International and Postdoctoral Services Office newsletter for department managers.
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IPSO Facto
September 2020
In this issue: 

USCIS fee changes effective Oct. 2

The Department of Homeland Security has issued notice that the following USCIS fees will change as of October 2, 2020.
  • Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) used for filing AU H-1B petitions: increase from $460 to $555 per filing
  • Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) used for filing AU TN/E-3 petitions: increase from $460 to $695 per filing
  • Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) used for filing AU PR petitions: decrease from $700 to $555 per filing
  • Form I-539 (Petition to extend/change nonimmigrant status) used for filing individual H-4/J-2/F-2 petitions: increase from $370 to $400 per filing
  • Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) used for filing AU H-1B/TN/E-3 Petitions: remains at $1,440. However, adjudication times have been increased from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
It should be noted that a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a coalition of the nation's leading immigrants' rights organizations against DHS, Chad Wolf, USCIS, and Kenneth Cuccinelli. This lawsuit could delay or prevent the implementation of these fee changes. 

New Immigration Consultation Request Form

The university is moving away from Wufoo, the tool we used to create our Immigration Consultation Request Form (ICRF), so, we have recreated the ICRF in Microsoft Forms. 

The form looks a little different, but the content is pretty much the same. 
One difference is that this form is divided into sections. Also, you can only choose one answer for "Purpose of the Visit," so we have changed the wording to "PRIMARY Purpose of the Visit." Based on your answer to that question, you will either move on to the section with employment-related questions or to the section with visit-related questions. 

We will be keeping the ICRF - even after we go live with Sunapsis in October of this year. In preparation for our transition to Sunapsis, we have added a required field to the ICRF for the date of birth of the prospective employee or visitor. This is because we will need the date of birth in order to create the record in Sunapsis when we respond to the ICRF.  

You can still find the ICRF on the same page on our website.

If you have any questions about the new form, please contact Tiffany Takahashi

Delays seen in J-1 waiver process

Department managers, please take note that IPSO has seen significant delays in the J-1 waiver process. Research scholars approaching the end of their five years in J status should coordinate with their department managers and Beverly Tarver if they intend to pursue a waiver of the two-year requirement and change to H-1B status.  Scholars should anticipate that the process will take 12 months or more, during which time they cannot travel internationally. 

International travel options remain limited

International employees, scholars and students are advised that international travel and visa processing remains limited to emergency circumstances in many areas, and ticket prices are often several times greater than normal. Travel should not be considered for anything other than absolute need. 

New guidance for employing recent graduates on STEM OPT

In May of 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.
IPSO has completed new webpages to help guide department managers and sponsoring faculty through the hiring process and reporting requirements for employing someone using STEM OPT.


IPSO celebrates 20 years of service

The International and Postdoctoral Services Office or IPSO, as most people call it, was founded in the summer of 2000. The scope of the office was determined by then Vice President for Research, Dr. Matt Kluger. It was his desire to have an office that provided services for all international employees in need of immigration services and all postdoctoral fellows at the Medical College of Georgia. LD Newman, current Assistant Vice President of International Initiatives, was selected from the MCG legal staff to head the new office.

In 2013, at the consolidation of Augusta State University and Georgia Regents University, the international student and exchange visitor program office joined with IPSO.

The mission of the office has remained very much the same for the last 20 years. IPSO acts as a compliance and service unit, which makes it possible for AU to hire and retain foreign national faculty, to host foreign national research visitors, and to enroll AU foreign national students. IPSO staff also consult on and approve all postdoc hires.  

IPSO is now part of the Instruction and Innovation unit under Vice Provost for Instruction Dr. Zach Kelehear, who is now also serving as Interim Provost.


J Exchange Visitor Program maximum program duration

We ask that you remind your J EV program participants that it is never to early to start planning for the next step after the conclusion of their J EV program.

Remember, J Exchange Visitor program maximum durations:
  • are set under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations(22 C.F.R. Part62)
  • may include a J EV’s prior J EV program participation time
See Hosting a J-1 Exchange Visitor: Authorized Categories of Sponsorship at Augusta University.

Reminder: Minimum funding amount for J Exchange Visitors increased on Sept. 1

Effective September 1, 2020, for the first time in over a decade, the AU J program minimum funding amount increased to $27,000 per year. This new minimum support amount for a J EV in any category matches the Graduate Research Assistant stipend amount. Going forward, the minimum funding for J EVs will align with the GRA amount, which is set annually by The Graduate School at Augusta University. The effective date for the future adjustments will be September 1 each year.
 (Visa Type)
 J Exchange Visitor Program Minimum Funding
 Current  Effective
 September 1, 2020
 Per year  Per month  Per year  Per month
 J-1 Exchange Visitor   $ 23,660  $ 1,972  $ 27,000  $ 2,250
 J-2 spouse  $ 6,000  $ 500  $ 6,000  $ 500
 Each J-2 child
 (under 21 years old)
 $ 2,400  $ 200  $ 2,400  $ 200
The new minimum funding amount is required for J EV requests for initials (new or transfer in to Augusta University) and extensions. 
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