US ICE Announced Expanded List of STEM Degree Programs

May 19th, 2011

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has published an expanded list of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree programs that qualify F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) students to extend their OPT for another 17 months. Under the OPT program, foreign graduates may obtain up to one year of post-graduation work authorization in the US for up to 12 months, and if they qualify under the STEM program and their employers participate in E-Verify, then they may apply for an additional 17-month period. This STEM extension was instituted to address shortages of talented foreign students in the STEM fields in the US. The expanded list includes fields such as Neuroscience, Medical Informatics, Pharmaceutics and Drug Design.

US DOS Voids 2012 Diversity Lottery Results

May 19th, 2011

The US Department of State (DOS) has voided the results of the 2012 Diversity Visa Lottery that were previously posted on its website. The results were invalid because they did not represent a “fair, random selection of entrants, as required by US law” according to the DOS. The DOS will run a new selection process and the results will be published on or about July 15, 2011. No new applications need be submitted or will be accepted, since the DOS will use all qualified entries received during the October 5 to November 3, 2010 registration period.

USCIS Updates Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B Cap as of May 13, 2011

May 19th, 2011

As of May 13, 2011, USCIS has received approximately 11,200 H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2012 bachelor’s degree cap, of which there are 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Also, USCIS has received 7,900 H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2012 US master’s degree cap, of which there are 20,000 visas each fiscal year. If the master’s cap is reached, USCIS has stated that any petitions filed on behalf of aliens with an advanced US degree will be counted toward the general 65,000 H-1B cap. These numbers are still moving very slowly and it appears that the cap may not be reached until the end of this year or even later, since the numbers moved by only 1,000 for the bachelor’s cap in one week.

Once these numbers are exhausted, then new petitions subject to the cap can be filed as early as April 1, 2012, requesting a start date of October 1, 2012.