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EIG Dispatch | October 23, 2015

October 23, 2015

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Proposed Rule Extending STEM OPT Program Includes Additional Reporting Requirements
  • USCIS Announces Closure of Its International Field Office in Vienna
  • Israel Introduces New Innovation Visas for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Proposed Rule Extending STEM OPT Program Includes Additional Reporting Requirements

As discussed in the EIG Special Alert released on Monday October 23, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a proposed rule extending the F-1 Optional Practical Training Program (OPT) for foreign students in the U.S. receiving a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) from an accredited Institution.

Notably, among the changes under the proposed rule are additional reporting requirements for employers and students wishing to take advantage of the STEM OPT Program. Such reporting would be completed by filing the new Form I-910, STEM OPT Extension Mentoring and Training Plan.

The proposed Mentoring and Training Plan would require employers to explain the specific goals of the STEM practical training employment, how the goals will be achieved, along with the knowledge that the student is expected to gain as part of the program. Performance evaluations, completed every six-months and at the conclusion of the program, signed by the student’s supervisor, are also included as part of the new reporting requirements under the proposed rule.

EIG will continue to monitor the DHS website as the rule-making process continues. It is important to note that only with publication of the final rule will any of the proposed changes to the STEM OPT program become effective. Stay tuned to the Dispatch for future updates as DHS moves forward with any changes to the STEM OPT Program.


USCIS Announces Closure of Its International Field Office in Vienna

On Thursday October 22, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the permanent closure of its field office in Vienna, Austria effective December 31, 2015. The office will close to the public and stop accepting applications on November 30, 2015. The Vienna Office had jurisdiction over US immigration matters in Austria, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Beginning December 1, 2015 the services provided by the office will be transferred to one of the international USCIS Field Offices in Frankfurt, Rome or Athens depending on where individuals are located.

USCIS international officers provide immigration services, work to combat fraud in applications and also play an important role advising U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense officials abroad on U.S. immigration related matters. Certain limited services previously provided by USCIS will now be rendered by the U.S. Embassy in Vienna. You can access the new jurisdictional breakdown on the USCIS website.


Israel Introduces New Innovation Visas for Foreign Entrepreneurs

The Israeli Ministry of Economics recently announced a new visa category entitled the Entrepreneur High-Tech visa. This new visa is geared towards foreign nationals who intend to work in Israel at one of the 12 established and preapproved technology companies that qualify under the new program. Among the advantages of the new visa are that company sponsorship is likely not required and no minimum salary is required. There will be 50 Entrepreneur High-Tech visas available, which are valid for up to two years. The visas may be renewed for individuals who establish a start-up company in Israel. A committee of officials from the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Interior plan to issue related regulations to the new visa category. The new visa is intended to help the local market grow and enhance innovation in Israel.

EIG will provide updates when the regulations for the Entrepreneur High-Tech visas become available. Individuals and companies interested in preapproval for the program may contact the EIG team to discuss the process.