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EIG Dispatch | May 6, 2016

May 6, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • USCIS Proposes Significant Increases to Services Fee Schedule
  • UPDATE: Revisions to New STEM OPT Rule
  • Dutch Immigration Authorities Declare New Rules for Recognized Sponsor Status
  • New Zealand Announces Changes to Essential Skills Work Visa For Low-Skilled Jobs

USCIS Proposes Significant Increases to Services Fee Schedule

On May 4, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking with respect to changes of its Fee Schedule. For Fiscal Year 2016/2017, USCIS proposes to increase fees by a weighted average of 21%. This proposal was made after USCIS conducted its biennial review and determined that the current fees charged do not adequately cover the cost of services rendered. Specifically, USCIS determined that if it continues to operate using the current fee schedule, USCIS will experience an average annual shortfall of $560 million. In addition, USCIS proposed a new fee for the processing of Employment Based Immigrant Visa, Fifth Preference, Form I-924A, in the amount of $3,035. To obtain full details regarding the proposed fee changes, please see the proposed rule.


UPDATE: Revisions to New STEM OPT Rule

On May 5, 2016, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provided revised guidance on 24-month OPT extensions ending before May 23, 2016 and where eligibility is based on a prior STEM degree. For students who meet the above criteria and are requesting a new 24-month STEM OPT, individuals should do the following:

  • File the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS without the Form I-20 and include a statement indicating the following: “Due to new regulations, I must apply for the 24-month STEM extension based on a prior degree. I will provide a Form I-20 with extension recommendation after USCIS requests it.”
  • Wait and send the Form I-20 to USCIS, once USCIS requests it.

For students who meet the above criteria with 17-month STEM OPT extensions approved before May 10, 2016, individuals should do the following:

  • File the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS without the Form I-20 and include a statement indicating the following: “Due to new regulations, I must apply for the 7 month extension of my STEM OPT before SEVIS supports it. I will provide a Form I-20 with the extension recommendation after USCIS requests it.”
  • Wait and send the Form I-20 to USCIS, once USCIS requests it.

All applications must be filed with USCIS no earlier than May 10, 2016. EIG will continue to monitor and provide updates on any other changes to the 24-month STEM program.


Dutch Immigration Authorities Declare New Rules for Recognized Sponsor Status

As of April 1, 2016, Dutch Immigration Authorities announced changes to the requirements used for assessing Recognized Sponsor status. Immigration Authorities will no longer require a business plan when:

  • An entity is wholly owned and controlled by a company that has conducted business activities for at least 1.5 years;
  • An entity is recently established as the result of a merger of two companies that are already recognized sponsors;
  • An entity is recently established (not older than 18 months) and was taken over entirely by a company that is a recognized sponsor; or
  • An entity is recently established as a branch of a foreign group company and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency played a role in the decision to invest in the Netherlands.

In addition, the Immigration Authorities now have the ability to remove the Recognized Sponsor status when a company has not submitted the required immigration application in the previous three years and has no registered employees. Furthermore, work permit applications for highly skilled migrants will require recordation of gross monthly status in the employment contract. Payslips and other documentary evidence will no longer count as sufficient proof.


New Zealand Announces Changes to Essential Skills Work Visa For Low-Skilled Jobs

Effective as of April 11, 2016, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will require employers to add a Skills Match Report (SMR) to the Employer Supplementary Form for work applications in the low-skilled jobs category. The SMR will demonstrate a genuine attempt to advertise the job to New Zealanders. The SMR must be obtained from Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ). A low-skilled job is defined as a job that is ranked 4 or 5 on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). If a job is designated at level 4 or 5 then the employer will be required to contact WINZ to determine whether a local New Zealander can fill the position. If WINZ determines that there are qualified New Zealanders, then the employer will not be allowed to offer the position to a foreign national. Exceptions exist for Canterbury jobs. For a full list of Canterbury jobs please visit this link.