Massachusetts’ Immigrant Program for Students

Massachusetts has created a loophole program, called Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GER), to permit foreign students to stay legally in the US.

Foreign students who attended college in Massachusetts and who want to pursue entrepreneurial activities in the state can apply to the GER Program, which is being run by the Massachusetts Tech Collaborative, an independent state agency designed to promote the advancement of technology in the state. Chosen individuals will be given a job at a participating universities in Massachusetts—the students will work part-time and will submit visa applications sponsored by the university. The program is expected to grow 46,000 jobs for students.

US immigration law dictates that foreign students can study at US colleges and universities under a student visa—after they graduate, their visas expire and they have to find a US employer to sponsor them for an H-1B visa. The H-1B visa system inherently poses a disadvantage for entrepreneurs, the system only allows for a once-per-year application process—in the form of a lottery—and the slots fill up quickly. On April 7, 2014, USCIS reported that it had secured its quota of 85,000 H-1B visa petitions only five days after it began receiving applications.

This is why the GER Program’s loophole is important: colleges and universities are immune to the cap and can submit applications for employers at any time. This means foreign graduates have a higher chance of obtaining a visa through the GER Program, and through employment with higher-education institutions, because these institutions are exempt from the cap.

The House bill proposed to devise a new category of startup visas for foreign entrepreneurs, while also raising the amount of H-1B visas accessible to immigrants with advanced degrees. While the Massachusetts program is yet to be funded, this is a great start for foreign graduates whom the US needs to retain!

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Immigration Attorney St. Louis, Missouri
nsm@mlolaw.us

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The information is not meant to create a client-attorney relationship. This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Situations may differ based on the facts.

Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Can OPT lead to H1B?

As we get into the H1B filing season for 2015 (H1Bs are filed in 2014 for the following year), students on F1 visas and their employers are anxious about being selected in the H1B lottery.

This year like last, I suspect the demand will overwhelm availability of H1B visas for student and other applicants. Last year, USCIS received 124,000 applications for 65,000 H1B visas, including 20,000 H1B visas set aside for US Master degree holders.

STEM Students

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students are at an advantage. They are able to avail of OPT (optional practical training) for 29 months, and hence get two bites of the H1B apple. They can apply this year and the next while maintaining status in F visa and being lawfully present in the US.

The advantage is that the student:

  • Can work full time.
  • Would qualify for the cap gap extension.
  • Can apply for the 17-month extension

The Takeaway

In essence, a STEM student on 29 month OPT gets 2 bites of the H1B apple, because the sponsoring employer is able to apply again the following year if the student is not selected in the H1B lottery the first time.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Immigration Attorney St. Louis, Missouri

The information is not meant to create a client-attorney relationship. This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Situations may differ based on the facts.

Tara Mahadevan Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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H1Bs may be over by mid-June, 2012!

If you are an employer with plans to employ a student on an H1B visa or employ someone from abroad or transfer an H1B employee from a US non-profit to your company, ACT FAST.

FY 2013 H-1B Cap Count
65000 Cap subject visas are issued every year. About 6800 visas are set aside for fashion models and citizens from Chile and Singapore under treaties with those countries. For the sake of simplicity, these visas have not been excluded from the H1B visa count below.

H1B visas receipted by USCIS so far:
Regular Cap Count             H-1bs Receipted             Difference from week to week
April 4                                     16,742                                0
April 9                                     17,400                                658
April 13                                    20,600                               3200
April 20                                    25,000                               4400
April 27                                    29,200                               4200
May 4                                      32,500                                3300
May 11                                    36,700                                4200
May 25                                    48,400                                11700

Forecast: All dates are approximate, and meant for planning purposes only.
If the Regular Cap Count is 65000, and the Balance of H-1bs remaining as of 5/4/2012 is 32500:

If 3500 visas are received per week, H-1b cap will be reached in 9 weeks, or July 13th.
If 5000 visas per week, the cap will be reached in 6.5 weeks, or June 27th.
If 6000 visas per week, the cap will be reached in 5.4 weeks, or June 15th.
If 7000 visas per week, the cap will be reached in 4.64 weeks, or June 10th.
If 8000 visas per week, the cap will be reached in 4 weeks, or June 6th.

There was an uptick in filings for the last 2 weeks in May, from the 4th to the 15th. Filings increased to pre-May levels. With this progression, the regular cap visas may be finished by mid-June, 2012.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Immigration Attorney
Lowenbaum Partnership, LLC
St. Louis, Missouri

Tara Mahadevan

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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