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IPSO Facto
December 2020
In this issue: 
H-1B NEWS

Recent immigration regulatory changes set aside by court rulings

In October, IPSO sent an announcement to managers regarding regulatory changes from DHS and DOL with severe implications for the employment of international personnel in sponsored visa categories (H-1B).
 
IPSO is pleased to inform sponsoring departments that the majority of these changes have been set aside in two separate court rulings and are no longer in force. However, they could be reissued before the change in administrations in January 2021. Of note, the increased standards for prevailing wages have been restored to their historical standards and the narrowed definition of “specialty occupations” which qualify for H-1B sponsorship will not be implemented. 

What this means for you:
  • The prevailing wage for Research Associates has returned to $39,541, in keeping with previous standards.
  • Standards for H-1B sponsorship and adjudication should resume to those used prior to October.
Any further questions should be directed to Jonathan Harwood.


Premium processing remains at $2,500

While the majority of regulatory changes for the sponsorship of those in H-1B status have been set aside in various court proceedings, the premium processing fees remain at $2,500.
J-1 NEWS

J Exchange Visitors out of the U.S. more than 30 days must have out-of-country authorization

If a J EV in either the Professor or Researcher Scholar category is out of the U.S. for more than 30 days for any reason (including circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic), the AU department and J EV must request out-of-country authorization in order to maintain the J EV program.
 
The purpose of the out-of-country function in SEVIS is to allow AU to record periods of collaborative activity conducted by an exchange visitor while outside the U.S. The trigger for using the out-of-country feature is the nature of the activity itself. The activity should be consistent with the purpose of the exchange visitor’s J program. 
 
Out-of-country authorization is only available for use in cases of active J EVs in the Professor or Researcher scholar categories for a maximum of 5 months beyond the initial 30-days.
 
Contact Beverly Tarver for additional information. 

Original funding documents no longer required

We are no longer requiring original financial documents for J-1 EV initial or extension requests. 

J-1 EVs will be required to upload scans of the original financial documents on the "Financial Documentation" e-form in our new online portal, AU International (Sunapsis). On that same e-form, they will be asked to certify that the scans they uploaded are of valid original documents. 

Departments will no longer need to send DS-2019s to new J-1 EVs either. Once Beverly Tarver has approved all the e-forms and processed the DS-2019, EVs will be able to use eShipGlobal to pay for the DS-2019 to be shipped to them. The final eShipGlobal e-form in their AU International request will be unlocked once they reach this stage.

After the EV pays, we will be notified that a shipping label is ready, and we will package the DS-2019 and send it. Department managers and EVs will be notified by email when our office has packaged the DS-2019 for shipment.

For extensions, Beverly will continue to send emails notifying EVs that their DS-2019s are ready for pick-up in our office. They will be assigned a specific pick-up time.

Reminder: Social Security office taking in-person visits by appointment only

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals can only enter Social Security Administration (SSA) offices if they have an appointment. The SSA offices are prioritizing requests for in-person SSN services for certain people.

If you have a J EV in your department who needs help with his/her Social Security Number (SSN), he/she may qualify for an in-person appointment and may call the local Augusta office to schedule one.

For details, see our previous announcement about this. 
OTHER NEWS


Guidance for employment of STEM OPT extension employees available on website

On May 10, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security put into effect significant changes to post-graduation employment process for international students in STEM (Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology) fields, including the addition of reporting requirements for employers, salary guidelines, and potential onsite visits by Department of Homeland Security agents.

International students are eligible for a work benefit in the U.S. called Optional Practical Training, or “OPT”, that grants them 12 months of work eligibility in the U.S. relating to their field of study. Students who have earned designated U.S. degrees with eligible Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are allowed an additional 24 months of OPT. Under this STEM extension of the OPT period, there are some requirements for departments employing these individuals. 
 
Guidance for employing students in STEM OPT status may be found on our website.   

Meetings with IPSO staff by appointment only

Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay
The ongoing pandemic has made it necessary to restrict face-to-face interaction with our customers to only those that are absolutely necessary. Please remind your students, scholars, and sponsored employees that IPSO does not accept unscheduled drop-ins.
 
Appointment Request

Interview Consultation Request Form active

The new Interview Consultation Form is used to request IPSO participation in candidate interviews or for candidates who have already been interviewed and are being considered. We’ll provide an analysis of your candidate’s immigration needs including time frames, filing costs, and wage requirements before you make an offer. 
 
Once the offer is made and accepted, you’ll submit the Immigration Consultation Request Form. This form enters the initial data in the new AU International system and begins the visa status sponsorship process. 

Links to both forms can be found on the IPSO website homepage.
AU INTERNATIONAL (SUNAPSIS) UPDATES
Thank you all for your patience as we've worked through these first couple of months with our new international case management system, Sunapsis. We couldn't have made this a success without your cooperation and help! 
Now that we've all been using the new system for a while, here are some reminders and tips that may be helpful. 
  • Sunapsis is the name of the software, but AU International is the name of the online portal where department managers and international clients log in to submit e-forms. If you've been following this project since the beginning, you probably heard us say Sunapsis more often because we hadn't chosen a name for the online portal yet. Now that we're live, we'll be referring to it as AU International more often because that's what it says on the login page.
  • Please bookmark the link to AU International. (If you were using our test site before we went live, make sure you don't submit e-forms there!) 
Remember that when you start an e-form, you will first need to look up the international person's record by entering their University ID and DOB. For anyone who is currently employed, the University ID is the employee ID number. For J-1 Exchange Visitor Affiliates (EVAs) or anyone who has not started employment with AU yet, the University ID is a temporary ID number (starts with TEMP). 
You can find the University ID (employee ID number or temporary ID number) by clicking on "My Department's Employees & Scholars" when you log in to AU International. 

If you are starting an initial J-1 or H-1B request, the temporary ID number for the prospective J or H will be provided to you in the response email to your Immigration Consultation Request Form.
  • We are still in the processing of moving all of our forms over to AU International. These are the forms that are currently there:
  • Remember that you must complete a training session in order to have access to AU International. We will have two dates available per month for training. If someone in your department needs to sign up, please email Tiffany Takahashi.
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