpage to reflect an apparent change in the agency’s interpretation of the 2016 STEM optional practical training (OPT) rule for F-1 students. Please, stop and take a breath first!

Situation till date

The original OPT STEM regulations from 2016 do not specify whether the training and supervision can be conducted remotely by the employer while the employee is working offsite at a client location. Also, USCIS never specifically addressed this question. Not to mention, the form I-983 asks the employer to list both the company’s address and the worksite name and address, implying that STEM OPT students would be placed at third-party or other offsite locations.

What is new?

The USCIS has updated its STEM OPT web page to reflect a change in the its "interpretation" of the 2016 STEM optional practical training (OPT) rule for F-1 students. Now they interpret that the OPT STEM worker can only work at the employer's worksite, not at a client or third-party site. Their reasoning is that USCIS/ICE don't have the authority to visit third-party sites, and that distance learning/training is not sufficient. 

What does it mean?

While they managed to whip up a frenzy with this website update, please note:

  • They cannot just change how they interpret a regulation, after 2 years, by just updating a webpage!
  • That is not the same as issuing a new regulation, or at least a formal memo
  • The reasoning provided by the USCIS for this change doesn't really stand scrutiny. If remote training/mentoring is not OK for STEM OPTs, why is it ok for first year OPTs? And if the USCIS has a right to do site visits for H1B, why can't they visit OPT client sites?
  • This policy change will definitely be challenged in federal court; in fact there are non-profit groups that are already collecting contributions to sue the USCIS. 
  • Bottom line, don't panic! We will find out more in the coming weeks, but stay put. There will always be a solution for every problem!

If you have any questions, call us. 

Discuss your OPT/H1B questions with our experienced recruiters (We are looking only for candidates with IT degrees) 

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(Use the calendar below to schedule a phone appointment)

Training, Placement, H1B & GC for OPT Students

We are starting training batches in Java, iOS, Android, UI, Salesforce and QA (Performance testing and automation) in the coming weeks. You can find more details on our Training page. If you are looking for a reputable consultancy with an excellent training and placement program, strong immigration track record for your OPT extension/H1B/GC processing, financial stability, consistent payment history and good employee feedback, call us today. 

Read below to see how each of the above factors will impact you long-term. And we are actively hiring OPT students with IT degrees; schedule an appointment using the calendar at the bottom of this page to discuss your options. 

OPT Stem Extension

These are the steps we took to comply with I-983 rules:

  • We created a detailed training plan that is specific to each employee, based on their degree and coursework undertaken.
  • All employees have been put on a salary schedule, and our compensation structure is designed such that the OPT employees are paid continuously, even while on bench between projects.
  • Note that the OPT STEM Extension employees should be paid and that their pay should be similar to all similarly situated employees. So we came up with a way of uniformly paying all OPT employees during their first and subsequent years, while at the same time satisfying the employees' desire to maximize their compensation.
  • The job duties and description in the form I-983 were designed to be in compliance with OPT requirements. But at the same time, we also made sure that they do not conflict with your eventual H1B application. You don't want issues from your OPT I-983 biting you in the wrong place during your H1B process.
  • We have documented in detail the in-house, in-person classroom training provided to these employees. We also did assessments before and after the training, thus documenting the value that we added as OPT employers, which is the primary requirement for an OPT employer.
  • We assigned mentors to OPT employee. These mentors are industry experts with more that a decade of experience in their fields, and will act as the technical supervisor of the employees.
  • We also assigned an administrative supervisor, who will be in charge of all the administrative and reporting requirements to stay in compliance.
  • We have an automated mechanism in place to track all the required reporting dates (every 6 and 12 months to the DSO), and also monthly updates, quarterly performance assessments as required by I-983 rules.
  • And we do this for EVERY single one of our OPT employees. Because if we are found out of compliance with just one employee, it might impact that status of all other OPT employees. Something you want to be aware of while choosing an OPT employer.

In short, we have created a process by which all the right steps are taken at the right time, so that we are able to successfully navigate any future audits and site visits from the USCIS. At the end of the day, this is the key to long-term success with immigration!

H1B Processing

Did you know that there are a number of H1 regulations that are almost always violated by most employers? Here are some examples:
* It is OUTRIGHT ILLEGAL to charge the employees for H1B fees. Yes, it is ILLEGAL. Do you want to jeopardize your future with an employer that charges you?
* Similarly situated employees should be paid equally. Meaning two people in the same metro filed at the same wage level cannot be paid differently. But it happens all the time, especially when you are working on percentage basis.
* Employers should have an established and documented wage policy that is implemented consistently across the board. But the pay rates for most consulting companies are all over the map, which is a clear violation. One Java developer is making $30/hr, while a different one is making $55/hr.
* While I-9 forms may look simple, most employers get tripped up on I-9 audits, which have become very common. Did your employer update your I-9 after your H1B was approved - most probably not!

These regulations have not been enforced by the USCIS in the past, but we all know that times have changed with Trump in the office. We are already seeing the impact on the H1B cap cases filed with Level 1 wages. You don't want to wait until the axe falls, and your employer is audited. Find an employer who has figured out how to work within the rule of law, while maintaing the flexibility and pay levels that you wish to earn.

GC Processing

GC is a long and arduous process. Find an employer willing to get your GC started right away. Ask them about the processes they have in place to overcome the usually restrictive GC requirements like prevailing wages, ability to pay, use of experience gained within the same organization etc. 

Financial Stability / Payment History / Employee Feedback

You guys are all smart enough to know that you should join a well-funded company, that has a history of paying their employees on time. Employers with 100+ consultants are usually well-funded to withstand any market downturns. But more importantly, talk to other consultants who work there. But there is one more aspect to this. When your employer files for your GC, they need to show the ability to pay (because GC is a future job). And not all employers are funded well enough.

Placement History

At the end of the day, you want to get placed and stay billable. Work with an employer that has a lot of varied clients, not just a handful of major clients. So if your project ends, they can always place you with one of their other clients. 

Where do we stand?

* We invest heavily in our immigration process to make it impeccable. We are able to meet all the regulations and requirements, while also maintaining the pay and flexibility that you desire. 
* We are financially very strong, and we have planned for market downturns and extended periods between projects. Our recruiters can tell you more.
* We have made more than 500 placements in the last few years, in over 30 states nationwide. If you are motivated, we can get you placed in a matter of weeks. We have a number of candidates that got placed within the first week.
* We will apply for your GC immediately after H1B approval. And we have 100% success rate with GCs. We got 4 GCs approved just this month.

Discuss your OPT/H1B questions with our experienced recruiters (We are looking only for candidates with IT degrees) 

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(Use the calendar below to schedule a phone appointment)

Applying for H1B Cap? Avoid these Pitfalls

If you are applying for H1B in April this year, here are some important lessons from 2017 to keep in mind. The level of scrutiny increased significantly in 2017, resulting in a lot of RFEs and subsequent denials. We expect the situation to be the same this year, if not worse. Here are some items to watch out for: 

Master's Quota

If you are applying under Master's quota, make sure that your schoolqualifies as an accredited and non-profit institution. Just because others got approved from the same school under Master's quota doesn't mean anything; it was simply an oversight by the USCIS officer. You could be denied now, or you could be denied anytime in the future while applying for H1B amendments/extensions, since the original H1 was based on a non-qualifying school. It is not worth the risk, you should stick to the regular quota.

Level 1

If your employer is filing your LCA as Level 1, there is a good chance that you will get an RFE if you are working at a client location. The USCIS is contesting that a level 1 person needs high level of supervision, and is not qualified to work at a client location without direct supervision by the employer. Make sure your employer uses at least Level 2, even though the wage levels are higher.

Computer Systems Analyst

Filing your LCA as a Computer Systems Analyst was very common in the past, since the required H1B wages are lower than Computer Programmers or Software Developers. But nearly 100% of the applications filed as Computer Systems Analysts received an RFE in 2017. USCIS contends that anyone with some training can do this job, and as such, it is not a speciality occupation.

Degree

Historically, applying for IT related H1B with a degree in Mechanical/Civil/Business etc. was very common, and was not a major issue. Those days are gone. Your degree has to be directly related to and required for your job. Otherwise, you can expect RFEs and denials.

Multiple Applications

To increase their chances in the lottery, applicants make multiple H1B petetions.

What is acceptable:

  • You can apply for multiple H1Bs through unrelated companies, provided they all have legitimate positions.
  • Two related companies can also file for you, but they must each be prepared to establish that there was a legitimate, actual business need for filing both of the petitions. Else both applications will be denied.

What is NOT acceptable:

  • Multiple H1B petitions filed by different companies for the same position at the same end-client with the same beneficiary. USCIS can deny such cases based on evidence that the employers colluded to increase their odds in the lottery.

Dependents

If your dependents are currently outside the US, and plan to enter the US after your H1B approval - H4 can be applied after your H1 approval.

If your dependent is currently in the US on a dependent status based on your current F1, like F2, you are required to apply for their H4 status along with your H1 application. Otherwise, your dependent will become out of status the moment your H1 is approved (because you F1 status doesn't exist after that, meaning your dependent won't have a F2 status either).

How can we help?

We have an excellent track record of placing OPT candidates on projects and successfully obtaining H1B for all our employees on client projects. We have a 98% success rate on our H1B approvals over the last few years. If you are an OPT looking for training and placement, along with H1B and eventual Greencard processing, please contact us. Use the calendar at the bottom of this page to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced recruiters so that you can discuss your options.

Discuss your OPT/H1B questions with our experienced recruiters (We are looking only for candidates with IT degrees) 

 

(Use the calendar below to schedule a phone appointment)

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