Month: March 2016

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More than Half of U.S. Startups Valued at More than $1 Billion are Founded by Immigrants

A study recently released by the National Foundation for American Policy has found that more than half of startups in the United States that are valued at more than $1 billion are founded by immigrants.  In addition, the study found that in 71% of these $1 billion startups immigrants occupy important management and product development positions.  While the majority of foreign entrepreneurs who have founded $1 billion startups in the United States hail from India, nationals from Canada, the United Kingdom, Argentina, and Singapore also made the list.

At present, there are only a select few visas that allow entrepreneurs to come to the United States for work.  Business and work visas are limited, with the ever-popular H-1B visa being a challenge for many to attain due to the limited number of visas available each fiscal year (65,000 plus 20,000 for the Masters CAP).  According to the report by the National Foundation for American Policy, the $1 billion startups in the United States owned by immigrants currently employ more than 33,000 people and are valued at a combined $168 billion.  Given the success of these companies, supporters argue that United States immigration laws should be updated to provide for an easier path for foreign entrepreneurs to come to the United States.  To learn more about what visas are available for entrepreneurs in the United States please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

 

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Department of Homeland Security Establishes Program to Randomly Inspect Immigration Detention Centers

For years, immigration detention centers at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been criticized by immigration attorneys and activists for their sub-standard and inhumane conditions.  In particular, immigration attorneys, activists, and detainees regularly complained of inadequate showers, toilets, food, bedding, and access to medical care, among other complaints.  Overcrowding, cold temperatures, and restricted access to telephone calls and visitation have also been significant problems.  It has long been the practice of the Department of Homeland Security to allow immigration detention centers to exist largely free from accountability for these deplorable conditions.  However, in a recent announcement, the Department has stated that it will now begin conducting random inspections of CBP and ICE immigration detention facilities in order to ensure compliance with governmental health and safety standards for detention facilities.  Also of importance, the results of these inspections are to be made available to lawmakers and the public.  This is a step forward for ensuring agency transparency and accountability as well as for making sure that the basic needs of detainees in immigration detention are met.

 

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DHS Announces Final Rule on OPT Extension for Select STEM Students

Certain F-1 students will now be able to extend their optional practical training period (OPT) by 24 months under a new final rule published by the Department of Homeland Security on Friday. This extension will allow STEM graduates to supplement their academic knowledge with practical workplace experience. The rule also includes requirements for the employer to protect the integrity of the training program and safeguard U.S. workers from any adverse effects.

 Who is Eligible?

 The new 24-month OPT extension is only available to F-1 students who have earned a qualifying STEM degree from an accredited school in the United States. The specific fields of study that qualify as a basis for a STEM extension can be found on the Department of Education Classification of Instructional Program Categories. Students may use a previously-earned STEM degree to apply for the extension, but the STEM degree must be from an accredited U.S. school certified by SEVP to receive F-1 students, and the student’s most recent degree must also be from an accredited and SEVP-certified school.

 Employer Requirements

 Apart from the degree requirement, the rule also places requirements on the employers. Specifically, all STEM OPT employers must participate in DHS’s E-Verify program, and the employer must incorporate a formal mentor and training program that includes concrete learning objectives and oversight. In an effort to guard against any adverse effects on U.S. employees, employers will also be required to attest that 1) the employer has the resources and personnel to provide training and mentoring, 2) none of the employer’s full- or part-time U.S. workers will be terminated, laid off or furloughed as a result, and 3) the student’s opportunity assists the student in attaining his or her training objectives. Additionally, both the student and the employer will be required to report any changes in employment status or material changes to the student’s training plan to their designated school officials. Finally, the rule clarifies that DHS may conduct employer site visits to verify whether employers are meeting the program requirements.    

 OPT Background

 Normally, F-1 nonimmigrant student must return to their home country upon completion of their studies. The OPT program allows F-1 students to remain and work in the United States after completing their degree. This employment period is intended to supplement the student’s formal education and provide valuable on-the-job workplace experience. The OPT program is available to F-1 students in all academic fields except English Language programs. The initial OPT period is limited to 12 months, but the new rule will allow F-1 students with STEM degrees to extend their OPT period by an additional 24 months, for a total of three years. The new rule replaces the previous 17 month extension available to STEM OPT students.

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DAPA and Expanded DACA Case to be Heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 18, 2016

United States v. Texas, the lawsuit filed by 26 states against President Obama’s DAPA and Expanded DACA immigration reform programs, has been officially scheduled for oral argument before the United States Supreme Court on April 18, 2016.  This lawsuit was filed 16 months ago after President Obama used his executive powers to order the creation of DAPA and Expanded DACA, programs that expanded eligibility requirements for the DACA program and allowed undocumented parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for work authorization and protection from deportation.  The 26 states, led by Texas, argue that the President’s implementation of these programs through executive action was unconstitutional and that he bypassed federal procedure for changing the law.  The United States Supreme Court will consider these questions during oral argument on April 18, 2016 and could issue a decision on this case as early as June 2016.

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California Universities Provide Low-Interest College Loans to Dreamers

Public Universities in California are leading the nation by being the first to provide low-interest college loans to Dreamers.  The law making this possible appropriates funding through the California DREAM loan allotment and currently totals a fund of $7 million.  Each applicant will be eligible to borrow up to $4,000 for each academic year at 4.29% interest.  Like many other student loans, students will have a 6 month grace period before they must begin repaying the loan.  Approximately 10,000 students may be eligible to qualify for a loan, which would help reduce the cost of their college tuition and help make attending college a reality for more students.  This will come as an immense help to noncitizen children living in the United States who do not qualify for federal financial aid.

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