San Francisco Bay Area BA-PIER

Bay Area Professionals in International Education Roundtable

Practical Training

ANNOUNCEMENT: USCIS I-765 LOCKBOX UPDATES

USCIS I-765 LOCKBOX UPDATES As of 03/31/2010

In a meeting with USCIS Service Center Operations (SCOPS), NAFSA's Regulatory Ombudsperson subcommittee was able to receive the following important clarifications on current I-765 application processing through the new Lockbox process.


(1)   USPS Express Mail - Which address should be used?
I-765 Applications that are being sent via the United States Postal Service in any capacity, including USPS Express Mail, Priority Mail, Certified Mail, should be sent using the USPS address for the specific lockbox location.
Express mail/courier services, such as FedEx and UPS, should use the express mail/courier mailing address.

(2)    Cases Forwarded to the Wrong Service Center for Processing
Members have reported that some I-765 cases that were destined for the Vermont Service Center (VSC) are instead receiving Receipt Notices issued by the Nebraska Service Center (NSC). This is indeed an error in the Lockbox forwarding the application.
The following points are important if the I-765 filed was forwarded to the wrong Service Center:

·As all Service Centers have the capacity to process and issue Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards for I-765 petitions, the application will be processed by the Service Center that received the application (rather than forwarding the case to the Service Center that has jurisdiction over the address of the applicant, to ensure timely processing).

·Be sure to track the case using the Receipt Number provided on the Receipt Notice.

·If you have an I-765 application that was forwarded by the Lockbox to the wrong Service Center, NAFSA is collecting the Receipt Numbers via IssueNet "Report an Issue" (http://issuenet.nafsa.org <http://issuenet.nafsa.org/> ) to provide data to USCIS for reference.

(3)    Receipt Notices not including the "in care of" (c/o) address line
NAFSA has advised of reports from members that Receipt Notices for some I-765 applications are not including the "in care of" (c/o) line that many institutions include on the I-765 to have correspondence on the cases sent to students in care of the international office at the college/university.  This has raised some concern that this may affect the receipt of the applications if the addresses are not data entered as provided on the I-765.

NAFSA has been advised that character length in the address data fields for the I-765 in the USCIS CLAIMS system may cause the "c/o" information to be dropped when the data is entered at the Lockbox.  While USCIS is working to address this issue, guidance has been provided that would allow for DSO's to utilize the USCIS Service Center email addresses (xxx.schools@dhs.gov <mailto:xxx.schools@dhs.gov> ; such as vsc.schools@dhs.gov <mailto:vsc.schools@dhs.gov> for the Vermont Service Center) to report to the particular Service Center a request to update the CLAIMS record at the Service Center level to include any address information not appearing on the Receipt Notice.  For this reason, it is very important to review the Receipt Notice once received to verify that the complete address as desired appears on the Notice.

(4)  RFEs for I-765 Applications  -- Should these be sent to the Lockbox?
NO.  RFEs should never be sent to the Lockbox.  Responses to RFEs should be sent to the Service Center address provided on the RFE form itself.  Be sure when sending in the requested documentation that the RFE (blue sheet) appears on top as that assists in sorting/routing the application material when received at the Service Center.

** These updates will also be posted on the NAFSA website under the "USCIS Liaison and Updates" page on the NAFSA website http://www.nafsa.org/regulatoryinformation/default.aspx?id=18430 **

NAFSA POSTS PRACTICE ADVISORY ON NPWHC AND OES WAGE LEVELS
NAFSA has posted a practice advisory to discuss how the National Prevailing Wage and Helpdesk Center (NPWHC) determines an occupation's Wage Level using the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey to make a prevailing wage determination.

Please see the NAFSA Practice Advisory on the NAFSA website:  http://www.nafsa.org/resourcelibrary/default.aspx?id=19008

Updated FAQs issued from the Department of Labor on the NPWHC has also been posted to the NAFSA website:  http://www.nafsa.org/resourcelibrary/default.aspx?id=17581

CPT: Sample Institutional Policies and Links

Curricular Practical Training
CPT: Sample Institutional Policies and Links


CPT Handout.doc (BA-PIER Meeting 02/19/2009, UC Berkeley)

CPT Presentation.ppt (BA-PIER Meeting 02/19/2009, UC Berkeley)

I-765, Application For Employment Authorization Expires 08/31/08

USCIS Reminds Customers - Use CORRECT EDITION of

FORM I-765 to Request Employment Authorization

WASHINGTONU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds its customers to use the correct version of the Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) dated 05/27/08. The edition date appears in the lower right hand corner of the form as "Form I-765 (Rev. 05/27/08) N".

Submission of an earlier version of Form I-765 may result in rejection of the application. The main purpose of the Form I-765 is to allow certain aliens in the United States to request employment authorization and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Customers may download the correct version of the Application for Employment Authorization Form I-765 and instructions from

www.uscis.gov/i-765

or under the "Immigration Forms" tab on the USCIS website.


In order to accommodate the changes from the newly published rule on Optional Practical Training for certain F-1 students, a new form I-765 with a revision date of 4/8/08 - with an "N" designation - has been

posted on www.uscis.gov. Prior versions of the form will be accepted for 30 more days - after that, any I-765 application is filed using the prior version will be rejected.

USCIS OPT Q&A 04/04/08

Question and Answer    

                                                                                                              April 4, 2008

 

EXTENSION OF OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING PROGRAM FOR QUALIFIED STUDENTS

 

Regulations Relating to Practical Training:

What is optional practical training?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 students major area of study. Under the prior rules, an F-1 student could be authorized to receive up to a total of 12 months of practical training either pre- and/or post- completion of studies.

  • Pre-completion OPT:

An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT after he/she has been enrolled for one full academic year. The pre-completion OPT must be directly related to the students major area of study. Students authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT must work part-time while school is in session. They may work full time when school is not in session.

  • Post-completion OPT

An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in post-completion OPT upon completion of studies. The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the students major area of study.

 

What is the application process to participate in pre- or post-completion OPT?

  • Students must initiate the process by requesting the Designated School Official (DSO) at their academic institution to recommend the OPT. The DSO makes such recommendation by endorsing the students Form I-20 and by making appropriate notation in SEVIS, the system used to track F-1 students.
  • Students then file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, USCIS will issue an EAD to the student.
  • The student may begin engaging in pre- or post-completion OPT only after an application has been approved and an EAD has been issued.

 

How many students stand to benefit from this interim rule?

ICE records indicate that there are approximately 70,000 students currently in OPT and, of those, about 23,000 are studying in STEM fields. Some of these students will be selected for an H-1B to start in October 2008. Others may choose to continue their education, while some will depart the United States. ICE and USCIS estimate that approximately 12,000 will take advantage of the STEM extension.

 

What is the maximum duration of post-completion OPT under this interim rule?

Under the new rule, certain students will be eligible to receive a 17-month STEM extension of post-completion OPT.

 

Do the periods of pre-completion OPT count against the available periods of post-completion OPT?

Yes. All periods of pre-completion OPT are deducted from the available periods of post-completion OPT.

 

Are there fees associated with filing for extended OPT?

Yes. USCIS charges $340 when an applicant files a Form I-765 for optional practical training.

 

When must a student apply for an OPT extension?

  • Under the prior regulations F-1 students had to apply for post-completion OPT prior to graduation.
  • This rule allows F-1 students seeking initial post-completion OPT to apply during their 60-day departure preparation periods in the same way that they are allowed to apply for a change to H-1B status during their departure preparation periods.
  • Students may apply for an OPT extension at any time prior to the expiration date.   

 

Is there additional post-completion OPT available to students working in the high-tech industry?

  • F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, are employed by employers enrolled in E-Verify, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT related to such a degree, may apply for a 17-month extension. 
  • This extension of the OPT period for STEM degree holders gives U.S. employers two chances to recruit these highly desirable graduates through the H-1B process, as the extension is long enough to allow for H-1B petitions to be filed in two successive fiscal years.

 

What are the eligible STEM degrees?

  • To be eligible for the 17-month OPT extension, a student must have received a degree included in the STEM Designated Degree Program List. This list sets forth eligible courses of study according to Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes developed by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
  • The STEM Designated Degree Program List includes the following courses of study:

o  Computer Science Applications

o  Biological and Biomedical Sciences

o  Actuarial Science

o  Mathematics and Statistics

o  Engineering

o  Military Technologies

o  Engineering Technologies

o  Physical Sciences

o  Science Technologies

o  Medical Scientist

  • The STEM degree list is included in the preamble to the interim final rule and will be posted on the ICE website in the Related Links section of this page.
  • Note that to be eligible for an OPT extension the student must currently be in an approved post-completion OPT period based on a designated STEM degree. Thus, for example, a student with an undergraduate degree in a designated STEM field, but currently in OPT based on a subsequent MBA degree, would not be eligible for an OPT extension.

 

What are the eligibility requirements for the 17-month extension of post-completion OPT?

  • The student must have a bachelors, masters or doctorate degree included in the STEM Designated Degree Program List. 
  • The student must currently be in an approved post-completion OPT period based on a designated STEM degree.
  • The students employer must be enrolled in E-Verify.
  • The student must apply on time (i.e., before the current post-completion OPT expires).

 

What is the E-Verify program?

  • The E-Verify program is an Internet-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • The E-Verify program currently is the best means available for employers to determine employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security Numbers. 
  • E-Verify electronically compares information contained on the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 with records contained in SSA and DHS databases to help employers verify identity and employment eligibility of newly-hired employees. 

 

Is there a cost associated with employers participating in the E-Verify program?

  • No. E-Verify is a free, easy to use web-based system available to employers and in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

 

What is the application process for the 17-month STEM extension?

  • The student files Form I-765 with USCIS, Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO, a copy of the STEM degree, and the required application fee.
  • Form I-765 is being amended to require the student to indicate the degree and provide the employers E-Verify information.  
  • If their post-completion OPT expires while the 17-month extension application is pending, students who timely filed their STEM extension applications with USCIS will receive an extension of employment authorization after their current employment authorization expires, but for no more than 180 days.  

 

What must a student do after being granted the 17-month STEM extension?

  • The student must report to his or her DSO (within 10 days) any change in:

o  Legal name;

o  Residential and mailing address;

o  E-mail address;

o  Employer name;

o  Employer address;

o  Job title or position;

o  Supervisor name and contact information;

o  Employment start-date; and

o  Employment end-date

  • The student must also report to his or her DSO every six months, confirming the information listed above; even if there have been no changes.
  • The requirement to report continues if the students 17-month STEM extension is extended further by the automatic cap-gap extension.

 

Regulations Relating to F-1/H-1B Cap Gap:

 

What is the H-1B cap?

The cap is the congressionally-mandated limit on the number of individuals who may be granted H-1B status during each fiscal year. For FY08, the cap is 65,000, with certain statutory cap exemptions.

 

What is the F-1/H-1B cap-gap?

Cap gap occurs when an F-1 students status and work authorization expire in the current fiscal year, before they can start their approved H-1B employment in the next fiscal year beginning on October 1. An F-1 student in a cap-gap situation would in most cases have to leave the United States and return at the time his or her H-1B status becomes effective at the beginning of the next fiscal year. Depending on when the students status expires, such circumstances could require the student to remain outside the United States for several months.

 

How does cap gap occur?

  • Under the prior regulation (and unchanged by this rule), an employer may not file, and USCIS may not accept, an H-1B petition submitted earlier than six months in advance of the date of actual need for the beneficiarys services or training.
  • As a result, the earliest date that an employer can file an H-1B petition for consideration under the next fiscal year cap is April 1, for an October 1 employment start date. If that H-1B petition and the accompanying change of status request are approved, the earliest date that the student may start the approved H-1B employment is October 1. 
  • Consequently, F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of approved H-1B petitions with October 1 employment start dates, but whose periods of authorized stay (including authorized periods of post-completion OPT and the subsequent 60-day departure preparation period) expire before October 1, are in many cases required to leave the United States, apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad, and then seek readmission to the United States in H-1B status. 

 

What were the prior cap-gap regulations for F-1 students?

  • The prior regulations addressed the cap gap problem by authorizing an extension of an F-1 students authorized stay, but they did not extend the students employment authorization. This extension was not automatic; a notice had to be published in the Federal Register announcing the extension.
  • Under the prior regulations, when this Federal Register notice was published, the students authorized stay was extended, but not the employment authorization. This meant the student could remain in the United States until October 1, when the approved H-1B employment began, but could not work until then.
  • If a Federal Register notice authorizing an extension was not published, affected students would in many cases be required to leave the United States, apply for an H-1B visa, and seek readmission to the United States in H-1B status.

 

How is the cap-gap situation changed under the interim final rule?

  • F-1 academic students on post-completion OPT maintain valid F-1 status until the expiration of their OPT. Once that OPT has ended, they are authorized to remain in the United States for up to 60 days to prepare for departure.
  • Under this rule, the F-1 status of students is automatically extended when the student is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition for the next fiscal year (with an October 1 employment start date) filed on his/her behalf during the period in which H-1B petitions are accepted for that fiscal year.
  • The automatic extension terminates when USCIS rejects, denies, or revokes the H-1B petition.
  • If the H-1B petition filed on behalf of the student is selected, the student may remain in the United States and, if on post-completion OPT, continue working until the October 1 start date indicated on the approved H-1B petition.
  • The student may benefit from this provision only if he/she has not violated his/her status.

 

USCIS

 

 

244.20 Waiver of fees

8 CFR Ch. I (1105 Edition)

(a) Any of the fees prescribed in 8CFR 103.7(b) which relate to applications to the district director or service center director for Temporary Protected Status may be waived if the applicant establishes that he or she is unable to pay the prescribed fee.

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/11feb20051500/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2005/janqtr/pdf/8cfr244.20.pdf

The latest edition of Form I-765 (02/08/07) should now be used for all employment authorization document (EAD) filings

The USCIS Web site says that the prior, 11/20/06, edition of the form will be accepted only until March 30, 2007. After that date, only the 02/08/07 version of Form I-765 will be accepted. It can be found at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-765.pdf

URGENT CALIFORNIA SERVICE CENTER ANNOUNCEMENT 6/07/06

The CSC has been receiving inquiries from DSOs indicating that the I-765 Instructions (page 7 and 8) on the USCIS website states an erroneous

mailing zip code for CSC. The correct Zip Code is 92607-1076.

USCIS Headquarters has also been notified.

Thank you,

California Service Center

USCIS Phase Two of Direct Mail Program

USCIS Reminds Applicants of Phase Two of Direct Mail Program

Certain applications [I-765] only accepted at the Chicago Lockbox after April 1, 2005.

 

Read more: http://uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/newsrels/20050330directmail.pdf

 

EAD card, Travel/Reentry & Interim Processing

Practice advisories do not necessarily represent the views of NAFSA or the authors' employer and should not be construed as legal advice.

**NAFSA Practice Advisory Discusses New OPT Travel Restriction**

NAFSA Practice Advisory 2005-A: New DHS interpretations of travel while on postcompletion OPT, discusses the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) office's recent operating instruction that states a student traveling with a postcompletion OPT EAD card must have a job or job offer to be readmitted to the United States after a temporary absence abroad. To view the advisory, access: http://www.nafsa.org/practice.


Students who need to go to USCIS in San Francisco to apply for an interim EAD card [i.e. have not received EAD card within 90 days of Notice of Action date AND the OPT Start Date in SEVIS has been reached] may now make an online appointment. They can do this at the following USCIS website:

http://www.infopass.uscis.gov/

NOTE: F-1 students may need to come by the International Student Services office to get a copy of their application materials, but this should eliminate the need to spend an entire day at USCIS, 444 Washington St. in San Francisco waiting for an EAD card.

F-1 Practical Training

**USCIS: New Photo Requirements as of September 1, 2004**

On August 2, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has changed the specifications for photographs that are submitted for immigration benefit applications such as employment authorization documents and adjustment of status applications. Starting September 1, 2004, it will no longer accept the "ADIT style" photographs that required the subject to be in a three-quarter face position. Starting September 1, it will only accept color, full-frontal photographs. Prior applications that were submitted with old-style photos before that date will be processed. To view the USCIS flyer with the new photo instructions, access: http://uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/newsrels/04_08_02Photo_flyer.pdf