Important announcement for department managers and administrators.
Dear Colleagues,

Over the summer and in recent weeks we in IPSO have witnessed unprecedented regulatory changes in federal immigration policy. Some of these most recent changes will potentially have direct adverse impact on AU employment of international personnel, enrollment of international students, and invitations to international scholars. 

  1. The Emergency Stopgap U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Stabilization Act was passed by the U.S. House on October 1. Among other things, it calls for an increase of premium processing fees for H-1B and permanent residency requests to $2,500, as well as an expansion of premium processing categories and possible changes to premium processing timeframes. USCIS announced on October 16, 2020 that it will implement the increased premium processing fee on October 19, 2020. This act also represents a marked increase in financial burdens for our international personnel and their dependents.
  2. On October 6, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued interim final rules for higher standards for H-1B visas. These standards increase salary requirements for H-1B workers significantly and narrow the scope of the definition of “specialty occupations,” which is the qualifying criteria for H-1B sponsorship. DOL has already revised the wage calculations upon which H-1B employment is based effective on October 7, 2020. It appears that the prevailing wage figure for Research Associates has risen to levels likely beyond many lab’s financial capacities ($58,240).  Those with Research Associates in H-1B status should begin working on contingency plans immediately. While the DHS portion of this rule is currently in the 60-day comment period, and anticipated to be met by court litigation, it could be implemented in the coming months as well. For more information, please contact Jonathan Harwood.
  1. USCIS fee changes. On September 14, 2020, IPSO notified unit managers of USCIS fee changes that were scheduled to go into effect on October 2, 2020. On October 1, 2020, those fee changes were enjoined by court litigation and so the fees currently remain at their original levels. IPSO will be sure to notify departments should the increases go into effect after all.
  1. Proposal to eliminate Duration of Status for F and J program participants. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed sweeping changes to the immigration process for F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors. These changes would restrict the number of years participants could spend in these statuses and change extension of stay procedures at tremendous expense to its participants. This proposal, which was published on September 25, is in the public comment stage until October 26. It is expected that this proposed rule will also be litigated in court due to the potential for substantial harm to U.S. higher education institutions.
We at IPSO will keep departments and university leadership apprised of developments as they happen.  We ask for your patience in the coming weeks as this plays out in the courts and federal government agencies. As always, we remain committed to providing you with the best service possible. We also remind you that such issues are a source of great anxiety for our international community. Please be sure to remind them of their value to the institution and our commitment to their safety and wellbeing.
Feel free to share this information with your unit chairs and/or directors as you deem appropriate. 

Best regards,
LD Newman
Copyright © 2020 Augusta University IPSO, All rights reserved.

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