Articles Posted in Colleges & Universities

Mayor John Cranley cited several new initiatives he expects Cincinnati to take in making the South-west Ohio city the “most immigrant friendly city in the United States.” Cranley hopes to oversee an immigration Task Force, which Cranley started in 2014, to help create international attraction.

Among the initiatives the Task Force looks to bring forward are creating a center for new Cincinnatians that helps connect immigrants to services and other residents, launching a training program to help companies recruit international job candidates, providing immigrants with financial literacy training to help them navigate money management and home buying and marketing Cincinnati as an ideal location for manufacturing.

Another angle the Task Force looks to take is training police officers in cultural sensitivity, which could have something to do with the recent happenings in Cincinnati involving violence among the police force. Cincinnati is trying very hard to re-brand the local police force.

Given that the primary goals are creating jobs and spurring local growth, Cranley could be looking to primarily attract immigrants in the EB-5 program; where entrepreneurs and investors from overseas will come to the United States to invest in a commercial enterprise to help create jobs. The process is mutually beneficial to the Targeted Employment Area and immigrant alike, as the immigrant looks to attain Green Card Status through the program. There is also a Regional Center located in Cincinnati. Cranley may see that is the greatest opportunity fund several projects around the growing city.

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Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed several changes to its F-1 non-immigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for those working on degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The proposed extension would increase the OPT period to 24 months, which would allow STEM students to apply for a longer work authorization extension than before. The OPT program used to only last 17 months. The OPT period would start after the F-1 student completes his or her initial OPT period, which lasts 12 months. The proposal favors F-1 STEM students in several other ways.
Ideally, the longer amount of time for F-1 students would allow them to apply for several different H-1B job opportunities. H-1B visa could be a first step for F-1 students to begin a career and apply for their green card. In recent years, it has been difficult for F-1 graduates to apply for employment opportunities through an H-1B visa, given that the number of H-1B applicants has increased several years in a row. Last year saw almost two-thirds too many H-1B applications, as over 240,000 applied for a limit of 85,000 H-1B’s available.
Also, those STEM graduates who would leave the U.S. after completing the initial one-year OPT program can return and receive the same extension if they choose to return for a Master’s degree. Any F-1 student on a seventeen month extension can apply for the additional extension if the proposed ruling passes. If a graduated F-1 student with a STEM degree goes through an unemployment period, the proposal would increase that period to fill out a form I-765 from 30 to 60 days.
Several things must be completed before an F-1 student receives the extension, however. The Mentoring and Training Program (MTP) requires certain authorizations for those looking to extend their OPT program. The MTP requires the employers of F-1 students to prove that the students remains committed to work that has to do with their previous STEM education. The employer of an F-1 student using the STEM OPT program must be prepared to prove all facets of employment, including salary, hours, services, and benefits to show that the employee is being compensated properly. For the MTP, employers must show how the F-1 student will learn while on the job by stating their job description and goals to show it is a useful training opportunity. They will need to explain, in detail, the necessary skills that the student will learn while working for them. They will need to show how the training is directly related to STEM courses. They will also need to keep track of the student’s performance and evaluate them properly to show that the training is proving to be fruitful. Basically, employers have to be prepared to work for their STEM OPT workers to be employed and also show that they have helped train the student to help them in their future endeavors.
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1339419_washington_dc_capitol.jpgA Republican bill, named the STEM Jobs Act, will come to a vote today that would grant 55,000 US permanent resident visas, otherwise known as green cards, to foreign nationals who graduate from US colleges with advanced degrees in the technology fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The bill is expected to pass in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. However, it seems likely the bill will die in the Democrat-led Senate. Democrats oppose the bill because they say it will offset the new STEM green cards by doing away with the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program that grants immigrant visas to foreign nationals of mostly African nations, which normally have low US immigration rates.
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784495_graduation.jpgTo qualify for H1B employment, the petitioner must establish that the foreign national is a professional/specialist. This is established by showing that the person has at least a bachelor’s degree or has the equivalent level of work experience or specialized training. This may cause difficulty for the H1B beneficiary whose foreign four-year college degree is deemed to be less than the equivalent of a US college bachelor’s degree.

Experience and training equal college education on a three-for-one rule Continue reading

477966_commerce_acts_books.jpgMany undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children have graduated from US law schools, passed bar exams, and are seeking to practice law in the US as attorneys. Yet because they are undocumented immigrants, they are forbidden by the state bars from being admitted as attorneys to legally practice law.

Sergio Garcia was brought to the United States illegally by his parents when he was just a baby. He has since graduated from Cal Northern School of Law and passed the California state bar exam in 2009. The state bar told him he was ineligible to join the state bar because he was in the country illegally. The California Supreme Court is currently reviewing Garcia’s case to decide whether the state bar must admit him as an attorney.
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1184809_six_books.jpgA Department of Homeland Security press release just announced it has expanded the list of STEM college and university degree programs. STEM degrees are bachelor degrees and above in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. These degrees qualify eligible graduates who are in the US on student visas to obtain extensions of optional practical training. The OPT program allows international students who graduate from colleges and universities in the United States to remain in the US in F-1 student status and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program can remain for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension.

Some fields of study the DHS added to the STEM list include pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics, and quantitative economics. DHS hopes this will help bring the best and most qualified international students to the US. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, “Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation’s economic, scientific and technological competitiveness.”
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Capitol dome insideImpatient with the current state of immigration discussions in Congress, some high-tech companies have started their own programs to support undocumented children and young adults who want to attend college and legally build careers in the United States. Tech companies have also lobbied Congress to allow more legal immigration, explicitly stating that to do so will allow America to remain competitive globally. They are pushing for Congress to enact the DREAM Act, legislation that would have offered a path to legal status for certain youths, but which failed to pass in 2010.

A group of technology companies known as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is lobbying Congress for immigration reform. The news is currently dominated by the highly controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and other pending bills that deal with technological privacy, security, and intellectual property issues. Immigration plays a role in these discussions, since the tech companies want as many highly-educated and motivated youths studying technology in the United States as possible. Allowing as broad a base of students as possible to study in the U.S. and then stay here for jobs after they graduate, these companies argue, will improve America’s competitiveness with other countries.
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483px-Syria_2004_CIA_map_04052012.jpgImmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency that investigates and enforces immigration laws and regulations, announced on April 3 that it will allow certain Syrian students present in the United States to obtain employment authorization for a limited time. The agency will suspend the usual regulatory limitations for qualifying students. The suspension will apply to students who were legally present in the U.S. on a F-1 visa on April 3, 2012. Eligible students must be enrolled in an educational institution certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program maintained by ICE. ICE estimates that 514 Syrian students are enrolled in U.S. schools at present. ICE’s announcement is separate from, but closely related to, the announcement by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that Syrians in the U.S. may obtain Temporary Protected Status.

Students who qualify for employment authorization under this suspension may maintain their F-1 status while working a heightened number of hours during school sessions. Students normally authorized to work only twenty hours per week in an on-campus job may be able to expand their work hours. Students may also reduce their load of classes to allow for additional work time. Undergraduate students must maintain at least six semester hours per term to maintain their F-1 status. Graduate students must maintain three semester hours. F-1 students in high school or below may obtain employment authorization, but must maintain the regular course load. F-2 dependents, including spouses and children, will not receive any employment eligibility under this suspension.
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520993_20297295_03222012.jpgA series of protest rallies have sought to highlight the issues faced by young undocumented immigrants. The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) has declared March to be “National Coming Out Month” and encourages young people to publicly acknowledge their undocumented immigration status. Of course, this carries certain risks to individual immigrants along with any benefit it might confer on the immigrant community as a whole. The legal implications of “coming out” as undocumented are also inextricably linked to the politics of immigration.

NIYA’s campaign, according to its website, began with students who would have benefitted from the DREAM Act, the bill in the U.S. Congress that would have conferred legal immigration status on students who met a series of criteria. When the bill failed to pass, students who described themselves as “DREAMers” protested outside of House and Senate district offices and publicly announced themselves as undocumented immigrants in order to bring attention to the realities of their lives. Of course, in doing so, they have exposed themselves to the risk of arrest and deportation.
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Passport Clock and Key.jpgLast week, the man responsible for the advancement and retrogression of immigrant visa numbers in the Visa Bulletin made a stark announcement during an appearance he made at a conference held by the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Chicago about the eminent future of visa availability for the EB-2 category.

Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of Visa Control at the US Department of State (“DOS”), stated that he will retrogress the priority dates for the second preference Employment-Based Category (EB-2) for those individuals born in India and Mainland China. The retrogression is slated to appear in the May or June of 2012 issue of the Visa Bulletin, and it will cause the priority dates for India and Mainland China EB-2 category to slide all the way back to August 2007. Based on this announcement, our law firm has made the following analysis.
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