From The Beacon, the USCIS blog: http://blog.uscis.gov/2013/08/scam-alert-caller-id-spoofing.html
If someone claiming to be a government official or law enforcement officer calls making threats such as deportation, beware! Hang up and report it!
Here’s How it Works
A number appears on your caller ID that may look like a legitimate government number. When you answer, the person on the phone poses as a USCIS or other government official or law enforcement officer.The scammer will say that there is a problem with your application or additional information is required to continue the immigration process. Then, they will ask for personal and sensitive details and may demand payment to fix problems. The scammer may tell you to make a money transfer or go to a store to purchase a money order, voucher or make some other type of money exchange, payment or withdrawal. They may threaten you with deportation or other negative consequences if you do not pay.
If you receive a call like that, we urge you to hang up immediately.
We will never ask for any form of payment over the phone or in an email. If we need payment, we will mail a letter on official stationery requesting payment. Do not give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area.
If you have been a victim of this telephone or email scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at http://1.usa.gov/1suOHSS. If you receive a suspicious email or voice message and are not sure if it is a scam, forward it to the USCIS webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review the messages received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative at uscis.gov/avoidscams for more information on common scams and other important tips.
If you have a question about your immigration record, please call the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or make an InfoPass appointment athttps://my.uscis.gov/appointment. You can also use myUSCIS to find up-to-date information about your application process.
As of April 7, 2016, USCIS has reached the annual statutory cap for H-1B petitions. It received over 236,000 petitions during the filing period beginning April 1, 2016. USCIS has begun the computer-generated random selection process (aka lottery) to select the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. Any petitions not selected will be rejected and return with filing fees.
USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.
Also, a reminder that USCIS will continue to accept other H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, including H-1B petitions for extensions, amendments, and change of employers.
USCIS would like to remind individuals applying for a change of status to H-4 that if you travel abroad before we approve your Form I-539, Change of Status (COS) application, we will consider your application to be abandoned. This means we will deny your COS application. If you filed your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and travel abroad before your COS is approved, it will be considered abandoned, along with your I-539 application. This will result in a denial of your Form I-765 even if you are re-admitted as an H-4 nonimmigrant. If re-admitted as an H-4 nonimmigrant, you would need to file a new Form I-765, with fee in order to apply for employment authorization.
A MEYER LAW GROUP UPDATE MARCH 9, 2016:
USCIS FINALIZES STEM OPT RULES EXPANDING FROM 17 MONTHS TO 24 MONTHS
F-1 Students in the U.S. pursuing STEM degrees have reason to cheer! The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service released a pre-publication of its final rule, to be officially published on Friday, March 11, 2016. The Final Rule extends the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program from 17 months to 24 months. The revised STEM OPT program will go into effect on May 10, 2016. It will impact multiple groups of F-1 students pursuing STEM degrees in the U.S. who have applied or will apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
USCIS has also extended the rules permitting maximum number of days allowable for an F-1 student to be unemployed while on OPT.
• 90 days max unemployment if on OPT (no change)
• 60 days max unemployment if on STEM OPT (an increase by 30 days)
1. Current F-1 students who previously obtained a U.S. STEM degree:
The rule permits an F-1 student who is currently participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree to use a prior, eligible STEM degree from a U.S. institution of higher education as a basis to apply for a STEM OPT extension. Both degrees (STEM degree and non-STEM degree) must have been issued from accredited educational institutions. The institutions must have been accredited at the time the student attended those institutions. The practical training opportunity must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.
2. Current F-1 students who are on a 12 month OPT STEM EAD and have not yet applied for a STEM OPT extension:
USCIS will begin accepting new, 24-month STEM OPT applications on or after May 10, 2016. In order for an F-1 student to be eligible for requesting 24-months of STEM OPT, the employer must agree to additional rules related to the program.
- Employers must complete Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT students providing details on the training plan, for review by the F-1 student’s Designated School Official (DSO). (Form I-983 is currently being developed by USCIS. Instructions to the form can be viewed here.) Student compensation must be reported on this form. Employers must attest to the following:
- Employer has sufficient resources and personnel available to provide training.
- STEM OPT student will not replace a full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker.
- The opportunity will assist in the student’s training goals.
- Employers must also provide a designated person to evaluate the student on an annual basis.
- Additionally, employers may be subject to work site visits by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Notice of 48-hours will be provided to employers unless there is a complaint or other evidence of non-compliance.
3. Current F-1 students who are on a 12 month OPT STEM EAD and have a STEM OPT extension already pending with USCIS:
F-1 students who have already submitted their EAD applications requesting 17 months of STEM OPT may have an opportunity to request a total of 24 months instead, without having to submit a new EAD application. To be eligible, the F-1 students must meet the following criteria:
- The EAD application must still be pending on or after May 10, 2016. USCIS will automatically issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to allow those students to amend their application if they can demonstrate eligibility for the full 24-months. The RFE will not request additional fees or request a new application be submitted.
- In the RFE, USCIS will request an updated Form I-20 from the student’s DSO. The Form I-20 must be endorsed on or after May 10, 2016. A Form I-983 and other support documentation will also be required.
4. Current F-1 students who have already been issued a 17-month STEM OPT EAD:
Certain F-1 students who are already working on a STEM OPT EAD issued for 17 months may be able request the remaining 7 months of OPT validity period, provided they meet the following requirements:
- F-1 students must file a new EAD application with USCIS, along with the filing fee and supporting documentation on or before August 8, 2016.
- The new application must also be filed within 60 days from when the DSO entered the recommendation for 24-month STEM OPT extension into the SEVIS database.
- The new application should include the Form I-983 Training Plan and an updated Form I-20.
- The F-1 student must also have at least 150 days remaining on the current 17-month STEM OPT EAD, at the time the application is submitted to USCIS, in order to request the additional 7 months.
- The F-1 student must also be in a valid period of OPT.