America is one of the best places to buy clothes, electronics, etc. You get the best value for your money spent. As a tourist from Asia, if you compare, buying a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt at an outlet mall in US with decent 30% discount vs. buying the same shirt in Asia, it is literally twice the price or more. Recently, I went on shopping spree on the day of my return in Houston, TX. I got to know at the mall that I may get Tax Refund. I was curious but was not sure as I never knew the process. I will share all the details on how to get tax refunds, what are the requirements and conditions, and address some commonly asked FAQs.

Do you get Tax Refund for Shopping in US at Malls, Outlet Malls,  or Online Stores  ?

Yes, you do get tax refund for your purchases in US, if you are traveling outside of US. But, there are way too many conditions to get a decent refund back to you.

What Tax do you get as Refund ?  Does the Federal Govt pay you ?

You usually get Sales Tax as refund, if you are exporting the goods outside of US. The sales tax on shopping in US goes to the respective states. It does not go to the federal government and they do not give you the refund.  Below is an image that shows approximate State tax by state for your reference.

Sales Tax Rates in US for Refund as Tourist

 What Tax Refund do you get for shopping in US as Tourist or Resident ?

Depending on the state you purchase in, you will get the State Tax back to you as refund. See the sample receipt on taxes that are charged in Texas.Sales Tax Receipt for Refund in US as Tourist Sample

Is the Tax Refund paid by US Federal Govt or IRS ?

No, the tax refunds are paid by the respective states that you make your purchases in. So, it is a state tax refund to be more specific.

I am a US Resident on H1B, L1, F1, or other Visas, am I eligible for Tax Refund ?

Yes, it does not matter. All visa types are eligible.  Anyone traveling outside of US are eligible for tax refund. All the below conditions described apply to you.

I am a US Citizen, will I get Tax Refund for shopping in US ?

Yes, US Citizens are also eligible for tax refund, provided they travel outside of US within 30 days. You can only claim it at airports on the day of your departure. All the below conditions described apply to you.

Do I get VAT or GST refund in US as a Tourist or Resident ?

When you shop in America, you are not subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST). The concept of VAT and GST exist in many countries by US is different and you are only subject to Sales Tax, when you do shopping as tourist

What are the Requirements or Conditions to get Tax Refund in USA as Tourist or Resident ?

The requirements to get tax refund are slightly tricky to get a decent refund, as they force you to purchase more at a single store. Most of the requirements or conditions are common for foreigners and US Citizens, only difference is where they can claim tax refund and when. Below are the requirements.

  • Minimum Amount : Depending on the state, there is a minimum amount of tax you need to have per receipt or purchase from a brand store or outlet store. In Texas, you need to have a minimum of $12 tax per receipt or combined receipts from the same brand stores. Technically, in Texas with 8.25%  sales tax, you need to purchase for at least for $150 USD in a single store or brand outlet to be eligible for the refund.
  • Original Receipts : You need to submit original receipts at the Tax refund counter. They do not accept duplicate, photo copy or reprint sales receipts. You need to submit the first original receipt that is printed. No digital or e-mail receipts are accepted, unless it is an online purchase item from a brand store and if the receipt has delivery address of the goods in that state. You need the packaging slip of delivery for online purchases.
  • 30 days : You need to have the purchase done within 30 days from the day of your international travel or departure date from US.
  • International Travel : You get refund only, if you are traveling outside of US and the items you are buying will be staying outside of US. Technically exporting it to other country, that’s why they ask for the original receipt and take it for refund. It means that the sale is final in US and there are no returns for your same goods you bought here in US.
  • Physical Inspection : You need to show your item purchased for physical inspection and it has to be in new and unused condition with all the tags.
  • Passport , I-94 / Entry Stamp : You need to show your Visa/ Passport, and I-94 with entry stamp on it, if holding foreign passport.
  • Departure Information / Flight Tickets : You need to show your international departure info or flight ticket itinerary and for US citizens, you need to show the boarding pass to get tax refund.
  • Item should Depart US & State : The items purchased must be taken with you and should depart the state you purchased in and USA as well.
  • Food or Services : No refund for food or services purchased.
  • Participating Stores : You get Tax Refund only if you purchase goods from the participating stores. They claim that it is a big list of 6,500+ stores…but watch out for the brands. I purchased from few brands, that were not eligible for refund such as Abercrombie & Fitch.
  • Processing Fee : There is a processing fee for your tax and it is crazy. Below are the options
    • Instant Cash : If you want instant cash it is 50% processing fee for tax refund.
    • Check / PayPal : If you want a check or can get refund to PayPal, then it is 35% of the tax refund. Also, you will also be charged $4 USD for every single store or brand purchases.
  • Refund Locations : Both US Citizens and non-US citizens can claim tax refund at all major international airport terminals, they would have a Tax refund desk. Check airport for the details on the terminal. Also, if you are a non-US citizen, then you can even claim tax refund at certain mall locations in the state. Check the state website for the exact locations in a   For Texas, here are the refund locations.
  • Tax Refund Policies : Tax refund policies can vary by state and there is no standard sales tax percentage set as well. You should check the Sales Tax and Tax Refund policies in that respective state before you shop to ensure you get tax refund. For instance, if you shop in Delaware, there is no sales tax, so no refund.

Tips for Tax Refund as Tourist or Resident in US:

Overall, Tax refund is definitely a good thing, if you are doing a lot of shopping and taking it home. The only downside is that you have to give the original receipt of purchase. I bought for over $900 USD, but could not get a sizable tax refund as I did not know all of these facts and conditions. If you plan it ahead of time, you maybe able to get a decent tax refund. Below are some tips

  • Duplicate Receipt / re-prints : When you buy your item, request for duplicate receipt or re-print of receipt. This can be used by you for warranty at your home country or international location.
  • Take a Photo of Original Receipt : Take a picture of the original receipt and if requested by the warranty location outside of US, then you can use the photo and duplicate receipt.
  • Buy maximum at One Brand Store : Make sure you pick few brands and do shopping in those brands, so that you meet the minimum requirement of Tax refund. If not, you will not be eligible for tax refund as you will miss out on the minimum. I did not get anything as I bought in multiple brands and they were less than $150 purchase per store, so I was not meeting the minimum amount of tax refund in Texas.
  • Register for Warranty : If you are buying an electronic item and if there is an option to register online, register for warranty, when you have the original receipt.

What are your experiences with Tax Refund as Tourist ? Did you get any tax refund as Resident  ?

Image Credit : https://files.taxfoundation.org/20180212171639/LOST2018.png

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As you know, originally H1B Premium Processing was suspended till Feb 19, 2019 and recently in January 2019 USCIS resumed premium processing for H1Bs filed under FY 2019 cap in April 2018.

Now, they have released a press note indicating that they will open up premium processing for everyone, who have filed H1B petitions on or before December 21, 2018 from Feb 19th, 2019.  Below is the summary.

USCIS News : Summary of H1B premium processing Open for Petitions filed on or Before Dec 21, 2018.

Below is the summary of the USCIS press release regarding the premium processing.

  • All H1Bs Filed on or Before Dec 21, 2018 : USCIS announced that Premium processing is now open for everyone who have filed a H1B petition with USCIS on or before Dec 21, 2018. It includes all types such as transfers, amendments, extensions. The only condition is they were to be filed on or before Dec 21, 2018.
  • H1B Transfer Notices – Pending Petitions : USCIS balances out load by transferring petitions from one location to other. If your petition was transferred and you have received a transfer notice stating the same, then you need to submit the premium processing request to the new USCIS location that was transferred to. Usually your attorney or employer would have this physical transfer notice. You may have online status of ‘Case was Transferred and a New Office has Jurisdiction’, if your case was transferred to new location.
  • Premium Processing for RFEs : If you have received RFE for your H1B case and you intend to upgrade to premium processing, then you need to submit your RFE response along with your premium processing request. You cannot just go for premium processing without submitting RFE response.
  • Premium Processing for RFEs : If you have received RFE for your H1B case and you intend to upgrade to premium processing, then you need to submit your RFE response along with your premium processing request. You cannot just go for premium processing without submitting RFE response.
  • Delays, if sent to wrong location : If your case was transferred to a new location and if by mistake, if you send premium processing request for your H1B petition to the original location, where your H1B was filed with, then USCIS will forward such requests to the new location. But, the catch is there will be delays with this and your H1B Premium Processing 15 days Clock will not start until your H1B premium processing request is received by the new location. So, technically, you will face a lot of delays with premium processing if you do not send your premium processing request to the right location. Below are the location details .
If your H1B Visa  petition was transferred to the below service center Send your H1B premium processing request to below address
Nebraska Service CenterUSPS:
USCIS Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87129
Lincoln, NE 68501-7129
FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
USCIS Nebraska Service Center
850 S Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
Vermont Service CenterUSPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
USCIS Vermont Service Center
Attn: I-129 H-1B
30 Houghton Street
St. Albans, VT 05478-2399
  • 15 Days SLA, Refunds : USCIS re-affirmed that if you properly request premium processing, with the required details for your case, then your petition would be adjudicated in 15 days. Check H1B Regular vs Premium Processing . If USCIS does not adjudicate the petition in 15 days, then they will refund premium processing fee and will continue to process with expedited processing as they have missed the deadline.
  • Other Petitions filed after Dec 21, 2018 : USCIS mentioned that premium processing is not open for all petitions filed after Dec 21, 2018. They will open premium processing for other types, once their workload permits.
  • Summary of Premium Processing available for below petitions now :
    • All H1B Visa 2019 Cap Subject Petitions – Regular Quota, Masters Quota
    • All H1B Petitions listed below filed on or Before Dec 21, 2019
      • H1B Visa Extensions with Changes
      • H1B Visa Transfer Petitions
      • H1B Amendments with Changes
    • H1B Visa Cap Exempt Petitions filed by higher education institutions, government research entities, and some qualified non-profit orgs that file petitions at California Service Center
    • H1B Extensions without any changes at Nebraska Service Center.

What are your thoughts on the premium processing news ?

Check USCIS Official Press Release

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When I came to the US to study bachelors degree, as an International student, I did not bring a ton of money with me.

I had enough funds to cover for my bachelor’s degree tuition which was not more than $90,000.

Guess what?

Only 20% of my expenses, including tuition and living costs, was paid from my pocket.

Note: This is part 2 of a series of articles written by Abdul.

I told my parents that I would ask for more funds from them if and when I needed it. However, I never really needed any extra money from my parents. I was able to take care of my tuition fees by myself.

It is recommended to bring all the funds with you but for me, I thought it would get me spoilt.

So I decided against it.

I made the decision that I would get the funds as and when I required them.

Som how did I pay for 80% of my tuition and living expenses?

I had to be persuasive and get creative in finding the scholarships.

I really have no idea why other F1 Visa students don’t think outside the box.

If you have filled up the application and never followed up on it you will never get a scholarship.

I had applied for my scholarship at the time before I received admission or I-20.

I know it sounds crazy. Right?

I started applying for scholarships even before I had gotten accepted.

The department of scholarship of my University never responded to my request.

I would go to their Facebook page and send a message or direct message to the admins.

Did I get a response? Nope!

I started the process to apply to the US at the age of 17 while I was pursuing my intermediate 1st year in India.

I have always been a fast communicator and I do not like it when somebody takes a lot of time in order to respond to me.

At this particular junction of my life, I am running a real estate business and there have been many occasions when I have let employees go because they have not properly communicated with me.

Communication is a must in every aspect of your life.

The head of the scholarship department finally got in touch with me after sending multiple messages.

Did she offer a scholarship? Nope.

But, my persistence in trying to get hold of them will eventually help me get a scholarship.

I wouldn’t like to disclose any names but for the sake of this article let us assume that her name is Jan.

I was very thrilled and happy when Jan had reached out to me and told me that she had received my application, but over the course of time, I lost contact with her again.

I kept emailing her but she never responded.

However, after getting my admission.

F1  Visa was Rejected a few times, I landed in the USA.

Guess where I went first?

To meet Jan from the Scholarship office.

I stood in front of her and greeted her politely and told her that it was me who had been emailing her for the last couple of months.

This was before I registered for classes!

So she took my intermediate certificate from India and gave me a scholarship of $500.

Getting a scholarship of $500 because of you following up and emailing is worth getting nothing or having to work in an illegal cash job and getting paid in pennies.

Remember to be stubborn and never give up.

I was the only student who used to visit her several times and kept on following up.

So when it was time to make a decision about giving a scholarship just guess whose image came to mind at the very first instance?

Because of the stubborn attitude of mine, I used to get several scholarships as they became available during my bachelor’s degree.

There was this one time when I was applying for scholarships and I didn’t qualify.

I was supposed to write an article and for some reason, my application got rejected. Most of the students who got rejected used to quit the application or tried to apply again.

However, in my case, I met Jan and asked her the reason for getting rejected and what it is that I can do to improve myself the next time. She told me that my letter was not convincing enough.

I came from India and English is not my native language.

My writing skills were also not good enough. I was also a bit overconfident and did not spend enough time behind writing the article thinking that I would be getting the scholarship.

At that particular time, I was taking over 18 credits per semester and losing a scholarship was not something I could afford.

I went to the English department and got down with the teacher who taught me and helped me write an amazing article.

I explained to him why I was writing the article and how important this scholarship was to me. I applied for the scholarship again and this time I did qualify.

What I did was think outside the box and this is what you need to do as well in order to succeed. Never give up and start thinking outside the box.

The tutor I used to go to for my writing session was free of cost but was one of the best and many students used to book him all the time.

I decided to get creative and book one session with him every 2 weeks for the entire semester. By doing this I was able to track all of my assignments and scholarship applications.

I would like you to pay attention to the next segment of my article where I would be explaining how getting a job on campus helped me get $1600- $3200 scholarship every month.

Summary:

  • Scholarship for F1 Visa students is available.
  • Know where to look for scholarship
  • Do what it takes to get the scholarship
  • Be persistent and make your presence felt
  • Be Nice. Ask for way you can boost your schances of getting scholarships

 




U.S. immigration law is complex. Sometimes, legal immigrants with the best of intentions may fall out of status or violate their non-immigrant visa status at some point during their time in the U.S. For example:

Mr. Worker was employed by Company A in H-1B status and was looking to change employers to Company B. Company B filed an H-1B “transfer” petition in order to hire Mr. Worker. The day after the petition was delivered to USCIS, Mr. Worker began working for Company B pursuant to the portability provision of AC-21. Unfortunately, a signature was missing in Company B’s H-1B petition and the filing was rejected two weeks later. Company B quickly corrected the error and re-filed the petition, but Mr. Worker has now been working for Company B without authorization for two weeks. This is a violation of H-1B status as well as unauthorized employment.

I am often asked about how a prior violation such as this may impact an individual’s future ability to obtain a green card.

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides the basic requirements for a non-immigrant to be eligible for employment-based adjustment of status:

  • the applicant must have entered the country legally (i.e. been inspected and admitted);
  • the applicant must be admissible (or eligible for a waiver if not admissible); and
  • the priority date must be current (i.e. an immigrant visa is immediately available).

In addition to meeting these basic requirements, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she does not fall into one of the bars to adjustment of status. An individual who

  • has failed to maintain continuous lawful status,
  • does not have lawful nonimmigrant status,
  • has engageed in unauthorized employment, or
  • has violated the terms of a nonimmigrant visa.

is normally not eligible to adjust status to lawful permanent resident by filing an I-485 application. But, specifically for employment-based applicants, Section 245(k) of the Immigration and Nationality Act may still allow an individual to adjust status under certain circumstances.

INA §245(k) allows EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 applicants for adjustment of status who may have been out of status, worked without authorization, or otherwise violated the terms and conditions of the admission to still apply for adjustment of status IF the aggregate period of such violations does not exceed 180 days.  This benefit also applies to family members applying as derivative beneficiaries of the primary employment-based adjustment applicant.

Qualified employment-based applicants are eligible to adjust under INA §245(k) even if they failed to maintain continuous lawful status, engaged in unauthorized employment, or violated the terms of a non immigrant visa as long as:

  • none of the immigration violations exceeded 180 days since the applicant’s last admission to the U.S., and
  • the applicant is present in the U.S. pursuant to a lawful admission at the time of filing the I-485.

USCIS only considers status violations after the most recent date of entry in lawful status. This means that employment-based adjustment applicants can have a fresh start after the last admission and allows adjustment to permanent residency as long as there has not been unauthorized employment or a status violation exceeding 180 days since that last entry.

Going back to our example of Mr. Worker above, how does 245(k) benefit him? Since his period of unauthorized employment was less than 180 days and this was his only violation since his last entry, 245(k) allows him to file the I-485 application to adjust status.

Here is another example:

Mr. Worker is currently in the United States in L-1A status with an approved I-140 petition. He is ready to file his I-485 application when he discovered that his wife’s L-2 has expired. The last time she traveled, her passport was expiring before her I-797 approval notice was set to expire. At the port of entry, she was given a new I-94 card that expired according to her passport instead of her I-797 approval (see:  http://immigrationgirl.com/travel-when-your-passport-expires-before-your-i-797-expires/). She was not aware until now that her I-94 actually expired 3 months ago.

Since her admission to the U.S. in L-2 status was lawful and her I-94 has been expired for less than 180 days, she is still eligible to file the I-485 application along with her husband to adjust status in the employment-based category. Note that if she did not realize her I-94 had expired until more than 180 days had passed, she would not be eligible to adjust status. She would need to get back into L-2 status prior to filing the I-485.

 

This does not mean that it is OK to work without authorization or violate status, even briefly. It is not intended to help you circumvent immigration laws. It also does not mean that status and other violations will be disregarded for purposes other than filing the I-485. Any other penalties, including potential deportation for failure to maintain or comply with status requirements, can still be applied. It therefore is important to do everything possible to avoid any violation. INA 245(k) is simply a way for some of those with inadvertent immigration violations to still be eligible to adjust status.

Be sure to discuss any potential situations with a qualified immigration attorney before filing your adjustment of status to ensure that you are eligible for this type of relief.

 

 ~ImmigrationGirl

 

 




I am frequent traveler and travel a lot for work and vacation as well. Recently, at the airline check-in counter, when I was flying to US from Singapore, the printed boarding pass had some additional big capital letters saying “SSSS”. I was like…what is this ? The staff told that I need additional screening as the system determines this randomly or based on certain things…and I am the lucky one ! This is the first time appearing, so I was kind of nervous on what the heck is this. In general, as an Indian, when I visit foreign countries, I am used to this famous phrase at security check : ‘can you please step aside sir’, nevertheless I was kind of slightly nervous. Let me share my experience on what this is and how you can try to get it fixed as well.

SSSS on my Boarding Pass printed at the check-in counter

SSSS Printed on Boarding Pass at Check-in Counter Airport - International Flight

What is SSSS on your Boarding Pass for International Flight ? What does it mean ?

In airline travel security world, SSSS is an acronym for ‘Secondary Security Screening Selection’…sounds like an interesting acronym with same 4 letters that I have never seen before…anyways, the backend Security Systems (especially airport security) of US assess the passenger profile and issues this security rating for secondary screening.  Basically, it means that the security systems determined that based on your profile, travel history, and others it has selected you for additional security screening and tagged your boarding pass with ‘SSSS’. Some say, system has randomly selected you, but you know that is a nice way of putting it on the system…it may very well be, but you know the truth !

Why are you given SSSS by the Airport Travel Security System ?

No one will clearly tell you the reason for you getting SSSS on your boarding pass. But, some of the common reasons for getting SSSS are based on the premise that there was something unusual in your travel pattern, your ticketing, or your overall profile such as below :

  • Booking last minute airline tickets
  • Booking of one-way international flight tickets
  • Traveling from a high-risk country
  • Having multiple stop overs during your travel itinerary. Unusual travel itinerary.
  • Paying for your airfare in Cash
  • If you are on a security watch list
  • If you a have visited any high risk security threat countries
  • If you had any criminal record from the past
  • If you had any security related charges at the airport
  • If you had carried any prohibited materials or weapons in the past

There is no clear guideline as such, these are some common reasons you could get SSSS on your boarding pass. Some of the information on security screening practices in US came out from a Report Leaked from 2011, which is posted on Wikimedia.

What happens when you get SSSS on your Boarding pass ? Extra Security Check ? Lines ?

It may sound nervous for you, if you had got it, but it can be a blessing in disguise as you will have your own line and no need to be in the long line. Once the security personnel checks your boarding pass, before you enter the standard security check line and sees that you have SSSS on your boarding pass, they will ask you to get out of the line. You will be escorted for secondary screening. It can take about 10 to 30 minutes, so be prepared. Below are some of the common things they will usually perform.

  • Full Extra Body Pat down / Scan : You will get extra full body patting, extra metal detector body scans, you will asked to remove your shoes, belt as well.
  • Luggage Scan : Your luggage will be thoroughly checked and scanned couple of times in the scanner and you may need to open and show few things as needed.
  • Electronic Devices Check : They will ask you to power up all electronics such as phones, laptops, watches and check.
  • Explosives & Narcotics Contact Scan : They will take a cotton/ fabric/ paper swab kind of thing and rub it on your clothes, your luggage, your belt, shoes, and other belongings and put in in ION Scanner to detect contact with Narcotics or explosive materials.
  • Stamp/ sticker on Boarding Pass by Officer : The TSA Officer or Security officer at the internal airport would put a sticker or Stamp on your boarding pass. If done sin US airport, they would fill out a form and put a stamp on the boarding pass. See below SSSS boarding card after security check is done. If it is done in other countries, they may just put in a sticker and sign on it…it can vary by airport.SSSS on Boarding Pass After Security Scan Completion

Once all of the checks are done and it is all green, then you are allowed to leave the security area. There is nothing to panic, it is standard process for them. If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry, the bright side is you don’t have to stand in long line.

Once you get SSSS, will it continue to happen in future every time you board ?

It is very hard to say, totally depends on your travel purpose, destination, booking time and many other factors. The odds are that, once you get it, you may get SSSS on your boarding card more often…So, be prepared for your travel and allocate time…It is not mandatory that you will get it every time, it is just highly likely that you may get it. Nothing to panic, if you have everything with you and your travel intent is good.

How can you get the SSSS from Boarding Pass in Future ?

If you are constantly getting SSSS on your boarding pass, have issues at security check every time you fly or denied boarding, any other security screening issues, you can reach out to DHS on this and submit your request.  You need to go to DHS Trip Website, fill out a form for Redress and answer few questions in there, submit the same. You may also need to submit a copy of your valid passport as well. You will hear from DHS in few weeks regarding your ruling in mail. It could resolve future SSSS issues and you can have hassle free flying…but some cases, it may not resolve it as well…but, no harm in trying…

Will I get SSSS on my boarding pass for Domestic Flights ?

In general, you often see SSSS printed on your boarding pass of the passengers taking international flights to USA. I personally had SSSS on my boarding pass for my international flight from Singapore to USA, but I did not get SSSS for my domestic flight within US after I landed at Port of entry from SFO to PHL. Some users have reported that they have got SSSS for domestic flights within US as well, but very few.  So, you may get SSSS for domestic flights as well…do not be surprised, if you get it.

Overall, do not worry about SSSS on your boarding pass and be in panic mode, it could be for many unknown reasons beyond your control…just relax and enjoy skipping the line 😉

What was your experience getting SSSS on boarding pass ?

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If you are planning for visa stamping in Canada, you might wonder what you need to do step by step, how to plan for it, including hotel, Canada visa, travel, stay, etc.. Jose, one of our readers, has taken a lot of effort to document every step of his experience, so that many of our readers can benefit. Thanks a lot to Jose for taking the time and effort to share his experience with our readers, we really appreciate it. You can share yours too here.

My Background of L1 Visa :

I was in US in L1B status, due to my I-94 expiry I had to either

  1. apply for I-94 extension or
  2. apply for a fresh L1B blanket using my companies approved L1 blanket petition.

I chose option 2 and decided to try my luck with visa stamping in Canada (In fact, my company attorney advised me to go to Canada rather than applying for an I-94 extension as some folks were getting RFE from USCIS for I-94 extension during those days).  The process is explained in detail below.

Visa Stamping in Canada – General View, Consulates  :

Canada has always been a popular destination for L1 and H1 visa stamping for people who are already working in USA (other than stamping in their home country). There are 7 US consulates across Canada you could choose from: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver. For folks in the North East of US, Toronto and Ottawa are the 2 frequently selected consulates for visa stamping and Vancouver for people in West coast. I had been to Ottawa US consulate twice for L1B blanket visa stamping and it was a good experience on both occasions. I would say choose Ottawa over Toronto if you are in the east coast.  Note: – This is purely based on my personal experience and the information shared by my friends/colleagues.

In my case, I was applying for a new L1 Blanket Visa Stamping using my company’s already approved I-797 blanket approval notice. Even though you will get a new visa for 5 years, the PED (petition expiry date), will be your remaining time in the L1 Max out, i.e. 5 years. And the same PED will be your I-94 expiry date. But if you apply for I-94 extension through USCIS for your L1B individual, and if it is approved, and then you will still need to go for stamping, it will be still L1B individual (after you travel outside US). Not Blanket.

Step by Step Guide for L1 Visa Stamping in Canada :

Follow the below steps to get your visa stamping in Canada from getting visitor visa to getting stamping.

Step 1 – Get Canada Visitor Visa for Travel to US Consulate for Visa Stamping :

You need to get this done in the first place before you can travel to Canada for your visa stamping. It is always good to plan in advance. It will take around 1.5 to 2 months (average) to get your Canada visitor visa from US. You can check the current processing times here – Check Visa Processing times , I got the visitor visa done for myself and my spouse 3 months before our travel date.  If you are applying in summer, it is better to plan this in advance as there will be more people travelling from US to Canada. You will have to fill up the application form online, pay the fees and wait for your approval by email. Once approved, you are required to send your passport to the nearest Canada consulate to get the visa stamped.

Step 2 – Fill DS-160 Form :

Fill the DS-160 form online here. ( Check DS-160 form filling tips ) For travel details, you can provide a tentative date with address of any hotel near the US consulate which you selected. Select the US consulate which is near to you. In my case, I selected Ottawa consulate.  You will have to fill the DS-160 for your dependents also.

Step 3 – Schedule Visa Stamping Appointment:

To schedule a visa interview, go to Canada US Visa Appointment System, and provide the required information along with DS-160 application number. The wait times for visa appointments in Toronto and Ottawa are usually high, so please plan accordingly. You can view the visa appointment wait times for different US consulates here.   For me, the visa fees was paid by certified cheque and usually the company attorney provides this along with the necessary documentation package. This will be collected in a separate counter before you go to the counter for actual interview (this was the case in Ottawa, should be similar in other consulates as well).  You will get the option to choose the passport pick up (after interview) method while booking the appointment. You can choose a Canada post location which is near to the hotel where you will be staying. For more information on passport pickup in Canada after visa stamping, please check Visa Document Courier Services.

Step 4 – Get the Documents Required for Stamping:

Below are the complete list of documents that are are required for L1 visa stamping

L1 Visa Stamping Document Checklist :

  1. Copy of I-797 Approval Notice (current and previous), if applicable.
  2. Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L1 Petition (3 copies) – this will be provided by the Company Attorney.
  3. DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form for each applicant – Please be sure to carry copies of the DS-160 Application form confirmation page printouts with you to the appointment as entry to the US Embassy will not be granted without these pages.
  4. Original Passports. Please ensure that you have empty pages available in your passport for visa issuance as the US consulate will not issue the new visa over an old visa. Also, please ensure that the passport has not been compromised, mutilated or in any way altered since the day of issuance as this may result in the US Consulate refusing issuance of the visa.
  5. Previous passports containing previous US visas, if applicable.
  6. Proof of maintenance of status in U.S. since arrival e.g. original I-20, original EAD card, Previous I-94’s, if applicable.
  7. Copies of three most recent pay stubs.
  8. Original Marriage Certificate, with English translation, and Birth Certificates / records for children
  9. Visa fees (Certified Cheque). If already paid, carry the confirmation mail along with MRV receipt

Step 5 – Travel to Canada (via Flight / Car), Stay in Canada for Visa Stamping :

Book your hotel & flight tickets well advance once you confirm the visa interview date so that you will save some money. Book a hotel which is within 10-15 minutes (by car) from the US consulate. In Ottawa, I had stayed in ByWard Blue Inn – 5 minutes’ walk from consulate – and Hampton Inn (the 2nd one is a little far when compared to the first one) during my 2 trips for visa stamping.  As I was in the Tri-state area at that time, I travelled to Ottawa by a rental car  (I was reluctant to take my own car as I didn’t want to take any chances in case if I face the worst case scenario – i.e. visa rejection). If you are driving in winter, please make sure that you plan your drive according to the weather. During this particular road trip – close to 500 miles – (in December), there was a snow storm and I had to travel one day earlier to avoid hitting the storm. For people with kids, I would recommend travelling by Flight as it is more comfortable and book a hotel which is very near to the US consulate.  And on the visa interview day, remember to travel by taxi or public transport and leave the car at the hotel, as the consulate security will not allow you to take even the car keys inside.

Step 6 –  Process for L1 Visa Interview in Canada at US Consulate  :

My L1B Blanket visa interview experience in a nutshell is given below. My interview was scheduled in Ottawa US consulate. I got in by 9:30 am, and interview was scheduled for 10:00 am,   it was very short and lasted only 15 minutes. And I got out by 10:15 am.

– Counter 1 – Pay the Visa fees, Counter 6 /7 – Verify DS 160, Photos and take finger prints.
– Counter 2, 3 – Interview with Visa Officer, I went to counter 2.

The US Visa interview questions depend on your specific case, but some of the most commonly asked questions are given below:

  • What’s your designation and describe your work/project?
  • What’s your salary?
  • What’s your educational qualification?
  • What is your specialized skill (for L1B)?
  • How many people you will be managing (for L1A)?
  • For how long you will be working in US?
  • Are you working at client’s site? Questions around your Client Company and project.

My L1 Visa Interview Questions at US Consulate in Ottawa in Canada:-

  1. Who is your client?
  2. Are you going to work in your client’s office?
  3. What do you do (Role & responsibilities)?
  4. Were you in US before?
  5. What is your educational qualification?

L2 Visa Interview Questions to my spouse:

  1. What is your educational qualification?
  2. What did you study (Subject)?

Tip regarding the Photo – please make sure that your photo is as per specifications given the US Department of State website and Taken within the last 6 months. : https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html

Step 7 – Passport tracking after Visa Stamping and pickup

At the end of interview, Visa Officer will inform you if your visa was approved or not. If it was approved, you can track your passport status using your account in Visa Appointment Service website.  You will also receive an e-mail notification once your passport is ready for pick up. You will need a Government issued identification to pick up the passport – you can use your US Driver’s license for this.

Important Notes / Useful Tips for US Visa Stamping in Canada:-

  1. Please note that this is normally a three to four business day process. However, this can take up to 5 business days in certain cases.  If this is the case, you will be required to remain in Canada for an additional 2-3 business days.  Please remember to choose a flight which starts after 6:00 p.m. on the day when you pick up the passport from Canada post location. If you are travelling by car to Canada, then this should not be a problem for you.
  2. Applicant should be aware that when they travel to Canada, they should have a copy of the US consulate appointment letter with them and available for presentation. On occasion, Canadian immigration officials request to see this letter.
  3. Please make sure that you are not taking any bags or electronic items such as cell phones, pagers, palm pilots, computers, calculators or cameras as they are not allowed to enter the consulate with these items.
  4. Please ensure that if you have any dependents who will be accompanying you to the appointment, they must have Canadian entry stamps in their passports as well. Applicants are also advised to dress in warm clothing as they may be required to line up outside of the embassy.
  5. Be prepared for the worst case scenario (very less chance I would say) also – usually Visa officer will put a stamp “Cancelled without a prejudice” before approving or rejecting your new visa application. So if your visa is rejected in the US consulate in Canada, you cannot go back to US and you need to travel back to your home country. So, yes there is an element of risk associated with Canada visa stamping. But I think it is a good option.
  6. You can plan to visit some places nearby while you are waiting for your passport after the visa interview, especially if it is during summer months. (I had to stay in the hotel for few days as I went there in winter). For people going to Toronto / Ottawa for visa stamping, you can plan a trip to Niagara Falls and it is definitely worth a visit if you have time (make sure that you don’t cross to USA accidentally before you get your passport J ). Generally speaking, Niagara Falls, Ontario is a more popular destination than Niagara Falls, NY, in part due to the better view of the falls from the Canadian side of the river. In Ottawa, I went to see the Parliament Hill and Notre Dame Basilica. You can also check out Rideau Canal, Canadian War Museum, Byward Market etc.

Good luck with your Visa stamping in Canada. If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know in the comments.

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Here’s a look at various scenarios and solutions, and discussed. Certain students on F1 Visa can potentially face 3 years ban starting Feb 5, 2019, due to the unlawful presence memo that went into effect on Aug 9, 2018.

Let me ask you this – Do you know for sure you are not accruing unlawful presence?

Here’s the biggest mystery factor!

You would not know that there was a status violation until USCIS is processing their OPT, STEM OPT or F1 to H1B Visa Status or some form of a petition.

According to the memo, if the Violation has occurred before August 9, 2018, guess what?

You have started accruing unlawful presence in the USA from Aug 9, 2018, and you could be subject to 3 years ban!

Here are the two articles I published back in 2018 (May/June)

Recently (end of Jan 2019), one well known and a prominent Immigration Attorney is suggesting some F1 Students depart the USA by Feb 5, 2019, or risk facing 3 years ban.

As I’m looking over the F1 Visa, OPT & STEM OPT Facebook Group, there’s not a lot of chatter around this.

But the legality of enrolling in the Second Masters and using the Day 1 CPT program came under the lens after students enrolled in the University of Farmington were arrested.

Are You Accruing Unlawful Presence?

My goal is to create awareness around this issue so that you can take the necessary step and avoid 3 or 10 years ban.

After yesterday’s Facebook Live with Immigration Attorney Jack Sung, several students posted questions using the Ask An Immigration Attorney and here’s one such question –  “Have I Accrued Unlawful Presence?”

f1 visa day 1 cpt Have I accrued unlawful presence

As per, the Unlawful Presence Memo, certain F1 Visa students who have accrued over 180 days of unlawful presence, could face 3 years ban from the USA upon departure from the USA.

If the status violation had occurred before Aug 9, 2018, such students could be accruing the unlawful presence status starting Aug 9, 2018.

After 180 days of accruing unlawful presence, which is on Feb 5, 2019. Those students could face 3 years ban from entering the USA when they depart the US.

Day 1 CPT vs Status Violation

So, hows do the Status Violation occur? Why students using 12+ Months of CPT are getting RFE or COS Denial?

12 or more month cpt ref change of status denial uscis

Immigration Attorney Jack Sung did a Live Webinar and offered multiple solutions based on situations typically faced by F1 Visa Students using Day 1 CPT route to stay in the USA and continue to work.

Worry not if you missed the live event. You can get access to the recorded version of the Guide to Unlawful Presence Memo for F1 Students with easy to understand solutions.

Depart the USA before Feb 5, 2019?

I have created a visual guide based on my understanding of this article by an Immigration Attorney.

He suggests the following:

  • Certain F1 students should depart the US before Feb 5, 2019.
  • Others to take precaution and identify if they have accrued unlawful presence.

unlawful presence memo f1 visa status flowchart

To my best of knowledge, I have created the above flowchart.

Because more than one Immigration Attorney has recommended certain F1 students who are at the risk of accruing 180 days on Feb 5, 2019, to depart the USA.

And, there is a pending lawsuit.

If the preliminary injunction is granted by February 4, 2019, students who have been accused of violating their status, especially those contesting erroneous allegations, can breathe easy for now as they do not have to make plans to depart by February 5.

In the meantime, if you think you may be impacted, especially if you are on Day 1 CPT, utilizing CPT in the Second Masters to carefully understand and evaluate your options.

And others, if you think you may have violated the status, understand and know your options.

I think it’s better to get an answer today and before Feb 5, 2019, than feeling sorry later. Right?

All you need to know is answer to the following question:

“I have engaged in Activity X, Y and Z. Is it a violation of F1 Visa Status as per USCIS, Can there be an RFE and do I have all the documents and win the RFE?”

Deep down, if you know what you are doing or planning to do, is even borderline pushing the envelope of status violation, please reconsider that and talk to an attorney.

Your employer’s attorney should be your first stop. If you don’t have access to an attorney or not sure who to talk to, you can Talk to Attorney Sung or Shah using Ask An Immigration Attorney.

Impact Due to Unlawful Presence Memo on F1 Students

During the live webinar, Immigration Attorney Jack Sung discussed several scenarios and potential solutions.

Here’s a look at various scenarios that was discussed.

more than 12 months cpt scenarios

 

More than the scenarios, what are the possible solutions for each scenario?

How does that specifically impact you? You can get access to the Unlawful Presence Memo Guide for F1 Students, a recorded version of the event with bonus contents here.

In short, the options included the following:

  • Be prepared for RFE’s (if impacted)
  • For some departing, the USA would be better
  • Be prepared to fight via MTR (& it could be expensive for students)
  • Gather as many documents as you can today, to avoid future problems.




Many F1 Students on Day 1 CPT from Univ. of Farmington, which is a fake school created by federal agents, were recently arrested for not maintaining F1 status and engaging in unauthorized employment, etc. In the past, we have written articles that tells if you can get CPT from Day 1 for second masters, but it does not give full picture. In this article, we will cover details on Curricular Practical Training(CPT), what is allowed and what is not allowed quoting official references from ICE, SEVP and Federal Regulations.

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)  ? Main intention of CPT ? Who Gives it ?

Curricular practical training, popularly known as CPT ( Read CPT vs. OPT Difference ) ,  is given to F1 visa international students, who are enrolled in full time degree program,  to pursue practical work or training in the form of an internship, co-op or work study program.   Usually, it is part of the program curriculum and done for credit. You need to pay for the credit at school, when you enroll for it. You can do it as part time (20 hours) or full time ( 40 Hours) as authorized by DSO. Your International student advisor/ Designated School Official ( DSO) is the one who authorizes your CPT and you need approval of the department, carrer services to work on CPT. Check below CPT Official Reference and screenshot.
General Guideline on CPT - Curricular Practical Training

When can you work on CPT ? After One Academic Year or from Day 1 ?

The general rule for CPT is that, it has to be part of the established program curriculum that you are pursuing and it is usually given after one academic year. There are exceptions to this one year requirement : if you are part of a Graduate Degree/ Master’s program and if your degree program curriculum requires immediate participation in curricular practical training, then you can get waiver of the one year requirement to get CPT.  Your CPT has to authorized by DSO at school. See below screenshot and check Official CPT Federal Regulation Reference  Day 1 CPT or Exceptions to 1 year academic Requirement for CPT - Govt Publication Reference

 What is ICE and SEVP Guidance of CPT ?  Need One Year or Can get from Day 1 ?

The SEVP and ICE guidance on CPT is same as in federal regulations mentioned above. SEVP clearly mentions the same clause stating that, in general F1 students must be enrolled for one academic year before they are eligible for CPT. The only exception for this one year requirement is for graduate students, only if their degree program requires immediate CPT requirement.  So, technically, if a school designs a graduate program with CPT requirement as part of the program curriculum from Day 1 and DSO authorizes it properly, you can work from Day 1 CPT.  In general, most of the reputed schools does not offer such programs, having said that, there are schools that offer such programs. There is no restriction on how many hours you can work on CPT, but if you work for 12 months of Full time CPT, you will NOT get OPT (optional practical training). Also, there is no restriction on how much you can get paid during CPT. Check the official ICE SEVP Reference on CPT and below screenshot

ICE - CPT Requirements - One academic Year vs Day 1 CPT Requirements Official ReferenceWhat are the key requirements to maintain Proper F1 student status on CPT ?

The key requirements for all the CPT programs is that you need maintain your full time F1 student status by being enrolled as full time student, attending classes and not participating in any unauthorized activities. You need to pass all your classes and also maintain certain GPA as needed by your school. You cannot drop classes during semester without talking to DSO. See below screenshot and check out DHS.gov Official Reference on Student StatusMaintain F1 Student Status Details

 Beware of Misleading Information from Day 1 CPT Universities

Below is the screenshot from Harrisburg University(http://harrisburgu.edu/curricular-practical-training-cpt-at-hu/ )  that offers CPT from Day 1 as part of their degree program. If you read the text in green and yellow, it is very misleading, where it tells that you will be eligible to apply for OPT after 12 months of full time CPT. It may sound politically correct to some, but it is very misleading for students. The rule from ICE and SEVP is that you do not get OPT (Optional Practical Training), if you do 12 months of full time CPT.  So, beware of such promises that some of these schools do. If you are doing something like that you are considered violating F1 status and engaged in unauthorized acitivies.  In general, most of the reputed schools do not have Day 1 CPT programs. Sometimes, you may get away, but at times, you may feel the pain, when you go for H1B visa with USCIS…With the Aug 9th, 2018 F1 Visa Unlawful Presence memo, it is more critical to think twice as you may end up with 3 or 10 year bar to enter US on any visa.Harrisburg CPT Rules - Wrong Info on OPT Screenshot

Do I get up to 12 months of CPT for every masters Degree ? Can you do 12 months of CPT in Second Masters ? What is ICE Guidance ? USCIS interpretation ?

As per the official ICE Rule, you get only 12 months of Practical Training for every higher education level. Meaning, you get only 12 months of practical training  for Bachelor’s degree, 12 months for Master’s degree and 12 months for PhD. It does not specifically tell, if that 12 months is restricted to OPT, CPT or both. It is very much a grey area and subject to how someone interprets it. This was historically used to interpret for OPT only. ( check Do you get 12 month OPT for second Masters ). In the past some of it was taken for granted and was not questioned by USCIS. But, in recent times, USCIS has started to question it and even issued RFEs, denials for Change of Status in some cases. So, be careful when you use CPT in second masters for 12 months, if you have already used CPT in first masters…Discuss with an attorney or DSO on the same to get more clarification.
Change in Degree Levels and CPT OPT Eligibility and Criteria information

What are your thoughts on the CPT rules ? Day 1 CPT ?

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The Department of Homeland Security will be updating their Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) on Monday, February 4. Due to the update, SEVIS will not be available to F-1 students or DSO’s from TODAY, Feb. 1, 2019, at 6 p.m. EST to Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, at 8 a.m. EST. During the outage, it will not be possible to access the system to input and/or update records. No processing of requests or documents will be available. Expect longer processing times for any actions needed and time-sensitive requests, especially Travel Signature Requests and Reprints of your I-20 will not be possible. Access to your SEVIS record will not be available for any reason, including emergencies. The I-901 Fee payments will also not be able to be made during this time.

 

The reason for the SEVIS outage is for scheduled maintenance. However, the timing of this outage is extremely suspect in light of the August 9th Memo on Unlawful Presence. Remember, the memo IS currently in effect, but the true impact of the memo will not be felt until, you guessed it… February 5, 2019, which is 180 days from the date the memo took effect.

 

In August 2018, USCIS posted the final version of the Policy Memorandum that changes how USCIS calculates unlawful presence for F-1 students in “duration of status.” This calculation is important because too much unlawful presence can eventually lead to “inadmissibility,” meaning the individual can be barred from entering or remaining in the United States.

Prior to August 9, 2018, in the event that USCIS formally found a violation of F-1 status, the student would not begin accruing unlawful presence until the day after the decision was made.

Now, if an F-1 student is found by DHS to have failed to maintain status, he or she will begin accruing unlawful presence on the day after he or she engaged in the unauthorized activity that caused the status violation. For students who receive a determination from DHS indicating that they were violating status prior to when the memo took effect, they will have been accruing unlawful presence since August 9, 2018. More on the unlawful presence memo here: http://immigrationgirl.com/august-9th-unlawful-presence-memo-is-in-effect-for-f-1-students-what-exactly-does-it-do/

Starting this evening, students and DSO’s will be unable to access SEVIS during the final days of the 180-day period. It is unknown what maintenance the system will be undergoing during this critical time. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but the timing of this action makes me raise my eyebrows.

 

 ~ImmigrationGirl




DHS and USCIS has been working on streamlining the process of H1B Visa lottery system for quite sometime and as part of that they published in December H1B Pre-registration rule for NPRM(Notice for Proposed Rulemaking) with public to give comments until Jan 3rd. DHS and USCIS has been swift on this one to review the comments and publish the final rule. It is a long 214 page document with comments, responses, and all info. In this article we will summarized the entire rule, final process decided by USCIS, start dates and many FAQs on the new H1B registration rule.

H1B Registration Requirement Final Rule – Key Points from Final Regulation :

DHS Received 817 comments during the 30 days comment period, below we have the key points and information summarized.

  • H1B Visa 2020 Season : USCIS is suspending H1B Registration Rule for H1B FY 2020 cap season to design, implement and complete user testing of system and make sure the system is ready. USCIS will formally announce this suspension for FY 2020 on their website.
  • H1B 2020 Season Lottery Order Changed : Though H1B registration rule is suspended, USCIS will take the order of selection part of the new rule and change the lottery selection order for FY 2020 season. As per the new order, first 65,000 petitions are selected for regular cap quota from the entire pool of applications, then 20,000 master’s petitions are selected to meet the Advanced/ US master’s degree quota cap. USCIS believes that this change in order will increase the number of US Master’s degree applicants to be selected.
  • Rule Effective Date : The H1B Registration Rule is effective from April 1st, 2019 ( 60 days from publication date – Jan 31st, 2019)
  • Proposed Dates for New System : USCIS anticipates that the new Registration System will be implemented starting with H1B FY 2021 cap season.
  • Fee for H1B Registration System : There is no fee charged by USCIS for the H1B registrations in the new system as of now. However, DHS may consider charging a fee in the future to recover cost of building and maintain. If such thing happens, it will be published as NPRM in federal register.
  • Cost Savings with H1B Registration System : The cost savings with the new registration rule is about $43.4 million to $63.7 million annually for petitioners and the US Govt.
  • US Masters Students Advantages with H1B Registration System: USCIS says that individuals with US Masters degrees earn 19.6 percent more than individuals with bachelor’s degree. So, the reversal of lottery selection will ensure higher paid and most skilled ones are working in US on H1Bs. The change in lottery order will result in 16% ( about 5,340 more) more US Masters students to be selected for H1B petition filings. DHS believes that the new rule is merit based as the new lottery order will increased US masters students getting H1Bs.

Final H1B Registration Rule – What is it ? How does it work ?

  • Order of H1B Lottery : USCIS is changing the order in which the current H1B petitions are selected in lottery. In the new H1B registration rule, to select the registrants, first lottery is conducted to select the overall regular cap quota to fill 65,000 petitions and then lottery is run to select the US masters quota cap for 20,000 petitions.H1B Registration Final Rule Process by USCIS and H1B Lottery Diagram
  • H1B Registration Period Start Date, Duration, Actual Filing Period :

    • USCIS will announce the H1B registration period at least 30 calendar days before the start of the registration for employers to be prepared.
    • The registration period will be given for at least 14 calendar days. USCIS will announce on their website the final registration date for that fiscal year. They may keep it open for longer as needed based on their projections of registrations.
    • USCIS may re-open registration in certain cases, when they do not get required registrations as projected by them.
    • Employers will get 90 days for filing the H1B petition with USCIS after the selected registrants are informed to them. ( this was 60 days in the draft)
    • USCIS will time the 90 days duration to file H1B petitions in such a way that employers can file for H1B petitions on April 1st, to have the start date of October 1st.
    • USCIS will not implement the staggered (separate dates ) petition filing system as it was in the proposed rule. It will be one date for everyone to file H1B petitions with USCIS.
  • What Information Needs to be filled in Registration :

    • For each registration, in addition to basic information, H1B applicant info : full name, date of birth, country of citizenship, birth date, gender, and Passport Number need to be submitted as part of the registration. This information is to detect duplicate filings.
    • USCIS will not require petitioners to enter their corporate information for every beneficiary as it is redundant task. USCIS is seeking OMB approval for the new H1B registration tool information collected as proposed today. If they believe more info need to be collected, it will be informed.
    • No need to submit a certified LCA in the H1B registration system. It needs to be submitted with the H1B petition during filing for selected registrants. No need to submit wage offered, and other details related to conditions of employment during registration.
  • US Masters Degree Transcripts : H1B US Masters quota classification eligibility need not be proved during registration period by providing US degree transcripts. You can indicate that you qualify for Masters quota in the registration system for lottery purposes. The proof details of US Degree can be submitted during the actual H1B petition filing.
  • Time to Fill in New Registration System : DHS estimates that the each unique account creation for petitioner or employer will take about 0.17 hours and each electronic registration for H1B application will take 0.5 hours to complete.
  • Preventing Fraud in H1B Registration System :

    • Employers need to attest that they intend to file H1B for the beneficiary they are entering in the registration system. This is to ensure the registration is for a bona fide job offer. But, there is no mandatory requirement for employers to file H1B Petition for selected registrants in the lottery conducted for H1B registrations. If USCIS believes there are frivolous registration and the system is abused, they will be subject to investigation and will be accountable for fraud.
    • One employer can only submit one registration for one H1B applicant or beneficiary. If more than one registration is filed for a beneficiary, then all of those registrations filed for those beneficiary will be considered invalid.
    • Employers cannot substitute names that were in the original selected registrant during the filing. If so, such petitions will be denied or rejected.
    • Employers need to attest they are filing bona fide registrations and not frivolous ones, if USC IS determines fraud is done, they will be referred to federal law enforcement agencies.
  • Multiple Genuine Offers from Different Employers : USCIS does not prohibit a H1B applicant or beneficiary to have multiple employers ( not related to each other) submit registrations for them, if they have genuine job offers from such different employers.
  • H1B Registration System Features, Plans :

    • Employers/ petitioners will be able to login to the registration system and see registrations, selection notices and print the same.
    • USCIS will send electronic notifications for the selected registrations that can go for H1B filings. USCIS will not separately notify with physical copies.
    • USCIS will engage with stakeholders and give training on the new system and get feedback for the new system.
  • Reserve Registrations : USCIS will hold unselected registrations in reserve and conduct additional lottery selection as needed, if necessary.

H1B Registration Requirement Rule Process :

  • Step 1 : Employers interested in sponsoring H1B for individuals they intend to hire, will need to first electronically register the individuals with USCIS during the specified registration period as given by USCIS.
  • Step 2 : Employers will get at least 14 days to electronically register the individuals with their company information. They can edit, delete and modify the candidate details until the registration period closes.
  • Step 3 : USCIS will conduct computer generated random selection aka Lottery to select regular quota filing registrants, then the masters quota are separated and lottery is run to select the US masters quota filing registrants.
  • Step 4 : USCIS Notifies electronically the selected registrants’ employer/sponsors to file H1B petitions within 90 days. They will time it to fall on April 1st. The unselected registrations are kept on reserve to do another selected as needed.
  • Step 5 : Employers need to file H1B petition using the standard process like before using LCA, Fees and all the information supporting the H1B job offer for the selected registrant.
  • Step 6 : USCIS will adjudicate the petition as per their standard process and inform employers regarding their petition.

What do you think of the new final H1B Registration Rule ?

Reference :  Official Document H1B Registration Rule 

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