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On January 12 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] announced a COVID-19 testing requirement for all air passengers entering the U.S. Effective January 26, all travelers will be required to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test before they will be allowed to board their flight to the U.S. The test must be administered within 72 hours of the departure flight to the U.S. and travelers must provide written documentation by paper or electronic copy of a negative test result to the airline. Airlines will deny boarding to travelers who cannot comply with this requirement. If you are planning travel to the U.S. on or after January 26, please consult your airline for specific procedures for presenting your testing results.

Please note that this new federal requirement does not affect or change the university’s testing requirements as outlined in the Return to Campus guide.

If your planned entry to the U.S. will be delayed due to this requirement, we recommend that you inform your JHU department and OIS of the change in your travel plans. In general, students entering the U.S. in F-1 status with an “initial” I-20 can do so up to 30 days after the start date on their form I-20 but it is important to ensure that a late arrival will not negatively impact academic progress in your program.

The following message was sent to all students in F-1 or J-1 status on November 3.

The Office of International Services (OIS) has been informed of another recent scam targeting international students in the United States. This latest alert came from a university in California.

Essentially, an imposter fraudulently represents himself or herself as an ICE officer or agent in an attempt to elicit some form of payment from you for immigration benefits or other immigration services.

· The imposter will identify himself or herself as a federal law enforcement officer, employee or contractor of ICE, or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

· The imposter will demand money, sexual favors, or merchandise from you claiming to be able to help you get an immigration benefit, legal status, or documents

· The promised benefit or service is never received

 

LEGITIMATE ICE OFFICERS WILL NEVER:

· Offer lawful immigration status or other immigration services in exchange for money, sexual favors, or merchandise

· Use the internet or telephone to contact a member of the public to offer immigration services in exchange for payment through pre-paid cash cards like GreenDot or services like Western Union and MoneyGram

· Use a third-party person to solicit and collect a fee from a member of the public in exchange for immigration services

· Ask you or any member of the public for payment of any kind

 

DO NOT MAKE ANY PAYMENTS, PROVIDE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION, OR ALLOW ANYONE INTO YOUR HOME. If you feel pressured, simply hang up the phone, or if the person is at your door, lock the door and tell the individual you must contact JHU Security before continuing, and then call 9-1-1 for emergency police assistance.

Report any fraudulent schemes to the anonymous ICE Tip Line: 1-866-347-2423. Also, please notify OIS immediately at ois@jhu.edu or by calling 667-208-7001 and provide as much detail as possible so that we may alert JHU Security.

Please take a few minutes now to review the OIS resource on Scams and Frauds here.

 

Thank you for your vigilance in helping to prevent scams and frauds against Johns Hopkins students.

 

Sincerely,

The Office of International Services

USCIS announced on Friday, October 16, 2020 that it would increase the fee for Premium Processing effective October 19, 2020. The full announcement is available on the USCIS website.

As the fee is effective immediately, cases already in process with an OIS advisor are subject to the new fee. If your Department has submitted USCIS filing fees to the OIS in connection with an H-1B case, please contact the OIS advisor assigned to the case. You will need to request a new check from Accounts Payable for $2,500 and take the necessary steps to void the previously issued check for $1,440. To assist Departments, our Memo for Accounts Payable has been updated to reflect the new fee amount.

On October 8, 2020, two new Interim Final Rules were published in the Federal Register that are expected to impact JHU’s ability to sponsor H-1B temporary workers and may impact some individuals who JHU wishes to sponsor for permanent residency. These rules were issued without advanced notice; one was effective Thursday, October 8 and the other is effective 60 days from rule publication (December 7). Please find a very brief summary of each rule below. We understand that these rules are complex, and we are continuing to work through them and evaluate their likely impact on the scope and breadth of our nonimmigrant visa population and processing implications. This communication is meant to give you notice of these rules only. Given the time frame in which they have been issued and their potentially significant impact, we expect a continuing dialogue around these rules. We will update you as things develop. We also invite you to contact OIS with questions.

While we are current as of Thursday, October 8 in processing impacted immigration-related forms for our applicants, these rules will affect some future applications.

Department of Labor Rule: Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens

The Department of Labor (DOL) is amending Employment and Training Administration regulations governing the prevailing wages for employment opportunities that U.S. employers seek to fill with foreign workers on a permanent or temporary basis through certain employment-based immigrant visas or through H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 nonimmigrant visas. Per DOL, the prevailing wage rate had been defined as the average wage paid to similarly-employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment. Specifically, DOL is amending its regulations governing permanent labor certifications and Labor Condition Applications to incorporate changes to the computation of wage levels under the Department's four-tiered wage structure based on the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey administered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While we cannot predict with certainty how this will impact individual cases, the anticipated end result will be significantly higher wage requirements for all new H-1B cases filed by employers including new H-1B employment, extensions of H-1B status, and amendments of H-1B employment. We are still evaluating the potential implications and impact this will have on our nonimmigrant visa population, and are in discussion with University stakeholders and our national associations. This rule is effective on the date of publication, Thursday, October 8, 2020.

Department of Homeland Security Rule: Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is amending certain DHS regulations governing the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program. Changes include, but are not limited to: DHS revision of the regulatory definition of and standards for a "specialty occupation" to better align with the statutory definition of the term according to DHS; added definitions for "worksite" and "third-party worksite"; a revised definition of "United States employer"; clarification for how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will determine whether there is an "employer-employee relationship" between the petitioner and the beneficiary; a requirement for corroborating evidence of work in a specialty occupation; and codification of USCIS' H-1B site visit authority, including the potential consequences of refusing a site visit.

This rule is not expected to have as significant an impact as the above-mentioned DOL rule; however, the narrowed standards for a “specialty occupation” may impact some positions that JHU would normally sponsor for H-1B status. In addition, the requirement for “corroborating evidence” may increase the burden placed on JHU departments that wish to sponsor H-1B employees and, in some cases, increase the overall cost of sponsorship. This rule is effective after the 60-day comment period ends, on Monday, December 7.

OIS Operations:
The Office of International Services [OIS] will continue to accept and prepare H-1B petitions, and where the new DOL and DHS rule requirements can be met, we will continue to submit H-1B applications to USCIS. Where DOL and DHS rule requirements cannot be met, we will evaluate if any alternate immigration sponsorship options exist and advise accordingly. Please note, the OIS cannot make preliminary wage determinations, or speculate on possible wage requirements. Only with a completed H-1B sponsorship request can we perform the necessary wage analysis to support H-1B sponsorship.

We will provide an update as more becomes known of the impacts of these new rules. We also anticipate litigation will be filed against these rules, and will continue to monitor the legal process.

UPDATE:

On September 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule in its entirety. New fees and form versions associated with that rule that were to be required on October 2, 2020, as well as all other aspects of the rule, are now on hold.

If you have already submitted a check to the OIS in connection with a H-1B case in the new fee amount [$555], you will need to request and submit to the OIS a check in the amount of $460. PLEASE CONTACT THE H-1B ADVISOR HANDLING THE CASE TO CONFIRM DELIVERY ADDRESS FOR THE NEW CHECK AND FOR ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STATUS OF THAT CASE.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation.